Communication break downs have happened fairly often this week, because the students' English is really limited. I have the sponsor translate the most important announcements into Japanese, but her English is also somewhat limited, so I am never sure how much anyone understands accurately. But I try to establish meeting places and times with exceptional clarity.
So I was a little concerned today when a host family showed up to take one of their girls home for dinner at 4:00, and she was nowhere to be found. I walked around campus until I got a blister on my toe (Did I mention it was 93* outside in the shade?), and still could not find her.
My search was interrupted at 5:12 by a call from the Japanese lady who is staying my home. "I am sick in the Student Center. There is vomiting all over my bag." If you know how I feel about throwing up, this was a very stressful call to receive. I'll spare you the gory details, but I managed to fake calm/cool/collected until Campus Safety came to my rescue. (That's not a joke...they really did.)
After my guest was safe in bed at home, I resumed my search. I thought my missing student might show up at our meeting point for shopping at 6:00, but no luck. I asked the other girls if they had seen her anywhere; they all shook their heads. I was starting to get worried. There was no camp staff to comb the buildings or dive in the duck pond. There was no director to assume responsibility. I had lost a sweet Japanese girl with big glasses and little English, and I had no more ideas of where to look. Out of desperation, I kept going back to the same places over and over.
At 6:26, I walked into the Student Center once again. There was now a printed sign over the vomit area: "Service Department, please clean the carpet under this sign." Then I looked to my left and saw my missing student, sitting with her Bible in her lap, maybe sleeping a little.
I felt like Mary & Joseph after coming back to Jerusalem to find Jesus - overcome with relief and a little bit of parental irritation. I wanted to shake her and say "Do you know how worried I have been about you?!!" But I tried to conceal my concern, because she seemed quite at peace. I asked her where she had been, and she pulled out her electronic dictionary. The entry she showed me read "slow, late." I wasn't sure if she was referring to herself or me, but I didn't really care. The lost had been found. I drove her to the mall to meet her classmates and treated myself to a pretzel.