Not Lost In Translation
Latin samba drums thunder from my computer speakers, and we dance, jumping around the living room. My five year old Daniel leaps joyfully beside me, tiny shoulders bouncing rhythmically, legs stomping the beat. We grab hands, shimmy to the beat, and swirl.
Jetlag whirls off, this third day back from our missions trip, and it’s time to move. We dance, laughter spiraling off us, as we swoop up dirty laundry, and carry used dishes to the kitchen. Steaming sudsy water pours into the sink, frothing high to hide the old.
Returning from a short-term senior high missions trip to northern France, joy and nostalgia spill from us. In a former textile industry city, those factories stand tall and empty now, and high rise apartments tower beside them. In a city brimming with North African and Arab immigrants, beautiful Nubian cheekbones, dark eyes, and curly hair mark a city that is nearly eighty percent Muslim. Muslim calls to prayer, hallah butchers, and robed men on their way to prayers swirled around us. And during this month of Ramadan, devout men and women avoid food and water in daylight hours, and state that their normal five daily prayers are solely for God in this month. “All the rest of the months, our prayers count for us” (to have the good outweigh the bad), “but this month, our prayers are just for God himself as worship.” We smiled, he and I, this papa at a soccer field, and our conversation flowed.
Muslims can pray for dreams of God and for him to reveal himself to them during this time of Ramadan. Respectfully not eating or drinking outside near Muslims, we greeted the people around us, and entered into conversations, wishing them “Bonne Ramadan,” and I prayed for dreams of God, prayed for revelations of himself.
The normal French reserve melted away at each conversation and encounter, and the questions came, “Why are you here?”
“We’re here with some French and Algerian friends, working beside them at their church at 140 Boulevard de Rheims. We’re here because we love God and want to tell you that God loves you deeply. Jesus loves you.”
Respectful conversations followed then, about Submission to God (the definition of Muslim), and we spoke of lives submitted to God and worshiping him, and about Isa (Jesus) who saves us, and the People of the Book, what the Koran calls Christians.
“I’ve never met Christians like you,” several of them said, in surprise. On plastic green turf fields, we told stories of changed lives, of joy, hope, softened hearts, marriages and lives, and it’s all about Him, and their eyes looked different, as they listened and asked questions, falling quiet at times. We listened and asked questions too, and spoke again of our God who says, “If you seek me with all of your heart, you will find me.” This God who offered a sacrifice for us to know him, and of a Papa God who waits at the side of the road for a glimpse of us–his wandering kids– and then dashes into the street to embrace us. And the delight spills out.
Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose.