Sometimes I wish you all could meet the interesting characters we run into on this adventure around the world. I can confidently say that in this year alone I have seen, done and experienced some of the most random things ever possible. One thing is for sure, every day has the possibility of being highly entertaining.
For instance, let me introduce you to one of my newest friends, Iing. I like to refer to her simply as the cat lady of Penang. Please, note that this is not just a cat lady... this is THE cat lady. You see, Iing loves the cats. All the cats. But, especially stray, street cats. Actually to say that she loves them might even be an understatement. Iing spends her days browsing the streets for cans and other recyclable items in which she can cash in to buy cat food. Then in the evening, she sets up camp on a local sidewalk, lays out food... and voile, instant cat lady.
Last night, myself, my friend Jon Bunford, and a couple other volunteers made a visit to Iing's part of the neighborhood. As we approached her street, Iing was pacing up and down the sidewalk, bantering under her breath in rapid Mandarin. She was clearly worried about something. After some interpretation, we found out that the nervous pacing was due to the cats. This night in particular, there were about 5 or 6 cats in the area. Iing begins pointing at the cats one by one, still speaking rapidly in her local tongue. Worried about Iing, we inquire as to what we can do for her. After a couple of seconds, with a small grin on her face, our translator looks up at us shyly and says "she says she wants you to pray for the cats. All the cats need prayer, but especially the small black one over there. That one needs prayer the most."
Pray for the cats, huh? That's definitely a new one.
I quickly look over at my friend Jon trying desperately to figure out how we are going to go about doing this all while keeping a straight face. In being culturally appropriate to the gender rules in Malaysia, he simply smiles and says "so, should we check underneath and see which one of us has to do this?"
Just about this time, one of the cats lets out a deep hiss. "More importantly," he adds "have you had your rabies shot?"
Trying to hold it together, I take one glance back at my friend Iing, give her a slight head nod and walk towards the cats. Then and there, myself, Jon, and another volunteer stretch out our arms and begin to pray.
"So, God, I never thought I would be standing on a street corner praying for cats. Especially ones that are hissing, possibly diseased, and that could attack me at any moment. But, here I am. Father, I know your probably more of a dog person, like me, but considering you made the cats you probably still love them too. So, bless the cats. Bless the yellow cat, and the gray cat, and the spotted cat, and the black cat. Especially the black cat.
Apparently he needs your help a little more than the others. Amen."
And that was that.
We then finished up our conversation with Iing, who had calmed down considerably since the cats had been prayed over, and I just stood there and grinned as I thought about all the ridiculous things I have experienced this past year. And yet, every bit of it has revealed small pieces of God's character. A bit of God's character exists within the crazy cat lady on that street corner. A bit of his character exists within the exuberant woman who sings at the top of her lungs from the alleyway. A bit of his character exists within the highly animated tricycle driver who claps along to a tune only he can hear.
God is much more exciting than we sometimes give him credit for. And more importantly His sense of humor never ceases me make me laugh.