It's how you say it...
I am learning how to read faces like people read hands. You must when you spend all your time with people who speak a completely different language than you. Jen said you can see the kindness in people by the lines they have on their face. It shows how often they smile or frown. I have been looking at people more closely now. Observing those who naturally pull me towards them without a word spoken, and others who I feel cramped with from the first meeting like two magnets of the same pole, constant pushing to always stay a good distance away. I think a part of it has to do with the wrinkles that form around the eyes and mouth. The lines that no one wants on their face so they can always look young and beautiful are the same lines that captivate us. There is some truth to what mothers tell us, “If you keep making that face, it’s going to stay like that.”
My new host mom has permanent lines around her eyes and mouth because she laughs so often. I loved her instantly. You will too when you see her pictures. Her energy is ever-lifting.
They say that 93% of all communication is non-verbal, for me its about 99.9%. The people here speak a different dialect than the one I was taught in my three months of training. I sit with my new family and we all laugh at the pranks the kids pull daily. We laugh at how men are so serious most of the time. We laugh at the commercials on TV. We laugh when I try to speak Guragina.
They handed me an empty box of chocolates and watched me open it. Then we passed it around the house to prank others.
Yesterday, In my best sign language and sound effects, I told Birhanu, my 4 year old best friend, to buy me a pack of matches from the suk across the street. He brought back glass bottle of Coke and we all roared with laughter at the fact that Coke does sound a lot like matches when you first open it.
Electricity was out, as always, and we were sitting in the family house, all 10 of us in the dim lit living room. One of the mothers brought out the dinner, and sat next to me signaling that I eat with her on the plate. She moved the the only boiled egg on the plate closer to me so I could eat it.
A friend and I walked home in the rain from the masjid last Friday, dripping ice water, numb with cold. Inate (mother) was late for church when she saw us, it was the good Friday before the orthodox Easter. She instantly put on a fire in the Gojo bet, my sister made me coffee and boiled some beans for me to eat so we could warm up.
During the prayer it was pouring and a lady gestured to come under her umbrella and hugged me next to her so I could stay under and semi dry. After prayer I lost her and didn’t even get to say thanks. I pray God fills her days with sunshine and happiness in this life and the next.
As I walked home from work people who I say good morning and good afternoon too invited me in to their house by gestures and smiles for lunch the day after Easter. I accepted one and ate injera and cheese, because I only eat halal meat. After, one of the daughters I met that day walked me home in the chilly rain. Smiling and shivering she told me she wasn’t cold and that she was happy to.
There is kind people everywhere, yes. It’s true most people I come across have a soft heart ready to give all they have away. But I feel like its different here, kindness is part of the culture. I don’t think they think about it like the way I do. I think of it as a choice I have to make, I choose to be nice, sometimes. For them its a way of life, it seems like that's the only option they see.
Much love from me and my big happy Ethiopian family.