Today is the last day before Husband jumps two-footed into his new job. He’ll be teaching ESL to refugee and immigrant students, ages 14-21. They won’t know how to say their own names in English and they will most likely be scared and anxious.
We remember those feelings well. We landed in India three and a half years ago and could not speak a word of Hindi (unless you count ‘namaste’). And although a form of English is widely spoken in many parts of the country, where we lived most people did not speak our mother tongue. We spent more than one anxious moment in the market place or train station, surrounded by what sounded like gibberish to us. We were little kids again, unsure, needing our mommies.
Instead of parents, God gave us lovely, strong, gracious Indian friends–who also happened to be our Hindi teachers. They taught us cultural lessons, took us shopping for clothes, showed us how to bargain in the market place. They got angry on our behalf when we were cheated in the bazaar because of the color of our skin. When we were lonely and afraid they came to our house to drink chai and to pray with us. We will never forget them because of the role they played in our lives at a time when we were most vulnerable and lonely.
It is Husband’s and my sincerest hope that we can, in turn, be gracious, lovely, Christ-saturated friends to the kids (and their parents) fresh off the boat in our town. That we can help them not just to learn English, but to learn culture, survival skills–most importantly, to learn how to have hope. That we can calm their fears, coax them forward, assure them that at least some people want them here. We want to pass on the gift of friendship to the foreigners God puts in both of our paths.
Because, three and half years ago, we were the foreigners and a special Indian family was willing to do all of that for us.