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The Dreaded Shopping Trip

I have never enjoyed shopping. I find it tedious, exhausting, and overwhelming.  Ironically, this changed during COVID-19. The dreaded shopping trip became  something that I look forward to.

When the pandemic hit in Neuwied, our church distributed hundreds of flyers describing our online programs and offering to connect them with volunteers to help with errands. I administrated this, which was far better than having to do the shopping myself! 

Although most Germans did not ask for help, our friends in the Persian community accepted the offer eagerly. One was Mary, a woman I had discipled though our church, and I was happy to arrange for someone to shop for her. A few months later, when the greatest danger of contagion was over, I encouraged Mary to go out and do her own shopping again. She hesitated, unsure.

“Why don’t I go with you?” I asked, and she quickly agreed. What was I thinking?

We settled on Wednesday afternoons. Each week, I would pick Mary up and we would head out to the shops together. Mostly this meant following her around with the shopping cart. At the end of each trip, I lugged heavy bags to the top floor of the building where she lived. Strangely, I always ended up feeling blessed despite having worked hard at a chore I disliked. A few weeks later I even found myself inviting Nelli, another young Persian mother, to join us! 

When we went to pick up Nelli we found her with her hair newly colored, make-up carefully applied and her clothes elegant and chic.  As she took a seat in the back of my car, I complimented her on her looks.

“You do remember,” I added jokingly, “that we are only going to the grocery store!” 

“This is actually my first time out of the house,” Nelli confided, “since my daughter was born.”

I fell quiet, realizing how much this outing meant to her. I imagined Jesus fishing with his disciples, or Paul living in a confined space with his companions for weeks at sea. This is where discipleship comes alive, I thought. Later, pushing the cart through the aisles, listening to the women chattering about kids and recipes, hustling to fill their bags and load them into the trunk of my car, I felt happy to be doing life with them. Happy to be going on a shopping trip with Jesus and with my friends.

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