By Saturday afternoon, Ellei and I were exhausted from a sleepover the night before. It took all of our energy just to get through our lunch appointment that day, and I found myself wishing I hadn't PLANNED a dinner meeting. I called Ellen again that afternoon to make sure she still wanted us to come. Unfortunately, she promised that she and two other friends were all eagerly expecting us as PLANNED.

Ellen & Diana were two of the friends I made my first week here last year. After 7 months building a friendship and slowly PLANting seeds of the Gospel, nothing ever seemed to come of it. I still hadn't seen them since my return to Asia, so when Ellen called me I finally agreed to meet for a quick dinner on Saturday.

It was rainy and cold, and we would have to travel 45 minutes to get to their campus. Their English was not the best, and I was not looking forward to an awkward dinner trying to make conversation. “Let's just get through dinner,” I told Ellei. “We'll PLAN to keep it short, maybe an hour-and-a-half at the most. We can catch the 8:00 pm bus home, and then we can relax for the night. Sound like a PLAN?”

At the last-minute as we waited for the girls to meet us, I offered up a somewhat repentant prayer, “God, help us to not just get through dinner…somehow, make tonight meaningful.”

At dinner I maneuvered my chopsticks past some meat that resembled breaded worms to retrieve some harmless potato-like chunks at the bottom of the dish. We had a pleasant time, but I politely turned down requests to come back to their dorm room to hang out afterwards. “We really need to get home,” I explained. “We have PLANS, and you probably need to study for next week's final exams.” (I could almost taste the hot chocolate waiting for me in my warm home!)

It was freezing cold outside, so I tried to pick up the pace on the way back to the bus stop. Great! Only fifteen minutes remained before the next bus would leave. Then out of the blue, Ellen surprised me with a question. “While we wait for the bus, could you tell us a story about Jesus?” She could hardly pronounce His name in English, but I had heard correctly. (OK, God, I guess this is where it gets meaningful! At this point we changed PLANS and let the bus leave without us.)

The three girls wondered why Judas betrayed Jesus. Ellei explained the story and then I told them that Jesus actually let Himself be killed. “Well, you see, it was all part of THE PLAN. Do you know about THE PLAN?” I asked them. Wide-eyed, they listened as I explained God's PLAN from creation to the cross, and we told them how much God wanted to have a personal relationship with each of them. (There goes the second bus.)

As it turns out, in the months since I last saw them, God has been at work drawing these girls to Himself. Diana visited a church over the summer, and Ellen met an Asian Christian who encouraged her to read the Bible.

Ellen had started reading the Bible almost every day and said she found it addicting. “I believe in Jesus now, and I want to be His disciple!” I could hardly believe my ears!! I remember telling them the Christmas story last year, and PLANting seeds, but they had
never shown much interest. But God had been slowly winning them over, and now they were ripe for the harvest! (Bus three drives off!)

After explaining the Gospel and what it means to become a Christian, I finally asked if any of the girls wanted to pray right then. Without hesitation Ellen exclaimed, “I think we all do!” And Diana and her roommate Michelle both eagerly nodded. So Ellei and I led them in prayer, then listened as they prayed in their language, welcoming Jesus into their lives.

By the time we climbed on the bus, it was 9:30 pm…only 2 and-a-half hours, three missed buses, and three new sisters later than I'd PLANNED. But it was all part of HIS PLAN! And I have to admit that, as usual, HIS PLANS are way better than mine!