Pulling back the Iron Curtain to view real life behind that Iron Curtain...
[Part One: The Night the Vice President Came to Dinner]
Part Two: An interlude into the account
Upon entering our home, Mr. Vice President interacted with our three pajama-clad children, and I busied myself putting his lovely bouquet of roses into a vase. Having the entire focus of such a kind man seemed to bring out the best in our munchkins. He held their rapt attention and spoke of his own three children, their dogs, their home in a distant land, and a recent opportunity—of all things—to go scuba diving.
Before the younger Thompsons said goodnight, we invited our dignified guest to read their bedtime devotional to them. This request did not exist in isolation, rather, it stood as a tradition in our family. Living a dual life as undercover missionaries in a Communist nation required us to use our home as command central for most of our clandestine activities. Thus, many of God’s choicest saints walked through our front door, and we believed their influence was a blessing to be harnessed. Typically, we invited the guest to read the Bible and pray with our little people before they shuffled off to bed.
This particular evening fit with our pattern, and Mr. Vice President gladly engaged. While reading the story, he also, simply, clearly and warmly, shared the Gospel, the message of salvation. After prayer, I led them upstairs and tucked each into bed, two in one room, and the oldest in another.
On this night, I wasted no time in the routine. Hug, hug, kiss, kiss, sweet dreams, sleep tight, night, night. I pulled the door closed behind me, and blithely descended the stairs. Children in bed…guest in living room…Debby in kitchen. All is well.
But not for long.
In Part One, you recall, my entire meal ended up in the garbage. And, between entrée number one and entrée number two of the ghastly concoction, I nervously made an appearance in the living room to assure the pair of gentlemen, my husband, and Mr. Vice President, that all was well.
Now, upon leaving the living room, and before returning to the crisis in the kitchen, I thought it wise to check in on the sleeping angels upstairs.
Oh, my word. Nothing could have prepared me for the naughty behavior playing out behind the door of that bedroom where two of our three children slept. No, the two were not under their covers; they were not even in their bunk beds. Who knows how long they had been at their mischief.
In partnership, using a small tea strainer, my offspring were having a jolly good time with their own version of "go fishing" as they—one by one—lifted their fish out of the aquarium to study their anatomy. With water around them on the floor, these two were a colossal mess. Yes, they were small children, but they knew better.
Whoa! My circumstances were rolling over me, and I had no plan for backup. Downstairs an international guest sat in my living room waiting for a home cooked meal, which was now tossed out. And Upstairs I had two wet, naughty children standing wide-eyed with a mess of dead fish around them.
Compartmentalizing my horror, I placed motherhood on hold and shoved them back into bed with a promise to deal with this, and with them, in the morning. I closed the door, left the Crisis Upstairs and returned to the Crisis Downstairs.
Tiptoeing past the living room door, too traumatized to go in, I reentered the kitchen, the scene of the original Crisis. Feeling like a failure as a hostess (for good reason), and feeling like a failure as a mother (for good reason), I took a deep breath, and looked at the communist clock on the wall. This was the 1980’s behind the Iron Curtain, and there was no such thing as takeout pizza, or for that matter, takeout anything.
I begged God for composure just to keep going. “Lord help me,” was my fervent and genuine prayer. The angel of the Lord camps around those who fear him, and he delivers them (Psalm 34:7). The Word of God and the Spirit of God worked overtime on my behalf in the kitchen, and as you know from Part One, the evening eventually came to an end.
At least the rice was good.
[Part Three to follow.]