During my travels to Cuba, I found the people of that small island to be very friendly and caring. They also love to talk! They love to discuss, debate, ask questions, share opinions, and have conversations. They can do it for hours! It would usually take me a few days to slow down enough to engage at their level of interaction.
But when I did, it was often life changing, especially when I met an avocado salesman.
It was a hot summer day and I was walking through a neighborhood to meet and talk with people. As I passed one house, I noticed an older man sitting on a milk crate in the front yard displaying a few avocados on a blanket. You could tell the man was poor and had been weathered by the sun.
As we made eye contact, he smiled at me and pointed to his avocados. I was assuming he wanted me to buy a few because he held up two fingers. I couldn’t tell if two was the price or number of avocados so I asked using an interpreter. The interpreter told me he was offering me two avocados for free.
Of course I declined and tried to pay him, but he wouldn’t take the money. I was immediately humbled by such generosity in the midst of such poverty. Here was a grown man having to sell avocados to make ends meet and he doesn’t want my money! Wow!
Remember I said Cubans love to talk? Well those two avocados led to a 45-minute discussion sitting in this man’s front yard and what we talked about changed my perspective forever.
You know the old saying, “Don’t judge a book my its cover”? Well in this case I would say, “Don’t judge an old man selling avocados” by its cover. Come to find out this poor old man was actually a medical doctor who was currently practicing medicine in Cuba. That’s right! He had graduated from the top medical school in Havana and had been working at a hospital downtown for the past 30 years. The reason he was selling avocados is because he couldn’t live off the wages he was being paid by the Cuban government (remember it’s a communist country).
He expressed how fortunate he was to have an avocado tree and be able to provide for his family. Wow! Now I was really humbled! As we talked further, this man expressed his trust in the Lord and how God has always provided for him. I knew I was witnessing the truth of God’s word in action.
Matthew 6:31-33 – So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
It seemed like the longer we talked the more I was humbled. As he talked about how grateful he was to be able to help people, I couldn’t help but reflect on my self-centered and ungrateful attitude. This man’s humble and godly perspective exposed how prideful and ungodly my perspective had become. To make a long story short, it was a life changing experience and one that I will never forget.
As I was leaving, this generous man forced me to take his avocados and I forced him to take my money. We both agreed, shook hands, and said goodbye. I can tell you I left with a lot more than a few avocados that day. I left with a renewed faith in Jesus, a lesson in gratitude and humility, and to never judge a book by its cover… all because of a Cuban avocado salesman.
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