Every Friday I have a friend arrive at my office at about 10 a.m. and we have coffee together. We have spent a lot of time together building Habitat for Humanity houses and this regular meeting started as a Friday check-in of the needs and plans for the building site on the Saturday. It continues as a catch up on each other's lives. This last Friday, at the end of my coffee with a friend, I had an extra encounter which was such a pleasant and enriching experience. I allow an international women's group to use a hall at the Church. They call themselves Women Across Cultures and my wife attends to help look after the children. There are women from a whole range of ethnicities and cultures there for two hours in the morning. We realised that some of their husbands drove them to the meetings and were at a loose end, so we opened up our Space2B area so the husbands could call in there for coffee if they wanted. Just as my friend went out the door a man arrived having delivered his wife to the group. He was from Iraq, we had met before and I remembered some things from our first conversation. Muthiah, an Indian man who looks after Space2B welcomed him and we sat and talked. He was so interesting. He told us of the history of Iraq, (7000 years!) the impact of world wars, the king, the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the "liberation" and what he saw as an "invasion". He was so interesting and informative. He said that another person from Iraq could have a different perspective, which also could be true. We went on to discuss the differences between different cultures and life's experiences. When we ended our encounter he said, "Today I talked and you listened. Next week you talk and I listen." I had not scheduled this encounter into my day, but I felt privileged to spend time with this wise man from a different culture.
Another pleasant part of my day happened just after lunch. One of the guys who spends time in our Space2B and drop-in centre is John. He is a bit eccentric and often is easily upset. He had however, bought himself a pushbike and seemed a lot healthier riding around town on it. Unfortunately it had been stolen. Last time I spoke to him he was quite distressed about that. On Thursday night at the Night Shelter meeting we got talking about John and I mentioned the loss of his bike. A friend who has just joined the Night Shelter Trust asked if he could call the next day, and on Friday after lunch he dropped by at my office. He arrived and gave me $200 so that I could go and buy John a new bike! I have not managed to do that yet but I was so thrilled to be a part of his generosity.
I worked out that on Friday night I had completed 47 hours of work in four days. I have since completed at least ten further hours for the week. There are tough times in my ministry, things I find hard to cope with, but then there are the special moments like I experienced on Friday.