Friday, April 17, 2015

Encounter with Victoria

I was sitting on a bench outside Giapo and a convenient store, waiting for Katie to come.
An islander woman came and sat on the same bench as me, at a short distance.
She took her beanie and placed it upside down on the floor.
She was one of the street beggars.

In New Zealand, on the city streets, there are many beggars.
They're mainly adults, and they usually lay down on the ground or sit by the street.
I usually walk past them, I've never really sat close to one.

My mind: 'God, is this one of those situations where you place someone by me for a reason?'
I was texting Katie my whereabouts, and waiting for her to notify me when she's here.
I placed my phone in my bag, and started observing the passersby.
It was unusual for me at the beginning, I tend to fidget and dig into my bag for no apparent reason.

She would stretch her hand out occasionally to the people who walked past us, signalling for money.
Somehow, I found it hard to look at her longer than a glimpse.
I think that's how some people feel.

It's like you want to help, but you can't - or you don't.
It's like wanting to convince yourself you have a heart,
but yet the opportunity to show what's in your heart slips away.

Shortly after, she took out a mini bible that had 'New Testament' on the front.
She flipped the pages, and I took a glimpse.
There was a written note on the front pages;
perhaps someone gave it to her.

'I'm reading the bible.' she said to me, noticing that I was looking.
'Oh...' I said with a light note to my voice.
' you have any questions?'
But she just smiled and looked at her surroundings.
Okaay, maybe she didn't hear me or she doesn't understand.

She stretched her hand again as a group of asian boys walked by.
My eyes met with theirs, and they walked away.
Everyone walks away.

'Ice cream!' she says cheerfully, her hand stretched to the people who go to and fro.

I found myself walking to the convenient store,
looking into a cold box stored with ice-creams.
Perhaps... I should buy her a cheap ice cream.
What?! Chelsea, if YOU were the beggar,
and someone were to buy you ice cream, wouldn't you want the best?
Okay.. the best = the most expensive. A $3.7 Magnum stared at me.

'Thank you', the cashier said as the card machine read 'ACCEPTED'.
I held the Magnum with a grip of gladness.
I walked towards the beggar and gave it to her.
'This is for you.', I said with a smile.

'Ice cream!', she said like a kid as her face lights up.
'Thank you God, for ice cream!' she said - to God.
She unwrapped it, 'Ooooh, almond!'.
The ice cream wrapper falls to the ground.
I can barely stand to see it fly elsewhere, so I chucked it to the nearest bin.

She said 'Thank you (for ice cream)!'
'VICTORIA' she said, indicating that was her name.
'CHELSEA', I replied.

I asked her if she had a family, she said 'Nope, they're all with God.'.
She told me she was 1/2 Maori and 1/2 Scottish 'that's why my English is good'.
But I could tell she was uneducated.
I asked her where she hangs out, and that the next time I see her, I'll bring her something.
She said she hangs out at the park nearby, and pointed somewhere in the other direction of the city.

'If I could pray for you, what is one thing you'd like me to pray for?'
Her face brightened at the sound of 'prayer', and she said
'I pray to God, Thank you, for foooood, for monay, for warm blanket..'

But the poor woman has nothing.
She has no assurance of getting her meals.
No one seems to want to give money.
And the weather has been pretty crap honestly.
And yet, if she could pray to God for one thing, she'd thank him for nothing she has?

That touched me.
Often, we take for granted the things we have and the people we're with.
The breakfast we had, the clean water we drank, the warm clothes we wear,
the house we live in, the money we use....
sometimes, we don't even thank God for it.

Victoria was just filled with joy.

Katie arrived, and so I had to go.
Victoria gave me a friendly handshake, and I said 'It was nice meeting you'.
When I met Katie down the street, I explained excitedly what I just encountered.

I decided to go to Wendy's to buy her a $5 meal as it is lunch time (burger, fries, sundae and a soda).
We went to the bench where Victoria sat, and I gave it to her and said
"Hey Victoria, this is for you. It's for your lunch, for today!".
She said thank you with the warm smile she has.

As I was approaching her, there was a random stranger who sat nearby her.
Her face had a neutral expression, just as everyone else on the street.
But as she saw me displaying the act of kindness,
She smiled warmly with what seems to translate as 'I would love to have done the same.'.

That was the highlight to my day.
It isn't due to my generosity, but God's love and faithfulness for all of us.
Sounds cliche christian holy saying, but I only realised it after.

Victoria can be grateful, even though she has no one, and nothing.
She has joy like no other person on the street.
She probably doesn't know God as much as those who go in and out of church,
but she sure has a heart of thankfulness that many of us don't have.

I wasn't only glad to be a part of this act of love and kindness,
but I received the love from the act as well.
It's so fulfilling to see Jesus being faithful to a stranger,
and I'm so happy to experience it.

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