Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Sometimes, God brings the most unexpected people into your life. Yesterday He did just that. His creativity in teaching me things never ceases to amaze me.
The story starts like this. Briana and I were scheduled to work at 3, so we decided to spend some much needed time of just resting on the beach together. We quickly found out just how intense the sun is here in Manta. It was HOT. Briana almost immediately headed down to the water (which was a little walk from where we parked ourselves since the tide goes out so far), and I stayed and watched our stuff. There weren’t that many people out at 11:30, but in the distance we could see a small group of guys. Pretty soon after Briana started for the water, one of the guys from said group started walking my way. “Oh brother” and “Please walk past” were all I could think. My wish was not granted.
Gabriel, as I soon learned, greeted me and asked if he could sit near me or if I would prefer that he not (in Spanish). I told him I would prefer that he not stay, to which he responded gracefully, but then proceeded to tell me that he wanted to practice his English. Something in me felt so rude to deny him this, so I reluctantly told him I could practice with him for a little, as I desperately kept looking out to where Briana was in hopes of seeing her return. His English was actually quite good, and pretty soon Briana came back. He asked what we were doing in Manta, to which we were very vague in replying. I did NOT trust this guy at all, but I was trying not to be a typical rude American either.
Wouldn’t you know, a little while later, Gabriel came walking past us again. I don’t know if he saw us the first time he went by or not. But needless to say, Bri and I weren’t trying to make eye contact. A bit later, he walked past again, going in the opposite direction. This time he definitely did notice us, much to our dismay, but he walked on by anyway. We were very grateful, and started making plans to leave and go get some cheap milkshakes down the road before heading to work. About 20 minutes before we were going to leave, who do we see returning? You guessed it.
I was annoyed and asked God to direct his steps into the ocean and away from us. Briana was a little more tactful and just asked God to send him right by us again. But God knew what he was doing and actually had Gabriel stop and talk to us again. He asked us if we would watch his shoes while he went swimming, but I (happily) told him that we were planning on leaving in 5 minutes as we had stuff to do that afternoon. He told us that wouldn’t be long enough for him to swim, but then proceeded to just stand beside us looking out at the ocean. I kept giving Bri and look that said, “This is weird. Why isn’t he moving.” And she kept giving me a look that said, “What should we do?”
We ignored him for a little, but finally I couldn’t take the awkwardness anymore and asked him where his friends were. He told us that they were really just acquaintances and that they went to go surfing. I KNEW that God really wanted me to ask him if he knew Jesus, but I was so against it. I just wanted to go get my milkshake with Briana and get as far away from this random guy as we could. But the feeling wouldn’t leave me. Finally, after glancing at the time and deciding we could spend 10 minutes talking to him, I asked him. He gave me a funny look and said yes, but he wanted to know why I asked. I just told him I was curious. He told us that he was Catholic and that he believed that Jesus came to save us. And pretty soon, we were in this big old discussion of good people and bad things that happen. He just didn’t understand why the world wasn’t fair and just. We kept responding in English and he kept talking in Spanish. It was kind of awesome. After a while, I knew that milkshakes were definitely out of the question, and thought that I should probably put more sunscreen on, as this conversation was not ending.
I won’t go into all that was said, but he was very open with us and we with him. I even told him that I hadn’t wanted to talk to him! He told us normally people don’t ask these sort of questions nor is he so open to sharing his personal views so quickly with strangers. He really thought about the answers and questions he was giving us, and at the end he said that this conversation was his answer from God that he hadn’t been receiving from so long. He told us he was so thankful for us, and we all promised to pray for each other.
God is the COOLEST. Ever. Gabriel still has a lot of good questions, and we didn’t have the answers to them all, but we encouraged him to keep asking. Just don’t stop asking! God will answer. And we reiterated that God has already won the war. Bad stuff happens, yes. But God already won! We just have to keep fighting and making the world a little brighter where it seems dark.
I’m just in awe of how God did the complete opposite of what we wanted and how it ended up being the perfect way to spend our last HOUR at the beach. Quite humbling to say the least. I told Bri that even God knew that we didn’t need those milkshakes :]
In thinking back, I just find it so sad that these conversations that really matter don’t happen more. Why is it that I felt I needed to write a blog about this “isolated” event. Why isn’t this the norm? Maybe it is for some of you, and that’s great! But I just want to remind myself and anyone else who feels the same that having Jesus in my life is the greatest strength I have. Why would we not want to tell others about it and allow them to experience the same friendship?
Please pray for Gabriel if you think about it. Pray that God continues to send people into his life to ask him hard questions and give him more information.
An update on the #TiaLife will be coming soon. Thanks for all your prayers! We crave them here!
Posted by kirsten at 10:01 AM