I sat quietly on the couch, in observation mode. I had brought my teammates along to experience their first Asian house party, and even though we couldn't understand any of the songs, we could still feel God's presence in the small living room.
Carl shared a story from the Bible, and the party ended with a meal and time of fellowship. After catching up with some friends from last year, I moved across the room to meet a new girl, Chloe. It was only her third time coming to the party, and I found out she has not yet decided to join the family. But she is very interested to learn more about God.
Chloe's eyes got wide when she heard my Asian name. “Your name means ‘Summer Lotus,' and my name means ‘Lotus Flower.' Our names go together!” I knew right away we were supposed to be friends. We were also excited to discover that she and her parents live just one street away from my apartment, and this year she is attending the university my team is targeting! “If you ever need help, please call me,” she said.
I already had a busy week planned, so I didn't think I could see Chloe. On Friday night my schedule suddenly opened up, but all I could think about was how much I needed a haircut. (It has rained almost every day the last three weeks – I've given up on blow dryers, and my hair grows longer and crazier every day. I couldn't stand it another day!)
I called a couple good friends from last year to see if they could come to a hair salon to translate for me, but no one was free! I hesitated before dialing Chloe's number. As a new friend, I didn't want her to feel like I was just using her to translate, but on the other hand, it gave me a good excuse to get together with her.
Chloe answered her phone immediately. She sounded excited to meet me, and had no plans for the night. When she arrived, I was surprised to see she drove a little white car! My first time riding with a friend here – I buckled my seatbelt, prayed for safety, and braced myself as she made her way through traffic.
Conversation flowed so easily. A little too easily, as I realized that trying to converse in English might be distracting her from the road. As she screeched to a halt within an inch from the car in front of us, I decided I should ease up on talking.
After sharing a nice dinner, we headed to the salon. I was a little nervous, but thanks to her translating, I ended up with a decent $2 haircut. Afterwards, she wanted to keep hanging out! The night was young, so she took me out for her favorite dessert: a bowl of shaved ice with slices of mango, bits of red and green gelatin, and sweet syrup…not quite ice cream, but still good. (I was praying against parasites!)
Sometimes friendships here can be a little awkward at first, but I realized that she and I seemed so comfortable, like old friends! All night I had tried to slip in comments about God, prayer, and being a Christian, with no visible response from her. I couldn't tell if anything was sinking in. During the drive home, Chloe opened up about her family. She shared some things about her dad, that she wishes he would stop drinking and smoking. I told her how my dad gave those things up cold turkey after he became a Christian. I shared with her how he has become a good father because he loves God so much.
For the first time all night, she was intrigued. “That is really amazing!” I could see the wheels spinning in her mind as she made the connection with God changing my dad's life, wondering if He could change her father too.
I stood at the curb watching her drive off, and prayed that she will soon believe in God for herself. She's so close, and I'm excited to be part of her life right now!