Sometime in January Father started to stir ideas inside my heart about throwing a party for Valentine’s Day. I love parties. You know I do. But throwing them over here, for a secular holiday that is all about lovers, wasn’t really in my comfort zone. So, I did what all women do when they want to be talked out of something. I reached out to some friends. The thing is, all these friends ENCOURAGED me to have the party. To spread His love and speak His name.I tried for weeks to talk myself out of it, but my heart was restless and filled with guilt at the very idea of not having a party. So, I began to make a list.
I love lists.
I wrote down all the fun ideas I could find on Pinterest (we won’t talk about why I didn’t just pin them on Pinterest) and all the supplies I would need to gather. I asked around to people who have been here longer than me of some good ideas for a story to share. I had so many possibilities floating through my head that overwhelmed doesn’t begin to even describe it. I finally just listened to the last friend I asked and went with The Prodigal Son. I began to listen to it multiple times a day and practice telling it with enthusiasm so I could feel the story in my heart in a language not my own.The Enemy began to attack me. For three weeks prior to the party, I felt down. Lower than I have been in a great amount of time. I was irritable and weepy, crying at the merest of simple things. I told Cameron I just wasn’t cut out for living over here, that my heart was aching for America in ways it hadn’t in a very long time. I didn’t realize at the time that it was warfare. That realization didn’t come until the evening after the party when all the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders and I felt myself genuinely laugh again.I wasn’t sure how we would get people to come to our party. I kept thinking of A Field of Dreams and how if you build it, they will come. And then I reminded myself that the Lord had laid this upon my heart for a reason. Either someone needed to hear that He loved them or He just needed my obedience. Either way (and hopefully both!), He would provide the people.I had this great plan to talk to my friend about helping me share the word that the foreigners were throwing a party, but, as typical over here, all my plans fell through and every time we had a time set up to get together, something happened and it was cancelled. So, I did my best to make up a small invitation that
we my girls could hand out in the evenings when we went outside to play. Luckily, I ran into my friend before we passed them out and she told me half my characters were wrong. Oops.The night before the party, we made a plan to go out and give out the newly corrected invites. Cam was going to play basketball, and I was going to chat with whomever would talk to me. On our walk to the square, Cam and I were talking and the topic got heavy. My heart was hurting and I was quickly losing all control. I told Cam I was just going to go home, and the girls could pass out the invitations and whatever happened, happened.I barely made it home before the rush of sobs overtook me. I chalked it up to all the party prep that had went on that day. I had shopped for game supplies and punch makings. I had made a bazillion decorated sugar cookies and tied up little bags with bows for prizes. Everything was mapped out with a schedule of events for the next afternoon, and we were as prepared as we were ever going to be.
I was sure it was the stress causing me to cry. Not the devil.The next day, I studied my story some more, but, as you can see, I still took a printout just in case.
Nothing could have prepared me for the chaos that ensued when we showed up. We started walking over to the square where we were throwing the party, and my doubts were in full force. I was nervous enough to pee my pants about telling a story to a group of people in Chinese, but add to that, that I wasn’t sure if anyone would even show up, and I was a mess inside. As we got closer, people started to follow us. When we arrived and started to unpack our bags, there were nearly 30 people there. All of them were grabbing things as fast as I could get them out of my bag and all six games I had planned were finished/ruined within 15 minutes.
What in the world were we supposed to do now?!
We improvised and made up new games. We shot q-tips from a straw into a bowl; we used toilet paper to fashion beautiful dresses; we used fingerprints to make bookmarks that said “Jesus Loves You” on the bottom; we strung candy necklaces; we hula-hooped. Kids screamed and laughed and ran in circles. It was prime party events, y’all.Finally the time came to tell the story. I called everyone over and a hush fell over the group. As I began to speak, they began to speak. I could hear things like, “who is God?” “What is this?” Then they talked to each other. When that many people start talking, it gets loud. Fast. So I started talking louder. My tones were all over the place. I was practically yelling. At one point, I stopped and wanted to just quit because it seemed pointless. But I know that He is faithful to use everything for His glory, so I pressed on. When I finished, in record time, mind you, we had a small craft to make. If you look closely you can see a few of the kids holding them in the picture above. It is a stick. One side has a heart drawn on it and the other has the Name above ALL names, Jesus. When you rolled it in your palms, His name appeared inside the heart. I told them that I really just wanted them to remember that Jesus loves them.
I don’t know how many people understood the story I told, and I don’t know if anyone will ever come to faith because we chose to obediently throw a party, but I do know that every person there heard that Jesus loves them, and that, after all, is the best news of all.