A couple of updates before my real post. In the corporate world, I would say I have a couple of housekeeping items. But I hate it when people say that, even though I am sometimes guilty.
We received word on Monday that our dossier looks fine and that we don’t have to redo anything (and the angels sing HALLLLLL-LE-LU-AH!). It is now being bundled and authenticated, which takes about two weeks.
I updated my “About Us” and “Blogs We Love” pages, check them out. But warning, only check out the blogs we love page if you are bored and have time to kill. If you are like me, what you planned to be a little distraction will turn into a two hour long blog fest.
Okay, down to business. Another post about Isak. When I started this blog I was very adamant about it being about adoption and not including the little things that happen in our normal life- I wanted it to be focused. Then we met Isak. I know that Isak does not relate to adoption, but in so many ways he does. I truly think it was a God thing that we got matched with him. There are relatively few refugees from that area, and I expected to get matched with someone from Burma or Iraq. But I am so thankful that we did get matched with him and that we can truly learn about eastern African culture before we get the kiddos. We are soaking it up, and I think they will someday appreciate that.
On to tonight. We had plans with Isak, and we knew that there were some newcomers to meet up with. We thought maybe they would be at his apartment and we would all go to Starbucks or something. But when we picked him up, he was alone. We learned that we were going to them. We headed down Independence Avenue in the City Market area. As you go east down Independence Avenue, you pass a lot of check cashing places, title loan places, foreign grocery stores, etc. As we were on the way Isak wanted to stop at some Chinese store to pick up some things. The store was in a very old building with no real windows, lots of 99c ads, and Chinese letters on the sign. Not somewhere we would stop by ourselves. We went in and it was like a huge, messy Dollar General. We chatted with the owner. She has been in the US for about 30 years and is proud that she is 67 and healthy! California Love was on the radio, she says she has to play it to keep people awake but she does not really listen to it, and she never parties even though today was the Chinese New Year. Ha. Isak picked up some gifts for the newcomers and we went on our way.
When we got to the newcomers place, there were six people freshly here from Eritrea. As in, they have been here for just two weeks! One of them spoke English pretty well, another one spoke it a little, and the other four pretty much just listened as we spoke. The ladies prepared a coffee ceremony (I have two under my belt now!) while we all chatted. From here things get really random, so I will just give you bullets of some things we talked about and learned.
· Imagine arriving here in some of the worst weather we’ve seen all year. They had never before seen snow and were scared of it at first! We learned that weather over there is moderate year round, but it rains a lot in the summer. They are all very concerned about farmers and thankful for the rain.
· I noticed the two girls had rings on their fingers. We found out one was married, but her husband hadn’t come to the states yet and they weren’t sure when/if that would happen. The other was engaged and her husband lives in Dallas. He is trying to come here but needs a job first. We found out it was pretty common for spouses to come over separately, if they both get to come at all. This was so hard for me to imagine and made me feel silly for feeling sad when Mark and I both get busy and don’t have some good quality time together for a week or two. We have it so easy.
· They are very hospitable. They take care of their guests. They’ve been here two weeks and they were serving us. I even got scolded for thanking them for serving us.
· They like to watch/listen to really cheesy prayer services on DVD. I mean really cheesy. This was background music the way Katy Perry or Ke$ha might provide for our parties. And they love it.
· One part of getting selected to come to the U.S. is an interview series. They told us the story of a friend who was asked if he would give financial aid to terrorists. However, something was lost in translation and he thought he was asked if he would give financial aid to charities. He said yes. He was not selected to come.
· They know that they are very lucky to be in America and that they have a lot of opportunity here. They want to find jobs and work hard. They are very curious about our culture and ask simple questions like “when does your family see each other?” or “who pays when you go to a restaurant?”. They seemed to really pay attention when we told them how important health insurance was (we’ve really been working on Isak to get this) and that if they get sick or injured, it’s better to go to somewhere like the Minute Clinic rather than the emergency room.
· They live in barebones apartments. This one had very little second hand furniture, no tv, nothing on the walls, etc. I don’t like to think I’m a materialistic person, but it made me proud to see what Isak has “achieved” in the 16 months he’s been here. If you have old furniture to donate, Jewish Vocational Services would be an excellent place to give to. Also it was really fun to watch Isak be the expert on American culture.
There is a lot I’m missing; I need to record these gatherings because they are so interesting. If you want to come along sometime, even if we haven’t kept in great touch, please let me know and we will set up a date. There are not words strong enough to express how excited they would be to share their culture with someone who cares, and I promise that you will not be disappointed. Even if you don’t like coffee. 🙂