The Value-Added Visit

Nadya and me. October, 2010.

The Bonus Blessing

“St. Petersburg is amazing,” Pastor Robert said. “Could you please pass the rolls?” 
I sat at the table, drifting on the buzz of happy conversation. Our friend Nadya, visiting from Moscow, had joined us for church that morning, along with our buddy Mike. After church, everyone returned to our home for Sunday dinner. I’d invited our pastor and his family to join us. He and his wife Amy adopted both their children from Russia, and we guessed, rightly as it turned out, that they would enjoy a visit with Nadya. 
We’d met Nadya in 2010, just before she returned to Russia after completing an internship here in California. She’d found Christ during her time in America. Mike drove her to church each week and introduced us to her there. We fell in love with this young woman, the same age as our daughters, who burned with the fervor of a new believer. She’d promised to return, and now, a year later, she sat at our table again. 
Nadya is one of two young women who live in our hearts, though their homes are far away. Our niece, Vaite, is in France attending university. I’ve known Vaite since she was a toddler, growing up in Tahiti. She’s taken some tough knocks over the past few months. We’ve worried and prayed about her. I was wishing that Vaite was also at our table, where we could lay our eyes on her and better judge how she’s managing this difficult season. Determined to enjoy Nadya’s company and banish my preoccupation with Vaite, I shook my head, trying to dislodge my wandering thoughts. 
Feeling a coughing fit rising, I excused myself from the table and stepped out onto the front deck. I’d almost cancelled this day’s gathering, as bronchitis had settled in a few days earlier, but we had no other opportunity to see Nadya before she returned to Moscow. And I was loathe to retract the invitation I’d extended to Pastor Robert and Amy, who serve with such dedication. So I planned a simple meal and prayed for stamina. Rich helped me prepare and we managed. 
Mike and Nadya stayed on after the pastor and his family left. We sat in the living room, enjoying a conversation that meandered across topics the way a stream finds its course around rocks and fallen timber. “Nadya,” I said, suddenly, “What kind of internship did you work at when you were here before?” 
“I worked with a nonprofit organization that arranges for college students to study in foreign countries,” she answered.

“Oh! I have a niece who’s in school in France right now. She really wants to complete her master’s here, but the process is complicated and confusing.”

“When I get home,” Nadya promised, “I’ll send you the information. You can give it to her.”

After they left, I turned to Rich. “I’m glad we didn’t cancel the dinner. I’m pretty wiped out, but I made it through the day. What a blessing to see Nadya again! You were upstairs when they got here this morning, but when she hugged me, she and I were both laughing out loud for the sheer joy of being together again.”  
“It was great to see her,” Rich agreed. “She’s a special, special girl.” 
“I’m excited about the information she promised me. Vaite’s been so disappointed trying to arrange to go to school here,” I said. “Hopefully this will help her. And she’s been so sad since she and Sylvain broke up. I think getting out of France would be good for her.”
Rich nodded. He has an avuncular sweet spot in his heart for Vaite, and I knew he’d been concerned about her during the trials she’d faced in recent months. We’d been praying for comfort for her broken heart and for her educational plans to be fulfilled. 
Rich, Vaite and me Visiting our Fire Station. January, 2011. 

Nadya sent me the information. I forwarded it to Vaite. Just a few days later, she reported that the representative she’d met with had been encouraging and helpful. She closed her note with these words:

Tatie [Auntie], by sending me this link you really made my day and I would say you saved me from the sadness that’s filled my life since I came back in France. Thank you for giving me hope.

I was left to marvel at God’s efficiency. I’d asked Him to muffle the bronchitis long enough for me to offer a special dinner to cherished guests, including a seldom-seen friend. I felt amply blessed that He’d carried me through the afternoon. But He gave even more. He used the gathering as an opportunity to give us encouragement to pass on to our beloved niece.

38Give, and it will be given to you. They will I)’>into your lap a , gratitude, Luke 6, Pastor Robert Jacobsen, salvation


  1. Sheila, isn’t it wonderful how one connection begets another connection and soon He has us all connected together! That is beautiful. Praying for you to heal quickly.

  2. OH, God is so good. I love reading about how you give yourself to these two young women, Sheila. How blessed they are to be in your love.

  3. Carolyn,

    Yes, wonderful! I’m doing better, thank you.

  4. Yes, Laura, He is! I am blessed by them too. 🙂

  5. God is so good, and he is the arranger to make things happen. He keeps giving and giving and giving.

  6. He is quite the arranger, isn’t He? Thanks for reading, Hazel!

  7. ahhh… i love these stories. the stories of how God shows up.

  8. Thanks, Emily. Me too.

    And I have this feeling that I fail to notice almost all of them.

  9. Thrilling when we get to see pieces-parts of all the great work He’s doing everywhere, all the time.

  10. Pieces….like little bits of a great big picture: a picture so big you have to back way up, all the way to heaven, to see it all.

    That’s it, Brandee.

  11. Hello Sheila, I absolutely love your blog.

  12. Comme tu es gentil! Merci, Melvin!

  13. Very cool, Sheila. And all because you listened…

  14. Every now and then, Jennifer 🙂

  15. I’ve never thought about “God’s efficiency,” but I guess you are right. There are many times I can marvel at how he as expedited things around me.

  16. Bradley,
    Well, at least from my flawed human perspective it sure looks like efficiency…. 🙂