One year ago from today I arrived back in Seattle from a four-week trip to Indonesia. The time I spent there continues to be incredibly influential in shaping the Christian disciple I am becoming. One interaction I was reflecting on today caused me to chuckle in remembrance.

During one of the muggy, sweaty afternoons our hosts offered to take us on a walk to the other side of the island to see another village, and of course we accepted. As we began our walk we quickly acquired a giggling mob of small smiling faces following behind us. Our group began to spread out into smaller clusters, shuffling at various paces as we journeyed along the dirt road. My group consisted of a couple of my teammates and a few boys I had become acquainted with.9I decided I would attempt to win their praise by performing a magic trick I’d seen before. I picked up a rambutan off the ground and broke a twig off a nearby tree to use as the necessary props. Gathering my inquisitive young audience around me, I told them I would make the rambutan disappear. To start my trick I concealed the rambutan in my clenched fist, then proceeded to slowly tap my hand three times with the twig. The way the trick ideally goes is that in between the second and third tap on my fist I raise the twig high enough to tuck it behind my ear so that the twig “disappears” from my hand on the third tap. Then while the spectators are perplexed by the missing twig I reveal that I simply placed it behind my ear, and while their attention is on the twig behind my ear I subtly slip the rambutan into my pocket. After that I resume the original task of making the rambutan (supposedly) in my clenched fist, disappear. At the conclusion of three taps I open my hand to reveal my empty palm. However, due to my sheer incompetence as a magician the boys quickly saw that I had put the twig behind my ear and was unsubtly trying to put the rambutan into my pocket. They burst out into a chorus of laughter and proceeded to pick up rambutans and mockingly stuff them into their pockets. I abruptly tossed the rambutan over my should and disgruntledly continued marching down the dusty road. That incident became the point of humor for the remainder of our walk.

This is just one of numerous encounters I was able to have on the trip that contributed to a life developing experience that still bears significant weight on my vocational pursuits and theological passions. Needless to say, my passions and pursuits do not include becoming a renowned magician.