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Friday, April 4, 2014

A Missionary's Allegory:

In a rainy day at a public park, three men found themselves lying on the soaking ground under a tree. They owned nothing, except the clothes on their backs. It wasn't a day where anyone would want to go into the park. To add more injury to them, they were starving. None of them had any proper nourishment for weeks. They had to dig throughout the dumpsters of the city, only to find scraps fit only for stray cats. They were, also, rejected by others in their same situation. It seemed anywhere they went they were beaten, tormented, and robbed of the little possessions they had. They were only welcomed by each other's company. Because of these circumstances, they couldn't find shelter to keep dry in the rain. So, they were lying in a park, in a dimly lit, rainy day, waiting to die.
Then, by coincidence, a rather plump man strolled into the park. He had an umbrella to keep himself dry during the storm. But it wasn't the umbrella to which these homeless men's attention was drawn, nor was it the extra layer of "natural insulation." This man was different. He had the largest, kindest, warmest smile he had ever seen despite the storm. The spirit he had about him, naturally, lifted theirs. When this jolly fat man walked passed these homeless men, he stopped, and looked upon them. This situation filled his soul with sorrow. He had compassion on them. He asked if he could sit down beside these men who were wasting away at a nearby bench. They agreed, and joined him. The fact the closest bench was wet didn't seem to bother this concerned man. They began talking with each other. He introduced himself as Joseph Delson, and said he was a chef. He had moved to the city to open a restaurant. As a celebration, he had invited his closest friends to come a day before the opening. This was not all, but he had undertaken the task of providing all the food served. He knew he had plenty of food, and there would be much left over. So, he invited them to come with him to get cleaned up, and to join him for this bounteous celebration.

The oldest of the three looked at this plump man, and with all seriousness, said, "I have heard of people like you. You do not want to help us. I will not go with you to this party of yours."

These words acted like a hypodermic needle, piercing Joseph's heart and injecting pure sorrow to his center. It took everything in his power to hold back his tears as he said, "I don't want to know you are starving when I can give it to you. The food I prepare is good for you, and will give you the nourishment you need."

"If you can give me a little money, I will get the nourishment I need. What I have gotten so far has lasted me this long, and it will last me further. I appreciate your offer, but I will not go."

The plump man, with sorrow stamped on his face, took out his wallet and gave this man 20 dollars. He looked to the other two, and asked, "What about you two? Will you join me?"

They looked at each other, and back to the old man. They didn't know how to answer, but their feeling of hunger reminded them quickly of the nourishment they so badly desired. They looked the old man in the eyes, and then back to the plump man and said, "I love this man. We have known each other for a few weeks. I don't want to go hungry and die. If your offer is as good as you say it is, we will go with you."

This mans countenance of sorrow, quickly turned into one of complete joy. "GREAT!" He exclaimed, "we will go back to my place, and you can get cleaned up."

They went to the living quarters of Joseph, the saint God had sent them. Joseph gave them new clean clothes, and pointed them in the direction of the shower. The younger of the two went to the bathroom first. When he removed his clothing, he looked into the mirror. What he saw, surprised him. His skin was wrapped tightly around his bones. He knew he needed nourishment, and thanked God for this blessing. When he was finished cleaning up, he left the bathroom. Then, the older of the two got into the shower, got cleaned up, and and they proceeded to go to this man's restaurant. They were greeted by many people on the staff, and this saints's loved ones. Joseph introduced them to those attending as "old friends."

"He hasn't known me for a day," they both thought to themselves, "and I am treated like family."

After about half an hour of socializing, it was time for the event they had been promised. He introduced the food items, by saying, "thank you all for coming! I appreciate your support. It was made possible with the man who trained me to do this marvelous work." He pointed to a man across the room, with tears in his eyes and said, "this man has helped me far more than anyone ever has. I am proud to have been his apprentice. Stand up! And introduce yourself to everybody!" This older man, also a little plump, stood and waved, and quickly sat back down. "The food served will be some of the food served at the restaurant opening tomorrow. Please, enjoy!" Then, he took a seat beside the two new friends he had made. Then, all at once, the staff filled the room. They placed an appetizer in front of everyone, and they left. It was seafood, and only a small amount. The older man looked upon this small portion of food, and thought, "I can get more than this from behind another restaurant. I don't even need to be here to get nourishment. I don't even like seafood." So, with his hands in his lap, he stared at it. The kind plump man noticed, and asked, "Is there something wrong?"

He answered, "We just don't like seafood. We have always had bad experiences with it, and we do not like the taste. To be honest with you, we would rather go back to the dumpsters in the city than to try to stomach this."

The jolly man was saddened. He was rejected by another friend. "Well, just give this one a shot. I promise you, you will enjoy it. I have used only the finest ingredients. The sauce over the fish has been seasoned with satisfying saffron, and the black and white "things" around it are truffles. Just give it a chance."

"My son and I will not eat this garbage. Saffron! Truffles! What are you trying to do? Poison us? We don't eat fungus we have heard it isn't good, and we don't eat seafood. We'd rather eat the garbage we have been eating than this trash. We are leaving." He stood up and looked at his son, who was rather young and in his mid-twenties, And said with serious concern, "Let's leave."

This son, desiring this nourishment, looked down at his plate. His mouth watered at the smell of this beautiful dish. He glanced at the black and white "fungus" and said, "Dad, I think you are overreacting. It doesn't seem that bad. Sit down, and try it. You have said yourself, 'don't judge 'til you try it.'"

"I've had enough seafood to know I would rather eat garbage, and I trust the source who told me to never touch ANY type of fungus. We should have stayed with the old man. We should not have even come this far. Let's go!"

"Dad, I want to try this, and I want you to try it too. Just sit down, and give it a chance."

"I am leaving. You are a 'big boy' now. If you don't want to come with me that's fine. You can stay here with these fake friends of yours. But I am telling you, you will regret it." Then, he quickly walked to the door, without so much as a look back.

The room went completely silent. All eyes were on this young man. Then the silence broke with the sound of Joseph trying to hold back his tears. His face was red, and straining. His breathing pattern had changed. Then, his kind wife, grabbed his shoulder to try to comfort him. At the moment her hand touched him, he lost control. He broke and bawled. The room still silent could not hear what his wife was telling him, but they could hear his broken responses between the cries.

"IT ISN'T THAT!... I WANTED HIM TO TRY IT!... I KNOW HE WOULD HAVE LIKED IT!... I KNOW HE NEEDS IT!... IF ONLY HE KNEW... I guess you are right... I will be fine." Then he looked at the young men with tears flooding his eyes, and asked, "will you, also, go away?"

With a positive tone, the young man answered, "I won't. I am positive my father was overreacting. I haven't tried truffles before, so I am curious to how it is."

The plump saint began to have, once again, a joyful countenance. "Go ahead try it, but, I would recommend eating the fish and the sauce at the same time."

The young man took his fork, brought it down to the flesh of the fish and cut it off. Then he stabbed it, and stabbed a slice of a black truffle. He brought it up to his lips, and placed the food into his mouth. As soon as the sauce hit his tongue, it tantalized all his taste buds. The fish, was also tender and seemed to melt. The truffle seemed to enhance the flavor, and give it an other unique texture. It was the most incredible thing he had tasted. He hurriedly ate it.

"The appetizer was to prepare your stomach for this, the main course." When it came out, it appeared to be quite a bit of a larger serving. It was a pasta with some sort of cheese sauce with what the man called "quinoa" in it. It, too, was fantastic. Then, time for the desserts. It consisted of fresh fruit, and homemade ice cream, and a homemade berry sauce. The young man was full, and happy. He was glad he had been patient, and tried this fantastic gift from Joseph. The celebration began to wind down, and he was prepared to leave, to join his father, and the "old man" in the streets. The saint grabbed him by his shoulder, as he headed to the door, and put his arm around him.

Joseph said, "I don't want to know you are going back to the streets. Why don't you stay with us for a little while, and I would be happy to give you a job here."

The offer was overwhelming. It was a chance of a lifetime. "I don't want to be a burden on you and your family."

"You will be a burden on us if you leave and go back to the way you were before."

He wrestled with the thought. "Can this man, who has known me for a couple of hours, really care about me that much?" As he continued to ponder, a question was placed into his mind, and he couldn't help but ask it. "Where else shall I go?"

This response gently placed a slight smile on his face, and caused his eyes to beam joy he felt. "So, does it mean 'yes'?"

"I guess it is."

"THAT'S FANTASTIC! I am so excited! Before we leave tonight, there is someone I want to introduce you to." They turned around, and headed toward the man who Joseph pointed out earlier. They sat down to join him at his table. Then the saint's "trainer" began to unfold the life of his apprentice.

"I found him (well, he actually found me, but that's beside the point) when he was about 22. He had grown up in a orphanage and has had a difficult life. I met him when he came into my small restaurant, with the intent to rob me. I could tell he didn't want to do it, but push came to shove in this situation. So, I felt impressed to ask him "why?" He said he needed it for his new family, who were starving. He couldn't find any work, so he had resorted to robbing. I was privileged to have been the first person he pointed a gun at. I talked him out of it, and told him to bring in his family. I would be happy to give them some substance. I, also, gave him a job. Now, they are the closest friends of mine. Later, I payed for his culinary school, and this is his first restaurant. They have suffered a few more tragic events in their lives, but they still seem to be happy and doing well... I'm sorry. I didn't catch your name. What was it again?

"Nathaniel Erikson"

"It has been a pleasure to meet you Nathan. I am glad you have joined us, and it seems as if you have been taken under his wing. How long have you known him?"

Not knowing how to reply he looked at Joseph. Joseph's countenance seemed to tell him, "Go right ahead. Tell him how long I have known you. Say what you feel." He looked back at Joseph's trainer and said, "It seems like I have known him forever, but it really hasn't been long."

"That's what I thought. I hope you do well, kid..."

What message am I trying to portray? Please comment to share your insights and answers.

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