i’m back in maine. with my family. the crisp, cool air. the brilliant reds and oranges of the trees. eating lobster. soccer games. walks in the woods. cheering on the red sox.

and meeting more of my beloveds.

last friday i met several families of sudanese refugees. driving through town that evening, i could hardly contain myself…tears of joy and peace…just at the thought that i was finally going to get to meet them. i’ve been praying for the people of sudan since i was 15 years old. in my heart, i’ve loved them, as people unknown to me, for a long time.

it took me less than five minutes to feel at home. i walked in and met some people who minister in the area that i had talked to on the phone. then i went and hugged some amazing African women [who also hug and kiss upon greeting unlike my fellow new englanders]. they spoke very little english. but you know, it really is possible to talk with your eyes. especially among believers. which made up this little group i was with.

the children spoke both arabic and english fluently. and they were instantly my best friends. i spent most of my time with them. knowing the children is the key to understanding so many aspects of other cultures. these little sudanese girls were so outgoing and full of life. i was asking each of them how old they were and what grade in school, etc. i got asked back a lot interesting questions, but this is one of my favorites…i’m talking to a 6 year old Sudansese girl:

her: how old are you?
me: i’m 23
her: what??! you are not 23
me: yes i am, i promise.
her: you do not look 23. you look like you’re still in high school…like 17 maybe… you are out of high school aren’t you?
me: yes, i’m finished with school.
her: then where’s your babies, did you leave them at home??
me: i don’t have any babies.
her: WHAT?! you don’t have any babies?? don’t you like babies??
me: i do like babies. i just don’t have any yet.
her: i cannot believe you don’t have babies – you’re 23! i can’t wait to have babies.

apparently, acording to my new little friend adhuut, my biological clock should already be ticking.

i had this other little friend. a five year old boy named abu who didn’t take his eyes off me all night. he was wearing new jeans. which he was quite proud of. telling me about getting them from the store and all. however. the jeans didn’t come with a belt. and everytime he moved to fast, bent over, stood up, whatever…the jeans would drop to the floor. and then he’d look at me. look around. and just start giggling while he tried to pull them up and secure them again.

so. i laughed a lot. they are a people full of joy.

and for the first time since being home, i felt completely at home.