Story by Verna Stutzman

 Cultural blunders

 Kangaroo Ground, Australia
Jan 7, 2001

 “Don’t you know that it is offensive to put your feet on the seat?” the train security guard asked me.

“Pardon me?” I wasn’t sure I had understood what he was talking about.

“It’s just as offensive even if you have taken your shoes off. The rules are posted above the door”, he continued.

Peggy, my traveling companion and I had taken the train from Kangaroo Ground into Melbourne early Saturday morning to do some sightseeing. We had shopped in the famous Victoria market, ridden the tram to the beach, taken a riverboat cruise downstream to the port and docks on the Yarra River, and taken the elevator up 60 floors to the top of Rialto tower. After a full day of sightseeing we had boarded the train back to Kangaroo Ground.

When I boarded the train, I was relieved to see that there were very few people aboard. I found an empty seat, respectfully removed my shoes, put my aching and sore feet up on the seat that was facing me, and relaxed for the one hour ride back.

When Jesus lived on earth, he made many cultural blunders. But being an insider to the Jewish culture, he made these blunders purposefully to teach the people a lesson. Remember when he spoke to the woman at the well. That was culturally inappropriate, but a great revival occurred because of it.

As an outsider to the Australian culture, I had no such lofty goals. “I’m sorry”, I said as I dutifully removed my feet from the seat facing me. The security guard smiled and moved on.

PS Please pray for me Monday morning, as I’m the chapel speaker for the SIL school.

PSS Tuesday I leave for Papua New Guinea.