Sitting in the eye doctor’s office earlier this week, I was doing the things that you do when in a quiet waiting room, playing a game on my phone and hoping the advertisements that popped up were muted and would not start blaring the sounds of the Halloween themed movie preview. My vision fuzzy from already having removed my contacts in preparation for the eye exam, I was not feeling particularly observant. I suppose this is why I was startled when an elderly gentleman sat down next to me and struck up a conversation. “You remind me a lot of one of my granddaughters,” he said. “Are you in school?” I replied that I had just graduated from LSU and inquired about his grandchildren, not really prepared to launch into the long conversation about what I am doing now that I am out of school, I had a gut feeling that David (that was his name) was a talker. The granddaughter that I reminded him of was still in school and his grandson was taking a year off before looking for a job. “He’s taking some time to travel the world,” he said, “have you ever been out of the country?” And it was with these gently sneaky questions that David coaxed me into talking about my upcoming plans to work in Tanzania.
He wanted to know about the United Methodist Church, were the Methodist Churches in Africa? How were my parents handling this transition? Did I speak another language? I did my best to answer all of his questions. Soon the nurse came into the waiting room to collect me. I shook David’s hand and felt something warm and metallic in his grip. I withdrew to find a large goldish coin with John Kennedy’s face, looking rather contemplative, weighing heavily in my palm. “That’s called a Pop Pop coin,” he said. “Oh,” I replied a little confused trying to recall a currency that used “Pop Pops.” “I’m Pop Pop to my grandkids, and I give them these coins, so they are called Pop Pop coins. I also give them out at my church. I’m Baptist, not Methodist, but every time I give out a coin this week I will tell the person about you and ask them to pray for you.”
The nurse was shifting politely but impatiently, so I made a quick reply of thanks and then hurriedly followed her into the next room. As I was walking away, David called out, “I gave you one with Kennedy on it cause most young people like Kennedy!”
Who would have thought a former president would be accompanying me on my international mission of peace and learning, and that there would be a Baptist praying for me! I wonder if I could enlist the crew of the Enterprise on this mission as well?