By Kari Costanza. The second of four posts on traveling with Max Lucado.
Getting Max Lucado from Point A to Point B in Ethiopia was a challenge. Max is “people bait.” Everyone wants to talk to him and tell him their stories. I saw men and women who barely spoke English stopping Max to introduce themselves.
I wasn’t sure why it happened. He didn’t wear a big sign that said, “I’m Max Lucado. Tell me your story!” He just moves through the world letting life stop him at every corner. If he were a refrigerator, he’d be covered with magnets.
Max communicated with the children in an especially delightful way—he did magic tricks. It was not uncommon to see him surrounded by children—all of them smiling. I loved watching Max with people. He is the way we’re all supposed to be: loving God and loving one another.
As the trip coordinator—like Julie the cruise director on “The Love Boat”—it was my job to ensure that everyone had a fulfilling trip. In playing that role, I put my own needs aside.
So I was really surprised by Max at the water hole.
We took the group to a place in Ethiopia where every day, thousands of people fight for water from a handful of holes where water bubbles up from the ground. It’s a surreal spot. At any one time, there are dozens of people queuing for water while their donkeys stand patiently by to carry it home. The wealthier people bring camels that galumph their way through the canyon, laden with yellow jerry cans. Monkeys, waiting for their turn, watch the activity from the top of the limestone walls.
The sights were amazing—as was the knowledge that it takes so much time for men, women, and children to vie for water. It defines how they spend the rest of their day. Children miss school. Men and women cannot advance because they’re too busy just getting the water they need to live.
In the midst of this almost overwhelming scene, I spotted Max near one of the camels and asked him if I could take his picture. He quickly changed gears and obliged (as did the camel). Then Max surprised me. He asked, “Would you like me to take your picture, too?” I handed him my camera and crouched next to the camel.
I love that picture. It reminds me of the way so many people in the world live—fighting for water, something we take for granted. But it also reminds me of Max and the way he made me feel included and special. It’s the way he makes everyone feel, whether you’re a camel, a child, or a cruise director.
Next Memorable Max Moment: Max makes Kari talk.
Related post: Judge of character (Oct. 26, 2009)