One of my students in Africa said, “It is not easy to be a stranger.”
Within a few days of arriving in Liberia I realized how true this statement is. Though I would not have had the words until I heard her say these words.
I found myself wanting to go home. I was feeling very sick.
“Why did I come here?” I lamented.
And from the depths of my inner child I kept repeating, “I think I’m dieing. I want to go home.”
Maybe I ate bad food, drank tainted water, or a mosquito bit me and infected me with malaria. I didn’t know and I didn’t care.
I just kept repeating, “I am dieing and I want to go home and be in my own bed.”
My bout with illness soon passed, so to speak, and the death laments faded but part of me still longed to be home.
In the next few days I heard many times, “Hello, how are you?”
People wanted to know how I felt and if I would be okay. At first still feeing sorry for myself, I gave a short curt courteous response, “I am fine. Thanks for asking.”
However, as people continued to ask about my health I realized these people were truly concerned. They were not just being polite. Once I allowed myself to be touched by their concern I felt a little less a stranger. No, it is not easy to be a stranger but it is not so hard to begin to feel at home when so many people care.
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