The last evening is here. Today I felt like wind blown leaf in a temporary resting place along the side of another foreign road.
Yesterday's flurry of activity began with our trip to the Grace Orphanage. In just one year, the entire landscape surrounding the old traditional Chinese neighborhood has radically changed. It made it difficult for us to locate. Although H (our friend and acting interpreter), had detailed directions, the cab driver still needed to stop and ask police as well as street cleaners where we were and where we were going.
The street is closed to traffic now, so the director came to the corner and a broad smile of familiarity and thanks broke across his face. He walked us the rest of the way to the building our arms loaded down with the packages filled with new shoes, socks, toys, gifts and other items we negotiated for the day before.
The 10 youngest children were there - many now old enough to remember last year's visit from the "soo-chow". We played games, told the Christmas story, took photos and closed with the children singing "Jesus Loves Me" in English. We took a tour of the building and saw the three new water heaters for the children's bathrooms as well as the air purifiers we purchased last year. Perhaps small improvements but they will make a big difference in the quality of life for the orphans during the cold winter months.
We loaded up and hurried back to the hotel to be picked up by the University's driver and taken to the performance. We drove away from the city and watched the car's thermometer continue to drop. The shoulders of tree-lined lane leading up to the campus were sprinkled with snow, the thermometer read -6• C.
It was COLD - but the warmth generated by the awaiting students was better than a blazing fire. I can't recall every entering a classroom that was heated adequately (for a Texan). Everyone in the audience remained bundled in coats, scarves and gloves. They laughed. The volunteers willingly acted out the stories. And in the end they asked the "questions" I am always ready to answer.
My friend G sat on the front row and prayed.
It wasn't long before the "why" question opened the door for the answer of faith. Then one young man asked if I would sing them a song. You might find this curious but it is not uncommon. I told the students I would sing the song of the orphans. I stepped off the stage and began "Jesus loves me this I know.. " I reached out and touched the hands of the audience members "yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves YOU".
More questions, deeper and deeper into the depths of faith came the answers. Several students asked H for her number so they could plan to visit the orphans. Today I received an email from the Ps in Jinan that already the ENTIRE class is arranging a visit to the orphanage!
This morning Professor N (S) who makes all the arrangements for my performance said one of our taxi drivers inquired what we were doing there and when he was told about our visit to the orphanage, he was so excited because one of his relatives is looking to adopt a child. S gave him H's number to contact Grace Orphanage and schedule a meeting. God work's in mysterious ways indeed. He guides us to the path of life.
I have been in China, but also in His presence. I can say this with confidence because I experienced great joy.
Pray for harvest hands! The Chinese people are hungry for love, joy and Truth.
Pray for the young girl student who approached me as we were leaving and took the scarf wrapped around her neck and said, "I must give you something, for what you have given me." She then began to cry. I embraced her and asked why she was crying and she could only choke out the words "I am so sad". Pray God's love comforts her and His Truth heals her unspoken pain.
Pray for safety and rest for the journey is long and never easy.
Pray for the meaning of Christmas to reap the largest harvest the workers have ever witnessed!
Pray for the gift we have been freely given to be boldly shared.
Praise God for the Reason of the Season!
All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go...
I've already said goodbye...
...Smile for me You are in His service too!