Love Finds the Major
|MS Freedom of the Seas|
Shortly after Tom's wife of 44 1/2 years died, his sister Dee called and wanted him to accompany her and her husband (Tom's college buddy Wayne) on a Caribbean cruise aboard the Freedom of the Seas, a huge luxury liner. At first, Tom did not want to do it. Why would he want to go on a cruise without Rachel? But even her family said it would be a good thing for him. Besides, Wayne had contracted Alzheimer's Disease, but could still enjoy a cruise. Tom had plenty of experience caring for people with handicaps, so he was a natural choice. Since he was only a part-time caregiver, he had plenty of time to explore the cruise ship.
He quickly noticed that many of the women on the ship did not wear a lot of clothing due to the tropical climate. That bothered him, especially since he was newly single. He did what he always did when he sensed a problem, he took the matter to prayer. He also reminded himself that he was there to care for his old college buddy and brother-in-law Wayne, so that he could enjoy the cruise.
Still, there was plenty of time for Tom to explore this massive ship. One day, when he was going past a stateroom, he noticed a woman who was singing Christian lyrics while she was doing her work. He thought to himself, I wish she was the one taking care of my room. She was not, but shortly thereafter, the Lord arranged their meeting.
Tom shortly received the "Divine Appointment" of the Holy Spirit to talk with her. He would learn that her name was Arlene. They exchanged phone numbers and finally they met for a Bible study date. Tom remembered from his time courting his first wife that the key to a successful marriage was whether they could communicate and work together. This time, Tom was even more cognizant of the need for any relationship to be the Lord's Will. He sent out a "fleece" unto the Lord, that the relationship was of Him. (Judges 6:16-21)
|Tom and Arlene Baird|
In time, the Lord showed both of them through several events that their relationship was of Him. What Tom did not realize is that his relationship with Arlene was the beginning of a new ministry in his life. They got married and he moved to St. Vincent's Island, just off the coast of South America. He would learn that when she had prayed for a husband, she found herself asking for a "white man" that would help her finish raising her children.
Any thought that he was heading to a tropical island to retire was eliminated immediately. He soon learned that going to St. Vincent and the Grenadines was a completely new mission field. Unlike the cold regions of Alaska, St. Vincent Island is a tropical climate that brings its own set of problems. One of them is a new set of tropical diseases that often affect visitors to the area. Tom however, was already immune to many of these diseases because of his time in Vietnam. He began to realize that his time in Vietnam many years ago was just preparation for his work on St. Vincent.