The gift of being present

By Alfinda Herman  |  Wycliffe Today Winter 2022 edition  |

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV)

After I dropped off my children at school, I was eager to get started on my long to-do list. I walked past my neighbour’s house and she was standing by her door. We greeted each other with the usual small talk. Then she said, ‘Come in, let’s have coffee’. One part of my brain was thinking about the clock and was tempted to say, ‘I’m sorry but I can’t today’. But a little voice said ‘Are you kidding? Go!’ I’m glad that voice won. 

We have been living here in Skopje, Macedonia, since the middle of 2021 but this was my first time stepping inside my neighbour’s home. She served up some Turkish coffee (the standard drink here in the Balkans), orange juice and some sweets. She told me that her sister had recently, and suddenly, passed away at just 28 years of age. She recounted the day of her sister’s passing two or three times. She was clearly mourning, even if it was without tears. I was glad I could sit with her, listen to her, and keep her company. I didn’t have enough language ability to say anything profound, but perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing.

It would have been too easy for me to pass up a coffee and a chat in pursuit of more ‘productive’ work that day. This was a humbling reminder that the process of changing my mindset from being ‘task-oriented’ to ‘relationship-oriented’ is still far from finished. I’m challenged to keep training my instinct to prioritise ‘being’ over ‘doing’. After all, our God’s primary way of blessing people is through his presence. I want to be more like him. 

For more information about the Scripture translation and literacy education work Alfinda and Aidan Herman are doing with the Roma people in Europe, go to

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