I walked out of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Geneva with three other ladies on Sunday afternoon, and we planned to find a place to have lunch. All of us were new to the city and had no idea where to go. We were walking out of the courtyard when we saw two young men walking toward us.
Look it’s Frank from Frankfurt! I said loud enough for everyone to hear.
It was him, and he and his friend became the perfect Geneva locals to give us restaurant advice. We ended up at Husband’s flat where he locked himself in the kitchen to make bolognese. (Husband still locks himself in the kitchen when we have company, but now it’s during the clean-up phase.)
A few special moments happened in the hours before we were in Husband’s flat. I had a craving for peanut butter during the weekend, and a new friend gave me a jar of it that morning. I wanted to sing a specific song, and we sang it during the church service. By the time we were in Husband’s flat for lunch, I felt like God’s spotlight was shining on me, and I was receiving straight out of His hand only good things, not generically good things, but the good things I specifically needed on this day.
And the third specific good thing I received that day was food. Free food.
I remember sitting at the dining table, looking only at Husband’s bolognese and thanking God that I didn’t have to pay for it and also thinking about the fact that it was only my fourth warm meal after almost two weeks in Geneva. I don’t even remember engaging in any conversation with anyone. I took small bites, held every morsel in my mouth, and thanked God for every part of it even though the sauce needed more salt.
At some point I said to Husband in a serious voice, Frank, my mother has been praying all week that I would have a home-cooked meal, so you are an answer to her prayers.
I wanted to thank this random stranger because he had blessed me in a way he couldn’t understand. In his mind these were the most basic of ingredients he kept stocked in his flat for a day when he didn’t have time to make anything, and he was embarrassed to serve overcooked pasta. He had no idea how much this bolognese was impacting my life.
He followed the pasta with fresh crepes that we covered with Nutella. During this whole time, I do not remember what we talked about – I blame the food coma – but I know that Husband and I rarely spoke to each other. After the meal finished, I was standing at Husband’s bookshelf admiring his collection of classics, volumes of theology, spiritual works, business books and books I had never heard of. This is exactly the kind of bookshelf I expected this guy to have, I thought to myself.
Husband was standing next to me, and we had a short conversation. He finished “The Brothers Karamazov” recently, and one of my favourite books is “Crime and Punishment” by the same author. We talked about C.S. Lewis and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” He told me about his grandparents’ work and some of the books they gave him.
Time felt like it was standing still for me (it is worth mentioning that Husband did not consider this to be a significant moment for him at all). I didn’t listen to the other conversations. What I did notice was that I felt warm, loved, cared for. Husband was standing close to me, his kind green eyes focussed on mine, and he was listening, sharing, engaging.
I quickly snapped out of that moment and lectured myself about how I didn’t meet guys in foreign countries and didn’t have little “moments” like this, and it’s a terrible idea to just start talking to a guy because if you give him the wrong idea, you will have to have the super awkward conversation later on about how this is all not going to work out because how could anything possibly work out in a situation like this. Yes, I thought all of these things.
I held the time we had together as precious, but I thought it was just a lovely moment, something designed to give me a taste of the love and care God had for me. I knew I would remember this day forever and I knew I would remember how it felt to be so warmly cared for by a stranger.
We all walked to a beautiful park and saw some classic Geneva sights. There was a skating rink covered with coloured lights full of people, people playing chess on the giant boards painted on the ground, and it was still cold.
I said goodbye to Husband late that afternoon and never expected to see him again.