Rob and I are connecting with partners, friends and family and I am having a great time. Just yesterday I laughed so hard with some family and friends that, oh dear, I had to make an unexpected run to the restroom!
One thing that hit me hard my first time in the US is that when you have grown up in another country and culture and come to the US, it is very hard to make new friends! Outside of Rob’s family, I was meeting people for the first time. With the differences of culture, I did not know how to interact with them. And of course, even though they were friendly and welcoming, they did not know how to interact with me.
Because everything was so strange and different, I felt homesick. I was thinking all the time about Africa. I was remembering how easy it is to make friends. I was thinking in America you “run” and in Africa you “wait!” You see in Africa our way of life involves lots of “waiting.” For example taxis are one of our cheapest most common ways to travel. When you want go somewhere, you stand on the side of the street. You agitate your index finger and waive your hand at a taxi coming your way. The taxi driver stops, you tell him where you want to go and if it is in the direction where he is heading, you get in. If it is not where he is going, or you can’t agree on the payment, you wait for another. During this time you are with others who are waiting and while waiting you talk and become friends! Another example is that you can make friends when you go to pay your bills at the Electricity and Water Company. You can stand in line for hours or even a whole day just to pay your bills. So again while you wait you make friends as you chat with people, discuss the latest news, sports or all sorts of things.
So when we were preparing for this trip, I was hoping and praying that I would not experience loneliness like the first time! I think my Father in heaven knew my fears and heard my sighs. This trip has been very different! I am happy to see people and the feeling seems reciprocal. I’m feeling connected! Instead of feeling tense, I feel happy! I’m enjoying deeper friendships and hearing stories about the US, some of which truly make me laugh! This past week I was invited to a brunch with three other choir mates, who are becoming close friends of mine here in the USA! We talked everything and nothing! There was strong connecting and bonding. It was a special moment for me!
And just last night, my husband introduced me to lawn mowing. When I heard him talking about mowing the lawn, I replied to him enthusiastically that we would do it together. My husband thought I was having a “conception problem” because he told me: “the machine takes only one person at a time”. After some clarification, I understood it is a “riding lawn mower” that drives like a little car! It was a new experience for me and I had some fun!
The US is giving me a lesson that King Solomon gave centuries ago. “A true friend is like a brother” not only in Africa, but in America! Friendships are precious no matter where we live. We should value friends and give them as much care and attention as possible. We need each other!