Wednesday, January 5, 2011

International Family, Part 2

"Family" usually indicates a group of people who are related by blood or marriage. But sometimes, a family can be created by deep and caring relationships between people who are not related at all.

Such is the "International Family" that David and I claim. We both have an appreciation of different cultures and different countries, and we open our home to visitors from around the world.

I remember as a child that I enjoyed reading stories about people in different countries. We had an old set of Childcraft Encyclopedias, and my favorite volume was "Life in Many Lands." I'd read a story, then dream about walking through the country I'd just read about.

Living close to the University of South Carolina has a few advantages -- and one is that we've met some pretty amazing students from other parts of the world. Sasikumar, from Sri Lanka has a huge heart for the oppressed in this world, especially women who are often taken advantage of socially and politically. Joe, from China, is interested in providing clean water throughout the world. Chris, from Ghana, studies about ways to improve the health of citizens in his country. One of my favorite memories is of an evening meal at my house, where these fellows joined us, along with our good friend Victor (who is of Hispanic descent).

Just this week, we added a new member to our international family -- Vera, from Ghana. She's a university student in Colorado, and is doing research about ways to improve the health of people in her native country. She wanted to focus on clean water, so she visited with us to learn about the purification system that we've installed in three villages in Ghana. We're excited to see her passion about helping others lead stronger, healthier lives through clean water practices! We're also excited to "adopt" her into our circle of diversity!

In Ghana, there's our "heartson" Richard & Victoria -- with their kids little Anita, Christabel, and Junior. And Rev. James and his wife, Mary, and their girls Lexie and Kelsey. When I visit their country, I'm always treated royally, and I love them as family.

We also have other "family"-- Sylv in Australia is my "email sister." We've shared a lot in the 10+ years that we've corresponded, and I feel like I know her family quite well! In the US, I have my "sister" Aliza in New York, and David has his "sister" Jacqui in Oregon -- PLUS I have my "DC Chatters" girlfriends -- all of whom I know I can tell anything. They're scattered throughout the US, Canada, and Australia/Tasmania.

My philosophy is simple: We can learn a lot about people by just sitting down together, sharing about our backgrounds and beliefs, and listening with our hearts as well as our ears.

As Matisyahu sings:
"All my life I've been waiting for,
I've been praying for,
for the people to say
that we don't wanna fight no more.
They'll be no more wars
and our children will play
ONE DAY......"


David Lee Waters Sr., said...

You give reason to smile and life is wonderful with you in it!

Always...In His Grip!!! Lisa said...

I am so thankful for my MANY family all over the US,and several countries. LIke you say, taking time to listen and be there, THAt is important. Praying Multi-culterially with ALL of God's Children of all faiths. It is an honor and I believe, by my faith, that God brings ALL of us together for a reason.
I Lvoe you my dear sister, Really !!

Anonymous said...

Write more about your international friends, Anita & David. You both are blessed with the capacity to communicate with all people. Our world needs to hear their stories.

Why not tell the stories of your friends on your blogs! Help those who have never known a individual from another country to walk in their shoes. I see this as a very valuable way that you can work for Peace!

I love the international flavor in both of you!