Read The Calling Online

Authors: Deborah A Hodge

Tags: #Contemporary Christian Romance

The Calling (7 page)

“The headmaster will most likely spend a lot of time in a
certain
kindergarten classroom,” Kim chimed in.

“Look ladies, I’m only here because I’m interested in serving the Lord by being the best teacher I can be.” Cate wanted everyone to clearly understand why she was there.

“I am quite sure that’s true,” Janet replied, “and I’m also quite sure that’s
one
of the things that attracts Matthew to you.”

“That’s
one
of the things?” Cate leaned back, eyeing her two new friends.

“Yes, one of the things, you
are
quite beautiful you know,” Janet continued. Janet noted Cate’s beautiful auburn hair and lively green eyes.

Cate choked back a laugh, “Yeah, right.”

“Yeah is right,” Kim spoke up reluctantly, “Cate, aren’t you aware of how beautiful you are?”

“Please, ladies, this is getting a little absurd. I do
not
go around preening in front of a mirror. I do not have a problem with vanity.”

“Poor eyesight or low self esteem maybe, but certainly not vanity,” Kim joked.

Miss Janet chimed in with a laugh, “There’s nothing wrong with beauty of appearance or spirit, my dear, if you do not let it go to your head. It’s very apparent you do not. In fact, it seems that you are not even aware of your beauty.”

Cate felt embarrassed-and uncomfortable. Janet and Kim both apologized and asked her to forgive their bluntness and humor. They assured her that when she came to know them better that she would realize that they had not meant anything. Cate accepted their apology, assuring them that she took no real offense, but she was concerned about Matthew. If they were correct about Matthew, the situation might present complications for which she was not prepared.
I’m not ready for this.

 As she fell asleep that night, even though she was quite tired, thoughts prevented her from drifting into a deep, restful sleep. She was quite sure that she was exactly where God wanted her to be, but she found herself anxious about the complications that Miss Janet and Kim predicted. She did not want anything to interfere with carrying out her teaching assignment. Friendship was fine, but anything else would be an inconvenience. In addition-there was David. He would always occupy a special place deep in her heart. She knew he was the only man that she would ever love deeply and completely, and his presence would constantly remind her of that fact. However, she was also sure that her love for him could only be love from afar. He was a missionary through and through, and the International Mission Board would never sanction the service of any couple, one of which was divorced. She could never have any hope of a life with David as long as he was a missionary,
and he’ll always be a missionary.

She remembered how he looked when the man who gave the speech had mentioned Jenny. She saw how much of a grip grief still had on David, and knew he still deeply loved and missed his wife. Even if the IMB obstacle wasn’t there, Cate knew that Jenny still filled David’s heart, and that left no room for her.

To combat the possibility of falling into the grips of depression as she had in Baton Rouge, she concentrated on her relationship with God and her relationship with Sarah. Sarah needed her after Jenny’s death, but she also realized that she needed Sarah. She had helped Sarah with the grief she felt because of the loss of her mother, and Sarah helped her deal with the depression that had reared its ugly head after she once again began a
relationship
with David. God and Sarah helped her keep balanced. God because of his strength, truth and grace, and Sarah because of her love and innocence, and she kept Cate busy. Whether at the pre-school or after school, once David had given his blessing, Cate spent lots of time with Sarah. God used that to renew her friendship with David and to bring about the teaching assignment in Ecuador and the caretaker assignment concerning Sarah. She knew God had worked in and through every part of the last year of her life, but in ways she did not always expect-or understand.

To comfort herself that first night in Ecuador, she reminded herself that as Romans 8:28 says God indeed did work all things for good, for those who love Him. Though His ways were often mysterious, she was convinced they were the best and that God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness were unending. Cate knew that whatever lay ahead God could handle it, and she could handle it with His strength.

 

Eight

 

She awoke the next morning refreshed and with a renewed sense of purpose. She committed the day, and the whole Ecuador experience, into His hands, confessing that because of Him, she could face whatever lay ahead in Ecuador.

 After breakfast, Cate offered to help with the dishes, but Miss Janet and Kim refused to allow her to help. They told her that she had the rest of the week off to adjust, but after that, they would inaugurate her to her share of the household chores. Consequently, she turned her attention to unpacking and to picking out what she would wear to the reception that night.

Not wanting to commit a cultural miscue, Cate asked Miss Janet and Kim for advice as to what to wear. They helped her settle on a simple, but beautiful, peach dress, simple white sandals, would complete the outfit.

Once Cate finished unpacking and choosing her wardrobe for the reception, Kim offered to take her on a tour of the village. Cate readily accepted and off they went for her first real adventure.

The day was bright and sunny. Even though it was the first of August, it was a delicious spring-like day. Cate loved the spring, and delighted in the fact that in this area of Ecuador the temperatures were usually mild. Cate breathed deeply the fresh air and her senses soaked in the sights, sounds, and smells that she encountered as they walked. She was most interested in the people. Cate knew that they were descendants of the Incas and therefore, had an ancient and proud heritage. She loved their beautifully distinctive clothing. The women wore embroidered blouses, beaded necklaces and skirts. The men wore their hair in long braids, ponchos, white trousers and sandals. They were friendly people; everyone they met seemed to know Kim, and Kim quickly introduced them to Cate. When they found out that she was the new teacher from America, they were anxious to meet and welcome her.

“Kim, do any of these people have children in the mission school?”

“Some do; they will be at the reception tonight. Others are just interested in meeting the new teacher from North America.”

“Oh, I see.” Cate smiled.

After about twenty minutes of walking, meeting, and greeting, Cate and Kim ran into David and Sarah at the local general store.

Sarah grinned broadly, as she spied Cate coming through the door.

“Cate,” Sarah screamed, as she ran toward her.

“Hey, Baby Girl. How are you today?” Cate swept her up in her arms.

“I’m good,” Sarah answered.

“I’m glad.” Cate hugged her and kissed her cheek.

“Hello, you two,” David greeted Kim and Cate, as he came toward them, hugging Kim briefly.

“Hello,” they both echoed.

“How’s the new girl doing?” he asked, as he embraced Cate warmly.

“The new girl’s doing fine.” Cate noticed Kim observing the whole event with the same expression on her face that she had the night before when she and Miss Janet had teased her about Matthew. She dreaded the prospect of being teased again, especially about David. Trying to run interference against the prospect of teasing and questions, Cate quickly withdrew from David’s embrace. She withdrew so quickly and in such a manner that David noticed, but didn’t comment.

“She’s doing much better than
I
ever did,” Kim remarked.

Cate knew she was not talking about adjusting to Ecuador.

David didn’t help by commenting, “Cate’s amazing.”

“I think so too,” Kim agreed, but not to David’s meaning.

“You two need to stop.” Cate protested. She was not being coy; she really did want them to stop.

“Cate, can you come to my house and play with me?” Sarah asked.

“Not today,” David answered, “Cate needs to relax and get acquainted with her new home.”

“But, isn’t Cate going to live at our house?”

Everyone but Sarah laughed. For David, it was a laugh of amusement at what his little daughter had said. For Kim, it was a mischievous, nosey laugh. For Cate, it was a nervous laugh, a very nervous laugh.

David explained, “Cate lives at Miss Kim and Miss Janet’s house.”

“But, Daddy, you said that Cate would stay with me.”

“Yes, honey, Cate will stay with you when Daddy has to go on trips,” David brushed a lock of hair away from Sarah’s face, “but, most of the time she will stay at Miss Kim and Miss Janet’s house.”

“Okay.” That was enough explanation for Sarah.

Kim and Cate had been silently looking on as David was explaining to Sarah. Once he finished with Sarah, David said his goodbyes and promised that he and Sarah would see them at the reception that evening.

As David and Sarah left, Kim began her dreaded comments. “Well, well, this promises to be one of the most interesting school years we have ever had.”

“Kim, I hope you aren’t implying what I think you are,” Cate responded.

“I wouldn’t know. What do you think I’m implying?”

“Whatever it is, you’re wrong!” Cate warned.

“Oh, I don’t think so. David has never,
ever
hugged me like that.”

“Like what?” Cate protested.

“Like he
meant
it, really meant it.”

“We’ve been friends for years. That’s all it was,” Cate confessed.

“We’ve been friends for years too, but he’s never hugged me like that.”

Knowing there was nothing she could say to change Kim’s mind, Cate shook her head and sighed deeply. “Is it okay if we go back to the house now? I’m a little tired.”

Kim agreed, but commented as they left the store, “Yes sir, it’s going to be a very interesting school year.

Cate tried to be congenial on the way home, but Kim wanted to continue her implications about Cate and David and her attempts to probe into their relationship.

“So you’re Sarah’s caregiver when David is away?”

“That’s right,” Cate said.

“If I may ask, why did he choose you?”

“Maybe, he chose me because I was coming to Ecuador to teach and because Sarah had been my student at the preschool.”

“Forgive, me Cate, but there seems to be more to this whole thing than that,” Kim continued to probe.

“David and I are friends.” Cate stopped in the street and turned to face Kim. “We have been for a long time. I trust him and he trusts me. I helped with Sarah after Jenny died. When the teaching position became available he knew I felt God was leading me into teaching in a mission school and he recommended me to Matthew. I prayed about it and felt that God was leading me here. David had been praying about what to do about Sarah and when God confirmed that he wanted me in Ecuador. He felt that was God’s confirmation that he wanted me to be Sarah’s caregiver.” Cate paused, “Is that what you wanted to hear?”

“That’s part of what I wanted to hear, and that’s probably all that you’re going to tell me, but I can’t help but feel there’s more.”

 

Nine

 

Lunch and conversation were pleasant, and Kim made no mention of David. Miss Janet was busy telling Cate what to expect at the reception. She pointed out that Cate, as guest of honor and the particular point of interest to the parents and students, did not need to be nervous or overly concerned about first impressions. Miss Janet assured her that the parents and the students were very anxious to make her feel welcomed to their town and their school. Matthew had been excited about the things that David had told him that he had been broadcasting her praises long before he met her face to face.

“Miss Janet, that makes me even more nervous, how in the world can I live up to their expectations?” Cate admitted.

“Just be yourself, my dear. From what I’ve seen since you’ve been here, that will be quite enough.”

I don’t know about that,” Cate protested.

“I do, Cate. Trust me; you’ll make a great first impression. Everyone will love you,” Kim reassured.

“I hope you’re right.”       

“Why don’t you rest after lunch?” Miss Janet suggested. “I’m sure you have a little jet lag. You have plenty of time to take a nap, before getting ready for the reception.”

“Please, let me help you clear the table and clean up first.”

“Nonsense, I told you that you are a guest for the first week. Trust me; your turn for chores will come. Rest now; you’ll want to be at your very best this evening.”

Cate reluctantly, but appreciatively, agreed and excused herself to go to her room and rest. As she entered her room and gazed out the window, she was grateful for the view, the mountains in the distance. Their beauty overwhelmed her and provoked her memory of Psalm 121: 1-2. “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills. From whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth.” She gave thanks to the Lord, for she knew that He had given her a visible reminder of that truth. She didn’t know that this visible reminder of God’s presence and strength would become vitally important to her.

As she tried to rest, she couldn’t help but evaluate her first few hours in Ecuador. She felt joy at the prospect of coming, and that joy had continued as she arrived. She was sure that she was being obedient to what God had called her to do. However, she failed to understand why almost immediately, the
David issue
had confronted her again. Had she not given all of that to the Lord? Why would He allow it to pop back up? She prayed that He would take control of the situation and resolve it in accordance with His will and purpose. She also prayed that He would give her grace, strength and wisdom to deal with the issue, and all that lay ahead; that night, and in the future. She drifted off to sleep with the assurance that God’s grace would be sufficient.

 

 

She awoke to a gentle tap on her door and Kim’s voice telling her that she needed to get up and begin to get ready for the reception. She stretched and looked at the clock. She couldn’t believe that she’d slept for almost two hours.
Evidently, I’m suffering from jet lag more than I realized.
As she began to get dressed, she realized that she felt much better; she found herself humming and singing.

Other books

Scot of My Dreams by Janice Maynard
Twisted Tales by Brandon Massey
White Nights by Cleeves, Ann
Be My Everything by Ella Jade
Selected Short Fiction by DICKENS, CHARLES
See No Evil by Franklin W. Dixon
The Year It All Ended by Kirsty Murray
Undeniable by C. A. Harms
To Wed A Rebel by Sophie Dash