What about the paparazzi and the fan mob? That was my first thought when I got over the shock of:
#1 the fact that Gracia Burnham had called me, me!?!, on the phone
#2 she was squeezing me into her schedule for next week even though her website says her calendar is jam packed until June of 2014
# 3 she suggested IHOP!
Last year her publishers made the extended version of Gracia’s book ‘In the Presence of My Enemies’ available for free for a limited time on Kindle to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the events that transpired in the Philippine jungles. I got it. Then I proceeded to recommend it to all my friends. The book tells the experience of the Burnham’s year long captivity which ended with the loss of Martin’s life. After 16 years of missionary service Gracia was left a widow with three children to raise amidst tragedy. The book takes a candid look at God’s calling, God’s grace, and our choice of how to respond to Him.
After reading the book I found out that Gracia lives in the Wichita area. Knowing that I would be spending some time with my family, who also live in Wichita, during our trip to the U.S. I made a shot in the dark and contacted Gracia through the form on her website, asking if I could buy her a coffee so we could chat a little.
After I got into Wichita I called their offices and left a few messages on the machine. When she called and set up a time for breakfast I caught myself before talking about the paparazzi, in case she changed her mind thinking I was some crazy stalker person. Regaining my composure I said instead, “I am so honored. Thank you very much!”
I arrived at the restaurant way too early and waited in the foyer early Wednesday morning. Part of me still expected her to show up with an entourage. A driver and bodyguard at least! She is that much of a rock star to me.
And she was so much more wonderful in real life than I had imagined in my mind. Can you believe it? So sweet, kind, humble, gentle, smiley, and peaceful. And very short!
We talked about missionary stuff, family, Wichita, Bolivia, her books, my blogs, and the passing of Chavez. I asked her if I could post a little write up on my blog. She said that was fine. I whipped out my Moleskine wherein I had prepared a few questions. I picked one.
You can find the conversation at A Life Overseas here: Breakfast with Gracia Burnham.
From start to finish I feel like this was a treat form God just for me. I was surprised to know she has visited Cochabamba, Bolivia with New Tribes Missions. Also, her son-in-law spent a bit of his growing up years in Bolivia as a missionary kid. So I told her that next time she is in town she needs to look me up. She said she would. Wow!