Missions

The Cucumber Lady

North_Asia

It was an experience that really made me question whether or not people can see Christ in my life merely by observing me.

Do I look any different from the rest of the people walking by?

Do you look different than the people that are around you, especially those that are lost and without Christ, or does your life look pretty much the same as theirs?

In the city where we live there are many sidewalk vendors.  Old ladies sit by the side-walk with a little box of candy or snacks to sell.  Others sell vegetables or (fresh) animal skins or bottles of yogurt or clothes, and they all have a certain spot where they sit– every day.  I just figured that once the cold weather came that these vendors would all disappear…but they haven’t (except for the vegetable vendors)!  We’re at -10 to -20C now and they’re still there!  These people are incredibly tough, in my opinion!  Or maybe they’re desperate…I’m not really sure.

When we first moved to North Asia we often passed a lady selling vegetables in a certain spot.  So we started buying vegetables from her on a regular basis and it just seemed, from the very beginning, like there was something different about her.  Her face, tired as it looked some days, radiated and communicated something different than the other people around her.  One day I stopped to buy some things from her, as I filled up a bag of cucumbers and I went to give her the money for them she wouldn’t let me pay!  I tried to insist, but she wouldn’t be convinced and so I said “thank you”. As I continued on my way, I wondered if I had done something wrong and shamed her somehow. Perhaps it was cultural for her to have done that for me, I didn’t know.  It was a really special moment for me, a little gem in my week, because I hadn’t experienced a lot of friendliness here.

I really wanted to thank her somehow and so a week or so later I brought her a jar of jam that I had made and also a hot drink from the café where I study. I had tried to learn the phrase for, “Thank you for the cucumbers that you gave to me.” (This was before we had even begun learning verbs…so it felt super difficult to remember and say…which makes me smile now!)  It was one of those experiences where I had to bolster some courage and felt quite nervous about what I was going to try and say, but after a few tries she caught on to what I was saying and was thankful for my gift.  I had so much I wanted to say, but of course, when your language box is so tiny, that’s where our interaction had to end for the day.

The next time I stopped by she was so appreciative of the gifts I had brought her. It had been especially cold that day and so she was very thankful that I had thought to bring her a hot drink. She gave me a bag of carrots for free!  From the very beginning there seemed to be something different about her, but I was seeing more and more of that.  I was beginning to wonder if she might be a Christian, but how could I know or ask her?

Well, a couple of weeks later we got to church and were taking our coats off and I looked up from helping one of the kids and there was “the cucumber lady”!  We greeted each other and I tried to talk with her for a few minutes and found out that she’s actually over 60 years old!  I never would’ve guessed that as the ladies here that are in their 50’s often look much older than their actual age. So I commented to her that I thought she was maybe only in her 40&rrsquo;s and that she looked so young!  And then she said something to me that sounded like, “God makes my face look this way.”

Anyway, it just really struck me in that moment, that having Christ in us should change us from the inside out.  The people around us, even without the same language or culture, should be able to see on our faces and by our actions that we are His children…that He is our God…the hope that there is in Him. There is joy that comes from knowing Him!  It really made me wonder what I am radiating or communicating to people as I pass them or interact with them!  What do you think you’re communicating to the people around you as they observe you and interact with you?