I still don’t understand why I saw her. And why I cried. It was a two second glance, if that. Allow me to tell you this sweet story of faith and hope and love.
I was returning from town with some of my boys in the car. I noticed on a certain section of road, leaving town, that my friend’s car was parked. We know most of our friends and acquaintances by the cars they drive. As soon as I saw her car, on the opposite side of the road, I began looking for her. I wasn’t disappointed because I quickly spotted her sitting, Indian style, on the ground by a small fire. There were a few Papua ladies in the scene also. Roasting corn. What struck me was the beauty of my friend. Her long silver hair. Her pink blouse. Her complete contentment and joy. Her sense of belonging and peace. And it resonated so deep in my heart that I wept. A two second peep, if that, and I was still plunging 35-40 mph towards home. I’m not a crier. I rapidly wiped my tears away, before a boy would notice and ask questions. Questions I didn’t know how to answer. Yet, I couldn’t wipe away the picture in my heart, nor did I want to.
The scene stuck with me. So much so that I messaged my friend hours later, to tell her that I had seen her and it really moved me.
I should have known that my friend was not just having a friendly chat by the side of the road. Nor just out for some fresh burnt (sorry, I mean, roasted) corn. Nor warming herself by the fire. No. Not at all. She was on a mission. As usual. Trying to go and be where she felt led.
So the real story unfurled. The story of the lady roasting and selling corn. Orphaned as a child often a local missionary, in a far village in Papua, would give her food. This missionary always taught the orphaned girl about God. That He will always take care of you and that He forgives sins and cares for the fatherless and widowed in special ways. Years later the same missionary arranged a marriage for her with a young pastor. She was safe, secure and her family (of all boys) began to grow. She was aware of God’s hand of protection, grace and provision. This family moved to Sentani so that her husband could go to seminary. They ended up staying in the area, pastoring a church. The boys grew up, went to school, got jobs and moved to new locations. Then her husband died. Still this widow recognized God’s hand was over them and they were healthy. This lady was able to feed herself and other relatives from her garden and by selling roasted corn by the highway.
As many families do, her boys sent their children to live with her during their school years. So she always has had children in the home. One son now owns the home that she has lived in all these years. Sometimes there is conflict because his wife does things differently. Yet, the lady who sells corn believes and knows that God provides day by day for her needs.
Each day as she lights her fire to roast corn, she prays and commits her needs and her business to the Lord. She is generous, often adding an extra ear to people as she feels prompted to do so.
That is how my friend encountered the Papua corn lady, the first time. She was lighting her fire and praying over her business. My friend sat and watch her for a few minutes before she asked for corn. It moved her and she later posted it on Facebook. This in turn moved a woman in America, whose husband is slowly recovering from a stroke, to send a monetary gift. It took awhile and some details to work it all out, but this is the scene I witnessed. My friend giving the gift of faith, hope and love to the Papua corn lady.
The widowed corn lady was in tears with the gift. She expressed desire to share her testimony in church and present her tithe. Her plan is to use the money to set up a little stand by her home selling gasoline, out of jars, for motorbikes. A much easier job for an aging woman. A conversation was then had about how we are clothed in the Lord’s clothing and He supplies our needs. She asked my friend what her name is. In their local dialect my friend’s name means, “light, lamp, oil lamp”. Which matches very much the image that is still in my heart. The image of my light bearing friend spilling over with what is in her soul. Oh the depth and love of Jesus. It cannot be contained. It is captured, but not fully understood, in two second glances.