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An All-Consuming Passion

An enormous sheep bone, swimming in an ocean of noodles, appears on the table in front of me. It jostles for space with overflowing dishes of dried fruit and nuts, and a tower of steaming naan bread.

My friend Ainur is not content. She produces a knife from somewhere in her delicate outfit and starts hacking at the meat, tearing off the extra large parts and gesturing to me.

But she still isn’t satisfied. “Eat, eat,” she commands me.

Ainur stands still, so still, watching as I reach out and pick us some meat and a long noodle.

I put it in my mouth.

I start to chew.

At last Ainur relaxes and smiles. It is a smile of deep satisfaction.

Hospitality isn’t just a custom for China’s Silk Road people. It’s an all-consuming passion.

Ainur’s seven-year-old son Aslan* is pulling a long steaming noodle out of the dish with his shining clean hands, cramming the coils into his mouth just before they tear, and trying not to giggle them out again. Behind the boy’s fun, I see his mother’s care and her untiring work.

In just a few short hours, Ainur will take Aslan back on the long bus journey to the mountains where she works. She teaches fifth grade in a small village elementary school, while her son attends second grade. They live together in the modest teacher’s dormitory during the week, then come back to the city for the weekend. Friday evening until Sunday afternoon is the only time that Ainur sees her husband and her 15 year-old daughter, who live, study and work full-time in the city. She spends her weekend cooking, cleaning and caring for them, enjoying the precious hours together.

And still Ainur is willing to share her time, her food and her love with me. She gives and gives to me, treating me with even more care than her family, and even when she has nothing left to give. It’s all because I am her guest. Hospitality is her passion.

* Aslan means “lion”.

Please Pray

  • Praise God for the gracious hospitality of China’s Silk Road people.
  • Pray for families like Ainur’s, whose relationships are stretched by geography, time and exhaustion.

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