“Come, look at this!” My friend called to me from inside her family’s home. My teammate and I had just arrived in her hometown by bus, had set down our luggage, and were meeting her parents. Our friend Cathy, one of the girls who is in the family and attends our local family gathering, was so excited we could come home with her for the Spring Festival! She enthusiastically showed us around their home.

I joined her in the bathroom. As I peered into the tub, I was astounded to see it filled with water and occupied by three large fish. One by one they left the bathtub and ended up on a dish on the table. Such was the start of our 4-day stay at Cathy’s family’s home. We were met with surprises around every corner, mostly generated from our lack of familiarity with the local culture. Meals in particular seemed to hold a challenge. Pig tongue, chicken feet and head, squid, sheep intestine, duck tongue, seaweed…Could we make it? At every meal we hoped for the best!

Though there were personal challenges to navigate, we also found many blessings in the time we spent with Cathy. One of the days included a trip to see the biggest buddha in the nation. As our feet were treading all over the side of a mountain and as we came across a well-known buddhist temple, we took the opportunity to pray with Cathy to ask for God’s loving kindness to break down strongholds and lead the people to Himself.

It is tradition for people to take time during the week-long celebration to visit the temple and offer incense to their ancestors. After seeing hundreds of buddhas and places of worship spread all over the mountain and crowding the temple, our hearts were stirred with renewed compassion to be a part of seeing the lost come to know their loving Creator.