“Are you here to sell?”
“Sell? Sell what? …Oh…!”
My friend and I were on the street talking with a couple of women who really were there to sell – sell themselves – and they were asking if we were there to do the same. We quickly explained that we were not and why. It was the first evening that we had conversations with the street walkers. At first, it was a bit tricky to figure out who were the “sellers” and who were not. We knew from previous reconnaissance that we were on the right street, but you don’t want to mistake somebody for who they are not. Since it was very cold, everyone was walking up and down the street to keep warm. The two of us walking there weren’t conspicuous – most thought we were “sellers” as well. We were also hidden under layers of hats and scarves. We would see a woman standing alone, and then notice another pair in another spot. A police patrol walks past in the opposite direction. We walk up and down the length of the street. Is that one still there? There’s a pair with a couple of clients. We spy the pair again in a different spot on our return walk.
Finally, we had an opportunity to approach a couple of them standing together. I had brought what I thought were “shake-up” hand warmers. I found them in a local market, but since I couldn’t read the Chinese, I just assumed that they worked like the hand warmers you can buy in the States. HA! These you need to peal off the adhesive to attach to the inside of your clothes and then they are activated to give off heat. It was a comical ice breaker to try to get these to heat up by shaking them to try to activate the heat when one of the women explained to us how they work! There were chuckles as they gladly accepted their gift and a bit of conversation followed. Another pair approached, curious about our foursome, and we handed out more, but this second pair moved on.
After a few minutes of conversation, a taxi drove up on the sidewalk right next to us. A client in the passenger side rolled down the window and addressed us. Awkward silence ensued, but the taxi drove off, unsatisfied.
Although a bit relieved that a transaction was thwarted, my friend and I didn’t want to “overstay” our welcome so we closed our conversation and bid them warm wishes. We will return to visit them again.
To go and to visit them, perhaps bearing a token gift, is a simple thing, but hopefully carries the meaning of love and care that is intended. No one else there is seeking them out to talk with them, to listen to them. At the very least we want them to know that there are people, even strangers, who do care about them, even if they are walking the street. We are just being faithful to show up, knowing that the FATHER who knows and loves them and us will lead us on. This is Jericho Project – marching one step at a time.