Sunday, April 22, 2007

An African Lunch

A guy from Eritrea, Africa sat down next to me at church today. Until today, I didn't even know it was a country, but it borders Northern Ethiopia and won its independence from them in 1993...if you were wondering. He seemed starved for conversation. I quickly learned he had only been here for five days and was applying for refugee status because he couldn't go back to his country for numerous reasons. He had been orphaned as a child, imprisoned for disagreeing, forced into certain types of governmental work and not allowed to practice his religion. Finally sent to China on a governmental delegation, he was looking for a brighter future. I sat there marvelling at the many reasons people could end up in Beijing and the relatively grandiose life that we Americans live compared to some. Some Americans wouldn't set foot in China because it might make them uncomfortable...and here it is representing someone else's safe-haven and an opportunity to live.

We ran into some people he met the previous day and ended up eating lunch at someone's house with an Ethiopian, and Eritrean, and Irish-Ethiopean, and an English guy. What an experience!..and what good food! The Irish-Ethiopian woman and British guy were engaged. One is an art teacher and the other manages an organization that has placed 100,000 Chinese children into foster families. Isn't it amazing the people you meet and end up hanging out with in Beijing? There is so much left to do and learn...

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