I knew that this experience would be eye opening, in fact, I was counting on it. As we prayed for 30 days, we sought the Lord’s will for this woman and her family that we had heard had no place to live. By about the third evening we prayed together, specifically for her, I began to entertain the thought of having them in our home, and the next week we extended our invitation.
It has been beautiful and challenging and so good…
Remembering back to last year when I questioned this house and this neighborhood… wondering if we had made the right choice… not choosing a place with more diversity… only God knew those who we would welcome. And now… a beautiful Eritrean family that does not speak English.
I was prepared to help. I was prepared to teach and to show them “the American way”. I was excited to learn. I wanted to learn Arabic and how to cook African meals…
I had not fathomed that we might actually become friends.
I have thought about it a lot recently… it’s crazy… I can’t understand the words that she is saying, but I understand her. She’s a mom. She’s a wife. She’s a woman. Language is only a barrier to the details, but to the heart, there are no words that can express who we truly are. Each of us has been designed by the same Creator… in His image… and we share so much.
My friend is funny. With the limited English she knows she jokes with the kids. One day they found a wasp nest and were trying to explain that wasps were bad and she told them “No, good. In Africa we eat.” Laughing, she assured them she was only joking. I love her smile. The one year old has her smile. He has her dimples. She loves to cook. She is so hospitable. If we are expecting company she will ask me over and over if we have enough food to prepare. And oh my goodness, the woman can cook. I “look” when she cooks and although she “looks” when I cook, I’m pretty sure she’s getting the short end of the stick. She gets frustrated, like I do, when kids don’t obey, babies throw food on the floor, or when naps get missed and four o’clock melt downs take over. She is tidy. As we scurried through the house together a couple nights ago, picking up, wiping the counters and washing the last bit of dishes I told her that we are the same, “No clean… no sleep.” She understood.
Along with the good and the fun… I understand her pain. I know that her journey has been hard (and that is quite the understatement). And while there is a part of me that so longs to speak words of encouragement and truth… I know that when we cook together, or sit outside together, or wander the aisles at the supermarket together… she knows that I care. When I greet her in the morning, and when she greets me, I know that it is with joy. And when I hug her goodnight I can just feel that she knows the words I can not say.
I don’t know that she knows Jesus. I don’t think that she does. I am all for sharing the Gospel with words, but I think I’m really beginning to grasp the gravity of sharing by the way you live…
They are watching us… always watching. 🙂
They might not understand the words we use, but they can see the heart in which they are spoken from. The most reoccurring conversation we have had as a family in the last two weeks has been about what others see when they look upon us. Ironically (or God purposefully) we recently had a devotional on showing the world that we are children of God. On the same day we read a chapter in one of our school books that was all about what we are saying about God by the way we live and the choices we make and things other see us doing.
I wish I had the words to express how greatly my heart has swelled over all of this… how eye opening it has been. It makes me think of all the reasons I have decided that so-and-so and I could not be friends because of x, y, and z… they are only barriers to the details. We were all created by the God of the universe and we all bear His image… there are no words that can express who we truly are… there is no one thing aside from Him that defines any of us… and we all share so much.