Sundays are really hard. Soccer Boy is not a fan of large groups of people, and when we go to church, he will withdraw into himself and stand at my side pitifully mewing, “Maja, maja?” (Home). He is happy to greet each person who speaks with him and will answer back if he understands. But he would rather not be there.
The constant drone of loud and tumultuous English that comes with crowds must be simply exhausting.
Someone asked me today if I thought he had enjoyed the Sunday School lesson.
I have no idea. I don’t know if he even understood it. He loved the craft, though. So there’s that.
The language barrier is not really a problem here at home. We talk and laugh and dance and sing, and I even mediate arguments between two boys yelling emphatically in two different languages.
Going to stores isn’t a big deal either. The three of us are together and simply move in our little group, doing what we need to do. Museums and pools are fine, too, because they are activity-based, and they need little translation (minus the pool-nazi lifeguards, of course).
But church is different. Sing these songs that are in a different language. Sit quietly and listen to a man who is saying words very fast with no way to clarify what is happening. Do a craft about a story that was read while 15 other children drew your attention away from catching the few English words you might actually know.
How does one speak of Jesus to a person who doesn’t even know who he is? Where do you even start?
I gave him a Children’s Bible in his language and a comic book-style Bible, but they each got a cursory glance. We will watch the Jesus film soon, but the time isn’t right yet.
They need to make a videospēle of it. Then we would be in business.
This whole thing is hard for me anyway, because I’m not really a fan of unasked-for proselytization. I prefer to have an organic conversation where my beliefs and values are shared within the context of a relationship. If what I believe is really true, then I don’t need to “convince” or “convert.” I simply need to live my life as best I can, speak the truth as I know it, and trust that it will be used in whatever way it needs to be.
But, see, he’s nine. We’re not really having organic conversations about complex world problems. There are few nine year olds delving into theology and doctrine anyway.
So we do simple things.
Pray before meals.
Apologize when we are wrong.
Tell him we love him.
Yesterday, the boys had yet another spat, minor on my Richter scale. But Soccer Boy was really, really upset by it. I think enough was enough. He told me that he was very sad and he shed a few tears.
It’s okay, I said. Little Man is just dusmīgs (angry) right now, but he is still your draugs (friend) and your vasaras brālis (summer brother). He loves you.
Ne, ne, Soccer Boy said. He didn’t believe it. I don’t think he believed anyone loved him in that moment.
When I told Little Man, he was shocked. He was already over the argument and had moved on. But he needed to clear it up.
“Man esi mīl, Soccer Boy,” he said. “Man esi mīl.”
I can’t describe the look that came onto Soccer Boy’s face. Joy. Surprise. Relief.
And so we got in the car to go to the store and listened to the CD “To Be Like Jesus.” Soccer Boy likes it loud and likes to sing along loudly, too.
It’s not the gospel.
But it’s the results of the gospel in action.
Seeds sprinkled into a life whose harvest I probably will never witness.
Maybe it’s not the same as what others do. But it’s everything I have. And that, I know, is enough.