I am not finished with Laos pictures, but I wanted to post this while it was fresh on my mind. This event, almost surprisingly, had a very profound impact on my heart for the people in the West Bank.
One night we were in refugee camp in Palestine. The soft patter of a rain mixed with the relaxed Arabic floating around the small town square. Gathered tightly against the buildings, under the eaves were clusters of young men chatting or playing cards.
I ambled across the square to a group of guys clustered around a square card table, lit by a single light bulb protruding from the wall beside them. Their conversation grew quiet for a moment as I drew closer. One of them jumped to offer me a chair. Another asked the question I’d heard all over the West Bank during my time there, â€œObama or McCain? Which you like? You like Obama, eh?â€ I chucked and tried to explain to them that I saw good in both of them, but I didn’t vote. A few moments passed. Wnable to communicate well, both sides were apparently content with silence. The stillness was broken only by the rain and the chatter floating around the game.
Abruptly, a spectator in a gray hoodie asked me, â€œDo you like tea?â€ I hesitated, wondering what the best response would be, torn between guilt at receiving a gift from such poor people, and my acute desire for a nice cup of warm tea to ease the chill of the evening.
I nodded and smiled, â€œYes, that would be very nice.â€
I nodded again. The tea they served was good, but it was perfect with some mint leaves thrown in. He shouted his order across the cobblestones to a tall, broad-shouldered, guy carrying a few extra pounds on his frame. Soon the big guy arrived with small plastic cup brimming with steaming, golden tea. I reached for my pocket, but my friend in the hoodie jumped up and offered the vendor a coin to pay for the brew. With a quick shake of his head, the man with broad shoulders turned and walked away, claiming me as his guest by providing the tea for free.
Soon the taxi came and we had to leave. As we bounced through the wet darkness, I stared out the window with a wistful grin on my face. â€œWouldn’t it be great,â€ I mused, â€œto be learn Arabic and come back and get to know those guys?â€
It took me a while to title this story. Why bittersweet? That night I experienced the sweetness of their personalities and openness of their hearts toward me. Reality brought a bitterness to the story. They don’t know my Jesus.