And my friend Martha (red shirt, no scarf) had brought along some photos from another breakfast at McDonald's in Cairns, Australia in June 2000.
That particular breakfast at McDonald's came at a difficult time in all our lives. We had just spent 5 days on HMS Tobruk, an Australian tank transport, after being evacuated from the Solomons with 15 minutes' notice. (Seriously. They called at 4:45 and said we had to be at the wharf at 5:00. My friend Roxanne said that potential looters would see that her house had been pre-ransacked, and move along. But all that is a story for another day. Let me know if you want to hear it.)
When Martha plunked this picture down on the table the other morning, we talked about the other couple in this picture with Andy and me. That's us in the front, baby faces and all. On the other side of the table are Patrick and Sharon Smith, of Perth, Australia.
This photo commemorates the last time I saw them in person. But three years later, they figured into one of the most profound God-moments of my life.
The geographical place for this God-moment was Papua New Guinea. The emotional place was major clinical depression, with a side of extreme anxiety and a sprinkle of psychosis every now and again.
Even though I was really in a bad place emotionally, I was getting a lot of good support from friends and I was having this strange experience of feeling horribly depressed but knowing that God was with me anyway.
My friend Pam said, "Honey, that's not weird. Read the Psalms." And my friend Karen shared with me that scripture about the Holy Spirit praying for us with groanings too deep for words.
So one morning I was sitting with another friend and I said, "Even though this is really bad, I feel like God is giving me gifts right now that I don't even know to ask for."
And when I said those words--"God is giving me gifts right now"--the phone rang. A fellow missionary I knew in passing said, "Hey, there's a guy coming to your door in a minute. He's wearing a blue shirt. He's got something for you."
A few minutes later, this guy in the blue shirt knocked on the door and handed me a plastic grocery sack.
Inside, there were three small gifts, wrapped in orange paper with purple ribbon. (It was perfume and chocolate. Just in case you ever wonder what God would send you in a care package.)
So I said to this guy, "Who are you? And why are you giving me this stuff? Are you sure it's for me?"
Turns out, he was the youth pastor at Patrick and Sharon Smith's church in Perth, Australia. He had come to speak at an event for the missionary youth group. And when the Smiths heard he was coming to PNG, they decided to send some gifts along for us.
Now, since we had left the Smiths at McDonald's in Cairns, Australia, we had been in Tennessee for six months, then on the PNG coast for a year, then in the Solomons for a year, and then in the PNG highlands for about three months.
That's four international moves in three years. I had trouble keeping track of myself. How the Smiths had kept track of me, I do not know.
And how these gifts managed to arrive on my doorstep at THE EXACT MOMENT when I was horribly depressed but saying, I have this weird feeling that God was giving me gifts I didn't know to ask for?
That's what our pastor said this morning. That the glory of God is His "manifest presence, undoubtedly known in a particular place."
It's intimidating to think of how we can glorify God. We are just normal people. How could we possibly ever make God's present manifest and undoubtedly known in a particular place?
All I know is how other people have done it for me: with simple acts of love and care.
In orange paper with purple ribbons.
In the long dark nights of my soul, over cups of chai, over lunch, with phone calls and emails, and breakfast at McDonald's.
So, this Holy Week, when I think about how to glorify God, this is what I know to do: love and care for the people in front of me.
And when God is glorified, I might not even know it. But that's OK, because I am not the star of this rodeo anyway.
In all our simple, normal, loving lives, Lord, be glorified today.