There was a problem with the lock on our group room door, which meant that after the housekeepers would come through and clean, our card keys would need to be reset. It became a routine for me to check in with the night clerk, Melissa at least once, maybe even twice each night, depending on whether or not I needed to purchase and internet card as well. Throughout the week Melissa would ask about our day and we would chat a little about the work. It became a routine that I looked forward to.
On Wednesday night I went as usual to reset our cards. Melissa again smiled, and asked about our day to which I replied that it was our last day. Her voice took on a little bit of a sad note as she said "Are y'all leaving us tomorrow?" I said that we were headed out to New Orleans in the morning and then on the plane for home. Melissa stated that she too was leaving the next day to go home to Memphis. When I said that it sounded like fun, she gave me a funny little smile and said "Well, the reason I'm going home isn't for fun." As we talked a little more Melissa revealed that she was going home because she has breast cancer. Her surgery is on Monday. My immediate reaction was to tell Melissa that our whole group would be praying for her. Little was I to know that God have something even more powerful in mind.
Yo Momma and other ladies in the church have been knitting prayer shawls for people for the last couple of years. They start knitting the shawls, not knowing who they may be given too. Yo Momma had brought a prayer shawl along with her to work on, with the intentions of giving it to one of our team members, but she wasn't quite sure that it was the right shawl for this team member. But Thursday morning, as our team gathered for the last group meeting, Yo Momma brought the shawl intending for the team to pray over it before we left. As we were sharing prayer requests for the day I told the group about Melissa's coming operation. From across the room Yo Momma caught my eye and mouthed the words "This shawl is for Melissa". We immediately gathered around the shawl, each holding a part of the shawl and prayed for Melissa.
Soon after our group meeting broke up Melissa walked past our room. We quickly called her in. I looked her in the eye and started to cry. I shared that we had prayed for her that morning and about the prayer shawl ministry. We all started crying as we pulled out the shawl, telling her that we had prayed over it and hoped that it would bring her comfort and hope as she went through surgery and recovery. Melissa kept saying over and over "Thank you so much, thank you so much." It was at that moment that I knew that God had planned this from the beginning. That we were supposed to be a witness of God's love, compassion and peace to this one person. Melissa's hugs spoke of the relief of knowing she was not alone in her journey. Her watery smile was a testimony God's timing, not our own.
On Monday, Melissa will be undergoing surgery. Would you pray for her? Pray for the surgeons and for her family as they support her in this scary time. Also pray that Melissa will feel the love of God every time she wraps up in her prayer shawl, that she will remember that a group of Californians are praying for her and hope to meet up with her again someday, whether that be in Mississippi or someplace even more spectacular.