Lunch meet

Today I was sitting alone reading my book in a rare escape from the world moment. I was eating lunch alone at our local store when I heard a dirt bike pull up that had a familiar sound to it. I looked up, and saw a friend of mine. In my line of sight however I saw a young crippled Papua New Guinean man who also had a severe mental handicap.

I had seen this young man around before, limping to and from wherever it is he goes. Drooling on himself along the way, and sort of moaning out 'hello' to people in his way.

I had always admired the fact that this guy has kept himself alive in this culture, in this climate. He just keeps waking up each day and getting dressed, and walking to wherever he goes.

I found myself wondering at that moment 'how I could help this guy?' I

I wondered if maybe offering him a ride to someplace might help as he
limps along very slowly. But I didn't know if he would be able to tell
me, as his language ability is so impaired.

Something distracted me and I lost the train of thought and moved on.

Not long after my lunch was over and I decided to head back to work,
when a fleeting thought caught my attention 'hey, go into the store, and
hey, go into the store the back way.'

It was an odd thought, and I kinda was breaking the rules to do it. But
I used the excuse of using the bathroom along the way to make it feel
less like breaking any rules.

I didn't get too far into the store before feeling a tug on my jacket.
It was this young man of whom I was speaking earlier. He moaned out to
me something unintelligible and then pointed to some meat in the fridge.
It was an 8 kina (2 dollars) pack of lunch meat. He looked at me and
got out 'You buy for me'.

Oddly at this moment I can't recall if it was Tok Pisin or English.

I instantly said 'Yes.' I saw the coins in his hand, and assumed he
wanted help getting to the register, carrying it, etc. So I said 'Do
you have the 8 kina?'

He shook his head and replied 'You pay!'. As he did so more drool
escaped his lips and his eyes wandered.

I know that begging in our store is not permitted as it could cause a
big problem. So again I was faced with 'If I do this, how many rules am
I breaking?'

I decided to ask for cultural assistance. You really don't want to
encourage begging because you don't want to encourage a culture of
depending on missionaries for income. But I didn't feel this was
exactly that situation. I mean we've had people beg us for money
before, but never meat. And never like this. Mostly they just grunt and
put out their hands. This young man was telling me what he wanted and
assertively, how he wanted to get it.

I asked a nearby stranger from PNG his advice. And this is where the
entire exchange became so, out-of-the-ordinary that I considered it blog

The stranger smiled big at me, and friendly. This was our conversation:

Me: "Hi, sorry to bother you, do you know this man's name?" (indicating
the young man)
He turned to the young man and said "What is your name?" The young man
replied with his name.
Me: "he has just asked me to buy him some meat. This isn't normal PNG
behaviour (pasin), what do you think I should do?'
Him: "Has he asked you to buy something too expensive? Meat is costly,
maybe you don't have the money?"

At that point I was very impressed. This man didn't assume I was rich
because I was white, and at the same time, he was using words in such a
way that I could make that my 'excuse' instead of saying 'no'. He was
coaching me. He was giving me an out. At the same time he wasn't
shaming me. This man, this stranger was impressing me.

Him: "He is crippled, he doesn't know PNG behaviour. He only knows what
he needs."

I went to the counter and bought the meat for the young man, hoping that
I didn't in some way, create a ripple of problems throughout the store
by breaking rules, or throughout the culture by declaring open season on
begging. I was thinking 'others will object because of the precedent.'

And frankly, I would agree with those people. Normally.

And I say none of this to my own credit if anything it is to my own
shame, because it was only AFTERwards that I realized this was guidance
by the Holy Spirit.

I did it because:
-I had only 2 minutes before been thinking 'how can I help this kid.'

-I have always said I don't shy from direct confrontation, and this kid
was clearly telling me what he wanted from me.

-I sort of admired his self-preservation and assertiveness yet I know it
might scare and offend someone else, and so by doing it, I think maybe I
spared someone who might not react as well.

-I'm so rarely in the store, there is no way this will become a usual thing.

And later, I thought.. 'Hey God... I have no idea why that kid needed
meat. When I handed it to him, he didn't tear it open and ravish it.
It put it in his bag. Was he bringing it home to someone? He had coins
in his hand? Had he set out to buy food for someone only to realize he
didn't have enough? I don't know, but You do. And I think your Spirit
was guiding me to be there at that time to help him, and I'm ashamed
that I didn't realize it sooner, and I'm ashamed that I didn't decide
more quickly, but I'm thankful that you likely got me to the right end

It is such a small thing really. It was $2. So why on earth blog about it?

Well for two reasons:
1 - It was an unusual cultural experience for me.
2 - I firmly believe that if we cultivate our relationship with Christ,
we will be more sensitive to hearing what He is guiding us to do each
day. And that God is in charge, and able to compensate when we don't
exactly do what we were supposed to.

I'm hopeful all of that went in a way that glorifies God, and if it did
I'm thankful that He guided me into that place at that time. And I ask
for more such times as that.

The reason this is not boasting, is hopefully clear. It was 2 dollars.
That's it. It was nothing. Hardly worth mentioning. And yet it
stood out to me more than any other times when we've been more generous.
And I don't know why. Other than, I have this sense that God was in
the driver's seat during it.

And there is mystery, and there is encouragement and, it was odd.

So it made it on my blog in an attempt to give God some glory for it.