I hold tight to my little girl, trying not to slip on the wet paved alleyway as the rain pounds down on us. My beaded sandals are cute but have no grip in the river of water that flows down the road on this rainy day. The rain had stopped earlier when I’d walked up the hill to visit my friend. But now I hurry slowly to get back down the hill to my car.
“Take my umbrella.” A man walking up the hill hands me a purple umbrella with pictures of mosques lining the rim. I don’t know him, have never met him, but he insists, saying it again and again.
But he’ll get wet, I think.
“You can return it later,” he tells me. “Just take it.”
So, I do, thinking of my own umbrella that broke earlier in the morning after I dropped my son off at preschool. Now it won’t open.
This one won’t stay closed, so I stick it half-opened into my car after putting Renea in her car seat. It’s silly, but I’m worried about how I’m going to get this umbrella back to the nice man I don’t know. He pointed to a green house and told me to bring it by later. But it is one of three green houses on the street, and it’s not near where I live and it’s rainy season, so surely he will need it soon, right?
I always feel this way when someone here, in this culture of great need, gives to me. They need whatever they’re giving to me, right? I should be the one helping them, right? How will I return their kindness?
And sometimes it’s much more than an old umbrella that won’t stay closed. Like the time when I knocked on my neighbor’s door while still in language school. It was late, they were sleeping, but Brad was really sick and we needed to get to a doctor. An MAF friend took Brad on the back of his motorcycle, and I rode on the back of my Indonesian neighbor’s motorcycle.
That was back when we had no car, and Brad couldn’t drive his bike with his high fever. And the neighbor and our MAF friend stayed with us, as I trembled in the emergency room, not understanding what the doctors were telling me after just five months of language school. And later, after we'd learned Brad had dengue fever and would need to stay there several days, our neighbors brought our clothes and food.
I found out later that this neighbor beat his wife and had affairs and lived in great need of a Savior. But on that night when I learned Brad had dengue fever and was hospitalized in an Indonesian hospital for days, he gave to us.
Or like when I go to the orphanage to teach English and they send me home with bags of snacks for my kids. Or when my friends who have almost nothing invite me over for feasts.
And that’s how life is here. We’ve come to serve and love and share with people who are hungry and sick and lost and need a Rescuer. But sometimes we are sick and wet and lost and need the One who Covers us. And people give us the umbrellas they were using or the food they need or the kindness that they rarely have.
These friends and strangers teach me how to give even when I feel like I have nothing, and to receive when I think I have everything. And to accept the covering grace I hope others here will take from Him, as the wrong of this world rains down on all of us.
photo credit, sektordua