“Hey! Come in here and sit with us!”
Two ladies sitting in a small field of mustard greens called to me as I walked down the flagstone path in the alley.
I had time so why not? Rolling back a large, flimsy piece of chain linked fence, I stepped into the field to join them, and sat on a fallen tree. Being in a patch of green that smelled of fresh grass and tea was a welcome contrast to the damp city roads, concrete buildings, and tangled wads of power lines all around us. I introduced myself after giving the traditional greeting.
“Have tea with us”
Of course I wanted to do that. I love hot tea in cold weather. And the day was very chilly.
(My husband is a coffee drinker, and that’s putting it mildly, but we make it work 🙂 ) .
Inhaling aromatic spices combined with milk and sugar, I was completely drawn into the moment. It reminded me of someone following the scent of pie cooling on an open window– a scene from one of my favorite childhood cartoons. It just wasn’t as dramatic as that.
We sat quietly for a few moments warming our hands on the mugs.
“Have you eaten?”
(In South Asian culture this question is one way of asking, “How are you?”)
“Yes, I’ve eaten today. Have you?”
(I’m fine. How are you two doing?)
“We’ve eaten. Please tell us where you are going and why.”
This wasn’t uncommon. I was a foreigner so they were curious about my life.
“I’m going to meet a friend, but I planned on arriving at the restaurant early to work on some things. I’m so happy I have this time to sit with you. How was your festival in October?”
(A month long celebration happens during October. It is one of the most important months of the year when many people visit their home villages. I knew I would learn more about these ladies’ people group, culture, and first language if I inquired about their holiday).
The South Asian language we were speaking together was a second language for all of us. Listening to their response, I learned what their first language was and it drew me into the conversation even more than the tea. They were from a people group that originally inhabited the country a very long time ago. Their language, culture, style of cooking, and religion were ancient. For some time I had enjoyed collecting artifacts and anything else I could find from this people group, so I was grateful to have the opportunity to learn more. Their architecture and history is beautiful, their love for their land and people even more so.
The ladies said their holiday and time with family had gone well. I was happy to hear it. They needed a break from work and seeing the mountains in their village for a few weeks was refreshing. Living in the city was sometimes hard for them, but they wanted their children to attend certain schools so they were doing the best they could. They told me about their lives for a while and I was happy to listen.
“Are you celebrating any holidays right now?” the lady nearest to me asked as she refilled my tea.
“Not long ago we set aside two days to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to remember why He came to earth.”
In the few minutes I had left before going to meet my friend, I talked about Creator God. I tried to communicate the big picture of God’s word, focusing on the birth of Jesus and why it is good news for humanity.
“You are talking about your holiday as more than a holiday. You say you are remembering something real that happened. Some friends of ours are not American like you, but they think it’s real too. They celebrate with different food and songs than you, but they still think it’s real.”
“Yes. It’s more than a story or tradition. It is meant for all people. There are parts of every culture that can be used to worship Jesus. He came for everyone. Those cultural things may look different, but as believers in Jesus, we worship Him in faith together no matter what country we come from. He has shown us that His way is real and the way to know God.”
I gave honest, simple answers to the questions they asked.
“We’ll think about this. We have to work again now and you must meet your friend, but come back again. Please bring your daughter so that our little girls can play together in the field while we have tea.”
I did go back again. I wanted to know these ladies more and they wanted to hear more. It all happened so naturally and we were very comfortable talking together.
As far as I know they haven’t believed in Jesus, but have heard His story and how God wants them to be reconciled to Him. They have heard how this is possible.
The flagstone alley next to the small mustard green field is the same alley where a group of men had pulled a knife on me a week earlier. They did some terrible things to try and make me afraid.
Using the path again was necessary on that day because the way through the monastery was blocked. An event was going on.
I had to revisit a place with an ugly memory sooner than I wanted, but regardless of what happened there it was still a place God had made. In dark, difficult places there are people God wants to restore to Himself. Sometimes the places literally are difficult, but sometimes because of circumstances they only feel that way to me. Either way, there are purposes much bigger than my fear and hurt. (Although I do think it is wise to talk with someone who can help you deal with fear and hurt if you need to. God wants to bring healing to those areas so we can live fully in Him).
I experienced blessing and healing sitting in a mustard green field with two ladies over tea, telling them about the birth of Jesus. I learned more about their beautiful culture. And the ladies mulled over for the first time the possibility Jesus might be real and that His life on earth was for them.
©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved