Monday, April 30, 2012

So, You Want to Travel The World? pssst... all you have to do is say, why not.

I don’t think I realized why people called us crazy until he stepped off that plane and into our world. That’s when everyone’s question hit me, “Do you know what you’re getting yourself in to?” Besides, it all happened so fast, did we really know?

Sitting in a cafeteria, eating lunch at home school camp with our little family, they asked to sit and share a meal with us. The rest is such a haze, it all happened so quickly. I am sure we did introductions and maybe even asked about each others families. Then out of the blue, she pops the question. “Have you two ever thought of hosting a foreign exchange student?”

Our reply was simple, “No.” Then my husband and I turned to look at each other, that crazy I know what you’re thinking look, and we said. “Why not?” I mean, if someone needs a place to stay, how do you say no?

We had lots of questions of course, and looking back we probably thought once they saw our home is at most 1,600 square feet, shared currently by six people plus a dog; they would say “Thanks but no thanks”. Or perhaps, the three bedrooms and only one shower would make them turn us down.  And we just knew he wouldn’t want to share a bedroom with our only boy, who’s only four; especially considering he is coming from a one-child home. If not those things, surely our small yearly salary would make them turn up their noses, right? After all, hosting a student is something you do for free; how would we add a seventh person on that salary?

Well, they didn’t turn up their noses. And ten days later, he was here. He was ours.

I suppose, I never thought I'd worry about grades, shop and plan for prom, volunteer for school activities; monitor mainstream music, talk about girls; sit in the gym every Friday night to cheer, bake cookies for teachers, or pray so hard--for anyone who wasn't mine. 

I never thought I’d experience someone reading the Bible –for the first time ever-- in my living room speaking a whole different language to the same God who created us all equal, loves us all the same, and knows everything about us. I remember that night; him reading for the first time Our friends bought him a Bible, both Chinese and English. I cried while he read. I saw our God in a whole new way that night. He sat and shared with us the traditions of his culture, the sacrifices to the gods, some of the things he had witnessed were things we had only heard about from our missionary friends. He had lived those stories.

That night, tucking in our oldest, who is 11, she said, “Mom, this is why we are to go into all he world! Some people have never ever heard the story.”

How many times have we told our children that? How many times have he packed the Christmas box to send across the world, or bought our sponsored child birthday gifts and written letters? It was in that moment, when he was there, for her eyes to see, her hands to touch, her ears to hear his story –that is when she learned.

Mommas, I say it with a big smile; from ear to ear… she learned it at home.

I can remember the night before he came, sitting during devotion talking with the kids. We wondered—would he even like us? And when he stepped off that plane, looking completely lost, scared and alone we thought; we’ve walked into another world and will never be the same.

The day after his arrival was Sunday. We gathered for worship, getting ready to share the God story, singing songs together as a family and learning about Him. Before we started, I asked him, “Do you go to a place to worship Jesus?” He looked at me confused, “place?” Still struggling in his English, I reply, “A church, a place to gather and worship God?” “Oh, yes.” He replies, “We go to the temple.”  “Is that where you learn the teachings of Jesus?” I said.  “Jesus?” He replied, confused. My tummy sank and I felt my heart beat fast. Replying slowly I said, “Yes, Jesus-- God.”

He replies, “Oh, yes. I know of Jesus. He is a god, right?” (I’m thinking, what do you mean a god? You’re supposed to be Catholic.) He continues, “Well, we worship many gods”

I took a deep breath--- totally shocked and confused I simply smiled and replied, “Well, you are welcome to have your gods and serve them however you would like while you are here. However, we worship the One True God, The Creator of Heaven and Earth and if there is ever a time you feel you would like to know more about Him and the things He has done for you, you are welcome to talk to us about it.” He smiled big and said, “Ok.” Then we walked into the living room and had church together as a new family.

Not everything about having him is comfortable. It's different. It's hard. It stretches us. It's invading. Sometimes, it's bad.

Then I ask myself, 

This thought I cannot escape -- it was not a comfortable choice, that journey to the cross.

Perhaps, the example of something so uncomfortable, calls us to a life of uncomfortable.{?} 

Then, of course, I wonder again... 

"Perhaps this is where we find true life, in the un.comfortable?"

It’s hard sometimes, we are a young family, and we’re only 28. I walk into my old High School and am flooded with a whirl of emotions, totally blown away; God has brought me to this moment. Loving on someone else's son, enrolling him in a school I swore I’d never return to, and teaching him how to be a light when he has only begun this journey. This God journey, this American journey at that! I bet is a little uncomfortable for him too.

It’s the best thing we’ve ever done. We wake up each day and travel to Taiwan! We talk about Chinese traditions, celebrate new holidays, cook new foods; write in a new language. We Skype with his family, he talks to them about our “crazy Jesus love” and tells them they should learn about Jesus too! And all we had to do was say, “Why not?”

A few tears stream down his cheeks when says, “I’ll go home. There is no joy there. There are no kids. Nobody knows about Jesus, how do I tell them all?” He begs us to go with him. He prays we will follow him home.  We all know we will have to say goodbye and it will be very hard. We have been blessed. Now, hear me when I say, We have had struggles, he is not perfect nor are we. He has been in trouble, he has been grounded, he has talked back, he has slept late. But that crazy Jesus loves over all that. We are not perfect. Our children are young, sometimes they fight, they cry, and they break something of his. Sometimes, we bicker, or have bad days. Sometimes finances are tight and the meal is simple. But he is here and we are learning just as much as he is. Not only about his culture, his country, and his background, but we are learning about this great big world and how small our little corner of it really is.

We have an exception to the rule, this I know. Like our own children, we can teach them, plant the seeds, live our lives outwardly for Jesus and pray, pray, pray they grow to be strong trees, producing good fruit. Even if he weren’t as accepting to the gospel as he has been, seeds would be planted in both the student and your children. Your light can shine bright for generations!

You’ll never be able to afford it; you’ll never have the time. You’ll never want to drive to public school every day, or follow an 8-3 schedule let alone, attend parent teacher conferences. You’ll never feel adequate, or ready. You’re house will never be big enough and you’ll never have enough travel in the schedule.
The good thing is, that crazy Jesus love covers all that.

He will bless your little soul for investing in one of his precious children and you, your children, your world will never be the same. All you have to do is say, “Why not”?

"But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. " Ephesians 2:13 NLT

It’s all about the beauty of being brought near, friends.

Much Love,