“Done,” Lilly said pressing the button. They walked through the hall to the front door where Mrs. Hill, Marco, and Frigga were cooing, oohing, and aahing over the Carrig’s newborn in the waning San Diego evening light.
“We named him Nathaniel St. Christopher Air,” Sarah told everyone, her face aglow. “Air. We decided on it because of the whole almost-giving-birth-on-a-plane-up-in-the-air thing!”
“Well, that is one unique name,” Mr. Hill commented.
“Yeah,” Mrs. Hill agreed. “My children were dormant in the womb every time I flew during their nine months of conception. Sweetie, why didn’t you try something like that?”
“Momma, Momma,” Lilly said, “you are crazy! I had no control over when I came out.”
The Carrigs laughed.
“Marco, if our baby is born in water, then we can name it Aqua,” Frigga whispered a little too loudly.
Marco looked repulsed and backed away from Frigga who was oblivious to his sour expression and sought shelter beside Lilly until everyone took their seats at the dining table.
“What’s wrong?” Lilly asked him as he scooted his high back chair closer to hers.
“My sister,” Marco sighed in a low tone, “I truly thought I had found a pure one, a sensible girl not taken by fantasies of weddings and marriage and babies, but no.” He leaned his curly head of hair back and continued dreamily. “That’s all Frigga talked about…well, besides one scientific thing that I didn’t understand.”
Lilly put her hand on her little brother’s shoulder to comfort him and held back a smile. “No biggie,” she said. “You have many more years to continue the search.”
As the cheerful chatter died down around the table, Mr. Hill clinked on his glass with a spoon to get everyone’s full attention. “Miss Kite, would you like to say the grace for this delicious meal?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” Frigga said as everyone else reverently bowed their heads. “Grace!” After a few seconds of silence from Frigga the reverently bowed heads lifted questioningly.
“Perhaps I should have said, ‘pray and ask the Lord to bless the food,’” Mr. Hill chuckled. A loop of laughter rippled around the table with Frigga laughing hardest of all.
“Let me, dad,” Lilly said being the first to recover from the laughter. Once again everyone bowed their heads reverently as Lilly thanked God for His provision and loving care.
“Amen!” they all said at the close of Lilly’s prayer.
Over Mrs. Hill’s truly delicious curry chicken, tawa pulao, and seasoned potatoes, Mr. Hill shared the contents of Eia Sun’s letter with the Carrigs.
“I will definitely keep him in my prayers,” Manchu said upon hearing the news. “Doubt is part of the faith journey for some.”
Mr. Hill nodded understandingly. “So how are you two enjoying California after…what…three years in smog city?”
“Pretty much,” Sarah answered a radiant smile crossing her face. “The continuous sunshine is just heavenly, and I can’t wait till we go to the beach next week!” She looked lovingly at Manchu who smiled his agreement.
“Sarah, honey, be sure to get all your rest,” Mrs. Hill advised her. “Babies can be quite the demanding taskmaster. I should know.” She nodded at Marco, but he was deep in conversation with Frigga discussing how many window-like constructions there were in the coliseum, and didn’t notice.
Sarah gave the thumbs up sign since her mouth was too full to reply.
“Great to hear, Sarah. What about you, Pastor Manchu? How are you liking California after being away for so long?” Mr. Hill asked.
“Very much so,” Manchu began. Lilly detected a hint of sadness in his voice as he continued. “But, and I don’t mean this to sound ungrateful after all you and your very brave daughter have done to save our lives. I am so thankful for all you have done that I can hardly put it into words; but nevertheless, my heart is still with the members of our church that we left behind. Now, they have no pastor. I know that God will stay their eternal Shepherd and can provide for them another earthly pastor, yet, I still feel God has called me to continue ministering to them and others in China through more than just email and such. It will do no good, though, to return only to be caught and stopped for good, even though I would keep my promise to be faithful to Christ by witnessing to my fellow prison mates if that circumstance be God’s will for my future. However, there must be some other way.” Manchu clutched his chest as his voice trailed off.
Mr. Hill set down his fork deliberately, interlocked his fingers together and stared thoughtfully through half-closed eyes into the plate of food before him, his mind racing down an ever-shifting track towards a beneficial solution; but Lilly beat him there.
“There is another way,” she said. “Sometimes when I’m away from San Diego, I attend our home church online. It’s just like going to the real building. I get to participate in worship just the same and hear the message live. There’s also a chat section to interact with other church goers. I was thinking for the time being, once we find the right person to set all the technical stuff up, you can pastor and Sarah can sing from your place over here while your members can listen live and join in all the way from China through their cell phones. If they want to, they can still meet in one place to listen together. Only thing is, you guys will have to be up late at night if you want to broadcast over there and reach the Chinese people during the day time.”
The Carrigs looked at each other, then back at Lilly. “We’re ready,” they said in unison without hesitation. “It is a blessed idea even though our members might have to find their way around the internet firewall first,” Manchu added. “When can we start?”
“Not before I propose a toast,” Mr. Hill said rising to his feet and raising his glass in the air. “To good friends, God’s miracles, and the Gospel news going on.”
Cheers rose up from around the table. Even Marco and Frigga paused in their debate to clink glasses. Juice sloshed over the sides onto the table. Lilly looked around the table at all of them, and for a brief moment everything glittered.