by Lisa on June 18, 2012

There’s a soft knock at the door. Mia starts barking. She leaps over the couch, in a single bound, and begins scratching at the door. I’m standing at the stove as I hear David say, “Oh…it’s that girl from Germany. I told her you’d be back later. Go answer the door.”

“What girl?” I reply. “One of those exchange students selling books. You know…like the boy from France a couple of years ago,” he says.

“I’m not going to the door. Tell her we are not interested in any books right now. If I had money to buy books I’d be buying the ones we need from CC.”

“Just go to the door,” he says. “I told her you’d be back later today. Go talk to her. She’s nice.”

Now I’m a little irritated. It’s almost 8:00 pm. I’ve been gone all day at a Classical Conversations Parent Practicum. I’m in the middle of making dinner. I don’t want to go to the door and make nicey nicey small talk with an exchange student girl that I have absolutely no intention of buying one book from. “No!” I say. “Just go tell her the truth. Be nice, but tell her the truth. We are NOT buying any books or anything else from her.”

I hear the murmur of voices at the door. “Your dog is named Mia? Mom!” Isabelle shouts, “Her dog is named Mia too. And, she’s a German Shepherd.”

I stir the hamburger. I can hear her voice. She sounds just a few years older than Isabelle. David says, “Well…now is not a good time. You can come back. Lisa, when can she come back?”

I call him into the kitchen. “Tell her the truth. We are NOT buying books from her. You can invite her to dinner sometime, but we are NOT buying any books.”

He goes back to the door. “We’re really busy right now, but you can back.” He comes back to the kitchen. “Just go talk to her.” “No,” I hiss. “Invite her to dinner sometime, but I’m not going to go talk to her. I’m tired.”

I hear him trudge back to the front door. More murmuring. Then I hear, “Are you hungry? Do you want to come in and have dinner? Now?” She steps over the threshold. “Okay.”

We’ve got ourselves a dinner guest. And, not one from Germany, but a young girl from Estonia, visiting the United States for the summer, selling children’s books door to door.

“What’s your name?” asks Isabelle. “Marianne,” she replies.

I walk around the corner to see a Finnish looking girl—fair skin, round face, almost white-blond hair, light blue eyes. She removes her shoes before stepping too far into the filthy room. “You don’t have to take off your shoes,” I say. “Nothing in this house is sacred.” I look around and notice the laundry scattered all over, the dog-hair balls pooling up in the corner, the “fancy” couch pillows on the floor, the general messiness of the house. I’m embarrassed. I stick out my hand. “Hi. My name is Lisa,” I say. “I hope you are hungry. It will be a few minutes before we eat. Sit down” David pipes in, “Do you want something to drink?” “Ummm…juice.”

Marianne looks around and sits on the nearest couch. I grab the globe and ask her to show us where her country is. She turns the globe and points out the little, yellow country near Latvia and just across the Baltic sea from Finland. Isabelle starts asking more questions while I turn to walk back to the kitchen and finish dinner.

“How long are you in Eugene?” I shout from the kitchen. David wanders in and grabs the bag of lemons. “What are you doing?” I ask. “Making lemonade,” he replies. “Maybe she drinks wine,” I say. “She might be old enough in her country, but I guarantee she’s not here. I bet she’s not much older than Isabelle,” he counters.

“Marianne, do you drink wine? How old are you?” I ask. “In my country I am an adult,” she says. “In your country, I am still a child. I’m 19.” I return to cooking while David and the kids continue to ply her with questions. I hear David ask her how long she’s been in the US. “Three days.”

“Where are you staying?”

“At my host family’s house. I share a room with my roommate.”

“Did your program find the family for you?”

“No. I found them when I was trying to sell books door to door.”

“What do you mean?”

“I went knocking door to door and I was trying to sell my books. After trying to sell books, I asked if they knew anyone that would host a girl and rent a room to her.”

“What do you mean?”

“I found my family while trying to sell another family books.”

I poke my head around the kitchen wall. “Do you mean you didn’t know your host family before three days ago? And, you found them by walking around trying to sell books to in a unknown city, in a foreign county, without ANY help from your organization?”

“Yes. But, my friend and I are both living there now. They are nice people.”

“You mean you went up to a door, knocked on it, and tried to sell them books and when they said no you asked if they had a place for you to stay?”

“Yes…well kind of. I went to a house and tried to sell the occupants books. When they said no, I asked if they knew anyone who would want to rent a room out. Another woman in the house, the occupant’s friend, said she’d rent me a room, but first she had to clear it with her husband who is away on a trip in Alaska. He said yes, so we moved in.”

“That’s crazy!” I look directly at Isabelle. “You will NEVER do this,” I say. “I would NEVER let you. EVER! Don’t even THINK about it.”

Dinner is ready. We sit down at the table. Marianne joins the banter just as if it were a normal part of our day to have just any-ole-girl from Estonia show up on our doorstep for dinner. We go around the table telling of our “highs”. The kids are in unison—having Marion show up for dinner was the best part of their day. Better than camp. Better than hanging out with their friends. Better than playing. Better than everything. The 19 year old girl from Estonia was the best part of their day—hands down. I concur. Having Marianne here was not really what I had planned, but God had other things in mind.

She looks outside and then at her watch. It’s starting to get dark. She’s on her bike and planning on riding it up City View. David offers to take her home. Isabelle rides with him. They put her bike in the car. I write down our names, our address, our phone numbers and email addresses on a yellow piece of lined, office paper. We invite her back—for dinner another time.

They leave and I begin to gather up the dinner dishes. Once again, I am blessed by the unexpected—a intruder, a foreigner, a stranger. I pray.

“Thank you, Lord, for the unforeseen. Thank you for sweet Marianne. Bless her time here in Eugene. Please bless her work and make it fruitful. Protect her, and bring her back to our home (safely) to share another meal and share the unconditional love of Jesus. Amen.” 

Leave a Comment