I returned to the ship in Spain. God gave me great new friends, most of whom were older than me. I did notice that they tended to be preoccupied with if and when they would ever get married!
That disturbed me. For one thing, I had never been particularly good at choosing guys. I had tended to favor communists, (thanks to my radical bent and concern for social justice)… But their atheist philosophy was not exactly compatible with my Christian worldview!
So, to avoid spending the next few years of my life pining for a husband, I decided to ask God to arrange my marriage. Didn’t know exactly how an invisible heavenly Father would go about doing that, but said the prayer and left it there.
The weeks passed, my job changed, and instead of the pantry I was now on the Evangelism Team. We did just about every form of outreach – I learned to preach on the streets of Europe, do street drama, engage in coffee house discussions, teach evangelism workshops, work with street urchins and emcee all kinds of meetings.
More weeks passed, and the job rotation took me to head up Cleaning and Accommodation on the ship. Now that was an entirely new kind of leadership challenge! First learning the job by cleaning public restrooms, cabins, etc. (I almost gassed myself one day by mixing two powerful cleaners in a toilet!! Quite the chemical cloud.) So now I was assigning cabins, handling guest relations, and overseeing the department.
I had a desk in the lobby of the ship. I sitting there one day when the Chief Steward, my boss, called me. “By the way, Barby, Peter Ward is coming back tomorrow. He’ll be needing a cabin.”
Tomorrow arrived, and so did Peter. I heard my name paged over the PA system. I had an odd, unsettled feeling. I headed up the steps to greet him and get him logged in.
“How long are you here for?” I asked innocently.
“Oh I don’t know,” he said, somehow loading his words with extra meaning. “Maybe I’ll come for a year, get a wife, go home and get married and then come back.”
My unsettled feeling grew. I suddenly felt a vague suspicion that a hunt was on… and perhaps I was the huntee!
Did I mention that this was around the time when my first year on board was up?