Friday, February 10, 2012

"It Was A Dark and Stormy Night"

That was how my husband suggested I begin this story about how we met and I suppose it may have been. You see, we met in Papua New Guinea, in a town called Wewak. The coastal town was very dark at night, and quite often stormy. So let’s run with his suggested beginning and continue...
My family were missionaries with an organisation called MAF. We moved to PNG when I was in Year 10 and, as the town we lived in had no appropriate senor high school, I flew off to an international school in another part of the country. Unbeknown to me, while I was happily boarding and learning how to speak with an American accent, my family were taking pity on the mission’s young, homesick accountant named Richard. They invited him over and feed him up (so he didn’t starve on his single man’s diet of pop-corn and two-minute-noodles!). Then, when my family moved to the above mentioned Wewak during my final year of high school, they decided to invite Richard to stay during the potentially lonely (for him) Easter holidays.

Now I was used to meeting all sorts of people my family had round, but I didn’t expect to find myself laughing over a jigsaw puzzle with the mission accountant after everyone else had gone to bed. I even found myself thinking, ‘He’s quite nice, but he’s way too old!’ Poor Richard was only 24 at the time. The next time he came down for holidays, closer to Christmas this time and after I’d finished school, I decided to give him the cold shoulder. And that was the end of that.  My family uprooted and returned to Sydney, Australia. I began university, tried to lose my accent, and Richard remained in PNG. Single and eating pop-corn.

It’s funny how these things work. If this was a novel the text would now skip to Richard’s side of the story and you’d read how he thought I’d been a really nice girl, but too young, of course. You’d read how he prayed that if anything was supposed to happen between us I’d initiate it. I’d make contact first. But this was real life, not a novel and I had no idea what he was thinking. As for me, I barely thought about Richard at all until almost two years later when I was struck by a sudden guilty conscience. I don’t know what caused it, or why, but one day I recalled just how rude I’d been the last time we’d met. I felt so bad that I decided to write him a letter.  ‘To Richard...’  I wrote. ‘From Penny’.  I used the most unemotional writing possibly (you can’t be too careful with these single guys.) And he wrote back ‘Dearest Penny, I’m so glad you feel the same way!’
Aghhhhh! Not quite what I’d been expecting. But then, if this was a novel, I’d have been privy to Richard’s turmoil at being a single missionary and his anger with God for calling him to such a lonely life.  I’d have read the chapter about how one day he decided to make peace with God. He repented of his anger and decided to trust God no matter what. My letter, of course, arrived the very next day.

So, yes there’s an eight and a half year age difference between Richard and I. Yes one of my high school teachers would laugh at all the ‘nevers’ that came true by our romance, but after that first letter we kept writing and were married about a year and a half later. So you see, dark and stormy night or not, God knew exactly what he was doing and I’m glad I was the heroine who got to fall in love with the hero in this story. 

Thanks Penny. This exciting children's author often speaks at and can organise Play Group programs. You can contact her at or


Paula Vince said...

What a lovely story, Penny, full of God's fingerprints. I enjoyed reading that.
PS, if the way the last 8 years have flown is any indication, the age difference you referred to is piffling. :)
Thanks, Rita, for inviting us to share these interesting stories.

Penny said...

Yes, Thank you Rita. It was fun to remember and remind.
Thanks also for your comment Paula.
Happy Valentines day everyone!