Pen-Paling for Jesus: Sept 10, 2014

“Who’s this guy again?” Morgan asks.

The kitchen table shakes as she flips through her World Civ. book, comparing her teachers PowerPoint notes with the text. There’s hardly enough room for my laptop.

“Timothy Jansen, the new music directors son. He goes to Pensacola Christian College.” I review my emails first few paragraphs. They contain only the basics; name, family, how 12th Street Baptist’s rummage sale went. Everything and nothing all at the same time.

“Why are you writing him?” She clicks open a highlighter and begins marking a passage. Sunday afternoons are for studying, she tells us. She never mentions why she has to wear dark sunglasses and requires near silence to do it, why the slightest sound sends her head reeling. She still smells like Jack Daniels.

“Encouragement.” I say. I beging to proof the first few lines and finding a grammatical error almost immediately, a dangling participle.

Bro. Stephens was clear about the emails criteria: be encouraging, gramericaly correct, and have at least one Bible verse. College, even a Christian college he says, can be a tempting place, and our brothers and sisters in Christ need our support. Morgan’s exempt. Apparently any college student who lives at home during the weekends can’t be in that much danger.

“Tell him about your driver’s license.” Morgan says. “Something he can identify with. Everybody remembers getting their drivers license.”

“I did.”

From the living room Dad bellows at the TV. The Titians must’ve just scored or fumbled or something. Outside the kitchen window Oliver is setting up another radio antenna, a fifteen foot aluminum creature Mom is throwing a fit over.

I begin writing about my Caravan, a 1995 in fair condition ( Bluebook $1,200, a decades earnings for a Pakistani brick maker), and about Mom and Dad’s promised fifteen dollars for gas every week. Chores or maybe a part-time job will cover everything else. I ask if he has a car or a job.

“What does he look like?” Morgan asks. She’s finished with World Civ. and has moved on to College Algebra, this semesters focal point. Dad will kill her if she drops it again. “Is he cute?”

“I don’t know.” And I don’t.

“What do you know about him?”

“Not much.” I don’t want to tell her what Mrs. Jansen told me, that Timothy was home schooled, that he plays the trumpet and sang for a governor, a Republican two Demarcates ago. These details will just conjure images of a pizza faced dweeb with a bad haircut and no social skills. I don’t want to give him up like that. Not to Morgan.

“Who else is doing this?” She asks.

“Oliver I emailing a girl at Temple University. Our Sunday school class pulled names out of a hat.”

I review the email and decide that it’s enough for starters. All it needs is a Bible verse. I push my laptop back and place my New Living Translation in front of me.

“What verse should I use?” I ask.

Morgan shrugs.

I open the book and place my finger randomly.

Leviticus 5:8 “You must bring them to the priest, who will present the first bird as the sin offering. He will wring its neck but without severing its head from the body.”

Gosh! June Bug would laugh her a** off over that one. “You don’t have any suggestions?”

“Well…” Morgan scratches her head, perhaps remembering when she taught vacation Bible school last year or assisted pre-teen Sunday school the spring before that, “s*** I don’t know.” She returns to her algebra, using more eraser than lead. Hickies peak out from under her collar like a large brown bugs.

“I’ll ask Sunny.” I say, saving the email into the drafts.

“You do that.” Morgan grunts. “I’m sure he has a thousand verses saved up in that noggin of his. What a Jesus Freak.”

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