Treasure Hunt: Flags, Dogs, and Birthdays

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

Amidst flapping flags, prancing pooches, and bouncing birthday balloons, we find a total of sixteen human Treasures on this sunshine-splashed—yes, sunshine is one of our clues—Saturday morning in July.

Several of these Treasures show up before we even leave Tom Thumb.

“Thank you, guys, for putting the tables back.” As Starbucks employee Sandra hurries past us through our usual beginning meeting place, she smiles at the sight of us shoving the chairs back into place.“So many people who come in here don’t think to do that.” Still beaming her gratitude, she pauses in midstep to receive Sharon’s blessings over her business and prayers for strength.

Near the donut shop in Tom Thumb, Abby and Rema pause to chat with Jason, a sixteen-year-old birthday boy whose mom, Renee, is wearing a blue shirt (a clue of several people). They pray for fun and safety at Jason’s upcoming party, where he plans to play Whirly Ball (a sport that involves Rema’s clue of spinning). Sharon and Rema offer prayers for Ann (Sharon’s clue name), blessing this busy donut shop employee in her business. And Brandy prays blessings over Jose, another employee at the donut shop.

As the nine Treasure Hunters leave Tom Thumb, several spot a bevy of seagulls (Dustin’s clue), soaring over the store’s roof in a graceful snowy arc.

Along with first-timer Michele and Julie’s daughter Rema—who received the respective clues of donut shop and donut—Abby, Brandy, and Sharon head off toward Rockwall in search of yet another place that sells this confection. They end up at a downtown donut shop where Sonia, a weary-eyed employee clad in a blue shirt, welcomes the prayers offered her. “I’m from Vietnam, but have lived here in the States for eleven years. My husband divorced me because I couldn’t have children, and I’ve suffered through a lot of loneliness and depression. In fact, I’ve tried to commit suicide twice . . .”

After Brandy speaks words of deliverance over this distressed but believing woman, Rema envelops Sonia in loving prayers. Michele stands back a bit to observe the action, but she soon receives from God a prophetic word for Sonia. She steps forward with boldness to share this prophecy, as well as to offer Sonia practical advice gleaned from her own experiences as a counselor.

As the group heads out toward the parking lot . . .

“Wait, you guys!” Brandy’s eyes sparkle with excitement. “I’m sorry, but I think that guy is limping. I’ve gotta go pray for him!” She tears at breakneck speed after Steve, who’s inching on unsteady legs toward his car. When Michele and Rema catch up to them, the three Treasure Hunters pray for Steve’s cramped-up calf (an area of leg between the clues of knee and foot).

“On a scale from one to ten, how does it feel?” Brandy asks him, following the prayer.

Steve considers the question. “It went from a four to a three.”

In the meantime . . .

Driving through Rockwall, the four other Treasure Hunters—Cheryl, Dustin, Julie, and first-timer Judy—pull into a velvety-green small park in which, to the left, they spot the location clue of a bridge. “Let’s cross over the bridge,” Cheryl calls, speaking word for word the entire clue. As they stroll across the small wooden footbridge, they spot their two potential human Treasures. Two men, both clad in blue shirts, fishing in the lake at opposite sides of the shoreline. “Let’s pray for the first one who looks up and sees us,” Cheryl suggests.

At that instant, the younger man raises his head and grins in the group’s direction. As they head over to him, they notice a small American flag embroidered on his shirt—fitting Judy’s clue of blue, red stripes, and white stars. William throws us a startled look when Cheryl tells him the first clue that drew us to him. “You mean you folks crossed over that big huge thing?” He turns, points to an enormous bridge that spans the nearby highway. When we shake our heads and indicate the footbridge, he bursts into chuckles. “Aw, you all took the easy way here!”

After blessing William for his twenty years of military service, and honoring his request for wisdom regarding relationships, Cheryl asks him about other prayer needs. “Any problems with your left knee?” She shows him Brandy’s clue on her sheet.

“Naw, but my father over there”—William points to the other fisherman, an elderly man with a flowing white beard—“he’s got some problems with his knees.”

Moments later we’re laying hands on William Senior, who’s paused from his fishing to plop on a nearby bench for a rest. He’s just recounted numerous medical procedures performed on his knees, none of which have resulted in much success.

“How badly does it hurt?” Cheryl asks him before praying. “On a scale from one to ten?”

“ ’Bout a six.”

After her prayer: “It feels a lot looser now.” His leathery brown face creases into a million smiles as he praises God for the healing.

As the Treasure Hunters head back to the parking lot Cheryl observes with a grin, “Those two guys sure fit Judy’s clue of happy!”

Moments later, they’re off to our third location clue—a nearby dog park. Soon the first team of Treasure Hunters shows up here as well. As we all stroll into this area, we see a lineup of more flags flapping in the breeze.

To the left cyclone fences divide the park into two grassy areas designed for romping canines . . . one for smaller doggies, where a lone Malti-poo darts about in hopeful search for a playmate. While Cheryl, Judy, and Rema take turns cradling the lamblike pup, they chat with his humans, a cheerful couple named Dan and Alicia. “I’m a teacher, developing a science software program called Star P. Learning,” Alicia shares. The three Treasure Hunters pray God’s blessings over her program and her vocation as a teacher.

In the section for larger dogs, everything from a pit bull to a frisky cockapoo to a huge lumbering Golden Doodle dashes round with plenty of companions. And some of their humans prove no less eager to share.

“My dog Rex had kidney failure and died at age seven.” Kevin’s eyes still look heavy with grief. After wrapping him up in prayers for comfort, Cheryl questions him about other prayer needs. “You can pray for our country’s rebound, both morally and economically.” As Cheryl honors Kevin’s request, several notice his patriotic spirit reflected in his shirt . . . which is colored red, white, and blue.

Brandy, who’s received a word of knowledge, then steps forward. “Does your son have any prayer needs, Kevin?”

Kevin’s eyes widen with surprise. “Yes. He’s struggling with some serious issues right now, and he could really use your prayers.”

As Brandy prays, Kevin welcomes with gratitude this confirmation that God cares so much for his son.

Along with her husband Dustin, Brandy also holds up Corinne . . . whose shoes, toenails, and doggy-poop bag all sport a vivid shade of purple (Rema’s clue). Between her orders of “Quiet!” directed at her extremely vocal canine Morris, Corinne welcomes prayers for leadership and wisdom (Cheryl’s clue) regarding her church’s growth group.

On our way out from the dog park, Sharon indicates a colorful bed of blooms. “Look, Julie, there’s your flowers!” But while we’re throwing final smiles at the sea of poodle mixes gallivanting across the grass—none of whose fleecy bodies faintly resembles a dachshund—Dustin quips to Judy, “I don’t think any of them is named Hot Dog.”

As both teams of Treasure Hunters head back to the parking lot for Pallio’s Pizza Shop, several spot a huge bouquet of birthday balloons, all bobbing above the beaming face of little two-year-old Mia. And several Treasure Hunters pause to bless her . . . the second of three “birthday Treasures” we’ve encountered this morning. The third is one of our own group—Abby! After sharing a pizza with her friend and several others, Cheryl surprises Abby with a cake decorated to resemble a drama script . . . aptly reflecting her work as technician for a theater.

While most folks in the group shower the blushing, grinning celebrant with gifts, Sharon reveals another surprise. “Ann is my middle name, and I’m wearing a yellow shirt and pale-green shorts.” She points with a chuckle to her clue sheet. “That means today I’m my own Treasure!”

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