Tag Archives: Chinese

This is something I need.

I need you to help me…

Monday I told a local friend that I needed something.  An idea: a different way to invest in Syrian refugees, now the first project had ended.  She is from here, a make-it-happen activator who already has two jobs; I am new, a student increasingly conscious of how much I still need to learn.

We wanted something that would involve the community in service, make space for developing relationships, and meet a practical need.  BUT something we had time to do.

She said she’d think about it, and get back to me.

Still, after nearly three months, I miss my family and friends and community from the States– and pizza; I really miss buffalo chicken, New York style slices– and all the familiarity that came with them.  I had people to talk through teaching ideas with me.  I had a team of trusted coworkers and friends, to help plan community events: worship training, community breakfasts, an art show… Together our ideas and application were better than they ever could have been alone.  I enjoy making music, but when I play here alone, I miss the sounds of our incredible drummer, or the classical-turned-loose pianist or the strum just the way Shawna does it.

A quiet place.  A mug of coffee and an almond croissant.  A hug, listening ears, a soul connection over tea or Chinese food or… I miss how easy it was to get those things.

Learning friends, family, and community in a new place may be harder than learning a foreign language– but even more necessary for life to be lived (instead of survived).  My favorite parts of the past three months have been times of connection.  And I see in people I have met a deep craving for connection, whether they are from the Arab world, the US, or elsewhere.

My favorite moments of the past months have been moments of connection.  Hummus and pita with Arab friends.  Ice cream and oreos with a fellow stranger to this country, who makes her home here.  Working as an incredible team, both local and non-local, for our first outreach for refugees.  Laughter with local ladies as I attempt to tell a story.  And moments of connection– looking up at the mountains, praying with a friend, hearing lyrics from a good song– with the Creator.

My friend came back the next day holding a pile of papers.  The top page read, “101 Project Ideas.”  In between jobs, my friend had researched ideas, and come up with one that she thought would work for neighborhood and the Syrian refugees.

She gave me a great idea to bring back to the team.  And she gave me yet another connection here; yet another powerful note in the unfinished song that is this season.  I think I’ll call the song…

No, I’ll save naming this song for another, second story.








Say “Yes” First

“Take a ________ for the road,” he said.  He was gesturing at a pile of fruit, and speaking to me in Arabic.

I had been studying some basic Arabic for months, in anticipation of moving to the Middle East, but I still wasn’t quite sure what he was offering– apple? avocado?  There were also bunches of bananas, but sadly I am allergic to those, so I hoped that wasn’t it.  Somewhere between his third and fourth offers, I accepted.

I did not know what I was saying yes to.

This weekend, a Chinese youth group and a fellowship in Long Island welcomed me to tell part of my story.  I told them the part about going overseas right after college graduation, before I knew what I was saying yes to.   I had been on short-term trips to Spanish-speaking areas, had read lots and lots of books, and knew some people who had done international work.  So I said yes, got on the plane, and soon figured out that much of what I’d anticipated/expected was not reality.

Some of the realities were incredibly sweet; others very difficult to swallow. But I learned that even if I can’t predict all that will happen, “yes” is sometimes still the right answer.

I got a banana.  Couldn’t eat it, but a friend really enjoyed it.  And now I know the word for “banana” in Arabic.