Monday, October 17, 2016

The Name

Three of my international students, all from China, were in my classroom not long after school ended for various reasons. This is about the Chinese language and a girl who would become my teacher's aide. It is from September 13, 2012.
During my eighth period Gospels class yesterday, I mentioned that one neat thing about almost one quarter of the students in that period is that they were were blessed to be able to choose their own name, at least in English. Six of the names on the roll in our last section of the day are international students, all female, and all from Asia. Five of these young ladies (Grace, Sophie, Angela, Tina, Jasmine) have taken English names of their own choosing. There  is another girl of Asian descent in eighth period, the one and only Minna. She is American born of parents from Hong Kong and her folks' native language is Cantonese. I asked Minna, who has never been to Hong Kong, if she has a Chinese name. She responded that she does and very graciously wrote it on the top of her memory verse- that is what you see at the top of this page. But Minna did not simply recreate her name; she explained the meaning of the characters. What I learned from those symbols is that Minna's name fits her like tailored clothes; it's as if she were born to fit into her name.

This afternoon, I mentioned to my eighth period class that Minna's name and paper would be the subject of tonight's devotional and told them, jokingly, I was looking for any dirt they might be able to provide. They laughed- the closest was one of her teachers praised her today for making a 100% on an assignment which was very difficult for an ESL student, which of course, Minna is not. (They also accused her of being obsessed with cats and kittens!) One of her close friends did provide me with a quote. She said, and this is verbatim:
"Minna is the least corrupted person I know."

Wow- that might be the best compliment I've ever heard one teenage girl pay to another.... and the friend was flawlessly accurate. Minna is uncorrupted but not because she is naive. She has chosen, as her Chinese name proclaims, to display and exert grace, no easy task in a polluted world. The memory verse from yesterday where Minna drew her name was John 1, verses 6 and 7 in which John the Baptist was introduced to the Bible narrative: 
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.
I'm drawn to the words witness and testify because they describe how John set the stage for Jesus. Was there anyone among the pages of scriptures whose name was more perfectly descriptive than John the Baptist who came baptizing and even immersed the Savior? I think Minna is like that. She fulfills the promise given her at birth. Minna's life embodies her name in her mother's and father's native tongue. They must have seen something in their newborn and she models their choice every day of her life. And by the way, she made 100% on the memory verse. 

Applicable quote of the day:
"People's fates are simplified by their names."

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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