Thursday, September 21, 2017

“God constantly surprises me. I had thought I didn't like surprises, but I found I did when they came from Him.” ― Malorie Blackman

                        I recently got a new bronze watch that was a gift from my oldest son and his wife (see picture at the right).  It was a combination birthday (in November) and Christmas (in December) present that I received in August and made me very happy indeed.  I wouldn’t buy or even wear a very expensive watch (one that cost in the thousands) because I know how I could have spent that money on our orphans or other projects.  Even if it was a gift, I would have to sell it and use the money for God’s purposes.  Thirty years ago, I once wore expensive watches made of gold but now can’t even wear things that are gold-colored because that reminds me of the person I was then and don’t care for anymore.  However, my children and some friends know of the special watches that I covet that cost just a few hundred dollars instead of thousands, but even then I would never buy them because I would use the money for charity instead.  I do like mechanical (non-electric) watches that rely just on engineering, gears, springs, and wheels.  The idea of all that inside a watch that keeps really good time just amazes me.  Also love the idea that a bronze watch will develop a patina and change every time you look at it.   My wife had a case hand-made for my watches and my son, John, put the lights in it.  More kindness sent my way and gratefully received.  
                            One of my friends on my watch forum from England knew of my wish list and offered to trade me a watch he knew I really wanted for a watch I already had that he liked.  We made the swap and I am happy now to have a Smiths Everest (picture is on Facebook post) like the one that Sir Edmund Hillary wore when he was the first to climb Mt. Everest back in 1953.  Of course, there was a disparity in value between the one I traded (much less than the one I received), but my friend wouldn’t have it any other way (and his wife is sending school supplies to Karen).  As it stands now, I have a collection of about twenty “affordable” watches (under $500 in cost, most under $200) that were all gifts to me from other watch enthusiasts, family, or good friends who knew that I would be pleased (picture on Facebook post).  It is a great compliment to me, and one I really don’t deserve, that so many would want to give me watches.  In total, I have been given over a hundred watches, but have given almost all of them away to Tanzanian doctors, nurses, bishops, pastors, veterinarians, teachers, our own workers, police, and other folks here who need watches but could never afford to buy them.  It not only pleases me to give them away, but it pleases those who gave them to me as well.  It’s one of those “everybody wins” situations that has been going on for years now and is still active.  One of my best friends in the States just wrote me that he has found a watch he knew I wanted (a Timex not a Rolex) and is sending it to me in his next package.  People I have never met or even seen their pictures have surprised me with gifts of watches from Seoul, South Korea, to Southern California, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, the U.K., Canada, and Italy.  I am always humbled but always happy when I am remembered with a watch of the affordable variety.  
                                My latest gift from my oldest son is a Gruppo Gamma from a fairly new company based in Singapore.  Turns out their small watch production runs always sell out, and there is a loyal fan base for their watches with a club on Facebook.  I started posting pictures of my latest with a new band on it on the club site and have discovered many new friends—some of whom have started reading my blog and have even contributed to our water needs.  Who could ever have guessed that my fascination with watches would lead to blog readers and contributors to our mission?  Several of these are atheists, but love to read the blog.  Go figure.  One of the folks on that watch forum just contributed enough to buy fifty-one Bibles in Swahili for our church members.  Tell me again how my watch forum is just selfish and not a means to evangelism and the expansion of the Kingdom?  One of the men on my watch forum recently wrote that he looks for my posts there every day as he feels that I am the “heart” of that forum.  I only post pictures of the watch I am wearing that day, occasionally post pictures of our work here, and always enjoin those reading my posts to be kind to others--not much, actually.  I’m writing all of this not to draw attention to my cool watches (well, maybe a little), but to tell all ya’ll that if you love others and care about being kind—there are lots of people out there who will like you and look to you as a role model.   
                      If you have something that makes you happy, it may be that God wants you to use that happiness to become an evangelist in an oblique way.  Whether your passion is bass fishing, quilting, running, riding motorcycles, painting, or teaching small children—God will help you find a way to make that a tool of His for reaching His children that wouldn’t or couldn’t be reached any other way.  Use your happiness to make Him happy.  Others have done it.  I have done it.  You can do it, too.  Just be real, honest, and share who you are and what makes you happy and God will find a way to make the world a better place in ways you would never have expected.  I think Christ said it best a long time ago when He told us not to keep our lights hidden under baskets but to let them shine.  I just never thought an “affordable” watch would become an evangelism tool.  I’m sure God has even more surprises in store.  Who knew?

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