As you read this – we will be well into our routine of ministering three times a day in Ukraine. The day begins early with preparation – looking over the teachings of the day – because once we are in the flow of the day’s activities there is no time to prepare or review. It is straight ministry through to the time you fall back into bed at the end of the day.
(Note: “Shoppers” is a national drug store chain here in my nation – often open 24 hours a day and usually containing a post office outlet.)
Church service and fellowship time was over – I was heading home for a quick bowl of soup before heading out to drive 260 Km to another church for an evening service. On the way home I passed Shoppers and stopped in to pick up the mail from the church’s mail box – and hopefully talk to the young person who often is behind the counter in the evenings and on weekends. Last time we talked he had just received notice of fewer hours due to the downturn of the economy and thus fewer shoppers making purchases. He was working on joining several other department teams so he could continue to work full hours and not lose any income.
Well, Shane was behind the counter and it was not busy at all in the store (it was lunch hour). So, I was able to get the mail out of the box and lean across the counter and ask how he was doing. He was surprised that I had remembered the conversation and that I was stopping to ask about his work hours and if he had been successful in finding working hours in other departments to make up for what he had lost in the regular areas where he worked. He was genuinely “touched” by the fact that I remembered and that I cared enough to ask how he was doing.
Conversation over – on to the pharmacy to pick up an aditional supply of perscription drugs so I have enough when overseas for three weeks later this month. Got them – and I’m heading out looking forward to the bowl of soup. God says to go back to the post office and talk to Shane again. I know -sounds strange – but I have learned to follow these little promptings and I’m always amazed at what happens.
He was, of course, surprised to see me a second time. I actually ended up buying some Diet Pepsi stacked near the post office outlet he was tending so he would not back off wondering what I was up to. The Diet Pepsi was on sale and I drink it so it was a small price to pay to manage to ease in to another conversation without appearing like I was targeting him.
How do you start a second conversation with omeone you hardly know? Well, people like to talk about themselves so I asked him about the two new piercings that were on his face just below his bottom lip. He was so excited someone had noticed as they were brand new the day before. So, I asked several obvious questions – Did it hurt to get them inserted? Any particular reason for getting them? Why did he choose to get them there and not over an eyebrow or around the bottom lip? (he already has his ears pierced and stretched and wears plugs with a happy face on them – so ears were not an option). He answered all of my questions excitedly and apparently pleased that someone noticed AND asked him about his latest investment. He showed me how they attach on the inside, talked about his parent’s reactions to his newest piercings (totally against), adding that he also had a nipple pierced and was looking forward to his first tattoo after he figues out what he wants to have tattooed on to his body … on and on.
Folks, I hardly know the young man. I have been friendly and spoken to him a number of times in the past few months. He does not know what I do for a living. I was just another guy talking to him about his life and the way he was currently expressing it. And, I accepted him for who he is and how he is expressing his life – where both his parents do not accept what he has just done and have spoken somewhat directly and harshly to him about it. So, he was finding acceptance and understanding from someone (almost a total stranger) even older than his parents and he was taking it all in.
I had to leave – I needed to eat and leave town as I had a deadline in the town I was heading to. So, I picked up my Diet Pepsi and headed to the opposite end of the store to leave … and he walked along with me leaving the post office unattended while he did so. We talked the whole way to the door – stopping several times so we would not be overheard as he shared about his life – his hopes and dreams.
Neat encounter – and seeing the sale on Diet Pepsi ends today I am heading back over this afternoon and hope to continue to conversation. I do believe an invite over to the coffee shop on the same parking lot is in order if our schedules can mesh and I’m available when his shift ends.
Pray for this young man as I believe he would be open to hearing the Gospel.