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Candy from a Stranger

Indonesian Food

I was told never to take candy from strangers.

So I didn’t.

I took a whole lunch, and I ate every bite.

I’ve written once before about my love for the community in which I work. Today reminded me again that I have landed in the right place.

I had just returned to my somewhat rundown host church after stepping across the parking lot for coffee and was about to close my office door behind me when I heard a tentative, “Ma’am?”

I turned and saw a tiny woman I did not recognize.

“Ma’am, have you had any lunch today?”

She turned and gestured toward the battered desk which serves as the church’s Sunday reception area. There rested a half-empty platter covered with plastic.

“Would you like to try some Indonesian food? I made it for a prayer breakfast but others also brought food, and the turnout was small.”

The woman brought the plate to my door, where I still stood. This was unexpected. She appeared to mistake my hesitation.

“These are made from sticky rice and coconut milk. The dark one is sweet and has brown sugar. The other isn’t sweet, and it has tuna in it.” Almost apologetically, she added, “I come from an island. We learned to use what we had.”

The lovely, moist rectangles were plated on banana leaves.

I was overwhelmed by her simple kindness. I hurried to get a tissue to use as a plate. A tissue? Well, I am a therapist, after all.

I thanked her profusely.

“Let me think if I have something I can give you,” I said stupidly.

“Oh no,” she said. “You don’t need to give me anything for them. Please—take as many as you want.”

I hadn’t been thinking to pay her, only to share a part of my self in return. I had been visualizing my sandwich, orange, and hardboiled egg. Who would want those? It’s ridiculous, I know. But that was what popped into my mind as I scanned my brain for a gesture of communion.

I ate the rice cakes at the desk where I am now writing. The savory one was a type of tuna sandwich which hinted of ginger. The sweet one was a gooey delight. Without the banana leaf beneath them, the fragrant cakes had become hopelessly grafted to the tissue. I ate them paper and all.

Rita is no longer a stranger.

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23 responses »

  1. Charming! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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  2. My mouth is watering, and you are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. I love stories about the simple kindness of others.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. And here you are! I have lived in Indonesia – deliciously fascinating foods and fruits and very friendly people.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. This is beautiful, genuine, and hopeful. I loved it.

    Liked by 3 people

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  6. Ah, those wonderful, unexpected encounters!

    Liked by 2 people

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  7. Lovely. The kindness of strangers always moves me to tears…and strangers no more 🙂 I love Indonesian food (my mom grew up there). What a treat.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  8. Delightfully sweet story.
    So glad to see you posting again.

    Mind you, my reading of posts and posting schedule is a bit off since this is when my crazy season is in full swing – – Holiday rush, After holiday reset, year end reports, then tax time. So forgive my sporadic presence… still I’m around.

    Hope your week is off to a great start!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Thanks, A! No worries at all. I am not going to be on WordPress as much this year. Kind of got burned out and am going to take it slower. So likewise–don’t be offended if I don’t catch all your posts.

      Be kind to yourself during this busy time! I know that must be hard. You have a lot on your plate!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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