New Friends

     I have some new friends. They haven’t lived in America for long-only 15months they reminded me today. I have been helping them for a year now get settled here after their move from Bhutan. Prior to moving here, they lived in a refugee camp for 17 years. Yes, 17 years in a bamboo hut and cooking over an open fire but they went to school and proudly could speak some English when they arrived. They weren’t allowed back to their native land of Nepal nor did Bhutan want the refugees so they were stranded in this camp along with thousands of others.

    I have had the privilege of taking them to their first grocery store trip, figuring out why there are three sizes of shoes on one box, helping them fill out paperwork, taking them to doctors appointments and just plain visiting with them and talking to them. I have tried their foods and they have disliked my foods. And  they are friends enough to tell me why. 🙂 I have been at the airport when more of their family members have arrived and celebrated with them. I have celebrated when Sita called me in Vermont and told me she could drive now and had a job. Both are now employed at a bakery.

    When I asked them where they wanted to visit this month, they asked to go to the Meijer Botanical Gardens Festival of Trees.  Today was the day we went to visit. The chatter amongst the two of them on the drive was amazing as they tried to figure out why we cut a tree down, put it inside and throw it away. The conclusion at the end of the drive was, if they “do the American custom” they will buy one in a pot and keep it. Good for them.

   As we looked at the trees, each tree was decorated to represent a specific country and many questions again were asked about where the countries are and why they celebrate certain ways. They just want to know it all and their excitement over anything new just really makes me melt. I just love their enthusiasm.

    But the absolute best moment of the day was when we entered the actual conservatory which was hot and humid and filled with bamboo at the entryway. Sita looked at me and said, “This is what my homeland was like and this is how I built my house with bamboo. ” She sat on a bench and said, “Thank you very much for bringing me today. ” I have never seen her smile brighter.

   That was an absolutely perfect Christmas gift for me. I really need nothing more.

    Be content and blessed by where we live, my friends.

3 thoughts on “New Friends

  1. Anonymous

    What a description of the true spirit of Christmas!

    Someone I know had parents in a refugee camp in Bhutan for many years also. When he came to this country, he marveled at such strange and bizarre things as elevators and escalators and oh so many more things we just take for granted. It was decades that he was separated from his family until my dad was able to help find which camp they were in and eventually able to bring them to America. How easy it is for us to forget or ignore the plight of so many – even today!

    Thank you for the reminder, and for living out Christmas instead of “doing” Christmas!

    – Sharon


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