Based on a true story.
It was a pleasant Saturday morning in Singapore. I made breakfast, went out to run errands and came back around 11am. I had my earphones on, blasting Yeah Yeah Yeahs. “It’s sacrilege, sacrilege, you say…” [insert Karen O’s screaming]. I walked out of the elevator to find my neighbor, Rita. She is a petite Singaporean, around 65 years old, with short dyed hair, small eyes and a lot of vitality. She saw me. “Nadia! I have not seen you in so long!”. I apologized explaining that I am working a lot and leave early and come late. The truth is that Rita and her husband have tried for the past 8 months to invite us to church to see them sing. We never told them we are Jewish and not really that much into religion. We never really saw any need in explaining anything to them so we just say we are busy and keep walking. Now, don’t get me wrong, they are nice people. We take care of each other’s plants when we are away on holiday, we bring each other chocolates. But neither Nico nor I plan to go to church.
Back to today. Rita was dressed in her sport gear: long work out pants, a simple t-shirt and running shoes. She was stretching after her walk. “Oh Nadia, I see how you work and I need to tell you my story” she said while holding my free hand. My other hand was holding my Iphone. She carried on: “I was born in a non-christian home, my parents went to temple and I found Jesus when I was 12. He came to me and we started a life long relationship. I am so close to Jesus, I know him and he knows me.” She continued. “And then Jesus told me I had to leave Singapore and I did, and my husband and I, we went to India. We did the research and they have over 30 million deities. The city where we were praised Ganesha, the elephant. And everyone asked us, why did you leave your comfortable Singapore to come to this dirty place. And we answered: to show you the truth. And it was terrible but we had to tell them that Jesus was the truth. We left everything knowing that Jesus would provide, that he was guiding us” she said stomping the floor with a dramatic flair and putting her right hand in her chest. And then she screamed: “Jesus is the truth! He died for our sins! I was a sinner!” she went on. I don’t mind religion, I value peace and quiet and religious moderation, but this was going too far for a Saturday morning. 5 minutes had gone by and I was waiting for the A/C guy to come. The preach was not over. “My daughter was just like you, she worked and worked and did not have children, and then she had triplets. A miracle! Jesus Christ brought her the miracle of life, and I had known, because one day before she told me she was going to be a mother. We had decided to come back one day before because Jesus had told us so. Jesus is our guide, Nadia. And one day before she gave birth to her 3 kids I put my hand in her stomach and I sang.” Yes, there was a song coming in my morning. Note that every time she mentioned Jesus she stopped and said it without singing. “Oh [insert babies names] Jesus is here for you. Jesus loves you, he is waiting for you. He is here to die for you, to show you the way.” She then stopped the singing and said: and the babies heard me, because they hear, you know? And Jesus loves them. OK, this was enough for me. 1 passionate religious song is a little bit too much for my Saturday. But it was not over. I didn’t even have the chance to explain the A/C guy was coming! Her husband emerged out of the elevator. This could go both ways: he could stop the drama or put more wood into the fire. Her husband is a moderate guy, he would never burst into song. He merely smiled, also in his sports clothes, and stood there awkwardly. Rita ran to him dramatically and said: “Jesus brought us together 46 years ago! I will have to tell you the story someday over tea!”. “Can’t wait”, I thought to myself. “Nadia, before you go, another song.” she closed her eyes and sang on, “Oh Lord Jesus, you died on the cross, for our sins. Oh Jesus.” OK, I forgot the lyrics but you get the gist. At this point her husband had not stopped her but gone inside their apartment, lucky bastard, and left me all alone again. “You see, I download what Jesus says, and I pass it on to others in song.” Well, that’s a good theory updated to our modern reality. Sigh. It was not over.
“Let me say a prayer for you” she said as she held my free hand and closed her eyes again, “Jesus, please bless Nadia and Nicolas, it was not by chance that they are our neighbors but by your doing, and bless them in their lives and their works. Bless them in their stay in Singapore. Let them find Jesus and have a relationship with him. Let you Jesus come to them and show them the truth. AMEN!” And then she hugged me. I was oh so ready to go.
I walked back to our apartment and warned my husband: “Jesus will come to us today and we will start a relationship with him”. Needless to say, he didn’t show. Yet.