I received a phone call asking if I would host two young women from the Women’s Institute of Psychology from Tokyo, Japan who wanted to come to the United States to learn about horses. Two years prior, this same organization had contacted me and asked if I would host a young woman from Zurich, Switzerland. I said yes to this request and was grateful to have met a very lovely young lady from the Alps.
At the time I received the request from Japan, I was on crutches. I had a horse that was extremely sensitive to bugs, flies and mosquitoes, and suffered from allergic reactions to these annoying critters! When this mare sensed a bug was present, she forgot everything and everyone in desperation to free herself from any possible contact. It was in one of those moments that one of her hooves came in contact with one of my feet, hence, the crutches.
One Japanese student had never been on the back of a horse, and spoke little English. This was her first time to the United States. The other student had experienced one hour on a horse, spoke English pretty well and this was her second trip into the United States. With crutches under each armpit and a telephone at my ear I said “Yes, I would love to have them!” Little did I know that those crutches would serve to be a potent visual aid in answering a question that surfaced from the heart of one of these students!
We started grooming, moving to ‘connecting’ in the round pen, and then went on to the corral. We utilized various obstacles to develop eye/hand coordination. Other exercises included using a hula hoop to loosen up the hips as well as mucking stalls. One student made an entry in her journal stating how surprised she was to notice that horses makes manure in same place every day, and that observation made me chuckle. Of course the most important part of thelesson was communicating and more communicating, so crucial to all successful relationships with animals, humans, or both.
It was in one of those “‘connecting/communicating” ‘moments when the question was presented to me. It went something like this: “Debbie, I attended Christian school in Japan for two years. I do not understand the Christian way. I see people not needing this Christian God unless they are unhappy, struggling or don’t know what to do. This does not make sense to me.”
“Oh, like crutches,” I thought! These young ladies were with me when I returned the crutches to the rental place just that day. I needed the crutches because I was hurt, and I couldn’t walk on my own until I healed up. With great joy I was able to communicate the difference between religion and salvation. Religion is like the crutches. Salvation is a relationship with a personal, intimate, loving God! When you have a friend like Him, you are safe communicating your failures, weaknesses, and struggles. He becomes the first person that comes to mind when you want to share something happy or something you are thrilled about! He becomes the One who will carry you when you aren’t able to walk on your own.
When these young students experienced the role of the Holy Spirit as Teacher, they closed their eyes, touched their hearts and nodded their heads. It was precious to behold, and I felt honored to have been a part of such an important lesson.