by Commissioner Heidi Bailey, Territorial President of Women’s Ministries
I sat down at Gate 67 in the Kansas City International Airport following an amazing “Welcome Home” weekend with the Kansas and Western Missouri Division. Having a few minutes to spare, I thought I’d try to conquer Candy Crush level 242—again. At that moment the woman sitting across from me softly called my name, having read it on the nametag on my uniform.
“Heidi,” she said. “I’m Judy. Are you from here? I know a Heidi in Olathe, Kansas. Are you related?”
My reply, “Yes, in a way; Heidi is my namesake,” was sufficient to encourage Judy to share her story. Her eyes welled with tears as she quietly said she was flying back to Kenya to bury her mother, a Salvationist from Nairobi who died while visiting her.
When her mother’s cancer had reoccurred, Judy’s brother insisted she contact the Olathe Corps, which felt safe and familiar because of their Salvation Army Kenyan childhood. Lts. Heidi and Kory Strand quickly and sensitively responded to Judy’s cry to visit her mother in the hospital as her health rapidly declined. The lieutenants supported her and prayed with Judy and, following her mother’s passing, even acquired a white dress similar to the white soldier uniforms in Kenya for her mother’s burial.
There at Gate 67 time permitted one spontaneous phone call before boarding our plane for Chicago. I handed Judy my cellphone and said, “Someone wants to speak with you.” We watched her eyes brighten as she heard the voice of her “Olathe Heidi.” In the pushing and shoving of passengers boarding the plane, we stood still beside Judy, eyes closed, as Lt. Heidi prayed with her one more time.
We flew to Chicago, deboarded together and watched as Judy, strong in faith and encouraged in spirit, continued her journey to Kenya. When she turned to thank us, it was clear she was really thanking The Salvation Army in Olathe, Kan.—and every community in the Central Territory whose officers and soldiers take time to hear and respond to the stories of others. Brad and I turned to each other, grateful as well.
The Salvation Army in Kenya had planted the seeds, Lts. Heidi and Kory in Kansas had watered them and God had caused the growth.
Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8 NKJV
Let’s keep planting and watering seeds of opportunity freely, and God will continue to cause the growth. Candy Crush can wait.