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REPAIRED BY LOVE
© 2004 Sandra Pavloff Conner
By the next afternoon, Kana realized she had been silly to consider not calling Valentina just because she wasn’t sure what to say about Lee. After all, what was there to say anyway, and she knew her friend would want to hear about the children’s choir. So she finally made the call, and they had a wonderful visit by phone, with Vallie filling her in on added details of the wedding preparations.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” Kana said now. “I want you to be praying over the next couple of days that the Lord will show me whether to volunteer to help with the children’s camp that’s coming up in about a week. Their first grade teacher has had to back out, and they need somebody to take her place. I haven’t said anything yet, because I didn’t want to interfere with someone who’s a member of the church being able to do it, but Gram said this morning that she doesn’t think there’s anyone available during the summer who’s skilled enough to do all that the job requires.”
“Would it interfere too much with your time with your grandmother?”
“No, I don’t think so. Gram had forgotten to tell me, but she had volunteered to do refreshments for the camp on several of the days, which means she’d be at the church those days anyway. And I’d only be tied up from 9:00 to 4:00 each day for the ten days. Actually, I think Gram would kind of like for me to do it.”
“Well, I’ll be sure to pray, but you know what we always go back to when we have to make an important decision … “
“Yeah … our gut feeling.”
“Right. … So … what’s yours?”
“Well … I’ll have to admit that I did feel a little excited about the idea of taking the position when Pastor McDaniels first mentioned it.”
“And you haven’t thought of any reasons not to except not wanting to keep someone else from having the chance to do it?”
“Well … I’d say you probably already have your answer.”
“You’re probably right … but go ahead and pray with me about it for another day or two anyway.”
“Now, you know, if it starts in about a week, you’re going to need several days to get prepared.”
“Yeah … I guess that really doesn’t allow for too much more deciding time, does it?”
Vallie laughed her own special bubbly laugh, and Kana joined in. Things always seemed brighter and clearer when she talked them over with Vallie. And she knew Vallie felt the same way. She wished – no – there was no need to talk about Lee Butler.
“Kana … you’re awfully quiet all of a sudden. Is something wrong?”
“No, of course not, silly.”
There was a pause on the other end. “Uh … have you found any good looking guys who have taken your breath away yet?”
Kana’s heart doubled its beat, and she took a deep breath, but she said nothing.
After another pause, Vallie spoke again, the teasing note still in her voice. “Kana … you have, haven’t you! You’re holding out on me, girl! Who is he?”
Kana couldn’t help but smile at her friend’s enthusiasm. “No, Vallie, there’s no one right now who’s a likely prospect.”
“Come on, Kana, this is your closest friend you’re talking to here. I know you. Give.”
Kana sighed deeply, and finally spoke again. “Well … to tell you the truth, Vallie … I met a man who’s really nice and pretty interesting … but …”
“Yes … but?”
“Well … Oh, Vallie, I’d never have thought in a thousand years that I’d be saying this …”
“Well say it, girl!”
“I feel really attracted to this man whose the brother of one of the men in Gram’s church. … As a matter of fact, he’s Delly’s uncle … but …
“Kana … he’s not married, is he?”
Kana laughed out loud. “You goose! Of course he’s not married! But there is a problem … an insurmountable one.”
“I’m listening, hon.”
“Oh, Vallie … he’s not a Christian.”
“O-o-o-h-h-h …” They both sighed before Vallie continued. “Who would have ever thought …”
“My words exactly. … Well, needless to say, I just need to forget him. … It’s just such a shame. He’s intelligent, caring … a really giving person … but he just hasn’t been able to commit himself to the Lord. Gram says it has something to do with his mother being a Christian and having to live such a horrible life because of her unsaved husband. He feels like he doesn’t want a God like that or something. I don’t know any details, because he doesn’t talk about it. He comes to church periodically when Delly sings or takes part in the service in some way. He really loves that little girl. But that’s as far as he goes.”
“Hmmmm. … You think maybe you could influence him in the right direction while you’re there?”
“Oh there are plenty of great Christians who have influence in his life. He and his brother own an auto repair business, and most of the people in Gram’s church take the Butlers their business. They all respect Lee and are nice to him, and he feels the same about them, but it hasn’t changed his mind about his relationship with God.”
“Well, dear, let’s pray before we hang up. I don’t want you hurt or unhappy while you’re down there, and neither does the Lord, so let’s trust Him to work everything out for you.”
“Thanks, Vallie. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, you know?”
“Same here. Let’s pray.”
By the time they had prayed for each other thoroughly and hung up, Kana felt a great release from the weight she had been experiencing ever since the previous afternoon. She looked at the rest of the summer through brighter eyes. After all, the Lord had always guided her and kept her in her personal relationships, and He wasn’t about to stop now. Moreover, by the time the prayer was over, she felt definitely that she should call Pastor McDaniels and offer to help with the camp. So she did.
“Kana, that’s wonderful news! And you don’t have to worry about keeping anyone else from doing it. The only other two people from the congregation who would have been at all experienced in that kind of thing and might have been able to help will be gone on vacation themselves the whole time. So you are, without question, an answer to prayer. When can you come in and look at the materials?”
“Most any time that’s convenient for you, I’d say.”
“Great. Can we try for later this afternoon then? About 4:00?”
“Sure, that’s fine. Should I come to your office?”
“Okay, I’ll be there.”
“Thanks again, Kana. I’ll call the elder who’s in charge of the camp right now and tell him his prayers have been answered.”
So with a light heart, Kana went to the church office and spent about an hour with Cameron and Mr. Howard, the camp director. They assured her that she could meet all their needs for the first grade class and gave her a schedule of the camp, including the plans for all of the staff to meet on that Friday to get acquainted and take care of any last minute preparations.
When she went to the Friday meeting, she was welcomed enthusiastically by the rest of the staff, and she felt as if she had been a part of them from the beginning. It was a productive meeting, and everyone prepared to leave feeling eager for Monday morning. Most of the staff had already drifted away by the time Kana came out of the room, because she had stayed to double check some of her materials. As she walked into the hallway, she almost ran into Lionel coming down the hall, dangling a set of keys from his fingers.
“Hi, Kana. I bet I know what you’re doing here. Delly’s been excited for the last three days since she found out you’re going to be her teacher for the camp.”
Kana laughed lightly. “Well, that’s encouraging. I hope I do as good a job as the lady who was supposed to be her teacher.”
Lionel’s eyes plunged right to the depths of her own, engaging them completely without any effort, and he smiled that easy, captivating smile as he answered. “I don’t think there’s any possibility of your doing anything other than a perfect job with those children.”
She wasn’t sure what she could say to that, and thankfully, she didn’t have to answer because just then Cameron came down the hall and spoke. “Lee, you’re finished with the bus, I guess?”
“Yep. Just brought it back,” he said, handing the keys to Cameron. “It’s everything they told you it was. Excellent condition. I don’t think you’ll go wrong buying it.”
“That’s great news! With the camp coming up, we’ll need the one we have now for a couple of local trips with the kids, while the senior citizens take a two day trip in the new one. I want them to use the new one since they’re going out of state, so we’re getting this all worked out just in time.”
“Do you want anything done to the current one before camp?”
“It hasn’t been very long since we had some work done on it, so I think we’re all right for now. But I’ll check with Jim, the driver, and see if he thinks we need to have it checked again, and call you. I guess you need a ride back to the shop, don’t you?”
“It would be easier than walking that far,” Lee said, grinning again.
“I’ll take you myself. Hilary’s waiting on her daughter to come and get her, so I’ll just tell her where I’ll be. Come on in the office a minute, and we’ll leave right away. Oh, by the way, Kana, you left a packet of materials in my office earlier too.”
Kana laughed, looking at her arms full of materials. “Well, as you can see, I hadn’t really noticed. I”ll take this stuff to the car and come back in for it.”
“Here, I’ll take that to the car for you,” Lee offered, as he reached out and took the materials from her.
“Thank you, Lee. It’s the light green Camry parked straight in front of the door, and while you do that I’ll go get what I left in the office.”
By the time Kana had stepped into the office, she realized that Cameron had just had a problem come up. He was on the phone, and Hilary whispered to Kana that it was a church member Cameron had been counseling. Kana could tell by what little she heard that Cameron felt he should take the call and not put it off. He covered the receiver with his hand and looked at Kana. “Would you have time to give Lee a ride back to the shop as you go, Kana?”
“Of course. That’s no problem. I’ll tell him you’re tied up on an urgent call.”
“Thanks a lot.”
Kana nodded. “I’ll see you Sunday. Have a good weekend, Hilary.”
“You too, Kana. I’m glad you’re going to be part of the team for the camp.”
“Me too. See ya.”
As she walked down the hall to the door, Lee was coming back in. “I’m sorry, Lee,” she said, “but Cameron just got an urgent call that he feels he has to take. Would it be all right if I give you a ride back?”
“Sure, if you have the time. If not, I can wait for Cameron.”
“I have time, and he may be quite a while from the way it sounded.”
“Then I’d be grateful for the ride. I do have a customer who wants to pick up his truck by 6:00, and it isn’t quite done yet.”
Lionel held the car door for Kana and took the rest of her papers and put them on the back seat before going around to the passenger side. As Kana backed out of the parking lot, she said, “I guess you’ll have to give me directions though.”
“Sure. Just take a right turn from here. It’ll be a couple of miles before we’re back into town where we turn again.”
“It’ll be interesting to see where your business is. Eve went shopping with Gram and me the other day, and she was telling us a little more about your very early years when it was a little bit of a struggle.”
“Yeah, it was for about three years, but then we began to move forward rapidly enough that we were able to build the building where we are now, and that put us in a position to take on a lot more work.”
“So do you live close by too?”
“My apartment’s about eight blocks away actually. When the weather’s good, I like to walk to work.”
“How many days a week are you open?”
“The five weekdays, and then Saturday mornings. Most auto repair places don’t open on weekends at all, but we realized that so many people end up needing help on those days too that we never could reconcile taking the whole weekend off on a regular basis. Sometimes we do, or if we don’t have anything really urgent, we just take turns going in on Saturday, but at least people know there’s something available if they really need us. And then too, we both keep a cell phone in case of real emergencies at any time. … Take a left turn at the next light, then go on to the next light and turn left again. We’re right on the corner.”
Kana could feel Lee’s eyes on her as she drove. His intense interest was a little disconcerting. But even more disconcerting was the little shiver of excitement that coursed through her when she glanced at him and met the strength of his gaze head on.
Just when she felt she could bear his silent perusal no longer, he spoke quietly. “This Tennessee sun has sprinkled a few freckles across your nose, do you know that?”
“Don’t remind me,” Kana said with a slight grimace.
Lionel grinned. “You don’t like them?”
“Not at all. I guess I’ll have to get out the bottle of foundation makeup. I don’t usually bother with much, but I guess it’s time.”
“Please don’t do that,” Lionel said before he could hold the words in.
Kana had pulled to a stop in the parking lot outside his building by this time and she glanced questioningly at him.
“I mean … I don’t think you should cover them up … I like them.” His gaze shifted to caress her hair a moment. “They go with the look of sunlight in your hair.”
Kana felt that little shiver again. My goodness, this auto repairman was almost a poet. Nobody had ever talked about sunlight in her hair before. She just looked at him with her mouth open a moment.
“Well … I’ll think about it,” was all she could say.
“Do that,” he answered as he moved to get out. “Thank you for the lift,” he added, closing the door.
“No trouble,” she said through the open window.
The next thing she knew, Lee was leaning back inside the window. “By the way, I really enjoyed our golf game Sunday.” He had told himself he wasn’t going to do this, but he just couldn’t seem to stop himself.
“Well, I wondered if you’d like to go again this weekend.”
Kana opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out for a moment. Finally, she did speak. “You mean … just the two of us?”
Lionel shrugged his shoulders a little. “Yes, that’s what I had in mind. Would you like to?” He sensed that she was hesitant, so didn’t want to push.
“Well, to tell you the truth, Lee … I … I can’t.”
“Oh … well … maybe another time,” he said and started to pull back out of the window.
You have to tell him, Kana, she charged herself. Tell him now before this goes any farther. She looked at him again just as he was removing his hands from the car door. “Wait, Lee.”
He stuck his head back inside.
“Do you think you could get back inside for just a minute. There’s something I need to explain.”
Lionel opened the door and sat back down beside Kana, looking at her curiously.
“You see … well … I hope I don’t offend you by what I need to tell you, but I don’t have any choice but to just say it as simply as I can. As you know, I’m a Christian.”
“Well, I made a commitment to the Lord years ago that I would never date a man who wasn’t a Christian.”
His eyes grew a little wider. But he focused on her intently.
“You see, the Word of God says very clearly that Christians are never to marry unbelievers. And while I know that going out on one date – or even two or three – doesn’t necessarily mean that two people will marry each other, I also know that when a man and woman begin to spend time like that together – privately – that it could lead pretty quickly to something more serious – even permanent. And I believe the Lord showed me that the best defense against that happening – and then one or both people getting hurt very deeply – is to avoid starting that kind of relationship, even on a small scale.”
Lionel was quiet for a moment, still looking at her. The way his eyes could look so deeply into her was almost intoxicating. Kana couldn’t seem to look away. Finally, Lee blinked and looked away. “I see,” was all he said. After another moment, he looked back at Kana. “Well … I guess that makes sense. You’re a strong person to be able to make that kind of commitment and stick to it. I admire you.” He opened the door again and got out. “Thanks again for the ride. Hope you enjoy your work with the camp.”
“Thank you,” Kana answered quietly, feeling engulfed with a sadness she couldn’t quite define. She watched Lee walk through his office door, and then started her car and began the drive back to Gram’s house. “I know it was the right thing to do, Lord,” she prayed out loud now, “but it sure doesn’t feel good. … Should I have explained it a different way?” … She shook her head a little, trying to get a handle on her thoughts. “Am I really wanting to have a relationship with Lee Butler, Lord? … I’ve never thought I’d feel that way about a man who wasn’t a believer. … I just don’t understand any of it. I think maybe I need Your help as I’ve never needed it before.”