Monday, May 3

A Mission Field Moment

Guests for dinner.
Dessert?... crepes.
Crepes filled with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and banana in a blanket of fresh whipped cream.  It was just a simple thought that sounded good for a hot and sunny tropical day.

Life is not always so simple on the mission field, however. Despite the cold spell a few weeks back that killed a lot of Florida strawberries, I did find what I needed. Strawberries, blueberries-- cream-- bananas-- all there except the actual crepe. My search up and down the isles at the grocery store for the crepes was not successful.  Time to ask the experts.

I asked a woman in the bakery department where I could find crepes.
Silence-- but a knowing look and two hands on my forearm as she led me to another bakery woman who could speak some English.
"Where might I find the crepes," I asked.
I did my best to describe the thin wrappers in which I wanted to encase my fresh fruit and cream.
"Oh, she smiled, row eleven" ... in thick Spanish accent.
I smiled back because I knew what isle eleven bore, but marched there anyway out of respect to her. After all, it was possible that I was wrong.  But 'row' eleven was laden with my suspicions - tortillas.
Nearby was another store employee so I asked her politely where I could find the crepes.  She mumbled something in Spanish and hailed an oncoming shopper. The employee asked her (presumably) if she could speak English... sorry.  She stopped another customer and repeated her question...  but no speak English. My gracious friend found yet another shopper and to my delight, knew my language.  Sadly, she had no idea what a crepe was though.

I thanked them both and walked across the store back to the bakery.  There I met the "head man" and asked my now familiar question, "Do you sell crepes?"
"Crepes?" his Latin eyes puzzled, "what is crepes?"
Much gesturing.  Exaggerated English.
Descriptions of the same thing in ten different ways.  (Hmmm, maybe I just ought to buy some ice cream instead.) But in his very helpful manner he snagged another store worker and launched into a string of Spanish punctuated with the word 'crrrrepe'.
Much shaking of heads.
More descriptions in English by me.  (Hmmm, maybe I just ought to learn the language.)

My newest store help graciously walked me to a 'row' -- the tortillas again. I tried to explain to her that crepes were not made of corn and they were often used for desserts.  She gathered two more store employees and we had quite a little meeting near the stacks of tortillas -- four of us in Spanish, one in English.  After much deliberation and smiles from the missionary, waving her hands in sign language style, they took me to the frozen isle to the arepas.

I patiently explained, "Not Colombian, French. Crepe is French."
More puzzled looks.
The two men dropped out of the picture and my enduring friend next took me to the isle with boxes of frozen pancakes.  "That's okay, I said, "thank you so much for helping me."

I wheeled my cart to the checkout isles and loaded my purchases on the belt. The cashier started off in a happy string of Spanish. I hesitated, not knowing if she was speaking to me or the others around me.  She tried again.  "I'm sorry, I don't speak Spanish," I said.
"I know," she replied.
Most cashiers do not attempt to speak to us here so I was glad she was trying. I smiled at her and she tried again in English, waving her hand in front of her face, "My eye is onion."
(I was hoping she would not ask me if I had found everything I needed that day... I couldn't possibly lie, but I was certain I should not bring up the word 'crepe'.)

God was very merciful in such a minor matter in my life though. Another store and another employee, I found my crepes.
I only wish I could have taken one back to each of the ten sweet employees who helped me in the first store.  I'm sure they would have fallen in love with my cool, refreshing crrrrepe on this hot tropical day.

Thank you Lord for the simple things in life!


  1. The crepes sound and look delicious! I am wondering what the clerk was trying to say who told you, "My eye is onion." :)

  2. Laura- I think she was telling me her eyes were watering or burning. But one can hardly tell at times. :)


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