This is a continuation of my last post. I have to warn you that it is over 2000 words! You might want to get a cup of coffee or a snack before you sit down to read it. I didn’t dare make it three parts because I received so many calls, text messages and emails asking for the rest of the story before I posted this! I hope you will find it worth the wait, friends.
“Really, God? You Want me to Do What!” continued...
“Actually, yes... Yes you can, “ I responded, approaching the airport employee as he stepped out from behind the information desk. “Please don’t think I’m crazy, but I’m here to help if I can.” I told him about the blankets and the sweatshirts. I did not tell him I felt God had called me there. I didn’t want to scare him.
“Wow--are you one of those people who just likes to do nice things?” he asked.
“Well, not really... “ I began, “...Or, actually, I hope I am. But, no, I don’t usually do this kind of thing. Believe it or not, I felt God told me to come.”
I was really sorry for that last sentence when he said, “Well, those blankets and sweaters would have been wonderful last night or early this morning. But, I think everyone has either found another way to their destination or else a hotel to wait out the storm.” (“Sorry for making You and I both look like an idiot, God.”)
As he continued to talk about how nice I was, my insides churned, “How am I so immature, Lord?” my soul gloomed. “How did I get this so wrong?!”
Realizing he had stopped speaking, I stammered out, “Okay then...I’m glad everyone’s taken care of.” I thanked him as I reached down for my suitcases, preparing to leave.
After taking a few steps away, the man called out to me again, “Wait a minute, I almost forgot. There was a woman who still needed help. Hmmm...” He paused, looking around for her, “...Now, where did she go?”
Surprised, he stepped back and laughed, when he turned around to find her standing directly behind her, at the information desk, hanging up the telephone that was sitting on the counter.
He approached her, telling her why I was there. I asked her how I could help, and she began to introduce herself, “I am an international student from Hong Kong...”
....I knew at once I had come at the call of the Lord. I also knew she was supposed to come home with me.
“Hong Kong”. Let me back up a bit. One day, back in September, I checked my blog statistics, and on this particular day, it happened to be the first day that someone from Hong Kong visited my site. The way “Blogger” works is it shows you site visits by countries on a daily, weekly, and monthly manner--although it only notes the top ten country visits in its weekly and monthly statistics. You would have to keep your own records if you wanted to track other countries, and I am way too disorganized for that!
But once in a while, I have checked stats when a country has visited for the first time, like when I saw Hong Kong. So, I decided to track Hong Kong visits for a few days, because I am intrigued by how the site visits tend to grow quickly after a single visit. On the second day, the site visits were up to 10; the third day, the visits doubled to 20; the fourth day to 32, and the fifth day to 45. That’s as far as I tracked, being of such limited attention span. Since Hong Kong doesn’t make the “top ten” I have no idea how many site visits it is up to.
(If you’d like to know my “Top 10” contact me, and I’ll tell you.)
After those few days of tracking Hong Kong, I found myself praying more for the people around the world who come to my site. “Hong Kong” became the anchor word in my head for praying for the world; when the woman gave me her country’s name, it was like she spoke “the magic words”. I was hooked.
The woman introduced herself as “Tina”. Tina truly was stranded because, she had been care-free with her spending and got on her plane in Vegas with much less money than she had intended to have--as happens to many who leave Vegas (which I believe is the true meaning behind the phrase Vegas has coined for its advertisements: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”) She went to the airport with only a few dollars more than her cab ride home from the DC airport. Once at the Las Vegas airport, she found her flight to DC was cancelled; however, she could be redirected to DC through Richmond. Imagine her dismay when she arrived at Richmond to find all flights to DC cancelled until the storm passed. Now she had little cash, plus, as a foreign citizen, she had no credit card.
When we ran into Tina, she was hanging up from another dead end. She had hoped to get a bus ride home, but found no buses were running either.
As she told us all of this, her expression was one of shock. I could also imagine how tired she wasI noI looked her over. Wearing thin pants, a thin sweater over a t-shirt, and flip-flops, I knew she had to be freezing, and wished I had braved the night to bring her and others the blankets I now had.
She looked at me with an expression of shock--I saw that she was beyond able to figure out what to do. There was no time to develop a rapport with her, as the highest winds were only a few hours away now-- so I put my hand on her arm tenderly. Speaking in my best “mom” voice I said, “It looks to me, Tina, like you still have one good option here. Come home with me for the night. I have a lovely, warm and safe home. We’ll ride out the hurricane together and then we’ll get you home tomorrow.”
She stood there silently. I waited. The fellow, who had remained with us through all, now chimed up, “This is a good Christian lady. I think you should go with her.”
“I...I don’t know what to say. I can’t believe you are inviting me into your home when you don’t know me.”
“I don’t have to know you. I just know you need a friend and that’s why I’m here. I know what it feels like to be stranded and scared. So, will you come?”
Soon, we were putting our bags in my car, which, thankfully, was still right out front. Driving home, she remained quiet, only telling me that she had been very scared the night before, unable to sleep because of the cold, the discomfort of the seats, and her fear of having her bags stolen. She also told me her cell phone did not get any reception so she could not let anyone know where she was. I assured her that when she got home, she could call whoever she wanted within the US on my house phone.
When we arrived at my home, I showed her around and encouraged her to do whatever she felt like--take a shower or a nap; offered her something to eat, etc. Surprising to me, because she said she was exhausted and couldn’t wait to take a shower, what she did was sit down on my sofa. I joined her, and soon her true personality woke up. She began to talk. I got up, wrapped her up in a warm blanket (all she had in her suitcases were little black party dresses--at the airport the poor girl was wearing flip-flops!), made some hot tea, and listened.
She told me about her life. She was ten years older than I would have guessed. Aged 35, she had a 12 year old son back in Hong Kong whom she Face-Timed with every day. Recently divorced, she had embarked out on her own, so had come to the US to study business, and intended to go back to Hong Kong, although, she had begun to date a cardiac surgeon, whom she was really falling for.
She was fascinating...born in Mongolia during the time of communism. When independence came in 1990, Tina’s family nicknamed her “gypsy” because she began to travel the world, visiting many countries and learning to speak five languages. She continued to travel even as a wife of a wealthy Hong Kong engineer--telling me she became bored with her life because, although wealthy, her activities in Hong Kong were greatly limited because they would have been seen as dishonorable to her husband, a man with strong traditional Chinese roots.
Here’s something funny Tina told me: She learned to speak English by watching the television show “The Sopranos.” Soon after she moved to America, someone said to her, “Tina, you seem like a really nice woman, but you cuss like a sailor!” After the person explained what that meant, Tina was quite embarrassed!
Tina was thrilled to call her friends on our phone to assure them she was okay. I walked upstairs so she could have some privacy, but heard her speaking very animatedly in another language, laughing frequently. Later I commented about this, and she told me she’d been talking to her cousin whom she had met in Vegas, who could not believe what had happened and where she was right now! We both laughed about how this story would travel around her family for a long time.
Warren called at some point during the afternoon to check on me, and I told him we were having an overnight guest whom I had picked up at the airport. I knew I had made the right decision to keep the decision between God and me when he merely teased me, saying, “ I can only imagine what you have done now.”
When he arrived at dinner time, Tina and I had both showered and had on pajamas, robes and heavy socks. (All my clothes, of course.) The storm never amounted to much, however, we decided it was dark and rainy enough to make for a pajama party. But, we had taken the time to set the table in the dining room with candles, where we sat down to enjoy a meal together. Tina was quieter when Warren was around, so I took the lead on repeating some of her stories, which she enjoyed elaborating on. Sweet guy that he is, he did the dishes while Tina and I resumed our pajama party on the sofa.
The next day, we slept in, and sat around like two old friends drinking coffee and eating a leisurely breakfast. Reluctantly, we then pulled up the computer and found a bus that was leaving at 1 pm. for DC. Having found an old pair of boots and a warm jacket that fit Tina just right, we sat in my car waiting for the bus, and hugged tightly before she mounted its steps.
|Tina and I in my car at the bus station|
A few hours later she left a message on my phone that she was home safe and sound.
Nothing “transformational” took place during Tina’s and my time together. I didn’t even pull out my bible while she was there. We did talk about our faiths, as friends do to better understand where each other comes from. Also, while we waited in my car for the bus, I told her I had not wanted to scare her at the airport, but I wanted her to know now that I went to the airport because I believed God told me to do so. Then I said, “I believe God must really love you.” The normally animated Tina didn’t know what to say to that, so we simply hugged.
I don’t know about yours, but my life’s journey is rarely about quick spiritual transformations; not even many adventures such as this one. Mainly, it consists of the day-to-day living, asking to be used by God however He wants. (Not that I ask every day--many days all I can do is ask God to forgive all my waywardness!)
I don’t often get to see what God is up to in the moment--sometimes I never see it at all. That’s okay. I only care about stepping out to do what He seems to want me to do, and leaving the rest up to Him.
Tina did help me greatly, however. She gave me insights into her multi-cultural world. She spoke of common desires and regrets; familiar wants and temptations. Through her, I learned of differences as well, such as the culture of fear that is woven through the Asian people, grown out of ancient religious practices and communistic rule. Her fear of water, and belief that certain happenstance behaviors, outside of her control, will bring her evil while others will bring good, permeated throughout her conversation.
She educated me about other countries as well--sharing a documentary with me demonstrating the lifestyle and in particular the amazing hospitality of the Mongolian people. She also told me of her love of Russia and about the Russian’s longing for hope; the meaningless social traditions of the Chinese, and about the disdain of the French for anyone not born in France. She also advised me to go to Italy if I ever needed a boost to my female ego, as men there are eager to provide it!
God only knows just what this pre-planned time was all about for Tina and me. As I close this, I thank Him for her, and for the chance to meet her. It was a gift I don't take lightly.
I wonder, what’s the take away for you?
Until next time,
P.S. Tina, if you are reading this, I hope I have gotten most of your “tellings” correct! Please forgive me for any errors!