I have always enjoyed being around young people.
Early in my teaching career, I loved being with the little people in the early primary grades. I found them to be funny, caring, enthusiastic, and for most of them a keen desire to learn. I received lots of hugs back then, and I am thrilled that when I meet former students [now with children of their own] they still like to give hugs!
When my husband and I went to Ecuador to serve the Lord for four years, there were new people to love. These were the children of missionary families who were working in a small town on the edge of the Ecuadorian jungle. They brought a variety of new experiences to share as they came from several countries around the world.
I had the joy of leading a bible study for some months, to the ladies who were there. It was a bit of a shock, to realize that I was one of the older ladies. As we shared with each other from God's word, we grew in love for our Lord Jesus and with each other. What fun I had to have special “teas” for these busy people who enjoyed the dozen china cups and saucers I had taken with me. This was a strange thing to pack and ship, but somehow I knew they would get used.
One of my dearest friends was a sweet lady named Rosa, who came to help me [as I was to help her]. She was a new Christian and had come from a very difficult background.
As we communicated with each other in my broken Spanish, sign language and lots of laughter and smiles, our hearts grew close to each other. The first time I served her tea in a china cup, tears ran down her cheeks, as she was used to having a tin cup solely for her use.
How blessed I was to have her in my life.
I never was comfortable speaking Spanish, new experiences were sometimes frightening, and I keenly felt I was far away from home. Little did I realize that God was using these things to teach and prepare me for later on.
When my husband went home to heaven, I realized that I would need people in my life to serve and care for. I took a course on being a “host” to a New Canadian. I was paired with a young woman from the Philippines who had married a Canadian and had just arrived.
We were to spend time together once a week for a year. What a lovely young woman she is. The year has long gone but the friendship remains and now I am “Grandma Jan” to her two almost teenagers. We connect over “tea” at an outreach at the chapel, with the children, just going for a walk and most often now on the internet.
When our local university needed host families for International students, I signed on. This was a big step for me because I had always considered myself a “little kids” person. University students were bigger, smarter and younger [no doubt about that one] than I. I quickly learned that they were still the same sweet children only in a bigger size. They loved being called by endearing names and hugs were quickly given and received.
Over the years the Lord has brought many wonderful, sweet, bright, loving young women to enjoy my home with me. Some were here for only a few times, others for a week and even several months as there was a need.
Those china cups and saucers come out and we learn about each other: our homelands, our food—they love homemade treats—our faith, and our families. This home that the Lord has given me is a place of calm, safety, warmth and love. What a blessing it is to be a Mother—more like a Grandmother in reality—to these young women so far away from home.
I have a great empathy with them because of my experiences in Ecuador. I am able to help those just learning English because of my teaching skills. For those times of homesickness, I can share how the Lord brought me through. Although we may be of a different faith, I always pray with and for them.
The Lord blessed me in leading two young women to the Lord after a period of bible study. What greater joy is this.
I have been serving in a Coffee house ministry for International students for several years now. I meet so many students and often their friends. When they return home, it is very difficult, but I pray then for the special ones God will bring into my life the next semester. I keep in contact with many of these dear friends through social media.
I pray that through using the gift of love, they might come to know the One I love. I am but a link in a chain.
For me, the word Mentor, is simply another word for Love.
*all photos used by permission from Janice