We sat outside. So engrossed we were, catching up, we hardly noticed Coffee Bean filling up and people spilling out to where we sat, realizing after 2 hours that we had forgotten to order drinks. We became friends , Sooi Ling and I after pastor Mike Koh suggested she lead our home fellowship. We were new in Penang and she was back in her hometown after years of missionary work. Villages in remote Sarawak being her land. Planting churches, sharing , sometimes on a tiny boat on a river, between hills.
We would sit around our big , square coffee table , an unlikely group of near strangers brought together by an immense power. She was 'shy-er' then, unsure if we would accept her , yet trusting what she had to share would be enough. It was.
We talked about rattlesnakes and manic depressive friends, moms & sisters & aunts, i phones, going to church vs 'doing church' over a bowl of vietnamese noodles. I told her that I feel out of place in church, like how I feel when I'm in a bar ... she said she goes to an African church and the only reason she's still there is because she needs to keep in touch for her work. After finally finishing her PhD, she's working on a project that bridges Islam & Christianity through music. This takes her around. She's over 50 and she isn't shy anymore.
I wonder if she knows that her annual visits from Pasadena feed my spirit . She is vulnerable and brilliant and has an interesting effect on me. On the one hand, really comfortable & easy banter and at once, a deep stirring and yearning to know the things she knows. To be more. We talked about being desert dwellers instead of always looking to the promised land, "God will meet you in the desert".
A few hours on a Saturday night 'doing church' enough for a year. Always her quiet wisdom carrying me, encouraging, her words, His words coming back, when the enemy strikes. Me, reaching behind, as if reaching for an arrow in the quiver, the words "You will live to see your dreams come true" or " Deep calls to deep" or "no more will your Teacher hide from you, everywhere you go you will hear a voice within you saying 'This is the way, walk in it' ,flying through and piercing the heart of fear, or darkness or doubt.
She showed me that it's ok to 'do church'in your pajamas, looking for worship songs on U tube with the one whom you most want your God to move, to touch. A river never knows how far it reaches or how many villages it feeds. Indeed!