14. Call Confirmed

“For our newcomers: while Tony & I are on the road, please enjoy his book, ‘Leaving the Trail’ as a weekly series in condensed form. Be sure to go back to the beginning to understand the story! If you can’t stand the suspense, simply order a copy from Amazon or write toinfo@martonpublishing.com.”

“Okay, I know you’re little, so I’ll show you again. Watch: you take one lace in this hand, see? Hold it between your thumb and forefinger – that’s this one – then take the other lace with this hand, like that. Good! Now …”

Friend’s daughter, April, had taken right away to the task of helping Lisa settle in. Finding her asleep in the tent when dawn broke, April had given a squeal of delight which woke the whole camp, including Lisa. It wasn’t long before she established her own role as big sister. For her part, Lisa quickly overcame her shyness, drawn to this older girl. Friend and his wife watched from a distance as they finished their coffee. “She’s amazing, isn’t she?” he said.

“Are you talking about Lisa or your daughter?”

“Actually, I was thinking about April; but now that you mention it, they’re both pretty incredible. It’s almost as if they’ve been sisters all their lives.”

Friend’s wife put an arm around him, pulled him closer, and said softly, “Do you think she has family somewhere? Someone who will come looking for her?”

“It sounds like you’re thinking the same thing I am. I don’t know. Let’s take it one day at a time. For now, Lisa needs a friend, and April’s just the girl for the job. Tomorrow, well, I guess we’ll see what happens.

“Speaking of which, we need to get everyone together. Catching Ralph’s eye as he walked passed, he called out, “Ralph, we need to have a meeting. Can you arrange that, please?”

“Sure thing, Friend. I’ll tell them to come to the big open area near the bridge.”

By the time everyone had gathered, Fisher had already approached most of the men, seeking their support for what he and Sandy intended. Friend grimaced at that, hoping that they would be able to present all the facts carefully and objectively. Instead, the meeting had already begun, and sides were forming.

“What’s this all about, Friend?” Aaron called out as he approached. “Are there really people up there?”

“What happened to that little girl’s parents?” called out another. “Were they one of us?”

“When are we going up there?”

“Where are we going?”

“What about all our equipment? We can’t take that with us, can we?”

Friend stood up on a rock so the people could see him, and finally got the crowd under control. “Hold it everyone!” he shouted. “Please keep your comments until we have a chance to hear the whole story. We haven’t decided to do anything yet; not until we know what we should,” he glanced at Fisher, “or should not do.”

“It sounds to me like you’ve decided already,” Fisher interrupted. Then in a louder voice, “Look, there are people up there in the hills: people who don’t know anything about us or why we’re here. Three of them tried to leave, and only Lisa here made it here alive. If we don’t try to help those people, then we’re just as evil as those things that killed her parents.” He looked over the crowd, then added, “Sandy and I are going, with or without you.”

This brought a new uproar among the camp, with some shouting out words of support and promises to help, while others were incensed at Fisher’s arrogance. It was several moments before Friend could restore order and speak again.

“People, please! Let’s not forget who we are. We’re all on this journey, called out by the same God and headed for the same goal. It’s what makes us family. Of course we want everyone to know the joy and purpose we know. Many of you here have friends and loved ones back home, and we pray together for them every day.” Turning to Fisher, he said, “Have you forgotten when we first met? You were going back, giving up the journey, because you didn’t understand what it was all about. Praise God, your eyes were opened, and He’s led you and Sandy into a whole new world.

“But there’s one difference between you and those people up there in the hills. You were on the trail; going the wrong way, granted, but still on the path He had set you on in the first place. Now you’re insisting we leave this trail to go find others. That’s what I’m concerned about.

“Most of you here know what it’s like off the trail. You’ve experienced the hardship, the desolation, and the danger. And there’s another thing: we’re not just another group of travelers who happen to be moving together. We’re the Rendezvous team. Other pilgrims look for us on this trail; they depend on the things we prepare for them. Without Rendezvous, how would they find the things they need to keep moving on? If we leave the trail, even if it’s for a good cause, what happens to Rendezvous?”

Turning back to Fisher, he said, “Fisher, I certainly don’t want to discourage you from what you feel is right. But tell me this: are you convinced that this is God’s call for you and Sandy, and for us? Has the Lord spoken to you directly? Because if He hasn’t, it scares me to think of what you and we may be getting ourselves into.”

“I’ve never been more sure of anything, Friend. And Sandy feels the same way.” He looked in her direction, and she gave a nod of agreement. “This is what we’re here for, and we intend to go.” Fisher looked at the people crowded around. “As for the rest of you? Honestly, I don’t know. You’ve got a good point, Friend: Rendezvous is a calling all by itself. You shouldn’t throw one away to pick up another one, even if they’re both good.”

Stepping closer to Friend, Fisher held out his hand. “I’m sorry if I came across too strong. I guess a part of me is just plain scared. I’ve gone against one of those creatures out there, and it’s not something I’d like to do again, not alone. Somehow it feels better going with an army than just the two of us. But then, I guess if this really is from God, then we’ve got all the army we need, right? We’ll be okay. All of us.”

“He’s right,” Sandy spoke up for the first time. “This is scary for both of us. I guess if I had my choice, I’d stay right here with all of you. You’ve become my family, and it hurts to think that we might be going separate ways. But I have a new family now, and a new responsibility. God has called us both to this job; I’m sure of it. But I can’t say what He’s calling you to do. We’re leaving now, and by God’s grace we’ll be back. All I ask is for your blessing, and for your prayers.”

“You know you have those,” said Friend. “And we’re going to stop now and ask God to lead you where you need to be, and in His time, to bring you back to us.” Raising his voice, he called out, “Gather around, everyone. Let’s pray.”

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