Today, 30 Years Ago...

June 13, 1983.  While my baptism was the day that changed the condition of my relationship with God, June 13, 1983 was the day that began the chain of events that led me to Africa in the first place!

It was a beautiful summer day both in Michigan when I got on the plane and in New York where I landed.  I almost didn't get on the plane though.  My dad convinced me that going to New York for an eight-week internship with a magazine was a good idea.  I was engaged at the time and didn't want to be away from my fiancĂ© for so long.  And I was afraid of going to New York and being on my own - I was not a city girl by any means.

I don't remember the plane ride, but I do remember the taxi. The poor gentleman driving must have thought he had picked up a neurotic, crazy woman. After telling him my destination I am sure I must have told him at least a dozen times in different ways that I knew how much the ride should cost and that I would know if he cheated me.  I was a mess.

Upon arriving in front of the NYU dorm I was staying in for the summer I was alone to face the first dilemma of being on my own. I was surrounded by four suitcases sitting on the sidewalk. Being from the Midwest I had heard plenty of stories about how dangerous the streets of New York City were and how untrustworthy city-dwellers were. So I stood silently reviewing the contents of each suitcase. Which ones contained the least important things if they were stolen while I took in the first two bags?  Unsure of what to do, I looked up and down the sidewalk. A couple was strolling  toward me from one direction. I was struck by how normal they looked. I actually remember thinking to myself, "well, they look pretty normal so New Yorkers must be ok."  I was pleasantly surprised when they stopped to see if I needed help bringing my things in. They were on their way inside to visit a friend staying in that dorm. They introduced themselves and each one picked up a bag to help out. Steve went on to visit his friend, but Lisa stayed behind while I checked into my room and got the key.

It's funny how some moments in life stay etched so clearly in your memory. That day I learned that Lisa had a bad back. She apologized for not being able to carry a bigger bag for me. I learned that she and Steve had moved to New York City two weeks earlier to start a new church. She told me a lot of details about their decision to move and how things like that worked in the church. Not being religious in the slightest I didn't understand much of what she shared.   Before she left that afternoon she told me she was going to be leading  women's Bible Talk the next evening and asked if I would like to come. My response probably tickled her a bit. I asked if I had to talk. I didn't know anything about the Bible, but I would like to come listen if that was ok. It was.

I attended the discussion the next evening. I couldn't believe that I could actually follow along and understand the Bible. I had always had a lot of questions about God and the Bible. I remember praying and writing in a journal one time that God would keep me safe until I found him.  He honored that request.

Though I had always considered myself a good girl I knew in
my heart that I had made choices along my short life that weren't right. I began attending a series of studies and spent time every day over the next several weeks pouring over the New Testament, trying to grasp the new information I was learning. I was working during the day at a trade magazine in Manhattan. While everyone I met that summer and everyone I worked with was incredibly friendly and helpful, there was a marked difference in the lives and joy of my friends in the internship program and the people I was studying the Bible with. I knew what I wanted. I knew I wanted to change and embrace the teachings of the scriptures. I was plagued with worries and doubts though.

Could I really change my life and pattern my decisions and actions after what I was reading?  Would it last or was this just a phase I was going through since I was far from home?  Was it worth it to make the changes I knew would be necessary?

This is already long and full of my rambling memories. I won't go into the other parts of that eight-week stay. I did make the necessary changes. Some were easy. Some were amazingly difficult. All were based on the truth I learned in the scriptures. Thirty years later I can tell you confidently that YES, I could make the changes. YES, it was worth it. Yes, it was a forever decision and not a phase. It has made all the difference. My marriage. My children. My adventures. My friendships. Some, but few regrets in my path. I am so grateful that God answered my prayers. He kept me safe and worked out so many details to make it possible for me to find Him. I am grateful. I hope my life says thank you. And I hope and pray to have the faith and courage always to continue this journey and share with others along the way!
Lori ZieglerComment