Mrs. Yang came rushing up to where we were sitting. She thought that we had left for Kunming without saying goodbye. She was dressed up, wearing beautiful embroidered slippers, a silk blouse, a little makeup on her cheeks, and a radiant smile on her face. She sat with LeeAnne and Jamie, our team members from Concordia International School, Shanghai and talked. During the conversation, Mrs. Yang, told the story, with a shy giggle, on how she had wooed her husband many years ago by getting dressed in her finest clothes, walking to where he was working on a road crew, and serenading him with a traditional Chinese love song. It worked. And then, without hesitation, she sang it. It was priceless.
A small number of people began to arrive from the planting day in the fields, gathering for the 2:00 worship service. LeeAnne invited Mrs. Yang to join us – this time she hesitated. In all the years of living in this little village where the largest building in town was the church, Mrs. Yang had never gone. But God was at work – just the way He always is. As we walked upstairs to the sanctuary, she followed, sat down in the first row, right in front of the pulpit, (that alone tells you she’d never been in church before!) and next to a neighbor who helped her through the service. The young pastor was awesome. He told me later that, after seeing Mrs. Yang, he pitched his planned sermon, turned to John 3:16, (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”) and preached his heart out.
Women from our congregation had made over 70 hand-crocheted shawls for us to give as Mother’s Day gifts to the women of the village. That afternoon we selected a shawl for Mrs. Yang and headed to her home to present it. It turned out that it was also Mrs. Yang’s birthday. Shortly after our entire team had settled in their living room they received a phone call from their daughter to wish her Mom a Happy Birthday. The way Mr. Li answered the call cracked us up! “We can’t talk to you right now. We have a house full of Americans.” We could just imagine his daughter’s response, “Dad, how much Baijiu have you had to drink today?”
As Mrs. Yang sat in the opposite corner of the living room, wrapped in a new shawl and a big smile, Mr. Li sat down next to me, held my hand, looked me in the eyes, and started talking. He had decided that he was my best friend. The conversation was amazing.