The day that Adam left, I cooked chicken soup, then asked Maricris to bring a steaming bowl of it to our dear elderly neighbor, with a wedge of the remaining sweet potato biscuits that I had made earlier.
Even weeks before Adam would leave for the Middle East together with his parents, our neighbor had been crying. Adam is her beloved first grandchild. She took care of him night and day, alongside his Mom, ever since he was born eight months ago, while his Dad worked abroad.
Our neighbor had been lonely these many years, but when Adam came, her world lit up again.
Then the day that Adam’s Dad would come and get him and his Mom came. And the day the three left, our dear neighbor was sorrowful.
She has been good to us these years. She would always send cakes, bread, and pastries to me because she knows I like them. She gives gifts to Hannah and Tim every now and then. They are like grandchildren to her. Even her other daughter sends me lovely flowers whenever she has time.
The Lord Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves. But who are our neighbors? I believe, just like the man who fell among thieves while traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, was beaten and left half dead (Luke 10), so is a neighbor not only the one who lives near our house, but also that one whom we encounter wherever we go. Which brings me to a beautiful memory I have of Japan.
I had written before that I went to Japan in late 2003 for a business trip against my doctor’s orders. I was already experiencing the symptoms of my illness before this trip, and when I was already there, I was really scared thinking that I might not be able to go back home.
On the day that I would fly back home to Manila, many unexpected things happened. To make the story short, there was a rail problem along the way of the express train that would bring me to the airport, so we had to transfer to another train that would bring us to another train station, and from there, catch a train that would bring us to the airport.
In-between these train transfers, I found myself at the foot of two flights of a steep staircase. There was no elevator nor escalator. When I attempted to haul my heavy luggage up the first step, my heart palpitated that I had to clutch my chest to steady myself. I bowed my head and sobbed helplessly. Suddenly, I felt my luggage gently taken from me, and when I looked up, I saw this elderly janitor hauling up my heavy luggage up the stairs and beckoning me to follow.
In the frenzy of things, I never got the chance to talk to the elderly man. But I never forgot his kindness.
When our neighbor country, Japan, was devastated by earthquake and tsunami, I saw in the news this elderly Japanese man sitting amidst the destruction. He was completely forlorn. As his surroundings were in total devastation, so was his spirit.
I wept for Japan and her people in prayer.