So Why Make the Offer in the First Place?

Dearest Rachel –

For all that I’ve been saying that every day this week was going to be a little unusual – at least, insofar as none of them have been a typical ‘9 to 5’ day at the ‘office’ – that hasn’t proven to be quite true. Today is actually likely to be a much more typical ‘work’ day than even those where I’m at the ‘office’ for a full day; if nothing else, some of yesterday’s discussions will require some adjustments to the books and budgets. Nothing major; just a few tweaks here and there between months or line items. It’s not even the sort of thing I would necessarily tell you about if you were still here, as they’re so negligible, relatively speaking. But they do serve to generate actual ‘work,’ rather than leaving me simply hanging around in front of my ‘office’ computer.

What’s also unusual about today is the fact that it’s been a week since I was given an offer that, on the face of it, seemed almost too good to be true. And you know what they say about such things. This one turned out to be no exception.

You’ll recall the trip I took out to Colorado just about a year ago, returning home on our anniversary, in fact. Well, the fellow who organized that retreat heads up a foundation that supports missions and evangelism worldwide, and will occasionally announce various support opportunities. One such situation had to do with a pastor in Nepal, which I decided to assist with, in order to provide a vehicle for transport people and goods throughout his area of ministry. Really, it was fairly straightforward stuff, as far as support goes. That was late last year.

Last week, however, things got a little more interesting. It would seem that Luke also has a hand in training church leaders such as this pastor, and would be going over there to Nepal to continue with the man’s training. Accordingly, he sent out an email – which I assume was sent generically to everyone who contributed to the man’s support, particularly regarding the vehicle – offering a chance to actually visit Nepal, and this pastor’s area of ministry, to get a glimpse of the good use to which our contributions have been put. It’s a rare situation that such an offer comes one’s way, and even rarer that one can act upon it, especially given the time (combined with the relatively short notice – only five or six weeks before Luke was planning to fly out there) and expense involved. This will become important further on down, but at that moment, I took it as a sign.

I contacted Luke immediately and with enthusiasm, but also with enquiries as to the cost and what would be expected of me once we were there. If this was to be a mission effort, I expected to be needed to fill a certain assistant role while we were there.

Saturday morning, of course, was our usual men’s Bible study, and to my surprise (because he had been hosting a Rocky Mountain retreat similar to the one I’d been with him and the other gentlemen last year during the week) Luke was actually there. After spending the hour going over the previous week’s sermon (and the challenges involved with finding and inviting that ‘one’ – that person you want to see one day in heaven with you – for my part, I think I’ve been left to finish a lifelong mission of yours in that respect, but haven’t any idea how to accomplish it, given our familiarity with each other and each other’s thought processes. All of which could be a separate letter in and of itself, so I won’t go into detail about it today), Luke asked if he could have a word with me.

Essentially, he wanted to fill me in on the details involved with the trip. For one thing – and he had mentioned this in his email – it was going to be a rather short trip, only a few days. For another, while he would make an effort to be on the same flight out to Kathmandu with me, he would not be with me on the flight back. He would be meeting his wife and daughter at some point, and flying out to Thailand, which was where they had raised her for most of her childhood (while they had been ministering there), and would be her first time ‘home’ since attaining adulthood. From there, he would be taking a flight home to the States, but with an extended layover in Singapore to visit some friends there as well.

To be honest, I didn’t see the issue with any of this; Luke’s a busy guy, with a lot on his plate, all over the world. He’s got his finger in so many pies, and so many irons in the fire. It stands to reason that he needs to attend to them from time to time, wherever they may be. And while I would be able to meet this pastor, and see what he has been doing for the Lord in Nepal, I wouldn’t be able to spend a lot of time with him or Luke, because they would by in training for the majority of the time; and since this was to be rather advanced training (the fourth part of a trilogy, according to Luke, in fact), there was no feasible way for me to assist. Basically, I was at liberty to explore Kathmandu and the Himalayan town that the pastor was based in on my own.

If I didn’t know better, it sounded as if he was trying to talk me out of going. But if that was the case, why did he make the offer in the first place?

Still, I promised to mull it over, and get back to him after the weekend. But before then, as you know, the four of us friends were getting together on Sunday afternoon to play games online, as we’ve been doing since the lockdowns started, and you instituted this as a means to keep in touch until the restrictions were lifted. In particular, it’s allowed me to keep in regular touch with Kevin, in particular, given how distant he is, geographically, from the rest of us. But, of course, he’s to be coming up to visit us within a month or so, and I decided to confirm with him when exactly that would be.

As it so happens, his plans are to come up on the very day that I would otherwise be departing from Nepal. Given that it is nearly eleven hours off from our time, and given the speed of air travel, it might very well be that I could arrive at O’Hare just in time for him to pick me up from the airport. But also given that he would’ve been driving for over ten hours to get there, that would be decidedly churlish of me to make such a request. In a way, it was the perfect way to back out of the trip to Nepal, as it was a previous commitment that I hadn’t kept in mind (which never would have gotten this far, we’re you still here to remind me of such commitments), so everyone could save face in the process.

If it weren’t for the fact that a version of the phrase is freighted with ‘upset dad’ vibes, I’d say something here along the lines of “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” The thing is, I am kind of disappointed at having to pass up what might seem like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to a place I’d never have otherwise considered visiting. I’m not the sort of person to even have an interest in the great mother goddess Chomo-lungma, she who holds up the roof of the world (known to us Westerners as Mount Everest), or any mountains at all, come to that, but when something falls into your lap like this, well, it can seem to be a sign to take that chance. But even I can read in between the lines when compelled to, and the fact that I have an excuse to back down with some measure of grace and dignity intact comes as something of a relief.

Still, I’d like to hope that Luke learned something from this too. I understand the need for the polite niceties of encouraging your donors to see what results their contributions have generated. It’s not unlike the conventional conversation sign-offs, like ‘we must get together more often’ or ‘come on over to the house whenever you feel like it.’ The fact is, we’d be somewhat put out (and understandably so) if there was a knock on our door at three in the morning from someone you made the mistake of saying that to. Oh, I’d like to think I’d recognize the duress of emergency if something like that actually happened, and accommodate for the situation, but if you don’t really expect – or want – an invitation to be accepted, it might be best not to extend it in the first place. Wouldn’t you agree?

Anyway, that’s today’s story, if only a retelling of one that began a week ago and is now pretty much by the boards. Take care, and keep an eye out for me, honey; wouldn’t want to commit to something I oughtn’t, eh?

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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