Today I made pumpkin muffins. While they were still warm, I wrapped them in paper towels, placed them in a basket, and drove to a small apartment less than two miles from my house.
It’s a two-bedroom apartment with a broken front door where a family of five Vietnamese refugees live. I met them through a local program designed for regular people like myself to act as helpful American friends for them as they acclimate themselves to the US.
At first, I didn’t want to write about this on here… for a few reasons. I can’t write their names. They may be in America, but they’re still afraid for family at home. Also, I feel so ignorant about everything that is their lives. And writing about something I know nothing about seems kind of stupid.
But then I thought about it some more. And the thing is, when it comes to helping them, I feel so helpless. I can give them a ride or find them a doctor or take them warm muffins, but at the end of the day, I’m so removed that I barely know where to start. And so I thought that maybe if I wrote about it, something good could come from that. I don’t know what yet, but the response to writing never fails to surprise me.
Today, we sat on straw mats on the floor and strung beads together on necklaces for more than an hour, while the four-year-old girl sat in my lap and the six-year-old leaned on my shoulder, picking which of the colorful beads should go next. I talked slowly and often because their English is broken and most communication is a phrase, a smile, and shrug.
After a round of hugs I left and drove the two miles into an entirely different existence. This seems strange, I know, but the time spent on their floor were my favorite moments of the day. I don’t want to glorify it. Because I assure you, they are living in a way that no one should have to. But, like anyone, I crave family and friendship. And so selfishly, I could have stayed all day soaking in this little family.
So maybe, ultimately, that’s why I’m writing about it. I want to introduce my newest friends. I think I’ll talk about them often on here. Because they’re friendships I’m really excited about.