I walked into town today to buy a Christmas present for my Secret Santa person. Apparently, people here in Malawi get into the spirit of the season, too. They manage to converge on the town shopping center all at once. Being on foot was an advantage for once. Anyone in a car was just being punished. It was very hot, and the traffic wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The two main grocery stores were jam packed with people, most not buying much, but maybe a little something special for a Christmas Day meal. This is the first time I have witnessed Christmas outside of the United States, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.
I stopped on the way and talked to a British friend Pastor Chris and I met some time back while watching an old episode of “Walker Texas Ranger” at a local restaurant. Quickly we were talking about Cuba and the recent news. I found out he had been in Cuba in the sixties and had at one point even been at a cocktail party with Raul Castro; small world. It was too hot in Cuba so somehow he ended up here in Malawi. He likes the weather here, but I’ll have to find out more next time.
I stopped by the post office where we meet three days a week for evangelism. Just next to the post office parking lot, the local vendors sell wood carvings. Three or four of the men selling there come to our church, so I stopped to say hi and wish a Merry Christmas. These men often times spend ten hours a day on this corner, with never a complaint. They’re truly content and thankful men; it’s amazing to see.
I got to the shop I was heading to just in time. The gift I needed was in the only shop in the entire country closing early on Christmas Eve. Despite that, I found the item I was looking for and was on my way.
I couldn’t help but think what an utterly ordinary day this was. No significant thing happened. I’m sure somewhere some motivational speaker is speaking loudly, saying, “make every moment count, live life to the fullest, make an impact!” Somewhere else some guy is flexing in the mirror getting ready to destroy his day with the power of positive energy. Unfortunately, I just don’t do a lot of flexing these days. As I walked home I got to thinking, maybe this, today, was really what missions is. Can it be listening to an old man tell stories of his adventures in Cuba? Can it be sitting down for ten minutes with some guys and having a laugh, talking about whatever? It certainly can’t be whole heartedly participating in Secret Santa. Right? The thing is I think it is.
I wonder, was the day after Jesus walked on water an ordinary day? Some days rise to a special level. If you or I ever walk on water that would be a great day; otherwise, it’s a wedding day, the day a child is born, or even the day a loved one is lost. These would be special days. Mostly, though, are lives are filled with ordinary ones. In the end, the things we do on ordinary days will most likely amount to a whole lot more than we could ever imagine.