Over the last many months, I have made some amazing new friends. Their stories are not mine to tell, so I will keep this vague and likely short, but I have a thought.
My friends are from all over the world. Their stories are both different and the same. But they share, to one degree or another, a native tongue.
And I am trying to learn it.
Now please don’t think they’ve come here expecting everyone to cater to them and they will never learn English. No, that is not the case. They are all on their journey of learning English and most of our time together is spent using my native tongue, not theirs.
But I love them. And I want them to know that love to the marrow of their bones. So I am learning a phrase here or there with every visit, deliberately and intentionally.
It is good and it is fun and it is hard. I am proud to say I could tell you two of those three adjectives in their mother tongue, but that is not my point.
My point is, they are shocked and amazed I am trying to learn their language. I feel like my attempts are feeble, but they tell me my knowledge is growing quickly. And it is fun to be able to catch a word here or there in their conversations around me, my joy is huge when I can remember a word when I want to use it or I get to help someone outside of my groups of friends with my little bit of knowledge. And the laughs we have at my attempts to get my mouth to mimic the sounds that come so naturally to them. Oh, the laughs.
It is all worth it. It is all worth it if for just one moment I can be that American bridging the gap with their native tongue as we blend our lives together. It is all worth it if for just one moment our hearts can meet over that shared syllable or two.
Every single day life around them is telling them they HAVE to join my world–for this moment, I want to join theirs.