Theo invited me to his shed! I screamed in my mind.
I couldn’t believe it. I’d been waiting for an invitation since our church members told me about Theodores Creations.
I’d just moved to Aniocha County, and the people were warm and welcoming. Once I stepped into the local Church, I’d been overwhelmed with love and care. My husband, Onyema, had died in a recent accident in the warehouse where he worked, and city living had seemed too complicated. Onyema, an Aniocha man, didn’t have time to travel home often, so this was my first visit after the wedding ceremony.
His family tried their best to accommodate my son and me, but being barely able to fend for themselves, how could they help? Onyema took care of his parents until his death.
The Church members helped me secure a position in the town’s only secondary school once I asked for help with work. The Principal attended fellowship with me, and we built a relationship over time and discussions on verses drawn from the scriptures. He told me about Theo.
I remember the day he showed me a picture of the mug Theo made him. It was the day his daughter turned sixteen. He’d been scrolling through the images on his phone when I saw a multicolored item and asked him to stop. He smiled as he did and allowed me to examine the mug.
“This is so beautiful, sir. Where did you get such a picture?”
“The mug is in my house.”
I turned to him, eyes wide. “You mean this is not just a picture?”
He smiled as he shook his head. “No, a brother in Christ, Theo, makes these mugs as instructed by God.”
“He must make a lot of money from them.”
He smiled again. “The mugs are not for sale. God instructs Theo with a message for people, which he draws on the mugs and gives the owners. He doesn’t take a penny. Can you see the intricate drawings on the body? It tells a story which he explains to the owner of the mug. No two mugs are the same as God makes no two people the same.”
“That’s such a blessing. It’s as if God is showing everybody who gets a mug that they are special.”
He nodded. “He is. Almost everybody has gotten a mug in Church.”
I snapped to attention. “Which Church? Our Church? You mean he goes to our Church?”
He laughed. “Yes, he does. He is a loner and doesn’t come often, but when he does, he comes bearing gifts.”
“Wow. I’ve never seen him before,” I said, looking out of the window, lost in thought.
I needed a word from God, a message for me. I wasn’t sure about the move or its effects on my son, my little five-year-old. I wasn’t confident if I was working in the will of God or not. There were many questions in my heart.
The Principal touched my hand, and I jerked away.
“I’m sorry,” I said, embarrassed at how lost I must have seemed.
He smiled. “You will meet him one day.” He said.
Six months later, Theo came to Church, and he indeed bore gifts. After the service, we could hear women squealing from outside the building when he presented them with theirs. He didn’t notice me that day, to my utmost disappointment, but I saw the mugs he made. The two cups were as different as day and night, in color and pattern. The way he drew on them was distinct, as well.
Six months later, the Principal called me into his office during break time.
“There has been an odd request from Theo.” He said.
I nodded, sitting upright and forward. Any news about Theo was worth listening to, I thought.
“He called me about five minutes ago and asked for your number. May I forward it to him?”
I sat back in shock. Why would Theo want my number?
“Why does he want my number, sir?”
“I have no idea. As I said, it’s a rather odd request, but be rest assured, he is a good man.”
I nodded. “Please send it to him,” I said.
I sat and watched as the Principal typed my number and sent, and then remembered I’d left my phone in the Teachers’ Hall. I excused myself and rushed to it, and five minutes later, it rang.
“Hello,” I said, a little breathless.
“Hello, my name is Theodore Nwankwo. Am I speaking with Mrs. Umunna?”
“Yes, yes, you are.”
“Are you alright? I hope I didn’t call at a bad time?”
“No, not at all.”
“You may not know me…”
“I know you from Church.”
“Oh, okay.” He said and laughed. A gentle laugh meant for a friend. “Would you consider coming to my Pottery shed tomorrow? I need to show you something.”
“Ah, it’s Saturday, and I can’t go out without my son.”
“Please bring him. I’d be delighted to have you both. How old is he?”
I smiled. “Jay is five years old. What time would be alright?”
“10 am. I hope that’s not too early?”
“No, it’s fine.”
“Good. I will send my address now. My house is on the outskirts of town.”
“Okay. We’ll be there tomorrow.”
I was stunned at the invitation. I’d never heard that Theo invited anybody to his workplace. Why me? Was I getting something else?
I informed the Principal of the call, feeling it was the right and safe thing to do, and couldn’t think about anything else until I got to his house.
The taxi driver dropped us off in front of the house and drove away. Jay, my son, and I walked to the gate and rang the bell. Theo came to open it with a big smile. The shock of shocks, shy Jay, went to him without any prodding. Theo was huge, not fat, tall, and broad like he worked with a lot of strength. It seemed like he picked my son up with a finger and threw him in the air. Jay’s squeals of laughter got us to a good start.
He took us around the compound, showing us all the pots he’d made over time, stocked in sheds. Jay ran helter-skelter like a little puppy looking for a bone, and Theo didn’t mind. He took us to his working shed and presented us with snacks and drinks.
“You didn’t have to go through all this trouble,” I said, amazed at his presentation.
He smiled. “My housekeeper did all this.” He said whispering.
I smiled back. Theo took Jay’s hand, led the boy to a table with brown sheets and colored pencils, and asked him to draw anything he wanted. The happy little boy set to work changing pencils and drawing everything his heart desired.
Theo turned to me and led me to his work table. He pulled out a chair, gestured that I sit, and went to sit in his.
“How has life been since you moved?” He asked.
I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t expect the question. “Fine.”
He smiled. “I saw you in a dream. You were looking for help. Help in the dream was a person, and you kept looking for him. For one reason or the other, he kept dodging your efforts. You tried so hard and waited so long until you gave up. I saw you sitting on a chair, slumped into it, more like, with a faraway look. It seemed like you were willing to take anything life presented you with at that point.”
I didn’t know what to say. After one year of living the rural life, I’d acclimatized.
He stood and went to the cupboard behind my chair, opened and closed it. He returned to his seat, and I saw two items in his hands, a big mug and a small one. The cups were beautiful and designed with care. One could see how smooth the finishing was, how trim the bodies, and the glazing came out looking exotic. The drawing on the big mug went from one side and finished on the other.
He lifted it as I looked. I couldn’t get my eyes off it.
“This is your mug. God chose the glaze mixture that made the red and brown color you see. See how the red flows into the patterns, telling a story of their own. What I drew also adds to the story. God asked me to tell you that you are not alone. He is the potter, and you, the clay. He made you, and He will continue to carry you. Jesus shed his blood for you, and it flows through everything that concerns you, cleansing and preparing you. Don’t look for help in anyone or anything else but in Him. May this mug continue to remind you of this message.”
He handed it to me, and I took it with shaking hands, unable to see through my tears. He stood and walked to my side and patted me on the shoulder, like a big brother.
“He has always been by your side. Learn to relate and trust Him, for He is all you need.”
“God bless you,” I said, my voice shaking. “I needed this so much. Not the mug exactly, but a word from God.”
“Now, you must begin to hear Him for yourself. He is near to us all. In Him, we live, move, and have our being. He needs you to seek Him, and you will find Him.”
“Jay,” He said as he turned and called to my son. “Come and see what I made you.”
Jay got down from his chair and rushed over. Theo handed him his mug, and he smiled at me before turning back to Theo. Theo let us watch him molding clay as he got ready to make another mug, and then it was time to go.
My mug is in our room, on top of my work table. It reminds me always of God’s presence in my life.
The potter made the pot himself. He understands its nature, and regardless of the little defects it might have and all it might pass through, it remains a work of art prepared for His glory.
Till next time, be transformed!!!