WE’RE taught that itineration is part of the missionary work. We are asked to visit local churches, church events, Annual Conference sessions, and other conferences that would be instrumental in connecting the church to mission. That’s basically the general picture of itineration, but I didn’t know this includes sharing in public transportation and spaces!
Receiving graces from random people is a testimony of God’s presence everywhere.
On the bus from the Global Ministries office to our hotel, which is a 45-minute ride, I and four other international participants didn’t know that we need to pay the bus fare through the public transportation unified card or coins. We only had with us a few one dollar bills and barely one dollar coins each. By faith we hopped in the bus and informed the driver of our dilemma. Graciously, the driver allowed us to stay, while we figure out how to change our bills to coins. Sitting, we started asking co-passengers to change our bills. From a simple inquiry, it grew into a long conversation.
Leticia and her daughter sat next to me. She is working with The United Methodist City Ministry under the New York Annual Conference and holds office at the same building with Global Ministries. She’s been on the same job as office administrator for 22 years and “I love what I am doing,” she said.
It takes genuine passion and calling to stick to one job for that long! I could clearly see in Leticia’s eyes her love to serve God through ministry with the city’s homeless and underprivileged children.
Walking through her call journey, we were also able to share our “call stories”, our country where we came from, and the placement site where we’re headed for the next 20-months. It was a lovely conversation and before she got off, they gave us some coins for our fare.
Still a long way ahead to Laguardia airport, we continued to bravely ask people for change. Well, since most of the passengers have not enough coins to change our bills, they end up giving it all to us. And by God’s grace, we were able to raise $6-worth of coins from random people in the bus, which is enough to pay for two persons plus extra $1 for the third.
After having enough coins for all five of us, I went up to the bus driver to drop our fares. As I was putting the coins in the machine, I started a conversation with the driver and asked him to drop us at the stop area where we could get free shuttle to the hotel. Again, from that single request, the conversation grew longer.
He is from Bangladesh but was raised in the USA. He’s been so considerate and open to share his life story. He loves his job and gives away a very bright smile to each passenger hopping in. Well, I ended up sharing my story as well. Before we bid farewell, he blessed us all in our new journeys. We also got the chance to pray for him. As we left, he waved exaggeratedly and flashed a big smile.
When we arrived at the hotel, Jackie, one of the crews declared, “the awesome people are here!” We looked at each other, wondering what he meant about that. Jackie knows about Global Ministries and the young adult missionary service. He said missionaries are awesome people, adding that he once joined a mission trip to South Korea with Young Men Christian Association (YMCA). He was so excited for all of us, and although we’re very tired after the whole day’s event, his spirit is so contagious that we ended up talking a bit longer than we thought. He speaks Tagalog, Korean, and some Congolese. That conversation also allowed us to share with him our faith stories and how we look forward to serving God in a different context.
Leticia, the bus driver, and Jackie are random people, whom we had unexpected itineration with. But through them, we are constantly reminded of our call stories and how we could invite people to journey with us. It was not just us sharing our lives, but also listening to their stories. I guess we have lived our call to ENGAGE with the community we are at, CONNECT local church, or in that case individuals, into mission, and GROW in personal and social holiness. We enjoyed having those sacred conversations, and being able to pray for these people we encountered.
John Wesley said, “I look at the world as my parish.” Anytime, anywhere, and anyone can be an opportunity to celebrate God’s love to all!