Chunsun (meaning “spring bamboo”) is a collective pseudonym for writers ministering in sensitive situations to Chinese people. The author of this post formerly served students in Mainland China and now works with internationals of all nationalities in Dallas, Texas.
As the wife of a campus minister to international students, much of my time is spent hosting and welcoming students as well as caring for our two small children. Our kids know that Friday nights are the time for students to come over for dinner and studying the Bible. We also squeeze in play dates, walks with students, and hosting students for dinner (amidst the chaos of bath time, kids throwing fits, and trying to figure out different dietary restrictions). It is a joy to get to enter into life with students as well as enable my kids to get a taste of the larger world beyond Dallas, Texas. We have a map up in the play room and love taking time to find our students’ homes. Needless to say, India and China are two countries my son can find in an instant!
Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to engage in deeper relationships with a few girls, one of whom is the wife of one of our PhD students. I met A. almost a year ago in January when she joined her husband in Dallas. They joined our Friday night Bible study, and we started a sweet friendship. He is a believer and she is still exploring faith. Friday nights are a safe place where we gather for a homemade meal, laugh and share stories, and then head into the family room to dive into the Word. We have been going through the basics of faith with lots of time for questions and discussion.
Both A. and I were pregnant at the same time, due about six weeks apart. She arrived in Dallas already at the end of her second trimester and in need of finding a doctor and learning the American medical system. I had opportunities to accompany A. to doctor's appointments, help connect her with pediatricians, learn how to install a carseat, etc. We wrestled through insurance, countless medical forms, figuring out what baby supplies she needed, and how to prepare for delivery. Like any first time parent, the process was a bit overwhelming to A. Often in China, an in-law moves in to help with the arrival of the new baby and afterwards helps take care of the baby. Here, they were on their own. We had fun comparing and contrasting the differences between cultures, as well as figuring out what was important to them to actually implement.
One of the best moments was being with A. and her husband when they saw their baby girl for the first time on a sonogram. In China, you don't get to actually see the sonograms or find out the gender. What a miracle it is that the Lord knits life together in the womb! They were ecstatic to finally see her healthy, kicking and with a strong heartbeat. This shared experience truly knit our hearts together and opened the door to further and deeper conversations about life, motherhood, and the Lord.
One of A.’s biggest needs was baby supplies. She came with nothing and knew that she would only be here for a short while before having to leave the country again for her visa. Groups of women from two different churches had expressed interest in getting more involved with international students, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to engage them and host a baby shower for A. This wasn’t something typically done in China, but she was open to the idea and really appreciated the help. About fifteen women gathered to enjoy yummy treats, provide the essentials for their new baby, share stories of wisdom, and pray over their little girl. A. left with a bed, stroller, and carseat to borrow until they are able to purchase their own, as well as tons of diapers, clothes, bottles, etc.
After a long labor and delivery, they welcomed a precious little girl into the world. I was one of the first to meet her in the hospital, and six weeks later they were some of the first to meet our baby girl too! Since then, we have continued to walk together, pointing them to the Lord and wrestling together through the long moments of having a newborn. We have shared the struggles of getting babies to sleep and the joys of their first laugh. We have shared feeding schedules and walks at the mall. We are even meeting tomorrow so that our girls can play together and we can visit.
A.’s husband actually joined our church in December and my husband had the privilege of baptizing him and baby Ann two weeks ago. While not yet a believer, A. tells me that she has been reading her Bible and her friendships with believers have made her really want to believe. Please pray for this sweet couple - that the Lord would strengthen their marriage and that baby Ann would come to know the Lord in deep and real ways!