Dear Friends and Family,
The newspapers are filled with stories about the Chinese President who is making a state visit to the US. However, he and his entourage have been preceded and vastly outnumbered by phalanxes of Chinese students, scholars, businessmen, tourists, and au pairs. Take a break from reading about The Big Visit, and let us introduce you to just one of the hundreds of thousands of other Chinese who are in the U.S.
When you say her name in Chinese, it can mean “Peace Rains”. When you see it in Chinese characters, you see that it means “Peace Everywhere”. Either way, it is a beautiful thought. . . as is the young lady herself.
Peace Everywhere is an au pair, one of a special breed of live-in nannies that are so prevalent these days in the homes of busy affluent people. She has been in the US for three years, working consecutively with families in Florida, New York City, and, now Washington, DC. By the time you read this note, she will have returned to China for the first time in three years. She expects never to return to the U.S.
It is not that she has anything against the U.S. Au contraire, this au pair has had a wonderful time in the US, is glad to have had the experience, and would recommend it to any confident, outgoing, and mature young woman. But for this 20-something young lady, after three years of herding other people’s kids, she knows that that part of her life is over. The next kid(s) she herds will be her own. Now, it is time to see her home again, see her proud parents after three years, and see about getting herself married.
When asked about what surprised her most about the U.S. during her time here, she thinks for a few seconds and then answers, “What has surprised me the most in America are the Christians. In each of the three cities where I have worked, I have been sought out and welcomed as an honored guest by Christians. Sure, the families that I have worked for have been very nice, also. But I felt that they were doing so because it was their responsibility to treat their employee well. The Christians, on the other hand, had no obligation to do so much for me. A simple “Hello, how are you” would have sufficed. In each city, however, Christians sought out, reached out, and helped me out in practical ways, like getting acquainted with the community, guiding me in some of the strange ways of American culture, and interpreting the slang of young Americans, which was pretty much a foreign tongue even to my employers. :)
“In China, most people have some connection with the Buddhist religion, even if they do not take it as seriously as they once did. However, my grandmother was something of a renegade, like me, maybe. :) I remember that I would sneak into her room and find her Bible, which she read -- well, religiously. I would read it, but, frankly, I found it to be boring and hard to understand.
“After I came to America, a number of Christian friends have helped me to gain a basic knowledge about the Bible and its stories. I am fascinated by the character of Jesus -- what he said and what he did.
“But the Christians did not try to give me a ‘hard sell’. (Did I use the term correctly?) We were, first of all, just friends who hung out together and enjoyed each other’s company.
“There is much about Christianity that I do not know or understand clearly. But I know enough to know that I may well become a Christian some day in the near future.”
And this is how doing foreign missions at home is done. . . Peace Everywhere.
-Donald and Karen Barnes