The bag – One morning I was visiting my friend Gulab in Palo. I had an appointment in Tacloban in the afternoon. That’s all I had to achieve that day. I should manage that, I thought. The afternoon appointment was important. It was with some pastors who’d asked me to visit and who I’d already turned down twice for prior engagements. Turning down invitations in the Philippines is a tricky business, so this time I made sure I had nothing else to do so there were no chance of complications.
Gulab invited me to stay for lunch. That’s fine, still plenty of time, I thought. After lunch, he invited me to stay to meet some missionaries, one of which was a Scot. Now I have been missing my countryfolk, the prospect of meeting one was very attractive, even if he was actually from Scotland, who may not be my countryfolk for much longer. They were going to visit a local village and distribute some food. I was worried about getting to my appointment in Tacloban but Gulab assured me that our excursion wouldn’t take long. Ok, I said. Oh, when will I learn.
I got a lift in the missionaries’ car and when we arrived at the village I realised the place we’d arrived at was near my friend Bob’s house who I hadn’t seen in a long time, so after spending some time in the village I excused myself and went to visit Bob. Now I’d left my bag in the car, but I was expecting to be riding back with them later, so it was OK. I arranged for them to text me when they were leaving, so I could get a ride with them. Well, I thought I did, but I think something got lost in translation. I returned to find they’d already left. Worse, my bag was still in their car. As I trudged back to Gulab’s house I was thoroughly dejected. I was already pushing it to get to my appointment. Now I had a mission to track down my bag and I expected I wouldn’t get there at all. Now remember I’d already turned Gordon and Emie down twice already. A no-show on the third attempt would be a disaster. Why, God, why…
Anyway, I got back to Gulab’s and managed to get the number of the driver who had my bag in his car. They were in Tacloban. Yes, they had my bag and I could meet them at Robinsons. I texted Emie and she was OK with my lateness, but I had only a vague idea of where they lived and no idea how to get there. At Robinsons, as I collected my bag from the car, someone in the car mentioned “Imelda village” – woah hold it right there, that’s where I needed to be! I inquired. Yes, indeed they were going to Imelda village. Result. Room for one more? In the Philippines, there’s always room for one more.
Ok, we were back on track. On the way, we chatted about their stay. “We’re staying with some local pastors, called Gordon and Emie, do you know them?” Do I know them.. Bosh. In an instant, everything had been turned around. My disaster became a testimony. “Yeah, that’s where I’m going now. Thanks for the ride”.
It turned out that the driver, who I’d been talking to while I was desperately trying to salvage my day’s plans and find my way to Gordon and Emie’s, was in fact Gordon and Emie’s son. Everyone was pretty impressed with this minor miracle. “God is good”, I said, smiling smugly like this happens to me all the time. I thought back to the moment walking down the road when I was kicking myself for screwing up my day, thinking I was a million miles from where I needed to be. Sometimes, when God is silent, it’s because He’s trying to hide a smile: “ Just you wait, son – I think you’ll find it’s all in the bag.”