Little Lark has no memory of arriving in America as a six-month old baby. But she has colorful pictures in her mind of that courageous journey, as por’por’, the story-teller, brightly painted them. Sitting on the hearth in front of the warming fire, her grandmother spun frightening tales of fleeing when fear of baby thieves spread through their village by the sea. A young child had been snatched from the lane, where Little Lark’s sisters once safely played. Grief struck deep into her mother’s heart, and she vowed to protect her babies; but before the rest of the family escaped, her mama, known as Mai Bin Ling, was assaulted and left to die in the field. Following the secret nighttime burial, with tears frozen in their throats, hasty plans were made to leave China and the only life they had ever known, forever.
Little Lark’s father had moved to San Francisco where his cousin had settled. He took Lark’s two older sisters with him. Grandma refused to move again, but she was willing to raise her motherless grandbaby. So, growing up in Seattle, Little Lark attended a neighborhood Sunday school. At six years old she learned how much God loved her and all the children of the world. She was kind and thoughtful in all her ways, and dismayed when some children in her grammar school treated her rudely. Maybe they didn’t learn about their wonderful heavenly Father, who helps make the world a friendlier place.
As the winter holidays drew near, she tugged at por’por’s apron, looking up into her wizened eyes. “I want to tell my class mates about my Friend Jesus this Christmas,” she whispered, while her almond eyes implored grandma to help her. Por’por’s heart ached looking at the miniature image of her poor Mai Ling.
Gathering Little Lark into her arms, she settled into the deep rocking chair. “You know that it’s forbidden to celebrate Christmas at school. So, let us think of a special way to tell your friends about our Jesus.”
“Our teacher gave me a paper to give to you. What does it say?”
“Dear Parents, we will have refreshments on the last day of school before winter vacation. Your child has been chosen, along with four other children, to provide special treats for the whole class room. If you have something traditional from your cultural heritage, please introduce us to your specialty. Thank you, Mrs. Sanchez.”
“What do you think we should make, Little Lark?”
“I like the Chinese Fortune cookies in China Town, por’por’. Can we make some of our own? We can hide the notes about Jesus inside the cookies!”
“That’s a wonderful idea, my precious child! I think that Jesus, himself, gave it to you, don’t you?”
“Yes, I think Jesus did!” Little Lark’s eyes sparkled, and her giggle made grandma’s skin tingle.
“We will make them together.” Grandma began to feel light-hearted again, excited that her little one could find joy even though she missed her family.
Grandma pulled out a tablet and pencil, and settled herself at the kitchen table. “What words do you want me to write on the fortune papers, lovely child of my daughter?”
Little Lark perched on her knees in her favorite chair, elbows resting on the table and her chin cradled in her hands. “Hmmm. Let me think.” She closed her eyes, curling lashes brushing her cheeks, thinking.
“God loves me and you, too. He wants us to be good, but knows that sometimes we do bad things. He lives in heaven, but one day he sent his son Jesus to earth to be born as a baby on Christmas day. When he grew up, Jesus told all the people the way God wants them to live.”
“Some bad people didn’t like what he said; they hung him on a cross to kill him on Easter. Three days later he came back to life and returned to heaven. By giving his life to save us from our punishment, he became our Savior.”
“When we ask him to forgive our bad thoughts and actions, he does. When we ask him to live in our hearts to help us live the way God wants us too, he does. He will be your savior and friend if you ask him. Do it today!”
Number the cookie tabs, 1, 2, 3; wrap three to a bundle for each friend. Write Do Not Open Until Christmas!
Little Lark and Por’por’ shared God’s love that Christmas Day...
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