It was 12:15 in the afternoon and the sermon, beautiful as it was, didn’t quite seem to be ending. I wanted to stay for the entire service, but also wanted to keep the commitment I’d made. I needed to leave church by 12:20 to catch the train to take me to Owari-Seto station, where I would make the 15 minute walk to the Culture Centre. Today was the day for the speech competition for foreigners to present in Japanese. I was quite excited to view this even though I don’t understand much Japanese.
At 12:27 I dashed through the elevator doors and made my way outside toward the direction of the train station. I would certainly miss the early train I had planned to catch, but still walked at a fast pace anyway. I caught the train after the earlier one and through some intentional running, caught the transfer train and made it quite early to the Culture Centre. I was so happy for that.
As I entered the lobby area, I was greeted by a student and received the program for the afternoon session. I thanked him and made my way inside where I took an end seat at the back. I opened the program and began to peruse it. Of course it was all in Japanese but I could read some of the Kana. I observed that there was no mention of a speech contest. As a matter of fact it was all about music. I realised I was at the wrong place and decided to leave after the fourth performance even though I was really enjoying the brass instrumental deliveries.
How could I have made such a mistake? But, it was quite easy to make that mistake since the flyer I’d received was in Japanese and I didn’t think to confirm the location of the competition. I assumed all speech contests as with everything else held in Seto, took place at the Bunka Senta (Cultural Centre). Today I learnt, that was not so at all. I sent a message to one of my Japanese teachers as I tried to think where else the competition could be held. I didn’t get a response soon thereafter I made my way towards the station, slowly inching my way as I made contact with a friend who lived nearby, to find out if she was home and up for afternoon tea. By the time she confirmed she was not at home, I had passed the steps leading up the hill to her community. So it was time to pick up the pace and make my way home.
It was a cold, but sunny day on which I had gambled and worn a lighter coat. I needed to move faster so I could get warm quickly. What happened next, took place so quickly and completely took me by surprise that I can’t quite remember the exact occurrences. I think I observed a frantic wave of sorts, heard a horn toot and some words uttered from a beaming black face. Before I knew what was happening the grey van was reversing on the main thoroughfare, with vehicles coming up the hill. My first thoughts were this guy is crazy. I stopped walking and continued to look at the oncoming traffic as if by doing this I would be able to prevent any kind of accident that could result.
“Hi sister.” said the smiling face. “Where are you from?” Upon hearing I was Jamaican, the smiling face sought to outshine the glaring afternoon sun. He indicated he would pull off the road to safety so we could have better introductions. He expressed how excited and surprised he was to not only see a sister, but also a fellow Jamaican in the rural parts of Seto. He offered to take me home after a few minutes of chatting and I said sure.
He shared wonderful and not so wonderful stories of his childhood in Jamaica and it was such a pleasure hearing his excitement and passion as he spoke. The journey to my home seemed insufficient for discourse and so we chatted a while longer in the vehicle. By this time though, I was quite starved after having had only an apple before church that morning, so I asked to be taken to the supermarket which is where I had originally planned to go had I taken the train home. He was shocked as he asked if I was going to be eating food from the supermarket. But I assured him I intended to get items for cooking instead.
I think he said, when he returned to Japan we should meet up and go eat somewhere. And then as though something spurred him inside, he asked without a moments notice, if I’d like to go get something to eat now. My not too spontaneous and quite starved brain hadn’t much time to think, so I agreed.
About an hour later we partook of a lovely meal and chatted some more. He was so passionate about everything he spoke about and seemed eager to share his wisdom. I explained to him how I came to be at that location in Seto at that time and he explained to me also that he did not usually drive on that route. We laughed and beamed together as he expressed again that God has a warped sense of humour.
It was a beautiful end to an unplanned evening.