In many ways our life on the field here in India is not entirely different from home. While we have opportunities for great moments in ministry, we also go through the regular daily routines of life. Sometimes though, even our “normal” holds surprises.
It was one of those days I’m sure everyone can relate to. Taku and I were hosting several colleagues for dinner to plan and prepare for a ministry event. That of course meant grocery shopping. That morning we were searching for a particular small fish to cook with some ferns and fermented bamboo shoots, a tribal specialty.
We were pressed in the crowd along a very narrow street where the vendors squatted along the roadside selling their goods. While Taku crouched down selecting the choice fish, my attention was fixed on the next vendor who was selling live fresh water crabs. He deftly rifled through the Styrofoam container, seemingly oblivious to the pincers clamping on his hand as he plucked out his customer’s choice specimens. Actually I was just watching to make sure the crabs that were scrambling up the side of the container didn’t get out to test their claws on my sandaled toes! There was a lot going on! I was bumped by the passing crowd, busy retrieving small fish that managed to flop out onto my feet, and preoccupied with escaping crabs. Adding to demands for my attention, someone had grabbed a crab and was holding it at arms length among us in a rather disconcerting manner.
Just as I was thinking about the absurdity of my new “normal”, it became even more bizarre! Someone nudged me from behind (closer to those crabs and fish). I glanced up expecting to see a vehicle trying to pass by at just an inch or so from dragging me along. Instead, I encountered the leathery thigh of an elephant (whose hip towered above my head!) as two young men, perched atop this giant, nonchalantly guided its saunter through the market and into a residential area.
Life holds surprises and challenges. Some are pleasant or dramatic and exciting. Others may just be frustrating, disappointing or even discouraging. At the end of each day though, what matters most is our witness in the midst of it all. The Call to each of us, wherever we are, is not to seek to have some spectacular ministry to brag about, but rather to embrace life each day with a sincere heart of love for God that can spill over, flow through us to those we encounter in our daily routines.