Walking with the team to our appointment, we were in a European city that would be like you would imagine - fascinating architecture, very old buildings, narrow streets, church bells (what a beautiful sound), the patisseries (bakeries - with an incredibly delightful smell) and a lot of Flemish. But there were things we passed that you wouldn't imagine in an old European city - ladies dressed in jilabaabs (long robes) with hijabs (head coverings), very traditional Jewish families, people of many different nationalities and languages that were not Flemish, produce stands with fruits and vegetables that looked and tasted (because we did buy some of them to taste) amazing and a lot of people on bicycles or walking.
And then we got to her house...or rather very small apartment. She is a refugee who travelled an agonizing journey with her two young boys to get to a country where she can at least apply for papers. We hear that she must find another apartment because she has been told she must move. She tells us about that journey, in detail and in English which is just one of the languages she speaks and she is smiling. Here she has church family, she can worship her Lord, she can teach her boys about Jesus and despite the difficulties, she expresses joy. We lay our hands on her and pray for her...that she will find a more-than-adequate apartment, that she will be able to get her papers in a timely manner so she and her boys can settle down from the nomadic life they have lived recently, that she will be able to find a job and for provision and more.
And then...she has prepared a meal for us. She loves to cook and is gifted with gracious hospitality. How humbling that she wanted to cook for us and share with us from what she had. We were there to pray with her and bless her and she wanted to give to us. As we enjoyed dishes from her native land that were delicious and unique, one of her sons came in from school. It didn't seem unusual to him that his home was full of Americans.
So, we have observed and seen the surroundings and people, we have heard differing sounds from languages to church bells, we have smelled the delightful odors from the patisserie and from a meal prepared for us, we have tasted fruits and unique dishes, we have laid our hands on one and prayed and emotionally (sixth sense), we have been humbled by one of meager means who longs to share. We are also humbled by what she has gone through for her faith. We know little of that kind of persecution and persistence for Jesus. What is the seventh sense? Spiritually, we have shared her burden through prayer and connected with one of the family of God in a country distant from our native land and hers.
And that was just the first day!