“Do you have eggs?”
A huge warm smile spread over the man’s face that day. He wore a white crocheted hat, typical of a lot of Dongxiang men in this area.
“Of course!” he answered in clear Mandarin and hurried to get a plastic bag to collect the eggs I had requested.
At the time, I had no idea he was Dongxiang. I knew he was Muslim based on appearance only. However, it was obvious by that first encounter that he was a kind, gentle soul.
I left with just my eggs that day, feeling successful. I had navigated a busy market and managed to find what I needed without getting too overwhelmed. I decided that I could certainly return to that shop in the future.
And return I did. A day or two later, I returned to find two ladies working. The man I had originally met saw me from afar and called me over. He introduced me to the ladies, one who was his wife and the other his wife’s older sister.
The same genuine, warm smiles spread over their faces as well. I don’t remember what I needed that day or even what I bought, but I left thankful for a budding relationship.
And while I often pray to make relationships here, I usually beg the Father to go beyond relationships and give me friendships. He did just that.
I began returning to this family’s shop two or three times every week. Not because they had the best looking vegetables or cheapest prices – they didn’t. However, they had those big loving smiles and openness I hadn’t felt from any other locals.
Quickly, we were friends. We took pictures together. We exchanged phone numbers. We laughed. I learned that they were indeed DongXiang. They had received very little education growing up but had taught themselves most of the Mandarin and Chinese characters that they knew. They have kids currently living in different cities so that they can receive the best education possible.
They often express to me now when business is bad. Or when they are busy. Or when business is good. Or when they are just tired.
They invite me in to eat their already meager lunch with them. They’ve invited me with open arms to their home to teach me to cook their food.
The wife of the man I first met, Yu, is a sweet friend now. She always greets me with a smile. Even though business is hard for them, she often gives me the few veggies I need for free or for a discount.
The best part of this friendship is the openness I have to ask them questions. How do you celebrate your religious holidays? Why do you wear one type of head covering and your sister another? Can you only eat food bought from other Muslims? Can you come to my house to just visit? What do you believe?
Unfortunately, because their business is one that keeps them fairly busy, our conversations are in spurts as they rush around to help other customers. However, they always pull up a stool for me and talk as much as they can.
- Please pray for this sweet family and my friend Yu? Their hearts are kind and open and yet still appear sad. They are desperately in need of the Good News and love of Jesus penetrating their hearts.
- Please pray we will find the best way to share with this family, be it audio recordings, word of mouth, or physical copies of the Word?