Last week on our day off, we went for a walk. As we were returning, we saw a man cleaning out glass from the back of his van. His rear window had broken. I pointed it out to Peter, making sympathetic noises, before starting the trek back up the four flights of stairs to our apartment. Peter soon left me behind on the stairs. He was really legging it. I knew, when this started to happen, that he intended to get back downstairs as quickly as possible to help the man.
When Peter returned downstairs, the man had gone off to find a broom and was nowhere in sight. Peter realized that, based on usual Japanese cultural norms, if the man had been there he would likely have refused Peter’s help, saying that he had the situation under control. But since the man was nowhere to be seen, Peter just started in with cleaning. When the man returned, he accepted and welcomed the help. There are some things that we can get away with more easily, as dumb foreigners!
Meanwhile, I was content to say, “Aw, that’s too bad”, and not help at all. After all, it was our day off, we’d just gone for a long walk, and it was really hot and humid outside. It was also lunch time. Hot, sweaty, sticky, tired and hungry, I just wanted to flop down for a well-deserved rest.
When Peter’s intentions became clear, I didn’t stop him. After all, God might have told him to go, and I wasn’t going to stand in His way. But that didn’t mean that I had to go. I could still rest. I was tempted not to pray about whether to join Peter, so that I wouldn’t get an answer that disagreed with what I wanted to do. But I grudgingly admitted to myself that not praying would be just as disobedient as praying and then disobeying a direct order of God’s. So I prayed.
Should I go down and help clean up the glass?
Phew. I get to do what I want. I was tempted to stop praying right there. But I knew that’s not what God wanted.
Should I do something else to help?
Praying further, I realized that God wanted me to make Peter and the man lunch, and bring it down to them. Perhaps the man hadn’t eaten yet.
I cut up some ham, cucumber, and cheese; arranged it attractively on plates with crackers; and brought along some glasses, ginger ale, napkins and wet wipes.
When I arrived back downstairs, a lady employed by the town to maintain the park was also there. We offered the two of them the food, but they’d already eaten. The man did, however, have a glass of ginger ale.
I stuck around to talk and help out however I could. We told them that we were missionaries; Peter gave them each one of our business cards with the church information on it.
When everything was cleaned up and the conversation abated, we gathered our lunch supplies, broom, and dustpan, and left on very good terms. We are very excited to begin building relationships with the park workers in our area, and hope that somehow God will somehow bring us into contact with these two people again.
Peter remarked, as we left, that even though they’d already eaten, bringing them lunch was a powerful symbolic gesture. It showed that our prime concern was not with the cleanliness of the neighbourhood, but was instead with their welfare, as people.
“God arranged everything perfectly,” Peter remarked.
Thank You, God, for Peter and his desire to help others even when we’re tired and it’s inconvenient. Thank You for spurring me on through him.