Last week I met a seafarer from Poland, and on the way to Best Buy, we hit it off talking about cars. He wished he could buy a Dodge Charger and ship it back to his home. We talked gas prices and speeding tickets and the differences between our education systems. And the whole time I was making different attempts at pronouncing his name. I tried Micha, Malkoo, Malcho… Every time he politely tried to correct me, and every time I tried to mimic the phlegm production in the middle of his name.
We got back to the center from our trip to Best Buy, and we sat at one of the tables across from our computers. I offered him a cup of coffee. He passed, but I needed some. When I got back with my coffee, I asked him, “Why do you do what you do?”
… He didn’t understand my poorly worded query, so I tried again.
“Working on the ships. Why do you do that?”
I’ve found that asking “why?” questions, after you’ve broken the initial awkward iceberg with someone, can help quickly take the conversation to a deeper level. It gets at motivations and subtext in a way that ‘when’ ‘where’ and ‘how’ can’t.
He talked about his need to make money, but he quickly began to talk about his relationship with his girlfriend, and how much she meant to him. He talked about how this job allowed him to spend his off months with her and how he loved spending so many long days free to enjoy her company. He hoped they would get married soon.
It’s amazing how Love connects us and molds us and shapes us. If there were nothing else to connect my Polish friend and I, the desire to love and have that love returned is something that I believe connects us all. We want to feel desired and cared for. We want purpose and meaning. We want adventure and beauty. We want to change the world. Doesn’t Love give us all of those things and more?
Despite his rejection of religion and resistance to talking about God, I could tell that there was a deep longing in him, as there is in myself, to get to know Love and the nature of it. We talked for quite a while.
Finally, towards the end of our deep conversation about love, and life, and why bad things happen to people, I took one more failed attempt at his name, and he said, “No, Marco! Marco! Like Marco Polo!!” ,and we both laughed loudly at the embarrassingly long time it took me understand “Marco!”
God is Love, and that Love is revealed in Christ. I would ask that those who read this would pray that God would continue to open Marco’s heart to the Love being offered through Jesus Christ, and I pray for more opportunities to discuss the deep, real truths of life with those who we serve.
-grace and peace