| EXCHANGE OF IDEAS
Mangos in Heidiland
In an absurd world, God’s people can still come together
As the scenic train works its way up into the heart of the highlands in the central Alps region, I take a minute to take a second look at my first-class carriage companions. At my right there is a couple of Japanese newlyweds. Next to them is a Pakistani man, and then a bunch of talkative English grannies. Or so they seem. I would love to ask them: “Where are you from, people? What are you doing up here? What are you looking for?”
Then I take my eyes off them and the captivating mountain landscape to focus on my bottle of cold mango juice. As I drink, I read the nutrition facts (as usual, too many calories), but there is a phrase at the bottom of the label that catches my eye: “Made in Switzerland”—it says in three of the four official languages of that country—“from mangos from India and Peru.” Mangos from India and Peru? Anonymous hands thousands of miles apart picked up the fruit and took it to some facility with export permits that eventually is allowing me—a South American sojourner up in the Alps—to enjoy a bottle of sweet Swiss-made mango nectar.
A moment later my mind moves away from the mangos to think of my American jacket made in Sri Lanka with Australian leather, and my hand towel made in Honduras with Egyptian cotton. What kind of world is this? What kind of world are we living in, where we can sip a bottle of juice made with fruit from two hemispheres but not get to know our next-door neighbor? How can we account for such absurdity? How could we ever start bridging such a gap?
A couple of days later I am at sea level again, ready to spend the Sabbath hours with brothers and sisters unknown. As I sit in church, a young man is welcoming everyone from the pulpit. “Our members come from many different nations,” he says, and starts naming their native countries. After mentioning more than a dozen, the worshippers begin helping him by voicing the ones he overlooked.
“I apologize in case I forgot some of you,” he says. “But no matter where you come from, here we are family,” he adds emphatically. Seeing his smile, I believe him. A moment later all of us raise our voices to praise Jesus.
I leave the church in high spirits. The gap is wide, but there is an opening when God’s people gather to praise His name. And I know it is an opening that ultimately will take His followers to a place where people from every nation will meet to enjoy, among a thousand other goodies, the sweetest mango juice ever made.
— Marcos Paseggi, lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada