It seems that a common thread for me in the past few days has been thoughts and expressions pertaining to people from other countries.
Our two exchange sons from last year are often on my mind and I couldn't help but think of Mendo the other day when I was sifting through our winter garb and came upon his familiar orange coat. He just didn't have a use for it in Portugal!
I was in the high school today and Gabriella, the Italian girl for whom I am the student/family liaison, saw me and embraced me like a daughter. I'm so glad to have her in my life.
Then, last night Troy was carrying on a computer conversation with "Tommy" from Nigeria. Tommy came to America in August 2004 to attend engineering school at Michigan Tech. He was as green as green could be and scared to death. He landed in Detroit clueless about where he was or where he was going. With an address in hand he approached a cab driver and asked for a ride. Eleven hours and $720 later he was dropped off at his dorm, which wasn't yet open for students. Because the football players were moved in and practicing he was let into a room in their wing. He had very little money left, no friends, and the cafeteria wasn't even open for business. Keith, jr. and his roommate found Tommy struggling to work the key in the lock of his room and after opening the door for him, they adopted him. The football players fed him and helped orient him for two weeks before the campus opened up. Tommy came home for a couple of weekends with Keith, including Thanksgiving. We traveled to Minneapolis and found a Nigerian restaurant where I learned how to eat yams with my fingers. I still invision a 6 foot tall beanpole with an infectious smile who really didn't understand what he was doing half-way around the world from home.
Tommy eventually made other friends and Keith moved out of the dorms. We saw Tommy at a couple of football games and exchanged a few emails but then we lost touch. At graduation last December as we were leaving the building I heard my name, "Mrs. White!" At first glance I thought it was a Husky lineman, but the smile and the big hug revealed our Tommy--plus about 75 pounds! He's come a long way since his infamous taxi ride, but he hasn't forgotten us and asked about all the little ones, certain they don't remember him, but they do.
Today, I received an email link from my friend Anna. I've never met Anna, but our hearts are knit. They are knit by our common station in life as mothers of growing families, by the extra chromosomes that our youngest sons possess, and by our love for Jesus Christ our deliverer. Anna sent me the link to her daughter Kari's blog. Kari has followed God's call to serve the needy with a missionary team in Rwanda. I have been blessed by reading some of the thoughts Kari's shared on her blog and look forward to hearing how God uses her in the coming weeks. (I have added a link to "Captive Heart" on my blog list.)
I am thankful for these relationships, I'm thankful for the testimonies of missionaries and the books they leave us to help open our eyes and the eyes of our children to the people that God has created all over this earth, with their different skin colors, and customs, and diets; yet, with the same great need for the truth, understanding, and wisdom from our Creator.
I am reading "Torches of Joy" by John Dekker to my younger bunch and I appreciated the Dani (tribe in present-day Papua, Indonesia) rendition of a familiar Bible story--a man had fallen in the forest and was hurt, was helped by a man not of his clan, and taken to his hut to be cared for. I enjoyed reading the story and hearing it dawn on my listeners--"hey, that's the story of the Good Samaritan!"
We are so "clan-ish". Without even trying or realizing it, we even think clan-ishly. Until someone rewords a familiar story and it becomes new. 'Don't shun others because they are not like you, do good and help.'
I know there are wonderful and glorious complex doctines in the Bible. But, I'm thankful for the simple yet profoundly life-changing stories too. I'm thankful for the reminder that God has given me this week--to continue to look beyond my own fence to do good and help.