Saturday, April 10, 2010

No Distance Too Far, A Stranger's Wish

Lauraine Snelling continues Astrid Bjorklund's journey to follow God's plan in No Distance Too Far, book two in the Home to Blessing series. Astrid wants to use her medical training to serve God and feels he is leading her in the direction of missionary service. Smarting from a misunderstanding with Joshua Landsverk, the young man she thought she loved, she heads to Georgia to attend a missionary school, hoping to eventually use her skills in Africa. If she follows God's call, will love pass her by?

No Distance Too Far

Lauraine Snelling

March 1904

Athens, Georgia

The dream was a lie. She was in Georgia, not Blessing, North Dakota.

Staring out the window did nothing to calm the butterflies rampaging in her middle. Astrid tried swallowing—once, twice—no matter, they continued to spiral and cavort. She laid a hand on her diaphragm and closed her eyes. Please, Lord, fill me with your calm and peace.

A throat being cleared behind her caught her attention. She turned, swallowed again, and smiled. At least she hoped she smiled.

"Dean Highsmith will see you now." The young man needed to loosen his collar. He appeared to be near to strangling.

Dean Highsmith, gold glasses perched on the end of a rather aquiline nose, sat down in the chair opposite her, nodding and smiling. "I received your application with enthusiasm. Rev. Schuman is an old friend of mine, and he has been raving about you." He paused for a moment. "I must say, you look amazingly young for a person of your accomplishments."

"I understand that, and yes, my youth has caused some to doubt my ability."

"I wonder why that is, that we do not expect a lovely young woman to be involved in the medical field. Stereotypes are sometimes difficult to overcome." He propped his elbows on the arms of the chair and steepled his fingers. "Be that as it may, tell me about yourself. What brings you here and where do you dream of going?"

I dream of going back to Blessing, she thought but knew that was not what he wanted to hear.

"Your friend, Rev. Schuman, was invited to speak in our church one Sunday. When he said the fields were ripe unto harvest in Africa and they desperately needed missionaries, especially medical missionaries, he looked right at me, as if I were the only person in the room. I feared…er… felt like God was speaking right at me. I have written back and forth with Rev. Schuman, who has been so encouraging—"

"I see." He tapped his index fingers against his chin, studying her all the while. "All I can do is submit your name and application to our mission board to see if they will approve a two-year enlistment for you. In the meantime I have here a list of classes you will be required to take. If all goes well, you would be leaving for Africa in early July. We allow our students to return home for a short period of time before embarking if they have any affairs that need to be put in order. As a medical missionary, the more supplies you can accumulate, the better. Our missionaries are always in need of the most basic of medical aids and equipment."

"One question. Will I be sent to the same area as Rev. Schuman? He said they are in need of a doctor there."

"Dr. Bjorklund, you have to understand something. There is a need for medical people all over Africa. The term Dark Continent is actually an apt description. There is little education, there's a terrible lack of transportation, and the sanitary conditions are beyond belief. But"—he held up one finger—"when the light of Jesus shines there, it glows so brightly that it cannot be extinguished."

Within an hour she'd emptied her trunk, hung her clothes, and found homes for all that could be folded. Her books lined the shelves above the desk, and her writing kit now lived in the central desk drawer. She pulled her trunk out into the hall, where someone was supposed to pick it up for storage. It was not hard to believe that this had been someone's home at one time, before it was donated to the school.

She sat down at the desk and dashed off a letter to her mother.

Dear Mor and Far,

I have arrived safely and already had my incoming interview with Dean Highsmith, dean of the missionary school here at Cardin College. He is a pleasant gentleman and easy to talk with. He was not pleased when I said again that I am signing up for two years and no more. While they do accept some people for two years, they prefer a much longer commitment. He said that the missionary board may not accept my application for that reason and also because I am young and single. If they turn me down, then I shall know that I have done my best and, as always, the outcome is in God's hands.

I cannot tell you how close I came to changing trains and heading west. I wish that I were more certain that what I am doing is God's will. One step at a time. Right now the staff thinks I have a tight schedule, but they have no idea what my life was like in Chicago. This will seem like a vacation. I do hope I can find something medical to do to keep my hands in tune.

I've enclosed my address. Please give it to everyone who wants it, as I would so love news from home. Here I will have time to answer them. I will write to Elizabeth immediately. I'm afraid she might be furious with me, but I hope not.

Love from your daughter,


As she read it over, she thought through the day's conversations. Even though she had been homesick and overwhelmed in Chicago, she'd still had the sense that she belonged there, if only for a time. But here she felt nothing fit. Where was that peace Mor and Pastor Solberg said came when in God's will? How long did one need to wait for it?

To purchase No Distance Too Far go to or or visit your favorite bookstore.

To learn more about Lauraine Snelling visit and
Copyright 2010. Do not reproduce without permission.

Bethany House Publishers
ISBN 978-0-7642-0610-8

* * *

A stranger's request, a secret key, a handsome man, a series of escalating threats—art teacher Kristie Matthews faces them all as she boards at an Amish farm.

"Gayle Roper is the author you've been waiting for."
-Robin Jones Gunn


Gayle Roper

By the time Jon Clarke What's-his-name drove me to the hospital, my terrible inner trembling had stopped. My hands were still cold, and the towel pressed to my cheek was still sopping up blood, but I was almost in control again. If I could only stop shaking, I'd be fine.

All I'd done was bend down to pet Hawk, the sable and tan German shepherd sleeping contentedly in the mid-August sun. How was I to know he had a nasty cut hiding under that sleek hot fur?

I was horrified when he lashed out, startled by the pain I inadvertently caused him. He got me in the cheek with a fang. I don't know about the dog, but what exquisite relief I felt when I realized he hadn't actually bitten me, just bumped me. The thought of what would have happened if he'd closed his mouth made me break out in a fine sweat.

How dumb to touch a sleeping dog. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I knew better. Everyone knew better.
As we entered the Emergency Room, I rearranged my towel to find an area not stained with blood. I went to the desk and signed in.with a woman whose jet black hair stuck out in spikes to rival a hedgehog. When she had my life's history, she patted my paper work with a proprietary air that made me wonder if she was willing to share the information with the people I'd come to see.

"Have a seat." She gave me a warm smile. "They'll be with you shortly."

Hoping shortly really meant shortly, I took my seat.

"You don't have to wait," I told Jon Clarke as he took the bright orange plastic chair beside me in the otherwise empty Emergency Room. He smiled slightly and stretched his long legs out before him, the picture of long-suffering and quiet accommodation. His posture said it didn't matter how long things took. He was prepared to be gallant and wait it out.

"Really," I said. "I'll be all right. You can go."

I was embarrassed to have inflicted myself upon this man I didn't know, this man whose last name I couldn't even remember. He'd pulled into the drive at the Zooks' Amish farm just as I bent over Hawk. While Mary Zook plied me with towels and bemoaned my possible disfigurement when she wasn't yelling at the innocent Hawk, John Clarke Whoever climbed out of his car, took me by the elbow, put me in his passenger seat, and drove me here.

"Have you lived in the Lancaster area long?" he asked, and I could have sworn he actually cared.

"Three years. I love it here."

"Were you at the Zooks' to visit Jake too?"

Too. So he had come to see Jake. I shook my head. "I live there."

That stopped him. "Really? On the farm?" He raised an eyebrow at me, an improbably dark eyebrow considering the light brown of his hair. "Have you been living there long?"

I glanced at the clock on the wall. "About four hours."

The eyebrow rose once again. "You're kidding."

"Kristina Matthews?" called the woman at the desk. Her nameplate said she was Harriet. She scanned the empty room as thought there might be several Kristinas lurking about, and I resisted the urge to look over my shoulder to see who might have sneaked in while I wasn't looking.

When I stood, Harriet smiled brightly. "There you are. Right through here, please."

When the doctor was finished, I took the paper he handed me, and hurried to the waiting room. At least Jon Clarke hadn't had to wait long once I got seen.

But the waiting room was empty. My angel of mercy had flown the coop.
Harriet got up from her desk. "He said he'd be back, honey. He looked pretty reliable, don't you think?"

I looked at her blankly.

" Listen," she said, not put off by my lack of answer. "I've got to go to the ladies' room. I'm talking emergency here, believe me. Stay by the desk and watch things for me, will you?"
Yikes. "What if someone comes in?"

"Tell them I'll be back in a minute. But don't worry," she called over her shoulder as she disappeared through a door. "Nothing big ever happens on Saturday afternoon."

Taking no comfort from those words, I looked at the quiet waiting room.

No one, Lord, okay? Not til she gets back, okay?

The prayer was barely formed when the waiting room door slid open and an older man in khaki work clothes entered. His face, damp with perspiration, matched the color of the white envelopes sticking out of his shirt pocket, and he was rubbing his left arm. He stopped beside me at the desk.

"I think I'm having a heart attack," he said as he might say he was going to sneeze.

I felt my own heart stop beating and my mouth go dry.

I ran to the door of the treatment area. "Help, somebody! Help!"

"In a minute," called a voice.

"Hurry! Please hurry!" Pushing down panic and not knowing what else to do, I went back to the man.

Suddenly he raised his head and looked at me with an intensity that made me blink. "Will you do me a favor?"

I leaned close to hear his weak voice. "Of course."

"Keep this for me." He fumbled in his shirt pocket. "But tell no one—no one—that you have it." He slipped a key into my cold hand and folded my fingers over it.

I stared at it and he stared at me as if searching my soul. He must have been satisfied with what he saw because his hand relaxed on mine and his eyes closed. "Don't forget. I'm counting on you." He gave a deep sigh, and I froze. Was that his last breath? "I'm counting on you."

The room came alive with people. Medical personnel converged on the sick man, and I stepped back with relief.

An arthritic finger tapped my closed fist as they rushed to put him on a gurney. "Remember, tell no one," the old man managed to whisper. "Promise?"

"I promise." What else could I say?

But what did I do if he died?

This material cannot be reproduced without permission of the author.

A Stranger's Wish is available at bookstores and on line at, and other sites.

Visit Gayle at her web site

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