Thirteen or fourteen years ago or so, I took a class at Fuller Seminary on Mentoring. It became a really significant class for me, and changed the way that I viewed relationships… recognizing that a mentor is not one ideal person who will meet all of our needs, but rather we all have a variety of mentors in our lives at different times who meet different needs.
As part of the assignment, I worked through a mentoring timeline beginning with childhood. I realized that there were a few people who had had a significant impact on my becoming a missionary during my early development – my parents; older Sunday school teachers named the Henemiers; and Beth Ann Smith, a missionary who had visited my Sunday School class one time and talked about her work in South America.
Somehow through that experience, we became penpals. Every few months, Beth Ann would take the time to send this little girl in New Jersey a beautiful postcard that showed the people to whom she was ministering. I remember one postcard had a real bird feather attached! And I thought: “She has the coolest job in the world! Maybe, some day, when I grow up…”
As I thought about her during this mentoring class, I wrote a letter to thank her for the influence she had on my life…. an influence she probably had no idea about. But I wasn’t able to find her address, even after looking online at different missions agencies.
These past few months, Eric and I have been considering different housing options in New Jersey, and through four different friends’ recommendations, we have decided to stay in a missionary community about 25 minutes from our family there. It’s called Cedar Lane, and we just found out yesterday via an email from the manager that they have reserved a 4 bedroom HOME for us that overlooks their spacious playground. I literally cried when the email came- it was so much better than we could have ever expected for those 5 months. But I cried about another email that came that morning from the manager, as well. She and I had emailed numerous times over the past month… she always signed her name “Beth.” Two nights ago, when doing a search on the mission community, I discovered – yes – the manager/secretary’s name is – Beth Ann Smith.
Here is some of the reply that she wrote to my email asking if she was, indeed, “my” Beth Ann Smith: Just imagine what surprises the Lord has in store for us in eternity. This news was such a blessed way to start my day! Yes, I think I went to Collingswood Baptist only once to speak. My cousins used to go there. How blessed to know that it is His Spirit that works through us as we make ourselves available to Him. Now He is using you in the same way!! All the more exciting it will be to meet you when you come to Cedar Lane!
My childhood missionary mentor has been found. I will be living NEXT DOOR to her for five months! Isn’t God amazing? And it makes us realize… how many lives we can intentional touch…even in just one meeting.