[ Godsends ]

Love in Any Language

My To Do List for the summer of 2006 was clear and simple: 1) Go to France with my girlfriend and 2) Return home to work on my suntan. I had survived my first year as French teacher at the small private school that had opened the previous fall, and I was ready to relax for two months.

I completed item 1 of my To Do List, but not long after my return home did I learn of an addendum that God had for it: Go to China for two weeks. Say what?!? China?

All the reasons I'd used to parry earlier invitations to join the short-term mission team flooded my mind, but I was no longer speaking to the team -- I was wrestling with God, and my ankle was starting to hurt!

The pastor called on Friday: someone had had to drop out at the last minute, and would I consider joining the team to teach at the English Language Camp? Within hours, my husband was on board; within days, my mom was "okay with the idea", by the end of the weekend, my visa was ordered and eleven days after the phone call, I was on the plane to Beijing.

The two weeks flew by. We saw God working in every situation in this place where NOTHING was familiar - food, "facilities," language, even manners. We connected with the students as only God could have miraculously arranged. The adults -- from hotel staff to school faculty to town officials -- received us warmly, and every shopkeeper between our hotel and the school felt our presence and the love of Christ, even across the language barrier. We were used and blessed and filled and equipped beyond anything we could ask or imagine -- and we asked and imagined quite a lot!

Camp ended Saturday morning, and that afternoon we were scheduled to help in renovations to a nursing home outside of town. It was obvious that our presence there was a novelty to the residents, who watched us as we slapped plaster on the walls or painted the ceilings.

By 4 p.m., the work was winding down, so I went outside to the courtyard. Sitting at the edge of the activity area was a little lady who obviously had no use of her legs. She made her way around by clumping her chair along the corridors. Under normal circumstances, she couldn't go outside because there was a step down into the courtyard. But today was far from normal: Jesus was visiting the nursing home and we were His arms and legs.

I motioned to one of the other teachers to help me. We lifted her chair and carried her outside. No one really knew what anyone else was saying, but we made friendly conversation and nodded and smiled in Christ's love. At one point, she removed her shoe and sock, and God reminded me of the lavender oil (which I carry in my purse for motion sickness). "Rub her feet." I poured some oil in my palm and took her foot in my hands I rubbed her foot. Then she took off her other shoe and sock, and I rubbed her other foot. I was way out of my comfort zone, but on auto-pilot in the Spirit: the perfect guidance system.

Before we left, we prayed over her, praising God that He does not need a translator to tell her of His love. When we looked up from the prayer, she was dabbing her eyes, and we knew that God had spoken directly to her heart, in His fluent language of love.

Laurie K.

Westfield, MA