I had been lying on the couch all morning—the side of my face sweating into it’s brown, corduroy material. My face would probably have the red “corduroy lines” across it for a while, but I didn’t care. Looking after my small daughter as she watched back to back episodes of My Little Pony ™ was all I could muster. Being sick with this particular bacteria meant lots of fatigue and nausea. The antibiotic regimen left my body feeling depleted, but this kind didn’t go away otherwise.
My husband was on a two week trip in the far western region of our country. His work for that season involved helping a group of pastors who wanted to collaborate in sending people from their churches to remote villages who had never heard the good news of Christ. Because of the length and intensity of the trek, as well as unpredictable sleeping quarters for the group, we thought it best for me to keep our daughter at home. When I got sick, I was thankful to be on my couch instead of walking through mountains.
I made it into the kitchen to force down more rehydration salts and water. I refilled my daughter’s water cup and helped her secure a rubber band to the bizarre hairdo she’d given her toy pony. Soon she would need lunch, but standing made me so dizzy. She also needed a bath and nap, but my migraine and abdominal pain reminded me I just couldn’t do it. Most of my friends who lived nearby were out of town.
“Father, I need help. Please.”
My South Asian friend had planned to visit that day. She came, in spite of my sickness, to make lunch for Eva and bathe her. She got her dressed for nap time and helped her get in bed. A neighbor from East Asia poked her head through the window to ask my friend why I had been on the couch all day (our neighbor often walked by and stared in the windows).
“She’s really sick and her husband is helping in a village.”
“Okay. You help with the baby and do laundry. I’ll make her some food. She should eat.”
Within an hour, my daughter was asleep in her bed, clean laundry was drying in the sun, and our neighbor passed some food to me through the window—a peeled, boiled potato with salt.
“Eat what you can now and save the rest for later.”
My friend stayed while my daughter and I napped. Later an American friend came to play with Eva while a different neighbor from the UK took me to the doctor. The IV’s and prescription for nausea medicine gave the boost I needed to begin feeling better and to care for my daughter until Daniel returned.
Not a situation I’d hoped to be in, but one of the best I can remember for connecting with people. Doing life together. Mutual love and serving each other in growing relationships. Learning from each other. Giving to each other– and receiving. Receiving is important.
I prayed for help. God showed me compassion and love through four women from very different countries and cultures. Each of them had different beliefs about what and who God is, but I will not share which ladies were believers in Christ. They didn’t have to believe in Jesus to help me when I was sick. They didn’t have to believe in Jesus to be my friends or receive my help when they needed it. Helping me made these ladies feel they had a real relationship with me and mattered in my life. That we shared life. Because it was true. It’s pretty personal to be around someone when they’re sick. Receiving was important that day—for them and for me.
I didn’t want to be a guest in my friends’ country with the attitude that I was a “superior being” who was only there to drop my “superior knowledge” on them. They were not targets I wanted to “hit” with my religion, ignoring the fact that despite our differences, we were all people created in God’s image. I wanted to share the message of hope in Christ– hope that had rescued and transformed me– with fellow human beings. Because of this, I decided that being real, being myself, experiencing the good and bad of life together with them, and sharing from my own growing relationship with Jesus– was the important stuff of life. Sharing God’s work in my flawed, messy life allowed the gospel to be communicated and lived in ways that were well understood and well received. God’s message and work flowed through these genuine relationships. I was deeply changed as well from everything I learned. People had many opportunities to hear about Jesus and believe. An important part of that was being able to receive.
I’m learning how to live in community with people in my new country. New culture, new language, new food, new everything. Life in community comes with a healthy balance of giving and receiving. Learning from each other. Helping each other. Three and a half months into this, we’re still doing so much learning and receiving. Growing in relationships with people in this community, receiving everything they are willing to teach us, getting their advice & help as we learn what life means here. Reflecting on this today reminded me of the story I’ve shared. Next week I’ll share some thoughts on Receiving, but I wanted to begin with a personal story.
Thanks for reading. ❤