I spent the night eating Sudanese food, giggling with 2 little girls, and capturing a tutoring session with a volunteer from World Relief Chicago and her friend Dalia. Dalia, her husband Mohammed, and their little girls Zahra and Dawat came to Chicago recently and are discovering what remaking a home and discovering life in a new culture means. We shared stories of Africa and America and we realized My daughter Annikah and her youngest daughter Dawat were born at the same hospital in Chicago.
Whitney is helping her learn English through tutoring sessions at her home but after just a few minutes it is obvious that they already have a rich friendship that includes sharing a meal, baby holding, and lots of laughter. A personal welcome for this family requires volunteers to make room in their lives and hearts but the rewards far outweigh any sacrifice. What does being "a good neighbor" really mean? My friends in Africa shook up so much of my thinking in regards to what it really means to be a neighbor. Sharing food and space and life...don't we all need this more often?
As Whitney taught Dalia to play scrabble as a way to try to spell English words Zahra was thrilled as her Mama spelled word after word. Whitney laughed when Dalia killed it on a quiz she had prepared and she shared that Dalia learns so quickly she has to keep up with her.
As I sat on the floor watching them learn together I kept thinking about the legacy this Mama is creating for her children. One that I strive to create for my own children. Dalia is a learner; she studies and challenges herself and her girls are watching. The impact on them will be felt in huge ways as they grow. The power of educated and empowered girls is a mighty force. Read more about it here. I was grateful and blessed by the hospitality shown to me. Whitney and Dalia are being good neighbors to one another and we all need more of that.