Treasure Hunt #5

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

Thirteen Treasure Hunters. Thirteen human Treasures prayed for by each of the two teams. These seemed strangely fitting numbers for the first Treasure Hunt conducted in the year 2013 . . . much the way twelve participants fit the final hunt of 2012. As Brandy slyly commented following this year’s first excursion, “Math is cool.” Spoken like the true mathematician she is.

As we bantered over where the clues were leading us, most group members came up with either Target or Fire Wheel Mall. But Darla, a first-time participant, envisioned a gas station . . . accentuated by the image of a Food Mart slipping into her mind’s eye. “I also see the color pink,” she added. “And red. And purple. And blueberry . . . Hey, there’s a whole rainbow of colors in my mind.”

“And what I picture looks like the inside of someone’s house,” Abby exclaimed. “There’s this dark living room with two comfy-looking easy chairs. . . .”

Where on the hunt might we find a rainbow? Or someone’s cozy living room?

It would not take us long to find out.

As we each called out where we felt God was leading us to go, our group formed into two teams. The group’s two sets of spouses—Dustin and Brandy, Gerald and Bonnye—ended up divided, one to each team, as did the co-leaders Cheryl and Abby. “God has a way of evenly aligning us,” Cheryl observed with wonder.

Her team, which also included Darla, Bonnye, Dustin, Tristen, and Jennifer with her two children Cheyenne and Corbin, had initially felt led only to Target. But Darla’s clues of the gas station and Food Mart sparked Cheryl’s special interest. “I know that place,” she said. ”It’s in the shopping strip with the Track Bar and Grill.” So they loaded up and headed for their bounty.

As they arrived and began to stroll toward the store, Dustin slowed to a stop. “Let’s pray with our smaller group,” he suggested. As he gathered the members round him, Cheryl remembered Gerald’s clue of the sidewalk. “Let’s take the long way to the store on the sidewalk,” she told her team.

As they headed toward the Track Bar, two men came out. “Hey, I know that guy,” Cheryl exclaimed with excitement. “John’s the cook there, and my husband and I have prayed for his son before.” The team approached John and, after asking how he was and praising God for the good report, prayed a blessing over him and his family.

As the Treasure Hunters continued toward the Food Mart, they decided to split up. While part of the team took off for the store, the rest headed into the Donut Shop. The group intended to pray general blessings over Tina, but she had a ready list. “Would you pray for my business to prosper?” she asked with an eager gaze. “And I’d also like prayers for each of my children, who are off at college.” In her gratitude, Tina blessed the group with donuts, coffee, and chocolate milk. Following the prayers, Cheyenne exclaimed with amazement at the owner behind the counter. “Look, she’s wearing Gerald’s clue . . . yellow shoes!”

The other group entered the Food Mart and at once found Darla’s clue of brown. “Hey, that clerk over there has brown hair and is wearing a brown jacket.”

When the group first approached Rhonda, she shook her head. “No, I don’t have any prayer needs.”

Dustin checked his list. “Not even any foot problems?”

The clerk’s eyes widened with surprise. “Well, now that you mention it, my feet do hurt. I also have a headache and ringing in my ears.” She beamed when the Treasure Hunters prayed over her for healing. “I’m a sister in Christ,” she told them afterwards. “I feel so encouraged by what y’all are doing.”

The team’s two contingencies met up outside, supposing they were off to Target.

But not yet. First came time to encounter Darla’s rainbow.

Jennifer saw it first. As the two carloads of Treasure Hunters stopped at a red light just before the RaceTrac, Dustin hopped out of the lead car and pointed at it until realization registered on the other car’s occupant’s faces. They nodded in agreement and when the light changed to green the cars in the right lane kindly let the team’s two cars pull over from the middle lane and enter, enabling them to turn into the gas station’s parking lot.

And to head straight for Darla’s rainbow.

There it glowed and glimmered, splashed across a tanker truck. Vibrant pictures of pink, red, raspberry and purple drinks had been painted along its sides. Several of the beverages even included Brandy’s clue of shaved ice.

Descending on the driver of this vivid vehicle, wearing Bonnye’s blue shirt clue, the group introduced themselves and told him about their Treasure Hunt. “I’m doing potentially dangerous work,” Teddy informed them.

“Hey, that fits my clue about work,” Tristen exclaimed.

“We believe you’re our Treasure,” Darla told Teddy with a warm smile. As she prayed over him with her gift for pastoral sensitivity, offering prophetic words about a heart and need for spiritual healing, the good-natured driver’s eyes grew moist. So did those of her fellow Treasure Hunters, as Darla also prayed over them before leaving the group to meet other commitments.

The remaining seven Treasure Hunters headed for Target, Cheyenne’s clue, in the twenty-five minutes they had left to hunt. As soon as they burst through the entrance, another one of Tristen’s clues, they found a lady setting up for a food-sampling event. Cheryl eyed her name tag. “Look, her name is Martha! Didn’t you have that name on your list, Bonnye?”

“I sure did. Let’s go tell her what we’re up to.”

As the group approached her, Martha’s face lit up with a smile of delight. Her blue eyes twinkled under her cap, and dimples danced on each cheek . . . all clues from Cheryl’s list.

Bonnye checked her own list. “Do you have any stomach problems, Martha?”

“Why, I certainly do.” Martha’s eyes now widened with amazement. “I’m scheduled for an ultrasound this week to have my gallbladder looked at.”

After the group informed her she was their next Treasure, Martha agreed to let them pray over her. “We believe God can heal you of your issues,” Cheryl assured her. “I shop here a lot, and in days to come I’ll be on the lookout for you. I’ll be looking for a praise report!”

Continuing on their quest through Target, the Treasure Hunters passed their clues of frozen meat—no prospective human Treasures in that aisle—and searched for the clues of blenders and of red shirts or jackets. Among the plethora of Target’s cherry-colored employee vests they spotted one orange shirt and, along with a smattering of other clues, the names Stan and Bill.

“Are your names Stan and Bill?” Cheryl asked two young guys in the photo department.

They both shook their heads. “I’m Brad, and he’s Eric,” one of them replied. “But our manager’s name is Bill.”

After explaining to them about the Treasure Hunt Cheryl asked, “Do you have any prayer concerns?”

Brad was funny, with quick wit fitting one of Cheryl’s clues. As he commented about the names we had and their lack of ailments as we checked for any matches, then a couple clues did fit. Their boss’ name was Bill and they marveled at us finding him for a treasure. For Eric, Cheryl has a place, like a place to live as one of the possible prayer concerns.

“Well, I sure would like a place of my own,” Eric admitted.

After blessing the pair with quick prayers, the group moved on in search of Bill and blenders.

They never did find Bill, but they did find a lady dressed in orange that Dustin checked for prayer needs. As the rest of the group forged on scouting for blenders, two nearby women approached, one Cheyenne had noted as the possible treasure. “Did I hear you folks say you’re looking for blenders?” one of them called out as they joined the group in strolling down the aisle. She pointed. “Look, they’re right over there!”

As the group paused by the blenders to explain their mission, the ladies exchanged puzzled glances and murmured several comments. Then Lisa, the younger of the two, spoke up. “You can pray for my fertility,” she confided to the Treasure Hunters.

“Let’s have Tristen pray for you about that,” Cheryl suggested. “She’s received the clue of kids.”

After Tristen’s beautifully sweet and humble prayer, the group continued chatting and recognized more clues about Lisa. “Look, we have ‘yellow shirt’ written on here, just like yours,” Cheryl told her as the Treasure Hunters showed her their respective lists. “And that slogan printed across it, ‘Field of Faith’? Well, that kind of fits in with our clues of ‘acreage’ and ‘open spaces.’ ”

“We also have ‘loops,’ which could mean your hoop earrings,” Tristen added.

As Lisa opened up and shared more, Dustin had the opportunity to speak words of affirmation over her. “Would you also pray for my husband Richard?” she asked afterwards. “He’s a police officer, and he wants to start a devotional meeting. But we sense that he and his whole department are under attack for all they want to do.” Tears glistened in her eyes and her voice shook as she continued. “His job is so hard with all the negative stuff they see every day.”

“Look at these clues of ‘light’ and ‘daylight.’ ” Cheryl again pointed to her list. “I can see your husband carrying God’s Light into dark places.” Again the group prayed, this time for Richard. Then the other lady Sue, who turned out to be Lisa’s mom, spoke up. “We were really in need of your words,” she told the group with misted eyes. “It’s so good you folks are here today.”

As the Treasure Hunters headed for Target’s exit door, they spotted numbers on the register lanes. “We still have the clue of ‘eight,’ ”Cheryl reminded the group. “Lane 8 is open. Let’s check it out.”

A young man stood behind the counter in an unusually open line. As the group strolled through his lane and stopped to visit with him, several noticed his towering height . . . another clue, corresponding with the word tall.

“Do you have a girlfriend, Jason?” Dustin asked, moving on the word of knowledge he’d received as he spoke with him about a girl in the young man’s life.

“I do, and she’s important to me.” Jason seemed startled yet pleased by the question.

“Take good care of her,” Dustin advised the young cashier. And the group encouraged him that God knows him and loves him. Jason received all words of blessing cheerfully, beaming as the Treasure Hunters told him good-bye.

In the meantime Abby’s team, which also included Brandy, Gerald, Diana, and Julie, headed off in Abby’s “church bus” for Fire Wheel. The group’s collective visions of sidewalks, benches, trees, wind, and a river led them to sense God had called them to the outdoor mall’s picturesque walkways.

“Hey, check out those kids!” Abby pointed out her window with excitement as she steered her van into the central square. Following where she pointed, the others saw them. A whole knot of young boys scuffling about the fountain, all sporting brilliant green shirts.

“Just like on my list,” Julie mused with wonder. And the group had no sooner scrambled from the parked van than they spotted the Nestle’s candy store . . . which proved likely to display her clue of chocolate mints.

As they strolled down the sidewalk (Gerald’s clue), passing Abby’s clues of several benches and a clock, Gerald whipped out his cell phone and presented it to the group with a flourish. “Look.” With a teasing grin, he indicated the phone’s photo of two blinding yellow shoes. “There’s my first clue already!”

Inside the candy store, Abby again whooped with excitement over the large heart-shaped cookies on display behind the counter. “Whoa, there they are. Hearts! Another one of my clues.” And as Julie scouted round for chocolate mints, she noticed several green minty-looking chips planted inside chocolate cookies. Did those count? She wondered. But it hardly mattered, because then she looked up to see another of her clues . . . the lady behind the counter with brown hair.

On hearing about the team’s mission, the friendly brunette employee requested prayer for her son. “He’s traveling overseas for the first time on a business trip,” Pam told the Treasure Hunters. “His his wife and kids are really concerned for him.” Before we prayed for Pam’s son and his family, Brandy thought to ask his name.

“It’s Jacob.”

“Hey, two of us have that name on our lists,” Abby exclaimed, showing her. “You’ve gotta be our first Treasure.”

The group also prayed for Pam’s assistant, young Steve, who turned out to know Diana’s son from attending the same high school. “What a small world!” Diana marveled.

As the Treasure Hunters headed out the candy store, three more people burst through the door. All three—a lady and her two teenage daughters—were also wearing green shirts.

Brandy strode right up to them with a smile. “You guys need any prayer?”

“No, no. We’re on our way to a party.” With one nervous glance at the eager group of Treasure Hunters, the mom hurried both girls off down the sidewalk.

“Hey, they’ve still gotta be our Treasures,” Abby pointed out. So though the green-shirted trio had quickly disappeared, the team still prayed for them before heading off in search of their next human Treasure.

“Look, there’s another one of my clues . . . a raincoat.” Julie pointed to a window display. And when the group strolled into the New York Company clothing store, they found her. A lady with golden highlights streaking auburn curls . . . fitting Bonnye’s and Jennifer’s clue of unusual-looking hair. While Bonnye, Abby, and Julie cruised the store for other clues, such as gold necklaces sprouting white cats or seashells—none of these appeared—Brandy and Diana engaged Raquel, their prospective human Treasure, in conversation.

“We prayed for members of her family,” Diana reported afterwards with a glowing smile. “That was one of my clues. But since Raquel only spoke Spanish, I was sure thankful to have a fluent native speaker like Brandy along with me.”

Next stop: Barnes and Noble, which perfectly fit Tristen’s clue of books. “And there’s our next prospective Treasure.” Bonnye indicated the girl behind a counter, whose midnight hair flowed over slim shoulders. “She fits Gerald’s clue of long hair.”

“Yeah, and check this out.” Abby grinned. “She’s also wearing my clue—boots.”

Nicole of the fashion boots and flowing dark tresses turned out to suffer from Diana’s clue . . . a sore throat. “Thanks so much, you guys.” She beamed as the Treasure Hunters prayed over her throat. “I’m sure it’s already getting better.”

No sooner were the Hunters back out on the sidewalk when Abby skidded to a stop. Stared in astonishment at another window display then announced, “Hey, you guys. We’ve gotta go in here.” She hustled all the rest into what at first appeared to be a cave . . . black as the night, save for illuminations of animated seascapes sweeping several walls. But as the Treasure Hunters’ eyes adjusted to the murky dimness, they found themselves inside another clothing store . . . this one geared to trendy teens.

As the group toured this boutique they found many other clues, including a bear (Tristen’s clue, lumbering across a California flag that was mounted on display). After joining Diana in admiring azure waves lapping stretches of sand in several seascapes, Julie found herself plopped on a chair nearby a man named Ron . . . whom several others were engaging in conversation. Suddenly Abby tapped her shoulder. “Hey, Julie, you wanna pray for Ron?”

“Um . . . what did he need prayer for again?”

“My father-in-law’s been sick,” Ron explained with a smile, after pumping Julie’s hand in introduction. “He’s been suffering from bronchitis, thyroid problems, and issues with his back.”
“Does his back make him stoop over?” Gerald scanned his list for the clue of bent back.

“Naw. It just hurts him a lot.” As the Treasure Hunters interceded for the needs of his wife’s father, Ron’s face glowed with pleasure . . . the same pleasure Julie felt upon getting to pray out loud for the first time. “You guys are doing something really wonderful,” he assured the group afterwards. “I want to encourage you all to keep it up.”

As he headed for the exit, Ron was joined by his wife . . . still another person sporting a green shirt. But the couple scurried off before anyone could snag her as another human Treasure.

Meanwhile, Diana engaged Marie in prayer . . . the teenage cashier the group had passed as they walked in. “I felt really drawn to her from the beginning,” Diana, a first-time participant, shared later with a tender smile. “She was so sweet, and I found her in tears over her boyfriend. He’s moving off to college, and she’s worried the relationship won’t last. But I could see the Holy Spirit comforting her as we prayed, and I just had to give her a big hug.”

As the Treasure Hunters started down the sidewalk, Julie turned to Abby in curiosity. “Why were you so eager to herd us all into that store?”

“Look.” Abby pulled her to a stop. Pointed to a window, grinned with sparkling eyes. “Remember my picture before we headed out, of the darkened living room with those two cozy easy chairs?”

Julie looked. There, in the teen boutique’s window display, they sat . . . two comfy brown leather easy chairs, pulled up before a coffee table as though to invite a weary couple to flop down and rest their feet. A dark living room . . . exactly like the one in Abby’s vision. Only not at someone’s home, but rather arranged to beckon customers into a trendy teen boutique. “A store whose skimpy clothing products show up in not the best magazines,” Abby continued dryly as the group headed off for her van. “It’s no coincidence God led us to this place.”

After dropping Julie off at the home where she was house-sitting, Abby drove the others to Palio’s Pizza Shop . . . the rendezvous point for both teams of Treasure Hunters. When Cheryl’s team strolled in, young Cheyenne made a startling announcement.

“I’m ready now to pray.”

“That’s great, Cheyenne.” Cheryl broke out in a smile, for she and the others on her team had been encouraging Jennifer’s daughter to do so all throughout their trip. “Who do you want to pray for?”

“The owner of the pizza shop.”

When the team ushered her over to the bald proprietor and told him about Cheyenne’s wish, he confided, “I truly would like to have hair.”

“Hey, your clean-shaven bald look really works for you,” Cheryl assured him.

“No, I’d rather have hair. It’s the desire of my heart.”

Much to his delight, Cheyenne prayed . . . with the others joining her in agreement. “Hey, can I have my picture taken with Phil?” she asked a bit later, after swallowing her last bite of pizza. “He’s the first person I prayed for.”

“Sure.” When Cheryl led Cheyenne back over to the owner, he willingly consented. “Are you also willing to call this the ‘before picture’?” Cheryl asked him.

We all, including Phil, exploded into laughter.

“I can’t wait to see what he’s going to look like with hair,” Cheryl told the rest of us. She raised both arms in a cheer to her Creator. “Yay, God!”

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