When I was 13, I attended a summer church camp with some friends. It was there that I first made a decision in my heart to someday become a missionary. We had several speakers there, preachers and workers with the youth as well as some missionaries. One of our assignments before we were to return home was to write ourselves a letter with our thoughts about camp and what we may have learned and post it before we left. Then, when we were home and it came in the mail, we were to put it in a safe place to be opened someday after we became adults. I wrote mine and when it came in the mail, I tucked it away in a box. If you've never seen a 3 cent postage stamp, it is because you are too young. I licked that stamp some 65 years ago!
Well, a lot happened in those 65 years that followed. I went to college, graduated, got married and settled into the routine of being a housewife and mother. We moved around quite a bit, California, Indiana, Texas, Washington state, then to Alaska. Thoughts of becoming a missionary we laid aside. I taught Sunday school beginners class, played the organ and piano for church services--that kind of thing.
But in 1986, I was hosting a prayer meeting in my home in Dallas every week. One week, when it was finished, I was standing around talking with my guests, when all of a sudden I heard the Lord speak to me, "You are going to India!" I was shocked..."Where did THAT come from?" I was not thinking about India at all...in fact, it would probably have been the last place on my list. Then I said to the Lord, "I don't know anybody in India". "Yes you do", the Lord replied. "Remember that Indian man that came to your church one service and sat on the back row of seats. You noticed him when he came in, as you were at the organ playing for the service and you could see everyone who was there." I remembered. "I told you to go greet him, but you argued that he would be gone before you could get back there." True. "But you were surprised when he sat in his seat until everyone was out the door. I told him to wait until you came down to greet him". I did go back and meet him and found out he was from India and an evangelist. So I invited him to speak at my morning service the next day and he came. It was only a small crowd, but he had a good message. Afterward, he said to me, "You should come to India sometime. I can help you speak at many churches."
Well, the man left, but I wasn't interested in going to India. However, he did send me a Christmas greeting every year after that. So when I argued with the Lord about going to India, he reminded me of that preacher. "Write him" the Lord said. I did, and so began my first journey to a foreign land. The year was 1986. It was only for 3 weeks, but I went again the next year and the next for short periods. Then my husband died in 1989. Not knowing what was ahead for us, my daughter suggested we return to Alaska, which we did. So since that time, God has taken me to Germany, England, Scotland, Egypt, Israel, Australia, South Africa, Maldives, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Borneo, China and back to India many, times, taking with me many others interested in missions.
This week my bedroom is full of suitcases and things to pack, as I am going off again--this time would complete 25 years of missionary work. Now I was 77 and heading, once again, for India and the far east. It wasn't so easy as at the first; 2 knee implants, a hip implants, and on my fourth cancer. But God had always been so faithful to protect me, to provide for me, and lead me and heal me. I would be traveling alone, but my friend Bess would be coming to meet me in Malaysia a month later and we would travel together for the remainder of the trip. I was thinking this would be my final trip to that part of the world. Perhaps, once more to South Africa, then I would hang it up I was thinking.
Back to the letter: The other day I was doing some cleaning out of my closet and ran across a manila envelope which contained a lot of old letters and pictures. And there it was. What is this? I thought. Then I opened it and read it. It was from myself to myself!! I read through the letter. It was me, talking as a teenager about a church camp--my experiences there, the gals I met, the sermons that were preached, and the ones who told us their stories. People, some I would remember all my life.
Then I got to the last part:
"Remember when Mrs. Jones told the story about 3 girls who had different ambitions, and Mrs. Jones was the one who wanted
to be a missionary, but failed. But you're not going to be a failure, Mary. You're going to make it, and make it good, because lots of people's souls depend on you. Please come back, Mary, because you will not only find fun, friends, and pleasure, but your will find out more about Jesus and your heavenly Father whom you must serve when you get older. See you in camp!
Lying on my bedspread was another envelope--from a young teenage girl in our church. It contained three quarters and a penny. A letter was enclosed which read, "Dear Mrs. Adams, We love you. You are a great person in our lives. Jesus loves you too. This money is for your missionary work. Love, Megan." Then she drew a picture of the mountains surrounding her home where she lives with her parents and sisters.
God reminded me of that Psalm that had become my favorite:
"O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I
am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not, until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy
power to every one that is to come". (Psa 71:17-18)
Had I somehow been an influence?...Me? And I realized I had, just like Mrs. Jones, the missionaries, the preachers who had inspired me so long ago.
I sat down and almost cried, but for the joy of seeing how God remembers all---even our childhood teenage thoughts, all our dreams, our aspirations, our wonderings, but never, ever forgets our thoughts about Him. They're recorded in a book of remembrance somewhere in heaven. But often He lets them return back to us at just the precise time when we had thought He might have forgotten them too. Who would have thought He might remember that envelope with a 3 cent stamp and made sure it got delivered and finally read, simply to remind the old woman who wrote it and now read it, that He hadn't forgotten her 65 year-old thoughts either.
What a God!!!
MARY E. ADAMS