It's been almost a year since I've written in this blog. When I came home last November, I figured that since this blog is called "Africa 2008" it really wouldn't be appropriate to write in it any more since it's not 2008 and I'm not in Africa. But today I decided to forget the title and start blogging again. (This quite possibly could be the first and last post-Africa blog. Only time will tell.)
So my first post Africa blog is about my trip to the CVS Pharmacy this afternoon. I went to print some photos from a recent trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, and on the way into the store I had two men, Steve and Roger, ask me for money for food. Instead of handing over some cash, I asked them what they'd like to eat and picked it up while I was inside (including a pack of sardines for Roger, which I thought was a weird request. Remarkablly, CVS sells sardines. Who knew?)
When I came out of the store, I handed over the food and started to chat with Steve and Roger. We were having a nice conversation when a question Steve asked totally threw me off balance.
He said "What church do you go to?" At first, my guilt at currently not being a regular Sunday worshiper started to creep up causing me to stutter through some lame explanation about how I'm "looking for a church right now." But after a moment or two of awkward stumbling, I realized that Roger and Steve were not the church police, and asked Steve in return, "How did you know I go to church?"
His answer - "Because you gave us food and are nice to us."
(Before I go any further - let me just clear up. This is not about my great and wondrous deed of buying a couple of sandwiches at the CVS. My point in all rambling is about Steve's answer.)
Besides the fact it was nice to hear a non-Christian (Steve) saying something good about Christians/the Church (which lets face it, is often a rarity these days) I was suddenly made aware of how actions really do speak louder than words. What would I have been saying if I just had walked past, or even just handed them a dollar or two and gone on my way? It wasn't just Steve saying I gave them food that hit me, but him saying that I was nice to them. Sure, Steve and Roger needed a sandwich, but I'm thinking that our conversation and couple of handshakes are what made more of a difference.
While they enjoyed their food they both talked on and on about jobs they had held, places they wanted to go, etc. They just talked and talked, often times talking over each other, fighting to get a word in edgewise. Really, Steve and Roger just wanted to be heard. They didn't need me telling them anything or asking if I could pray with them. They just needed something to eat and someone to listen to them.
The whole things was a reminder to me to slow down and talk to people. Whether its two homeless guys on the bench outside of the CVS pharmacy, the teller working the checkstand inside or just someone shopping in the store, I should always have time to be nice to people. And not impatient, "I'm trying to be kind" kind of nice, but genuinly kind, caring nice. And if buying a tin of sardines and a ham and cheese sandwich can be the start of a conversation, I'm all for it.