This current semester, I have had two international students transfer into my hall. One is Trescillia, a 22-year-old woman from India, and the other is Anna, a 44-year-old woman from Kenya. Neither have ever been to the United States before or even seen snow for that matter, so the culture shock has been a difficult circumstance to deal with. Never before have I so badly wished to be able to speak Swahili or Hindi.
A few days ago, I knocked on Anna's door to check in with her and see how she was doing. I could hear her moving around the apartment, rustling papers, and then a plodding toward the door.
"Lauren! Come in, come in," she told me in her thick, African accent as she peeked around the door.
She slowly widened the door space, and I followed her into the thinly decorated room.
"Do you want some tea?" she offered, gesturing graciously for me to sit on the couch.
"Oh I'm okay, thanks Anna," I said hastily. She didn't seem to have a whole lot of food, and I didn't want to dip into what she did have, even if it was just tea. I was also meeting with someone in twenty minutes for coffee, so I didn't want to get overly caffeinated.
She raised an eyebrow at me and spoke very directly in her broken English: "Lauren - in my culture - when someone offers you tea, you take the tea."
I took the tea.
She proceeded to make me authentic lemongrass tea from Africa with natural, Kenyan honey in a little white mug. It was strong and sweet and thick, and I ended up drinking the entire cup. We also ended up talking for over an hour (my friend was willing to wait) about the cultural differences between America and Kenya. She explained how "You Americans are always so hurried! Hurry here, hurry there. Time, time, time. In Africa, one day, you might walk for miles to talk with friends and just sit down somewhere to eat and then walk back. No time, time, time, hurry up. People just want to sit and talk with you."
She clarified that some may view this as laziness, and she thought that some people in Africa do take it too far, but I couldn't stop thinking of the truth she was speaking: how many Africans are rich in time and relationship, while many Americans are solely focused on riches in money. We are quite poor in our ability to take a long period of time or even a few days to just rest and spend time with sweet friends.
When Gwen and I met for coffee yesterday, we both agreed we needed some Africa days. So this weekend, we might just walk around a little, eat, sit, talk, be with Jesus - stop focusing on the doing and focus on the being.
Trying to dwell on these verses this week. Jesus called us to rest all the time.
Mark 6:31 - "And He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while.' For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.
Matthew 11:28-30 - "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.' For my yoke is easy, and My load is light."
Here's some nature sounds to get you started: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XEsIFObhrY?rel=0]