Lost Oppertunities

If I had to characterize Saturday morning, I would have to say it was a morning of lost opportunities.

My son played in the provincial soccer tournament on Friday and their team reached the final playoff game. Unfortunately, there was no time to play the game so the final was postponed to Saturday morning. I had been unable to attend on Friday due to meetings, but I jumped at the chance to see my son play in the finals.

Saturday morning started off with me waking up at 6:45 instead of 6:00 due to an alarm malfunction. Hastily getting dressed, I rushed out the door to the PMV (Public Motor Vehicle) stop. After two PMV’s and 2.5 hours later I arrived at Lapilo where the game was to be played. However, I discovered the other team had not shown up and my son and his team had already departed for home.

My only option to return home was to catch a PMV to Goroka and then retrace my route back to Ukarumpa. In Goroka, I made a quick trip to the market to buy some pineapple and mangoes, and then selected one of the many PMV’s available and vying for my business.

As we started down the road in a Coaster bus, the “boss crew” (a person who collects the money) suggested that we tell stories to pass the time. He proceeded to tell different stories of events that happened in different areas of Papua New Guinea. Some of them were sobering and some of them had the passengers in stitches. As I pondered what was happening, I thought of all the stories from the Bible that many people in Papua New Guinea find interesting and thought about which one would be good to tell.

Then the doubts and excuses started pouring in. The stories being told were all from PNG. What if they don’t want to hear a story from elsewhere? What if I don’t tell the story correctly? What if I don’t tell the story well? In the end, my indecision and fear paralyzed me.

We arrived in Kainantu and I found another PMV for the 15 minute trip to Ukarumpa. Seated directly behind me was a man that was talking to himself about a certain nationality and how he wished they would go home due to perceived economic inequalities. I assumed that he had one too many to drink and/or a bad experience in town that left him angry. Half way home he started throwing in my nationality and soon I realized he was talking about me.

I know that debating with angry, inebriated people is generally a lost cause (Yes, I have experience), especially when they blame you for their situation. But I also do not like injustice and false accusations. I genuinely felt bad for him and wished I could do something to soften his perception. I thought I should give him a small gift like a mango and tell him I was sorry he was having so much trouble, but I was moved to a different seat and soon after I arrived at my stop.

In reflecting on my morning, I realized that I had failed to take the opportunities to tell people about God and to show them His love for them. Sometimes our fears paralyze us, our excuses dismiss us, or our desire to be liked forbids us to take chances. Not only does it keep us from doing good but it can also harm others.

The morning had been filled with typical PNG kindness, generosity, and goodwill as I traveled the PMV’s. I wish I had returned more.

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