It was one of those Northern Ontario winter days when the reflection of the sun on the snow is enough to blind someone; one of those days when the sky is a stunning blue with not a cloud in sight.
I was sitting on the corner cabinet as I so often did, swinging my legs and watching my mother working at the stove. When the phone rang, I paid little attention to it. However, when I heard my mother’s intrigued voice, I paid closer attention. Something was up. I could tell that it wasn’t one of our family members on the other end… and from my mother’s questions, I knew that we were in for some excitement!
By the time my mother hung up the phone, I was practically prancing in my eagerness to know what was going on… after all, a girl in her early teens growing up in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere seldom sees much excitement. I listened as my mother told me about our odd phone call.
The call had come from a woman in our community, a motel owner, who told my mom about a family from Mexico who had recently moved to town. The whole family; Mother, father, and grandmother, were now working at her motel. Even their two little boys were running errands.
“They’re Christians, and interested in finding someone to have fellowship with,” the lady explained to my mom. “You folks are churchy… would you be interested in meeting with them?” Of course, my family agreed immediately. Plans were laid to visit the family within the next couple of days.
Later that day, I sat in my room and wondered about the family. It must be hard to have to go to a strange country to live and work. The two little boys especially… they probably had no friends here.
“I wonder…” I mused to myself, hauling out a couple of totes I had under the bed and digging through them.
“Ah-ha!” I pulled out just the thing I was looking for… a little toy Volkswagen. When you pulled it backward along the floor a few inches and let it go, it shot forward a few feet. Just the thing for a little boy.
“Now, what about the other one?” I mused. I didn’t have many toys that young boys would be interested in, but there was one thing… I reached into another tote and pulled out a little stuffed dog. Don’t all little boys like dogs and stuffed animals?
Tucking both toys into a bag, I thought about what I could do for their parents. Suddenly, I remembered something that I had received as a free gift from a Christian bookstore… a Spanish Bible! Having a fascination with languages, I had kept it; after all, you never know when another Bible might come in handy.
I hurried to look up some Scripture verses in my English Bible that I thought would be appropriate, then laboriously copied their Spanish versions into a little card. It wasn’t much, but at least I would try to make them feel welcome.
To my immense disappointment, I was sick the next day and unable to go with my parents to visit the new family. Sadly, I handed over the toys and card to my parents, so they could pass on my greetings.
And that was the end of the story, or so I thought.
When my parents came home, they were buzzing with excitement. The family spoke little English, but they knew just enough to communicate! My mom said that both of the little boys adored their new toys… apparently the younger one had a fascination with cars while the elder loved stuffed animals! I believe that God Himself had guided my selection of those particular items.
But it was the next story that overwhelmed me… my mother said she had passed my little card with the Spanish Scripture verses over to this precious Mexican lady, who opened it, scanned the verses… and instantly burst into tears.
I’ll share those Scripture verses with you here:
“Que Dios nuestro Padre y el Señor Jesucristo les conceden gracia y paz.” Efesios 1:2
“Por lo tanto, ustedes ya no son extraños y extranjeros, sino conciudadanos de los santos y miembros de la familia de Dios.” Efesios 2:19
“Porque Cristo es nuestra paz; de los dos pueblos ha hecho uno solo, derribando mediante su sacrificio el muro de enemistad que nos separaba.” Efesios 2:14
Here is the English Translation of those verses:
“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ grant you grace and peace.” Ephesians 1:2
“Therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of God's family.” Ephesians 2:19
“For he is our peace, between the two peoples has made one, knocking down by his sacrifice the wall of hostility that separated us.” Ephesians 2:19
It was truly the hand of God that led me to those particular verses on that particular day, to speak comfort to a family who felt very much like strangers and foreigners in Canada.
My mother then continued her story by saying that at the end of their visit, everyone present joined hands together and shared a time of prayer in their first languages… my mother in English, my father in French, and our new friends in Spanish. Nobody understood what anyone else was saying, but yet, they were all one in that moment of time. Surrounded by the presence of an Almighty God Who reaches beyond borders, boundaries, and even transcends languages.
Happily, I was able to meet our new friends a few days later. They could only stay for a few minutes, since they were in a hurry, but I’ll never forget that precious lady throwing her arms around me, a perfect stranger, and saying over and over again in her limited English, “Thank you! Thank you!” They had to leave quickly since they were on their way to the motel, but I stood at the doorway in the icy wind and waved to their boys, who piled out of the van to giggle shyly and wave back to me calling, “Hola! Hola!”
I wonder, sometimes, what became of that beautiful family… we never heard from them again after they returned to Mexico. I believe God orchestrated our paths to cross for some reason; what it was, I’m not sure. Perhaps to teach me the power of a few caring words. Perhaps to teach me the impact of a few caring words spoken in someone’s original language; which may have sparked the passion for languages I have today. Perhaps to teach me about the power of friendship. Perhaps even to teach them something, although what, I don’t know.
But I do know that I learned a powerful lesson about God’s all-encompassing love and faithfulness.
May we all love one another more as we follow His Path in the coming year.