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Fall in Love with the World by Susan Ward

I've written before about the time I spent in Japan. When I was 21 years old, knowing no one there, I travelled to Tokyo to live for 3 months. While I lived with Americans, I spent most of my day with native Japanese people. Years of prior language and cultural study helped a bit, but there was so much I didn't know; I felt I was constantly asking for help from strangers. For the most part, no matter whom I asked I was treated with the highest level of kindness. If I needed directions a stranger would draw me a map on a piece of paper from her purse. If I needed help buying a subway ticket, a stranger would stand beside me coaching me on which buttons to press until the correct ticket came out of the machine.

I came to have an inflated level of self-confidence while living in Japan, because I really believed I could make my way around Tokyo with no problem. To be clear, I could make it around my three familiar locations without any problems, and if I ever needed to go anywhere else I knew I could rely on the kindness of strangers to help me find where I needed to go. It's amazing how quickly I got used to that kind of treatment.

My flight home was through Minneapolis, MN. I had gone through customs and was in line to go through security to board my connecting flight home. In front of me was a couple that didn't speak a lot of English. As they went through security they were unfamiliar with the routine and were doing some of the security steps wrong. They didn't take their shoes off. They didn't wait until the TSA agent told them to go through. Unfortunately they didn't know they were doing anything wrong. The TSA agent began to bark orders at them that they couldn't understand.

For the first time in three months I did understand the culture. I understood everything the TSA agent was telling the couple. Unfortunately neither the TSA agent nor I spoke a language the couple could understand. More than any other time in my life, I sympathized with this couple. Just 14 hours ago, when I boarded the airplane we had just deplaned, I was in their shoes. I understood how confused they were in this moment. I understood that they were trying their best, but the words that they were hearing just weren't making sense to them.

Can I take a moment to say that this is not a dig at TSA agents. For all I know this particular TSA agent was having a particular bad day. I have been around some very nice and amazing TSA agents.It was one very kind TSA agent that passed along a little tip to me about the ability to pack not one but TWO quart size liquid bags (Think about it: if you put them in separate gray bins that go through the X-ray machine, who is going to know they both belong to you? Ladies, who have trouble packing light, you're welcome.)

What I remember most was the huge contrast between the high levels of hospitality I was shown in Japan and how poorly these people were being treating their first hour in my native country. I prayed that it would be the last of their poor treatment in the States. I prayed that the next time they approached someone with their broken English they would be given the same time and dignity that I had been given time and time again when I approached someone in Japan.

Fall in love with the world.

Tom said this on Sunday in his sermon. I wrote it down. I don't write much down, but I wrote this down. When I think of what it would look like to fall in love with the world, I think of Jesus. I think of his willingness to break down barriers and associate with those no one else would associate with.

Imagine a world where our first reaction to someone different from us was to embrace the person rather than to work to conform him or her to our standards.

Imagine a world where we come together and love each other instead of pour out words of hate and negativity when someone is different from us.

Fall in love with the world.

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