Rosalie Hunt’s life is forever changed by a leper who came to her front door on Christmas morning when she was 9 years old.
Hunt — the daughter of missionaries to China — answered the door, and the man was kneeling on the front porch begging for bread.
“He was shivering and had no shoes on his feet,” she said. “He said, ‘Please give me a little bread, I’m starving.’”
So she ran and got some biscuits from that morning’s breakfast. As she handed the bread to him, he dropped some.
She watched as he picked up every crumb from the ground with his partially missing fingers, determined not to waste any of what she had given him.
“That’s been 71 years ago, and it’s like I still picture him in my mind,” Hunt said.
“I stood there weeping, and it was as if God spoke to my heart. I told Him I would tell people like this that He was the bread of life. It was a watershed moment for me.”
Stories like that one fill the pages of Hunt’s new book, “6 Yellow Balloons: An MK’s China Story.” It’s by no means her first book — over the years, Hunt has written volume after volume of stories about missionary heroes from Ann Hasseltine Judson to Kathleen Mallory.
She’s also written about the history and legacy of Woman’s Missionary Union.
What makes this book different is it’s the first time Hunt has written her own story about growing up as a missionary kid.
“With the passing of the years, I’ve had more and more people say, ‘When are you going to tell your own story?’
“And, of course, the kids have been after me for many years,” she said.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she ran out of excuses. Suddenly her calendar was clear, and she had plenty of time. And she found the subconscious reason she’d been putting it off all along — it was hard emotional work, just like she thought it would be.
“I know this first person too well,” Hunt said. “That made it incredibly difficult.”
She had worried she wouldn’t have enough content, but what she found was the opposite — she had to break it into two volumes.
“6 Yellow Balloons” starts with the story of the leper and then goes back to the beginnings of Hunt’s missions journey — the story of her parents and how they answered the call to go to China.
That was a foundation she felt she couldn’t leave out — and because of that, Hunt’s own birth doesn’t come until much later in the book.
The second book will cover more of her young life as well as the story of how she embraced her parents’ missions legacy and became an international missionary herself.
As Hunt has worked on both, she’s laughed, cried, reflected and had some moments of self-revelation.
She said in retrospect, she’s been able to see God’s footprints and how He worked in difficult situations.
“I hope these stories are going to give people new insights into what it’s like to be a missionary kid, how you fit in and how you don’t fit in and where is home for you,” she said.
“6 Yellow Balloons” is laced with stories of God’s faithfulness, the perseverance of missionaries and the struggles of growing up in another culture.
The book is “about the reason for missions, finding God’s direction through finding Him and how He takes even your mistakes and molds them into something usable,” Hunt said. “Nothing is wasted with God.”
And if you’re wondering about the significance of the six yellow balloons, Hunt isn’t going to tell you — you’re going to have to find out for yourself.
“It’s symbolic,” she said. “You’ve got to read the book.”
For more information or to get a copy of “6 Yellow Balloons” or any of Hunt’s other books, visit rosaliehallhunt.com.
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