Sitting on a homemade swing on the rooftop, I could feel the hot Asian sun scorching my face, but I didn’t mind. I was enjoying every moment with my new friends. One of the daughters, around eight years old, insisted that we take turns pushing each other on the swing. Every time I came flying backward, I would nearly knock her small frame onto the ground, but she was determined! Neither of us could suppress our laughter as we continued to play together that afternoon! These moments of connection may seem small and insignificant at first. However, laughter is often the bridge that closes the gap between cultures that are vastly different from each other. This strengthens trust so that deeper, more significant conversations can happen later on.

To escape the heat, we moved inside and sat down together cross-legged on the floor. Even though I was a first-time guest in this home, my hosts treated me like family. Extravagant hospitality is the framework of this culture, and I had learned to receive it with joy and thankfulness. Sipping green tea, we exchanged stories. The young mother shared details about her life, but in the brief conversation, I knew I was seeing only a small glimpse into her complex world. These women are confined to the walls of their homes, usually cut off from any relationships outside of their family networks. Sometimes suffering from years of abuse, they believe they are unworthy of love and are drowning in shame and sadness. I couldn’t say everything I wanted to that day because I didn’t have the language ability to do so, but I asked the Father to help me reflect His heart to her — she is seen, heard, and loved.

Before the visit ended, I peeked over the edge of the rooftop at the sea of colorful houses endlessly rolling through the mountains. I envisioned a million more women like her hidden in the homes of this city who had stories and burdens of their own. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper: Come back here. Learn the language. Love and serve them. One year later, I’m getting ready to return long-term to work in this beautiful, foreign land. I eagerly anticipate the days when I will again be having heartfelt conversations with new friends over cups of tea. I still have so much to learn, but I know that the Father will be holding my hand each time I step into a home. My desire is to reflect joy, life, and light to every person I encounter, that they may see and come to know the one who is Living Water. “For with you is the fountain of life. In your light, we see light.” “In your presence, there is fullness of joy.“ (Psalm 36:9; 16:11)

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