Preparing to meet our first family for the first time was both incredibly exciting and unbelievably nerve-wracking.
I spent my 1-hour break between classes mulling over the produce section at the grocery store, arguing with myself over whether or not Burmese children would like Bananas. Or maybe oranges. Or maybe pears? What kind of fruit did they eat in their home country, or more-likely, in whatever refugee camp they might have come from? What if they don’t like what I buy? What if they don’t like ME?! (and variations of the same questions, probably enough to fill a word document.)
I ended up with a small green basket full of assorted apples and couple of nectarines thrown in just to mix it up.
And so there I stood, outside the apartment building with Sarah, holding my little green gift basket and a knot of excited nerves in my stomach.
We realized rather quickly that neither of us had ever had to buzz into an apartment building before. After fumbling through the directory several times and accidentally calling a stranger’s apartment (and promptly hanging up), we realized that our family was not listed. They did not have a phone, and we could not get in touch with any of our contacts. Long story short, we ended up sneaking into the building like a couple of ninjas.
After reaching our destination, we made several attempts at knocking and announcing our presence, waited around for a while, and tried a few more times. We called our superiors for advice, and decided the family was probably not at home.
We were halfway down the hall when the door finally opened.
The following five to ten minutes were pure confusion for all parties involved. Though we had thought for sure that our time had been confirmed by the Karen translator who was a friend of the family, it appeared that the father of the family (whom we still do not know by name) had no idea who we were or why on earth we were there. I suspected the family would not know much English, and I thought I was emotionally prepared to be talking to blank faces…but that did not truly prepare me for a situation in which they literally knew not one word of English besides “hello”.
Sarah and I presented them with our gift of fruit, and the younger of the two adorable little girls took it from me with visible excitement. Needless to say, my heart was soaring…even though they probably thought we were crazy. We left shortly after; we didn’t want to be intrusive, since they obviously had not been expecting us – but with hopes that we’d be back soon.