Beggars. Here in East Africa, there's plenty. Much like the rest of the world. Back in Tanzania, we know quite a few in and around our town. Many have physical disabilities and can't or won't work. Some have mental illness and no one to care for them. Some are drunk most of their life, some went through a tragedy of some sort, many just refuse to work and hide behind the guise of tragedy. In our town, we've learned quite a few of those in need, and tend to give often in different ways to the gracious ones. To those who complain or make demands, not so much.
Coming to Nairobi, a much bigger and wealthier city, has been an interesting contrast in those asking for handouts. There are some who struggle with disabilities, like blindness, paralysis, etc. There are many more with stories. To most of these, I've been rather aloof. They'll tell me their tragic tale, and then I'll tell them that they are wearing (pants, shirt, jacket, necklace, watch) more money than most of my friends in the village in Tanzania have ever had. Or they'll explain an urgent need of money and I'll offer a fair exchange, which usually is denied. So while daily, hourly, constantly I have someone around me begging, I've become fairly numb to it here in Nairobi.
Yesterday, I was sitting in my car while JJ was in a pharmacy, and two Maasai men in their traditional robes walked up and tapped on my window. Reading, I was slightly startled and then I begrudgingly rolled down the window, ready for another story of need. But instead, the men greeted me in Swahili, told me that they saw my license plates and knew I was from Tanzania. They too, were from Tanzania but had moved to Kenya. They missed home and wanted to talk to someone from their home country in their language. We chatted for a short bit about their home, my home, our families, what brought us here, etc. They didn't once ask for anything, other than conversation and a friendly face. When they left, I immediately regretted not coming up with more to talk about, or inviting them to sit awhile, or something more, but I was so refreshed! So happy to have simply had a conversation because someone wanted to talk to me and not ask for a thing.
I wonder if Jesus feels the same way sometimes. I can't tell you how excited I was afterwards, to know that Daniel and Joshua, two men from entirely different backgrounds than myself, simply wanted to talk to me. To get to know me. To ask about home. I trust that Jesus doesn't get as tired or numb of our begging as I do, and I'm sure He does a much better job of meeting needs, but I bet He gets every bit as excited over a friendly conversation as I did. Probably much more so. And He probably recognizes it for what it is faster, too.
Perhaps I should spend more time just talking and listening, knocking on Christ's window and saying, "hey, we look a little different, but we're basically the same. You've been staying where I come from. You make me feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be."