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“Welcome to my palace!”

Africa is a fascinating land with people who continually amaze me with their smiles and laughter.


Recently, while at the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, I did what we all do after a long flight. I went to the toilet.


At this airport, all the bathrooms have attendants. These people work long hours five or six days a week to keep the airport bathrooms clean and stocked. They probably make more from tips than they do an hourly wage. Having traveled in plenty of places where filthy and unstocked restrooms are common, I appreciate this service.



I was tired. Twenty-four hours airport-to-airport (with a mask on the entire time) left me exhausted and, quite frankly, grumpy.


As I walked into the restroom, a young man greeted me, “Welcome to my palace!”


His smile alone was incredible, but what he said blew my mind.





Welcome to my what?


I think he could see the stunned look on my face, so he slowly repeated himself, as if he thought English might have been unknown to me. “Sir, wel…come…to…my…palace.” And he smiled again.


I didn’t know what to say, so I smiled in return and moved on.


While doing my business, I could hear him singing.


Yep. Singing.


“Hallelujah, Hallelujah, oh Father, you are good to me. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, oh God, my God, you are so good to me.”


Keep in mind, as he was singing this song, I could hear him cleaning the toilet next to me and then mopping the floor (probably for the 100th time that day).


I started to cry.


I was humbled and amazed.


The young twenty-something man, probably illiterate, undoubtedly poor, who spends his entire day cleaning up after people, was worshiping.






And with joy.


When I pulled my pants up and pulled my heart together, I whispered, “Jesus, why is it so easy for me to be grumpy?”


Once again, I realized how automatic it is for me to let my circumstances determine my joy. 



How silly.


How foolish.


How sad.


As I left, I gave him a big tip.


He was shocked.


Then he smiled again, bowed his head in honor of me, and said once more, “Thank you for visiting my palace.”


I could barely say it, but I said, “Thank you for making this…this place…(as I gestured behind me), a house of worship. You have blessed me today more than you will ever know.”


I might never enter another public toilet without thinking about him. And that’s a good thing—a very good thing.


“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31


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Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Chuck Haley

    WOW!!!! Tears, choked up reading this. Humbling to see how God teaches us.

    1. KurtBubna

      Yes, Chuck, very humbling…and I am so grateful. Thanks for your comment.

      1. Chuck

        Can I share this on social media?

        1. KurtBubna

          Always. Please do. Thanks again.

  2. Tawnda

    Kurt, You are an inspiration and a blessing for not only seeing but receiving and then sharing these humbling experiences. I don’t know if anyone’s told you that today but your perspective and open heart to share messages like this are a true blessing to all they reach. Thank you. I know, for me, God has used your words and experiences -not just this message- to speak to me. Again Thanks and I’m glad you make it home safely.

    1. KurtBubna

      That is very kind of you to say, Tawnda. Thank you!

  3. Linda Blehm

    What a beautiful message Pastor. Thank you for sharing I needed this reminder.

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you. We all need this reminder.:-)

  4. Bob Counts

    WOW! Humbling. We are so blessed and so often take that fact for granted. Thank you for sharing this Brother.

    1. KurtBubna

      Yeah, exactly how I feel. Thanks, Bob.

  5. Michelle

    I absolutely LOVE this. Warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes. What a great reminder!

    1. KurtBubna

      Me too, Michelle, me too… Love you!

  6. Kevin W Bubna

    To be “rich in faith” is to worship in the most humble of places. What a great story. Funny how God uses those we would otherwise ignore to speak to us. I wonder how often I have ignored that Voice?

    1. KurtBubna

      Great insight, bro. Love you and am glad I share a love for Africa with you!

  7. Ellen Coffin

    Beautiful word

    1. KurtBubna

      Thanks, Ellen. You’ve seen this before too, I’m sure. Humble hearts that worship Jesus…

  8. Lois Koch

    This is the most beautiful reflection. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. KurtBubna

      Hi Lois, thank you! Love you a ton, my old friend!

  9. Diane Hunter

    Thank you for this story. Goes to show me how much we take for granted in our lives. Glad you are home safe.

    1. KurtBubna

      It’s good to be home!

  10. Ajay Shandilya

    Delightful encounter…
    Bless you for Sharing
    Always Be Blessed…

    1. KurtBubna

      Thank you and back at ya!

  11. Steve Petry

    Wow Kurt! I’m humbled and got tears in my eyes as I read this. May I be deeply rooted in Christ today and overflowing with gratitude to people I encounter today. Thanks Kurt.

    1. KurtBubna

      Good morning, Steve. So glad this one encouraged you. 🙂

  12. Debra Stoker

    Overwhelmed with my own ungratefulness after reading this! Oh God may I continually worship and sing praises despite any circumstance! Welcome home, Kurt

    1. KurtBubna

      Me too, Debi, me too.

  13. Sue Tarmann

    The things we take for granted. And really, we have nothing to be grumpy about. Just be thankful and praise the Lord Always . Thank you for sharing. Welcome back.

    1. KurtBubna

      It is good to be home! See you Thursday at the Coaches coffee!

  14. Janet R McArthy

    Humbling ~ Inspiring ~ Encouraging ~ Bloom where YOU are Planted ~ Bring Glory to Him , Our Main Purpose for Living <3

  15. Karen Reinhart

    Humbling, uplifting, and a mutual blessing. Perfect

    1. KurtBubna

      The words and my story barely communicate how powerful it was for me. Glad you were blessed.

  16. Virginia Mayo

    Beautiful! Isn’t it amazing how and where our Papa father God talks to us. Just amazing.

    1. KurtBubna

      Yes, sometimes (often) God surprises me. 🙂

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