I am an older woman. I was divorced when my youngest child was just one year old; she is now 29. I have 3 children and 4 grandchildren. I was a new Christian when my husband chose to divorce me. I was young and immature and not a very good wife. When I became a Christian, I no longer wanted to do the things we did for fun like drinking and partying. My husband and I had nothing in common anymore, so when he wanted a divorce, I did not contest it. So yes, I am a divorced woman who is now serving the Lord Jesus Christ in a country that is not yet really open to the gospel.
Although I have experienced loneliness at times since coming here, it is the role reversal that I find hardest to accept. Being single for so many years, and happily so, I have always felt that I was in control. Yes, I know it is God who is really in control of my life, but I did my best to hang on to bits and pieces of control when I felt I could.
The first area I lost control in was with the traffic in this foreign city! It is indescribable! The number of people living in this city is in the millions. The majority of these people drive motor bikes. So you can see that traffic is a big problem.
As a foreigner in this country, I am not allowed to drive a car. If I had a car, I would need to hire a driver. In addition, I would have to rent a residence with a place to park a car, along with a place for a driver to live. So I have no car and must always rely on others to get where I want to go. This makes me feel very dependent on others.
Trying my best to keep some form of independence, I left alone one night after dining out with friends. I was ready to go home before they all were, so I got on a motor bike that was supposed to take me home. That is not what happened! Instead, the driver took me to an area where he had two other friends waiting, and they attempted to rob me. Stubbornly, I resisted with a very loud voice. I was not going to just let them rob me! I jumped off the motor bike, and they tried to circle me with their bikes.
I made my way loudly down the street to a restaurant, gathering a crowd by my noise. These men continued their pursuit of me, trying to run me down. The restaurant had security people to whom I tried to explain what had happened, but only one person spoke a little English. The robbers told the people I was trying to leave and not pay for my ride. My language skills were not very good either so I could not explain myself. I finally paid the motor bike man, and they left, but I was very shook up. A taxi driver, who had seen all this came to my rescue. He put me into his cab and took me home.
When my co-workers found out about the incident, they took it upon themselves to be my personal guardians. Supposedly I am here to be a help to them, but they don’t see it that way. In Asia, being a senior citizen means you are well-respected. This is a country that believes in taking care of the “elderly”!
There is one young man that I work with who has taken me on as his second ‘mom’. Mothers are very special and well-loved in this country. I try to encourage him, but he seems to encourage me more. I am humbled by this role reversal. He senses when I am having a hard time and does little things to make my day better. Utilizing friendship evangelism, I work at a business and speak English to the nationals who are trying to learn the language. My ‘son’ works with me and watches over me to be sure I have what I need. It may be that my water glass is low. Or it may be that I am trying to gather customers so I can communicate better with them. He comes to my aid by helping them understand what I am trying to do. If I am speaking to someone with poor English, he will come alongside me and help interpret our stilted conversation. Since the incident of the attempted robbery, he has become my personal motorcycle taxi driver. Although I work late into the night, he always takes me home. Even when he does not work, he comes to get me or arranges a ride home for me with one of my other co-workers.
Recently, I slipped on a rug and pulled a hamstring muscle. Getting on the motor bike became very difficult for me. My ‘son’ is small, but very strong; I am a westerner and not small! To help me get on the motor bike he lays his bike almost on its side so I can get on, and then he lifts me and the bike back up, not an easy thing!
When I resisted going to the doctor after falling, he said please, please, please, please so many times I had to give in to him. I knew that when people got older they experienced a role-reversal with their children but I had not experienced that yet with my natural children. By living in this new culture, which is so very different than the U.S., the role reversal issue came to the forefront. I not only am told I am loved more often, but they show their love for me by taking care of me. I know that God has used this time in my life to heal me in an area I did not know hurt. I have many other sons and daughters here…so many who want to call me ‘mom’” or even ‘mommy’!!! These are intelligent university students who are bilingual and gifted in many areas of their lives, yet they need to know they are loved too. God has given me the privilege to love them and, to my amazement, to receive the love of God back from them.
So who is in charge here? I guess it is God! I have been pretty independent most of my life. I did not know I needed to be taken care of, but He has surprised me with His care. I was well aware that Christians should be less independent and more interdependent. I had to come to the other side of the world to find out how to let go and allow myself to be cared for.