So cliche really and yet so very true as I was reminded again this evening. While Steve and I attended a conference this weekend, his lovely parents watched two of our children. As our former lifegroup was packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child this evening, they invited us to come for dinner while reclaiming our children. After a full day of learning, we arrived earlier than expected at our friend's farm. Walking in, I discovered that a friend of mine from the school had also been invited.(I should add that I did know she was coming, I just forgot.)
I met Moira last fall, shortly after she arrived in Canada. After many years spent in a refugee camp, she had finally been resettled. I've been getting better at guessing ethnicities, so struck up a conversation with her to see if I guessed correctly. I had. She's a beautiful woman, about my age and as I learned more of her story from others at the school, my heart broke. I'm not sure when the resettlement process for her family started, but by the time it was processed, she had given birth to another child. Because of the inane bureaucracy, Moira had to leave her baby behind until the proper papers could be obtained. Thankfully, her lovely little girl has been reunited with her family now.
During Moira's first months in Canada, I made an effort to befriend her. At dismissal time, I would chat briefly with her. One very cold day, I taught her to pull her fingers into a fist to keep them warmer. We bonded over our misery in the cold, blustery weather. Then I fell, breaking my arm, and became housebound for several weeks. By the time I was able to pick my children up from school, my new friend had disappeared. Life became too busy, and we lost track of each other. I felt baldly, but just never managed to connect with her. It seemed as if I had failed her as a friend.
But as I walked into the room tonight, Moira lit up. Both then and throughout the evening, she kept pointing at me and exclaiming " I know her! I know her! She's my friend!" (I'm tearing up a wee bit as I write). It seems that my simple acts of friendship, even with my disappearance, meant a lot. Tonight we sat together on the couch, exchanging recipes and stories. She introduced me to her baby and in turn I pushed her to try hot apple cider (which she loved). As we reconnected, I was reminded that a kind face can mean the world to someone feeling lost and displaced.
Building friendships across cultural and linguistic barriers is hard. It is easier to ignore the new faces around me and stay safe in my familiar relationships. But I'm drawn to those on the outside. It can be hard and frustrating going, but the impact of my simple overtures of friendship may be much bigger than I ever could have imagined. I have to say, I'm glad I chased Moira down to ask her where she was from. :)