Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Love without Words




Emerson has a new friend this year. She's told me about the interests they share and the humor they find in everyday. They pair up when it's time to work as a team and play together at recess. They have found points of connection and communication which transcend words, which is helpful since her new friend speaks virtually no English.

Haemil is from South Korea and this is her first year in an English only school. The combination of translation technology, a wonderful teacher, and Haemil's tremendous intellect are serving her well and she's finding success in the classroom. But social connections require the other children to be  willing to cross the language barrier and create a path to engage. I couldn't be more proud of my little bridge builder who has taken it upon herself to find a way to love this girl well.

Emerson has learned a lot about showing love without words this year, yet she has willingly taken on a personal study of the language so she can communicate more fully with her new friend. She created a folder of common Korean words and phrases and their phonetic pronunciation. She is even learning the characters for each one. She has, out of the purity of her loving heart, done what we dream our friends will do: find a way to understand us.


I went to to the school Book Fair this morning to help Emerson select some books to buy. Haemil smiled shyly toward me as she placed her hand on Emerson's back and pointed to her wish list of books. Instinctively, Emie led her to the sections where each title was displayed. Haemil touched her again and pointed to a few of the specialty items behind the librarian's desk. Emie came to me and told me precisely which items Haemil wanted to purchase. Following the lead of my little love, I told the librarian I'd be helping Haemil today and could she please gather the items Emie mentioned. The librarian gently led Haemil to the items and encouraged her to choose her preferred color in each one. Haemil's face lit up like Christmas morning. She now held in her hands everything she had hoped to get at the fair. Without a little help, it would have been quite a challenge for her to find the items and communicate her wishes within their allotted shopping time.

As we waited for her total to be calculated, Emie picked up a prop hat on a stick which was there for the students' enjoyment. She held it over her head and made a silly face in Haemil's direction. She then held it over Haemil's head, which set her to fits of giggles. She'd done it again, tapped into joy without saying a single word.

I walked the girls back to the classroom and along the way, Em put her hand on Haemil's shoulder and pointed to me and said, "This is my umma," the Korean word for mom. Haemil's smile widened as another bridge was crossed in our introduction.

I drove away from the school with a lump in my throat and my heart swollen with pride for my beautiful girl. Sometimes tween-dom brings unwelcome bravado in which a child I brought into the world asserts her presumed authority and expertise in everything. It can be exhausting to control my response and be careful not to over-correct her when she's simply trying to stretch her wings. But today, I gladly followed her lead as the resident expert in loving others well. She has so much to teach me about leaning in and loving with my life before my words.

“Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” St. Francis of Assisi

12 Comments so far - Add yours!

  1. Ugh… I have something in my eye. Or maybe it's allergies… That sweet little Em. Showing us how it's done. Beautifully articulated as always, M.

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    1. Thanks you, sweet Kimberly. I'm so grateful for you and your encouragement. Dang those allergies!

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  2. I need to stop cutting onions when I read . . . Sweet, sweet Em. This story makes my heart smile. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Amy! Thanks for reading and taking the time to share such a kind comment.

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  3. Tears here too! Just gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your story and your sweet girl with us. Good job, mama!

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    1. Kelly! Thanks so much, sweet Kelly. I'm taking notes from you, lovely!!

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  4. Oh this is making me cry. Well done mama for raising such a sweet and smart girl -and props to your daughter for bridging that language gap and showing love.

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    1. So kind of you, Johanna! God gave me such a sweet gift in her! Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement and for taking the time to read.

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  5. I'm so proud of Em! She is an example for each of us, bridging the gap of culture to embrace friendship. Thank you for sharing her with us!

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  6. Oh her heart! You have a future adoptive mama or ESL teacher, or just genuinely compassionate woman in that one there! Love!

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    1. Thank you, Ginger. Her heart to love slays me.

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