Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Letters of Recommendation"

One of those difficult things that we all have to do at some point in our lives is to ask people that we know to write a letter to an individual or an organization telling them that we are wonderful. I know I hate it when people ask me to do that. You want to say something original, yet be truthful and endearing without being sappy.

Being as this was a mission’s trip we were going on, instead of picking people that only knew our work ethic; we tried to pick people who also knew us from church or other religious venues. I chose one of the doctors I work with who had also been on a mission’s trip and one of the women who I had worked with while teaching Sunday School. Val picked a woman from my church who was the head of our youth group and the woman who led the youth group at the church she attended.

I want to just interject that I have belonged to a fairly conservative Lutheran church my entire life. Sometimes I wish it were more contemporary, but so many of the members have become like family that I can’t imagine going anywhere else. Val, on the other hand, like a lot of young people, wants a church that rocks.

She had been attending the youth group of a non-denominational church in town for a few years before we started planning for Africa. She went to church services on Sunday mornings sometimes, but never missed the Wednesday evening get-togethers. It was naturally an easy pick for her to ask the youth leader to write her a letter of recommendation.

Jen Bell, from Life Promotions, got both of my letters, along with one of Val’s letters, in a timely fashion. Val’s second letter, however, seemed to be missing in action. She checked with the woman who had written it and she said she had mailed it. A few days later, Jen e-mailed Val that the sealed envelope had arrived empty, no letter inside.

We decided to go to plan B, and I asked a different woman from my church to write Val a recommendation. They had worked together at Vacation Bible School and she had taught Val in Sunday School years before. It was a Friday morning, December 2, to be exact, and this woman took the time out of her busy day to type the letter up right away. I picked it up at her house and mailed it right away.

The following Monday, Jen called to say that she had received the last letter, our paperwork was finally all in order and we were accepted as members of the team. We were so excited.

But, like always, something weird happened, later that week I thanked the woman again who had written the last minute letter for Val. She said that the letter had come back to her, undeliverable, Stamped “address unknown”, the envelope had the same address that was on the rest of the letters.

So whose letter did Jen get? We never did find out.

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