Living in a foreign country is a blessing, a huge one. Living in a foreign country and serving the Lord is an even bigger blessing. Before leaving to China, I wasn’t told that my “job” would be easy, in fact I was told some days would be hard. Some days I really miss my bed, my family, my friends, my food, and especially my Dr. Pepper. But, I literally can’t get much closer to Christ than I am right now. I will admit it, sometimes I forget that and my selfishness comes right in, a temptation I buy into.
We were asked about a month ago if we would help tutor three of the boys in our group (foster) homes. Since there are three of us it was of course a perfect fit and very hard for us to say no. The little boy I tutor four times a week is named Jerry in English. He is a very comical 9 year boy. His attention span is the same of any other 9-year-old boy you probably know, not the best. But he is a character. Jerry was born with spina bifida and did have surgery but his lack of regular physical therapy has left him unable to use his legs. When outside he uses a wheel chair but around the house he pulls himself on the ground–he’s actually really fast and can climb up to chairs, etc. all by himself; he just can’t walk.
The reason we were asked to begin tutoring them is because they were recently transferred to a bilingual school where the teachers speak only in english. Jerry knows a few english words but I know not enough to understand instructions given to him. The two other boys and himself depend on the other chinese students to tell them what to do in chinese. Since we had no idea the actual level of their english I asked him to recite the alphabet and his numbers the first few classes. He knows the majority of the alphabet and I think now could identify every letter (capital & lowercase) if shown and can write almost every letter when asked verbally. He knows all his numbers up to 100, we are still working on anything above. He also knows all his colors (basic) and knows a good majority of foods and veggies. We just learned today about family; I showed him pictures of my brother, big sister, little sister, mom, dad, grandma, etc and then we learned how to say older, younger, big, little, etc. He really enjoyed the pictures. I pray that by the time we return to the states his english will have rapidly improved and we can have full on conversations together.
So back to my selfishness…
Today after our chinese class in the afternoon we took the bus home like usual. We have to cross the street after getting off the bus and still have about a 5-10 minute walk back home. Living in Beijing we don’t often see poverty. Sure, it is around us just as much as it is around the states but it’s just not as hand on as it might be in Mexico or Ecuador. Well, today we passed a lady sitting on a curb and as I observed her I saw she only had one shoe on, I looked around her and did not see the other shoe anywhere around her. Immediately I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to take off my own shoes and offer them to this lady even if I couldn’t speak the language very well. Instead I thought of myself and how I would have to walk so far without shoes! I decided I was crazy and her other shoe had to be somewhere…I continued to walk home and forgot about the lady on the curb.
After returning home, grabbing my tutoring materials and a quick break I headed to tutor in an apartment building a few away from mine. I came upon Jerry, his foster mom and his fellow foster sisters and brother outside. What immediately struck me was how cute I thought his mom’s shoes were. She picked up Jerry from his wheelchair, brought him inside and I wanted to impress her with my little chinese, “wo xi huan ni de xie!” (I like your shoes!) She smiled (half laughed at my probably incorrectly pronounced chinese) and took off her shoe for me to try it on, I smiled, laughed then put my shoes back on. Jerry and I had our tutoring class and just at the end she walked in the door….the shoes I told her I liked were washed and in a bag that she then placed in my hands. I immediately shook my head, told her I didn’t need them multiple times and begged her to keep them. She refused over and over, kept telling me thank you with the biggest smile on her face and putting them back in my hands the entire time. I took the shoes, hugged her and then told both her and Jerry I would see them next week.
I walked out the door realizing the lesson Jesus taught me in this: when I ask you to do something, do it. I will always reward you for obedience. Jesus had asked me less than an hour before to give a lady my shoes knowing that the foster mom would be giving me the shoes literally under her own feet. I felt ashamed taking them but blessed that Jesus loves me even when I choose to ignore Him.