Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PHONE (11/10/16)
- TITLE: Phone Lessons
By Cindy Duncan
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After walking all day sightseeing, we fell into our seats on the train in Naples, Italy. Matt and Sid immediately closed their eyes in sleep, leaving me to keep guard over our things. I pulled out my phone and scrolled through my music, looking for something to keep me alert. As the doors of the train shut, and it began to move, I struggled to hold my eyes open. If I had known what was about to happen, though, I would have been wide-awake.
At the next stop, several riders exited the train, while others boarded, looking every bit as tired as I felt. As the doors were closing, a man behind me stood up, grabbed my phone out of my hands, and ran out the doors, barely escaping as they were closing. I jumped to my feet, and shouted, waking my friend Matt, who was immediately by my side.
In true superhero fashion, I grabbed the doors just before they were fully closed, and pried them open. Matt and I sprinted down the train platform, and then leaped off the end of it. “Are we really doing this?” I yelled as we rolled down the hill onto the tracks below.
“Of course we’re doing it,” Matt replied. “We’ve been talking about what it would be like to get into a fight, right? Well, now’s our chance to find out.”
“But my passport. It’s on the train in my coat.”
“Sid will take care of that. Let’s get this guy.”
“I think I can hit him with one of these rocks.” I grabbed a handful as I stood up and began running again, slinging rocks as I went. Even with my extensive baseball background, I was unable to connect with my target. We gathered more rocks, since they were the only weapons available to us.
We weren’t really gaining any ground on the thief, and he had just run into a rather shady area, so we decided to try a different approach. With Matt’s phone at only one percent battery life, we thought it would be a good time to call the police. Communication was an obstacle, however, because neither of us spoke a word of Italian.
We did meet a nice English speaking man, who gave us each a bag just before we entered the police station. “You might want to put your rocks in these,” he said, “you look a little crazy carrying them.”
The Italian police, from what we could understand, came up with a plan that involved me luring the thief with money, so that they could ride in and catch him. I wasn’t very comfortable with their plan, so we decided to abandon our search, and find a train station.
When we found a station, it was closed. We collapsed on the sidewalk, leaning against the brick wall, and were entertained by a steady stream of characters. There were prostitutes and drug dealers, both of whom tried to engage us in business transactions. Then there was the homeless man, who carried all his belongings in a laundry bag. As he was yelling at us in Italian, I noticed Matt’s fingers clutching his bag of rocks a little tighter. I wondered if our semester studying abroad, and our spring break tour of Italy would both end here. That possibility, and the absence of my coat, caused me to shiver in the cold February night.
When we boarded the next train to Rome, where we were to meet up with the rest of our group, the sun was rising, and my fingers were numb. We found our friends hours later, and they were happy to see us. “We thought you were dead,” they said, as they laughed in relief.
Months have passed since my Italian adventure, and I now realize that chasing after the thief was not smart. I’m thankful for God’s protection.
I was angry with the man who stole my phone, because it was so important to me, but now I wonder why he felt like he needed to steal it. We lost him in a very poor neighborhood. Maybe he was homeless, or hungry. I’ve never been in that situation. I’m thankful for God’s provision.
It took me three weeks to replace my phone, during which time I realized it wasn’t as important to have as I had thought it was. I’m thankful for God’s priorities.
And I’m thankful for the privilege of having friends like Matt.
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