The Cave and the Children

While the heat and humidity rose to extreme highs today that even had the locals dashing for a shady spot to stand, Gregg and I accepted the offer for a tour in one of Slovakia’s 7,000 caves following today’s classes. We thought it sounded like a refreshing way to lower our body temperatures and spend time getting to know two Slovaks and their community.

The invitation from two of Gregg’s friends that he met as he taught English as a Foreign Language last year is one of many examples of how welcoming and hospitable the people of Martin Slovakia are.

Our friends picked us up at the school where we are teaching, drove us at least an hour outside of Martin, led us on a hike up the mountain to the entrance of the cave, insisted on paying our entrance fees for the one hour guided tour of the massive cave, and spent the rest of the day showing a few of their favorite places on the way back from the cave.

There’s so much to tell about our day with them today, but for now I want to focus on something that transpired deep beneath the surface in a wonderfully cold and fascinating cave.

Touring the cave at the same time as the four of us was a bus full of Slovak children ranging in school classes from 1st to 4th grades. As has been my custom here to greet others with a simple English “hello” or “how are you” (to see if they will take the opportunity to engage in English conversation), I did the same with several of the children. News of this spread quickly throughout their group. At one stop on the tour for more educational information from the guide, the children were so enamored with their newly discovered English speaker, it seemed as if they forgot there was a cave they were there to explore.

Here’s what grabbed my heart: As the children realized they could converse with me in the English language they have been learning for years in school, the looks of excitement on their faces was worth every step I took on the long, steep, hot, and humid trek up the mountain trail to the entrance of the cave.

The instant discovery that they could communicate with native English speakers like they have been training to do, looked as if they witnessed their first test rocket from science class actually take flight successfully they way they designed it to do.

My mission was clear. Ask their names, compliment each of them on their name, ask them questions about their experience in the cave, and answer whatever questions they had of me.

The time I got to have communicating with these Slovak children was brief, but the experience and the look in their eyes will be etched in my heart forever. The blessing that these children were to me confirmed why I’m here in Slovakia for two weeks.

My decision to come was two-fold: to obey what the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear to do (to come on the trip to serve) and to take my next step in my journey to obey Jesus’ command to love God wholeheartedly and to love others with reckless abandon.

Furthermore, those children blessed me with a great gift. They sparked within the caverns of my heart something that Jesus lived as His normal flow of His daily life —- seeing individual and groups of unknown children and stopping to take the time to show them their value, His love, and the delight that comes through companionship with the Lord Jesus.

Today was about many things, but most of all it was about clearly hearing the words of Jesus deep within that cave:

”Let the little children come to me.”