That night we sang, danced, prayed, and feasted together. That was the second time our Russian friend had us over at her place, 910 Pershing Avenue. She lived with two other students. One is Chinese-American and the other one is Caucasian American.
In the car, ten minutes before my two Canadian friends and I arrived at 910 Pershing Avenue, we shared our experiences living in foreign countries. Living here, but not from here. Although their mother tongue is English and American people communicate in English, my two Canadian fellows still felt something different when they were communicating with people here while they spoke the same language. It could be accent or diction that caused some different “taste”. I blurted, “You guys must have felt strange to my accent and English. English is not my mother tongue.” We burst out laughing. I added, ”Actually, I feel strange too when I make friends with people who don’t speak the same language with me.” We burst out laughing again, louder this time.
At 910 Pershing Avenue, five friends welcomed us warmly. We exchanged greetings and hugs. Yes, hugs. I’ve turned into a great hugger since I’m in the States (you don’t hug if you run into friends in Indonesia). We dined, shared some stories, and warmed up our bodies with a bit of wine. My phone indicated that it was 2 degrees Celsius. Wheaton was about to welcome winter 2015. Well anyway, it was about 35 F. One of us picked a guitar and without any instructions, we sang together, “Bless the Lord o my soul, o my soul worship his holy name. Sing like never before o my soul, worship your holy name.”
When the warmth and spirit of friendship hovering over us, one of us stood up and turned the music on. He appointed himself as the DJ. He pulled up some popular music. We stood, slid the table to create a patch of space, then we danced together! Some moved their bodies agilely, some shifted to the left and right repeatedly, and some looked awkward with moves. But somehow, we had a party!
Our party is not an ordinary party. Ours was an all-the-world party. Ours was a party to revel and celebrate differences. Ours was a mark of living here but not belonging here. We were not just a bunch of strangers in a foreign land. We knew that we had same identity though we came from different places around the world; we are not from here.
Tired of dancing, each of us shared. We prayed together.
These were those gathered people: two Americans, a Russian, a Taiwanese, two Canadians, a German, a South African, and an Indonesian. Beyond our nationalities, we are not from the world.
“They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world” (John 17:16).