You never know what might happen in a day. God has often rejuvenated me when I didn’t even realize how much I needed it. Such was the case on this particular July day in rural Alaska, back in 2010. Our family had been caring for and feeding volunteer teams since the beginning of June, and simply put: we were giving out.
Enter Chinese Christian Church. The group, composed of two leaders and quite a few teens, were all working in the evenings at the Wrangell Mountain Bible Conference. They invited us to join them in their volunteer cabin for an authentic Chinese lunch . . .
Arriving at the Blue Mountain cabin around noon, we crowded into the small kitchen/eating area, greeted by the most incredible smells. Helen was manning the stove, all four gas burners on high. “Come over here, Natalie. I’m going to teach you how to make chicken soup noodles.” I eagerly wound my way through the teens to stand beside Helen as she began to unpack the essential ingredients: giant dried mushrooms, crisp Chinese cabbage, authentic Chinese ramen noodles.
“It’s not Chinese cooking if you don’t use your chopsticks,” she said as she expertly demonstrated the technique for stirring the cooking noodles with large wooden chopsticks. She asked one of the girls to pour tea into the 12 small Chinese cups that matched the Chinese bowls she said they brought as a gift for us. The tea was jasmine green, loose leaves, water poured over. And then we sat down to eat. We feasted on delicious chicken soup noodles, tried several new condiments and fruits, and drank the fragrant tea.
During lunch the teens gave us lessons in Chinese culture. We sang songs, talked about the Bible conference and laughed . . . a lot! Words cannot adequately describe how it felt to be so cared for and included. And what a joy to see our newly-adopted son enjoying his birth culture, as his brother and sister participated right along with him.
God sent us the renewal we needed without us even needing to ask.
This time with our friends reminds me that one day, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” We will all be there together – what a diverse, breathtaking, joyous day that will be for believers!
As the group walked us out, Helen proclaimed, “Next I’m going to teach you how to make stir fry!”
And she did.
We all have gifts. What gifts might you offer in service to others? Comments are welcomed!