Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lunch And Language

Language can be a tricky thing in our school and church! This is from February 17, 2013.
We ate lunch together as we usually do after our Chinese services. It was simple and delicious and Lynn, one of the ladies, sent home leftovers with me, some egg rolls and a potatoes and vegetable dish. (Lynn always tells me she is praying for me to find a wife so in the meantime, she makes sure I don't go hungry!) We have an interesting mix; about five Chinese couples along with their Americanized children, a few single Chinese adults, a number of Asian young men from Westbury Christian School, and several natives from the United States. It's a good group, one I've been blessed to be part of for almost ten years. They are tolerant of us westerners!

I noticed something today as we ate. I sat at a table with five adults from China. They were discussing what to have for lunch next Sunday as there is the traditional celebrating of the Moon Festival. To be honest, I had no stake in the topic as it's not an American holiday and I'll love the food, no matter what. But something struck me as they talked. Although all of them have Mandarin as their native language, they were speaking English and there was only one reason they could possibly be speaking English..... and that was me. Without saying a word about it, they were including me. I would have understood- bad pun- if they spoke Chinese. After all, it's a big tradition for them and I know they want it to be nice dinner, especially as they are far away from home. (Two of the past three summers saw me spend the 4th of July in Beijing and Moscow so I can relate.) But out of kindness for me, they allowed me to listen in....and I was honored. Paul wrote about being all things to all men and I can't think of a better example of that concept. He also wrote of the stronger brother/weaker brother and there is no doubt which role I took this morning. Language can be tricky- I had two of my students tell me they are never quite sure whether to speak English or Spanish to strangers as they risk being offensive either way. This morning, it would have been more comfortable and easier for my Chinese sisters and brothers to speak the tongue they spoke as children but that would have left me on the outside, even though I sat in their midst. They could have but we are a family. And families just don't do that to each other.

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