Providential grocery shopping buddy. I think that’s what I’m going to call them.
It seems like whenever I’m feeling particularly homesick or culture-shocked, I run into a kind older woman at the grocery store. It’s never the same woman twice but they love to share their “secret” recipe for making their version of whatever I’m trying to cook.
Usually the conversation begins while I’m staring blankly at some food item (this last time it was canned beans) and wondering which to use (since the brands are a tad different here).
“You makin’ chili?” she says with smile on her face, eager for a conversation.
“Um. Yeah.” I’m not much of a conversationalist.
“Mmmm. I’m makin’ chili, too. I love chili. You put beef in yours?”
“This time, yeah. I don’t know which beans to use, though.”
“Oh! This one is great! It’s my favorite starter for chili. My kids loved it growing up and it’s what I always use. You should throw in diced tomatoes, too.”
“Do you put any other beans in?”
“Oh yeah. These red kidney beans and pinto beans are always tasty. Can’t go wrong with those. Do you use a spice packet? I always use this one.”
…and on the conversation goes until I’m outfitted with the exact ingredients to make her family’s favorite food. Lemme tell you, it’s the best chili I’ve ever made. And similar conversations have led to the best gumbo. And the best sausage gravy. And the best baked chicken.
But it’s not just the great food that I get excited about, it’s the conversation. These conversations feel like little gifts from God reminding me that he’s here and he loves us. They’re reminders that the world and his creation display his joy and that we all have an innate desire to connect with one another.
These providential shopping buddies don’t know that their conversations have become a highlight of my week and that they’ve displayed a bit of the character of Jesus to a sometimes wearied soul. I can’t help but reflect on Hebrews when it says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”