Monday, July 26, 2010

New Neighbors, New Sisters

Well friends,

We did it! We're moved into Prospect Ave... and its such a story of God's faithfulness.
Five years ago when I was a Fellow God put it on my heart to move to this neighborhood... Ellen and I prayed about living here four years ago, and the Lord led us elsewhere (which was awesome), and in His timing has fulfilled the dream I had of being a part of this community. A community of people sitting on front steps and in front yards. Of walking to and from Blue Ridge Commons. Of a culture of yelling back forth across the street. Of children running from house to house. And a community where Jesus has been long before we arrived.

There are other new arrivals to this neighborhood: a Bhutanese family who lives adjacent to us. And if you're like me and need a geography refresher: here you go.
The six of them arrived in America after 8 months of "being in process" as refugees from Nepal. They were forced to leave Bhutan 18 years ago, selling a large farm where they grew rice, maize, and cardamum, and two houses as they left. Now the grandparents, parents, and children all live next to us! Their names are Bol and Kina (grandparents), Caabi and Gonga (dad and mom), and Tek and Rubina (son and daughter). They are unbelievably delightful.

Before we had solidified our friendship with them, they were run outside everytime we came out to come and go from our house. They would stand on their little stoop and welcome us home, nodding and waving. Today, as I came home from the grocery store, my arms full and one hand holding a cell phone I was on, Gonga approached with two oranges and handed one to me and then handed me another and said, "Matthew!" Her intention was clear and I thanked her. I ran inside to dump the groceries, returning to the stoop with my orange and asked to sit with the grandparents. They said yes and I plopped down. Bol said to me, "No English," as a way of indicating he didn't know how to communicate, and I said, "It's ok. We'll just sit." And we did, peeling and eating our oranges. Naming a few things around us in Nepali and in English. Bol asked where my mother was (in their culture its unheard of to leave your parents living alone, sorry mom) and I tried to explain Lynchburg.

Soon Matthew came home and promptly joined us on the stoop, which got the attention of Gonga and Caabi, who invited us into their house! We sat on the couch, admiring their maps on the wall of Virginia and of Israel. When I asked why they had a map of Israel, Caabi replied, "It's just a poster from IRC."

We took them over to our house to show them around after some conversations, and they returned the favor. As we left our house, Tek, the 11th grade son, pulled me aside and said this is the first them they have been in someone else's house. He explained that in the camps in Nepal their homes were very small and they ran from place to place. His grandmother, he said, is very lonely because she has no one to visit and is in one house all the time. It causes the loneliness, he explained. I told him they were welcome at our house anytime.

When Gonga led me upstairs to their home (which is almost identical to ours), she put a necklace around my neck and a ring on my right hand and proclaimed, "My gift to you! We are now sisters."

What does it mean to have a Bhutanese sister!? I supposed we will now find out. I am so very thankful for these friends and that we can welcome them to the neighborhood.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

AAAAAAnd we're back...

Sometimes a lack of exposure to children + wedding planning = a blog drought.

We're working on this.

Matthew and I thought this would be an appropriate place to start logging some of our funnier encounters with some neighborhood kids, particularly a 6th grader named Garlodi who is originally from Liberia and one of the most inquisitive and hilarious kids I know.

Today he said, "Was Gilli born in the woods?"
Me: No! Why?
Garlodi: He's so tall! I thought maybe he got his tallness from the trees.

This led to a discussion about DNA and genes...