As I approach my fourth anniversary in this apartment, something amazing happened: I finally found curtains that I like for the living room. It’s about time, right? My handyman put curtain rods up for me such a long time ago that I had almost forgotten that they were there. And I had gotten so used to the absence of curtains in there that I had actually stopped looking for curtains. Then on Friday Nina paid me a surprise visit.
Nina is my best friend. She and her husband used to have a janitorial business, but due to fierce competition, the sagging economy, and illness, they had to close. So as they had less and less work, I began putting Nina to work doing what I wasn’t finding time for: cleaning house. Since Nina lives more than an hour away, this arrangement also gave us a chance to see each other regularly. Nina has finally found part time work not far from me, and she came to my house Friday morning to see if it needed cleaning. It really didn’t need much cleaning, so we took the opportunity to spend the morning together until her afternoon work.
We went to the street market near my house to look for some ribbon. We found the ribbon right away and then as we were passing a vendor that had curtains, I found my curtains. Like I said, I had stopped looking for them a long time ago, so I was very surprised to find curtains that are exactly the kind of thing I wanted for the living room. I was so happy that I giggled through lunch with Nina.
When I got home I took out the step ladder and climbed it to put them up. But the curtain rods were too high, being mounted above the windows, close to the ceiling. The curtains look silly, being almost two feet too short. The living room has two sets of very large windows that, in reality are double doors, and a single door that I use for going onto the balcony. The double doors have mosquito screens, which is why I don’t use them as doors. With the single door there, I really don’t need to use the double doors. My handyman (who is Nina’s brother, Juan) had mounted a small curtain rod right onto the single door. When I tried the curtain there, it still didn’t reach the floor, but close enough not to look silly. So that’s what I needed to do with the double doors: put smaller curtain rods right onto the doors.
So the next chance I got, which was today, I went to the hardware store to get little curtain rods like the one on the door. They had only one that matched the color of the door, and they couldn’t order me any. Being the resourceful American that I am, I returned home and looked on the internet. Nothing! Italy sells all sorts of things on the internet, but not curtain rods, apparently.
I know of a big hardware store in a shopping center, but it’s clear across town. So I put it out of my mind, not intending to go there because of the big investment of time that it would take. But the beautiful new curtains wouldn’t stop talking to me. They wanted to be hung up. So finally sometime after noon I made the long trip to the other side of town. Nothing! They didn’t even have something that I could substitute. Everything was either too long, too short, or so badly the wrong color that they would scream from the doors that they didn’t match (at least they would to me). I even toyed with the idea of getting curtain rods in the wrong color and painting them dark brown. But I dismissed that idea as impractical, messy, and in the end it might not even work.
I left the shopping center empty-handed, feeling like a fool for having made such a long trip for nothing. As I approached the entrance to the subway to return home I saw a group of about 15-20 people. They were in a circle and had their heads bowed. These people are praying! I stopped and listened. Sure enough! They were praying! I joined in their prayers, although they were unaware of my presence. When they said Amen, so did I. They looked startled at me, and I introduced myself and my ministry of missionary encouragement and support. They gave me one of their tracts, which had their contact information on it. They said that they feel called to plant a church in this neighborhood where the shopping center is. I promised to pray for them the whole, long, long way home—which I did. Inside the subway, maybe 100 meters below them, I prayed for this group and for their evangelistic efforts. And I prayed for them for the entire hour that it took me to get home.
When I got home, I looked up their website, left my contact details there, and linked with them on Facebook. One of the things I pray for daily is divine appointments, both for myself and for the missionaries that I support. This was clearly a divine appointment. So I understood that the problem with the curtain rods was God setting me up to go across town and make contact with these people and encourage them. I love my life! God is good!