In a mountain stream in SouthEast Asia, I came upon a lady collecting river moss to make sushi wrappers. Seeing that the task looked tedious I decided to “help her”. I staggered behind her on the slippery rocks spending more time regaining balance then collecting moss. She continued her work as precious laughter intermixed with words I could not understand. I am clueless as to what she said, but her face led me to believe she found me humorous and lovable.
We filled her bag and waved goodbye. Not long after as I was sitting in the natural hot spring tub at our guest house (missionary life is rough), there she was again. She had come to the river, like all the villagers, to take her bath. Now I had never really been exposed to communal bathing, but I learned most women manage to bathe while staying covered. The older ladies, however, find themselves beyond modesty and they bathe topless! My new friend happened to be old….
She spotted me in the hot tub and her and her friends moved there bathing spot close so that we could continue our bonding. Then she jumped up in the hot tub with me and took a big cup and poured the hot water over me. Even if I had known the language I would have still been speechless. I laughed awkwardly as my new little topless Asian friend “helped me get warm!”
My coworker Andy says “Nudity builds community!” While I am not yet sold on this fact, I do know that I love that woman. I know that she comes to the forefront of my prayers and I know that I wish more than anything that she knew the Lord. My lack of language and the strict government watch held my tongue captive. Yet in the simplicity of picking river moss, cooking rice, defeathering chickens, modeling traditional clothing, fluffing cotton and yes even communal bathing, communication and relationships formed. I pray fervently for the day we can stand a top those mountains proclaiming truth, but I am thankful for the silent messages shared between two women and the privilege to pray for this woman everyday.
*I feel as though this title might get almost as much attention at Surviving the Bush Commando did two years ago! The mission field puts you in some strange positions*