Friday, April 4, 2014

"What did you bring me?"

Street at the market
Upon our return, we have experienced a variety of questions and comments.  Some are what you would expect anywhere, such as "Welcome Back!, or "How was your trip?"  There are few that are quite interesting.

1) You're fat.
This is said as a compliment.  It means that you are looking relaxed, you have had enough to eat, and you are healthy.  As an American, it's hard to take that as a compliment.  Of course, the thing to keep in mind is the proper response: "Thanks, you too!"

2) What did you bring me?
We did bring back quite a few presents for specific people, but not the lady who sells onions at the market, or the guy who sells elastic.  It would be nice if we could give something to everyone, but it's not realistic.  No one is really upset about this, but I guess they feel like it doesn't hurt to ask.

Our family
3) Did you enjoy your vacation?
We kept up a pretty hectic travel schedule: visiting churches, Stephen working, attending various conferences, and Stephen studying for his boards.  But to some people, they see us working here, and our lives do not really exist outside of that.  If we aren't here at the hospital, we must be on vacation.

4) It's been a year and a half...
The detail oriented part of me always wants to stop the person and point out that no, it has not.  We were in the US for 13 months, to the day.  And we had some time in Brazzaville as we were coming and going from the country, and a conference in Thailand on our way out. We were gone from Impfondo closer to 14 months total.  But those details aren't really important, and I just nod and smile.  I try to think that some people missed us so much that it just seemed like we were gone longer, but the reality is probably just that some people are really bad at math.

5) We were hungry while you were gone.
Sunset at the Hospital compound
This is from one of the guards at the hospital compound.  They get our leftovers from meals at the end of the day.  It's not much, but it's nice to know they appreciate it. 
There are variations on this one, for example, parents who have been waiting for Stephen to see their child.  There has been no pediatrician here during our absense.

The nice thing is that everyone has been very kind, welcoming, and glad we are back!

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