We had finally boarded the train, after a long night at the train station. The sun was rising and we were getting on our way.
It was a crowded train but thankfully Whisky had gone ahead of us and found four seats near each other.
Trains in Mozambique are open cars with wracks overhead for luggage and groups of seats, two at a time, facing each other, each seat fitting 3 adults.
Pastor Daniel and Isabel and their daughter settled into one of the seats across the aisle opposite another family. Whisky and I settled into a seat opposite a young mom and her two children.
She wore a shirt that read, ‘Staring at me won’t make me like you’ which seemed highly appropriate considering her stone-cold face as I tried to smile a greeting.
At first I was straight across from her, but then as we later shifted seats Whisky was the one directly opposite her.
Now Whisky was my translator for the trip. He tirelessly translated all my words into Portuguese or Sena or one of the other local languages as needed, and then translated all their words into english for me.
From village to village and all the ways in between I’d been honoured to watch Whisky and his heart for people. In Chupanga he took up an impromptu ‘sunday school class’ with the children as we waited for others to arrive at the church (we could have gone immediately home after that, seemed to be all the church we needed, so thick was the worship of those moments).
I’d seen his action when something needed attending to, his sacrifice of giving something he owned to another who had even less, of engaging people and drawing out of them their stories and his great compassion in return.
And nearly immediately upon sitting opposite this young mom he began a conversation. She entered in hesitantly at first, yet Whisky has a way of building rapport, of engaging humour and simply making people feel very comfortable with themselves and him.
So bit by bit the two conversed. She began to smile. Over the course of the next hour I watched a transformation right before my eyes. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever beheld.
Her eyes began to shine. She answered shyly yet confidently. She sat a little taller.
My words feel so inadequate to describe this…
I’d been speaking for over a week by this time about the power that men have to bring a shining to their woman’s eyes and countenance.
And here, right before me I watched this exact transformation take place. With a little regard, some eye contact, genuine concern, real love, a woman was drawn out of her shell and simply appreciated.
We had quite a few hours on this journey and after awhile I turned to Whisky and said, “You do realize that you have made her week, her month. She will be forever marked by your regard and the conversation of your hearts.”
It struck me that the exact spiritual authority (that personal carrying and embodiment of a message) necessary to stand alongside all the words I’d been speaking was carried by Whisky. Everything I’d been saying he had been living.
I told him so and thanked him sincerely.
Before our trip was up we had fellowshipped with this gal. We shared our bread and cookies, pop and water. The kids settled down in this space that Whisky created. Her hard face that had first met me became soft and genuine, shining and smiling.
All because a stranger took the time to care and the risk to engage, an investment of regard, and conversation that welcomed and invited.
Before we said our good-bye’s Whisky asked to take her picture to which she bashfully agreed. And when I smiled my goodbye I was met with shining, soft eyes and a ready grin.