Later, my longing for an instrument came back with increasing intensity, and I appeared before the throne with a plea welling up from deep inside me:
"LORD, could you please provide a guitar?"
A guitar would be perfect. I had wanted to learn to play the guitar for a long time, and that summer I had taken one month of guitar lessons and then had continued practicing by myself with my instruction books, so I had made a beginning. A guitar is about the best missionary instrument I can think of--it's portable, you can sing along with it, and it is extremely versatile for lots of kinds of music.
The next day, I was talking with some short-term visitors who had come down to serve the kids in our creche, and one of them sat down in the schoolroom to talk to me while the kids were on their lunch break.
"What is your biggest WANT?" she asked me.
"A guitar!" I blurted out before I could stop myself. Then I felt awful for saying it, because I didn't want to hint or manipulate or ask for the guitar, but just watch God provide it. So I made a lame attempt to backtrack my words, but of course it was too late.
One of the other ladies who was sitting nearby joined in the conversation and said she knew some guitarists. "Let me see what I can do for you," she said. So when she went back home, she pulled some strings.
On December 6, I got an email from this woman.
I am so excited to share this news with you. A very dear friend of mine has graciously given me a guitar for you. It was made by hand for her and she wants you to have it. She is an international bluegrass artist. She does not want to be recognized for the guitar. The gentleman who made it for her lives on the east coast and made it by hand. He used a very beautiful piece of wood and used mother of pearl inlay. It is coming to you in it's own hard case with strings, k-po (sp?), picks and a string tightener. Also, the guitar is alittle heavier than most. It is reinforced to hopefully hold up in Haiti weather.
She hope that you will enjoy this with the children and she would love to see a picture of you & the kids playing the guitar. ___ is taking the guitar with her tonight to Indiana with all the other donations. It will be on the van being sent to the Creche loaded with donations for the children. Please let me know when you get the guitar. I am being told that the van is on its way to Haiti at the end of December.
Love to you and the children."
She added two pictures of this BEAUTIFUL guitar.
I sent back my flabbergasted reply.
Oh my word! I don't know what to say!
(Pardon me while I lift my eyes heavenward and gasp, GOD, THIS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT FROM YOU TO ME!!!!!)
I am speechless. That is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beyond words, amazing, incredible... what can I possibly do to thank her--and you--and God???
Please know, and let this precious woman know, that her gift will be used lovingly, tenderly, and gratefully, protected with zealous care, and absolutely TREASURED, because it IS a treasure! I look at it as if it were sent straight down from from the storehouse of Heaven itself. It will be used to bless countless orphan children with a joyful noise and the rare opportunity to obtain musical instruction. It will be used for the praise and glory and honor of God, accompanying children's voices raised in song to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
As a musician, I know, and I feel deeply, the heart-rending sacrifice it is to give up an instrument. It's scary enough to let another musician touch your instrument sometimes, let alone someone you don't even know, especially when it's such a special instrument, one that was hand-made for you. And to think of sending it off to another country where you will probably never see it again, in a climate you know is not good for it, is true selflessness and sacrifice in its purest expression. I do not take that lightly, and I know that God sees it and will bless that heart of giving one's best.
So you said it was reinforced to hold up in the Haiti weather? That's great! Did they do that specially for sending it down here, or was that already done before? You saw how that other guitar was, so you know how essential that will be! Thank them for doing that--it will be sure to give it a longer term of useful service.
"That other guitar"
Grateful and humbled and blessed by this staggering generosity,
I waited expectantly for the van to come down, and it finally did! However, it sat in the port in Saint Marc for weeks, and I was a bit anguished to think of the guitar sitting inside it, roasting in the heat. "Oh, Lord, please protect the guitar!" I pleaded again and again.
The van finally got out of port, and the guitar was not on it. I found out it had been left in Indiana, where they had loaded the van, and it was sitting safely in someone's living room. What a relief. Even though it meant that I had to wait longer to get it, it had been protected from getting needlessly ruined.
Over the course of the next few months, I exchanged emails occasionally with the woman who had made this guitar possibility come to life. She would ask if I had gotten it yet, and I would say no. Finally, the day came when it was time for me to leave Haiti, and I felt that in good conscience the right thing to do was to give the guitar up. It had been given for use in Haiti, and I was no longer in Haiti. I could not keep it.
I sent a message and offered it back, but they wrote and said to me that they wanted me to use it in ministry. It was a glorious day!
So as I drove through Indiana the other day, I stopped and picked it up. I was in the middle of an 800-mile journey home, but I couldn't wait. Right then and there, I tuned it up and played. The gorgeous, buttery, rich, deep sound just blew me away! I could not believe what God had done for me.
And now I have a guitar, and I practice it every day!
Is not my God an amazing, generous, all-powerful, extraordinary Father?