Tag Archives: loaves and fish

I see you

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I wrote this article last summer for an on-line newsletter about women in ministry.  I was under contract not to publish it anywhere until the newsletter published it first.  Now that they finally used it, I can share this story too.  If you want to see the original page, go here.

I could feel my palms sweat and the index cards in my hands tremble. Taking a deep breath, I slowly recited my Bible verse in Spanish to my conversation partner, Sujen. As a new missionary on the field, three times a week this young Nicaraguan woman would come to my house to teach me how to clean my ceramic floors or how to cook the perfect chicken and rice dinner. And three times a week this introverted missionary would be pushed to my conversational limits by having a Spanish speaker in my house. It was way beyond my comfort zone, but I pushed myself even further.

One day after practicing my Bible verse with Sujen, she casually told me that she was having marital problems. She asked me if I thought prayer would help. I said, “Of course!” With my 3 months of Spanish, I said a simple prayer for Sujen and her husband Jimi. When I opened my eyes, Sujen was crying. I was shocked that the Holy Spirit could do anything with my pitiful little vocabulary – my loaves and fishes’ sack lunch. Right there in my kitchen, I prayed with Sujen to accept Jesus into her heart.

Soon after, Sujen invited my family over to her house for lunch. We followed her directions to the entrance of a little alley where she met us and lead us back through a maze of make-shift houses. Her house consisted of one small living room with a kitchen divided off by a curtain, one bedroom, and a small bathroom with the only running water coming from a pipe shoved through the wall. Her “kitchen sink” was a cold water tap shared by several neighbors just a few steps outside her house. She considered herself fortunate to have running water so “conveniently” placed near her kitchen.

I sat humbly on a stool in her kitchen watching and listening as she taught me to make tortillas by hand. It was such an awesome thing for me to feel the love of God radiating from Sujen towards me. I was the missionary – the one who was supposed to be blessing her – and on that day I felt God shine His love on me through her. There was nothing in her background that could have prepared her to accept a foreigner. Nothing taught her the patience she would need to converse with someone just learning Spanish. No one could have prepared her to be my friend, but God had glued us together somehow, and we were both blessed by the relationship.

I was blessed with her trust when she showed me her wedding photo album. I was blessed with her intimacy when she opened up a well-loved box of photos. With tenderness and a few tears quickly wiped away, Sujen showed me the birth certificates of two baby boys, both stillborn. I saw little faded footprints stamped onto the treasured pieces of paper. I saw a glimpse into her pain. I saw her mother’s heart. I saw her.

After my visit to Sujen’s house, I struggled to put the experience down on paper for my interaction report that week in language school. It was more than just a cultural experience for me. After reading aloud the first few paragraphs, my Spanish disintegrated, and I dissolved into tears under the weight of the kindness I felt from Sujen. I simply lacked the vocabulary to describe it.

In English, I apologized to my teacher. I said, “I just don’t have the words to describe how much it meant to me that she invited me into her home, and that she loves me like that!”

My teacher had such a tender heart. She told me, “But April, we see who you are in your heart. And we can tell that God’s love is there even if you don’t have the right words to say in Spanish.” After that, I began to relax in the knowledge that God’s love was indeed shining out through the cracks in my paltry Spanish and my nervous, introverted social habits.

We don’t need to worry so much about being missionaries who want to save the whole world. Instead we need to see ourselves as women with the love of God in our hearts, just looking for friends with whom to share His love.

 

 

Jesus calls a boy with a lunch

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My 11-year old daughter Emma wrote this story for school.  It’s based on the story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fishes.  I really liked her point of view and I asked her if I could post it on my blog.  If you like it, leave her a word of encouragement.  She wants to be a writer someday.

I was on my way home with my small lunch.  I only had two small fish and five loaves of bread.  It was enough for my mom and me.  On that day I saw a miracle.

I was walking when I saw a crowd.  I thought it was so big it must have been the whole village!  Then at the corner of my eye I saw some men.  I stared for a while to see what they were talking about .  I slowly walked over to them.  A man looked at me and smiled.  He came over to me.  “Do you have your lunch in there, little boy?”

I quickly responded.  “How did you know?” I asked.

He said in reply, “I know everything, and now may I please look at your two fish and five loaves of bread?”  I was amazed, and he did know everything.  I gave him my basket.  “Thank you Peter,” he said.  “Peter, will you have lunch with my disciples and me?”

I was honored.  Though when we sat down I thought, “This man may be amazing, but he can’t feed his disciples, himself, and me.”  He gave a loaf of bread to one man named Andrew.  Andrew broke the bread and handed some to Philip, but when Andrew looked at his bread it was a whole loaf!  Philip had the same!

The next thing I knew, that one man had feed the whole crowd!  When we finished and the disciples were collecting the extras, I asked the man, “Who are you?”

He smiled and replied, “I am Jesus Christ.  I know what you do at 6:00 a.m., and I know your name.  I know that you are curious, and I love you.”

~The End

As a mom, I thought that was pretty good!  If you feel like it, please leave Emma some encouraging feedback and I’ll let her log on to my blog tonight to read your comments.