I’ve got this warm, fuzzy, otherworldly tingle going on all up and down me right now. We just said good-bye to some of our Somali neighbors (they’re not going far–just 10ish apartment doors down from us) after sharing a meal together at our place.

God is so, so, so sweet to us.

Like I’ve said before, I want to be sensitive and careful about how much I blog about our new friends. If you’d like semi-regular updates/prayer requests, just shoot me an e-mail here, and I’ll add you to that list. (Here are a couple posts about our new digs if you’re new here or haven’t read my blog in awhile.)

We’re going through a sermon series at church called #reconcile. Today’s message was about reconciling with the city. It was pretty awesome. I’ll be honest. I haven’t always had the biggest heart for little ol’ Columbus, Ohio. I’m more inclined to want to be gallivanting around the world (or gallivanting around Phnom Penh, Cambodia). And while my heart is still very, very much in Cambodia, God has definitely enlarged it to include my city and all of the diverse people who live here.

This morning at church, our fam (on our 1-month anniversary of living here at Abbey Lane) went up front, and our sweet church family gathered around us, laid hands on us, and prayed for us in this new adventure. I could’ve cried. (Oh, wait, I did.)

And we spent the afternoon straightening up our apartment, preparing dinner, and waiting for our neighbors to come. I’ll admit we were all pretty tired, and it was one of those deals where I just knew if I could suck it up and ask God to help me have a selfless attitude, then it would all work out.

And it did.

They ate my food (whether out of politeness or because they liked it, I’m not really sure), and when conversation lulled (which will happen sometimes when you don’t speak the same language), my wall maps saved the day.

So I have maps all over the walls (and globes perched on every flat surface), and Gabe likes to sarcastically (in love) point them out to everyone who comes over. “If you need to know where something is–or where you are,” he says, “you can just look at the wall here. And also here.”

Well. Tonight we had 6 Somalis in our home and one of them had been in America for a grand total of about 8 days. And our handsome young friend, who is related somehow to the rest of them but has been in America for 5 years instead of 1, does an amazing job of translating for everyone. We asked what country the Aunt had flown over from.

“Etopia.” (that’s how Somalis say Ethiopia–not sure if that’s how Ethiopians say it too?)

somalifriendsAnd one thing led to another and we realized that no one in the room (except for the 5 Tavianos) knew where any countries in Africa (or anywhere really) were on the map. They didn’t know where Africa was in relation to America.

We showed them Ethiopia and Kenya and Somalia and how they all fit together (they didn’t know they were touching or how they compared in size to each other). We showed them how huge Kenya is compared to Ohio (they had no idea). And on and on and on.

It. Was. Amazing.

Seriously. I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. My husband, my 3 girls, 2 Somali women, a Somali young man, a Somali young woman, a Somali young girl, and a Somali toddler all in my living room learning about the world we live in and where everything is in relation to everything else for the very first time and holy cow.

I LOVE MY LIFE!!

(Please remind me of this when I wake up tomorrow morning and things seem/actually are hard again.)

Here’s the thing. Gabe is still struggling with anxiety. We still have trouble making ends meet most days. We still aren’t exactly sure how to best love each other in this small space. We still want our own way more often than we wish we did. We still have no plans for a return trip to a place we miss like nuts. Our house still hasn’t sold (a sale is in process though). Still still still.

But OUR GOD IS STILL GOOD.judahhospital

And loves us very, very, very much.

He loves you too, friend.

Last thing. Our sweet baby neighbor boy, Judah, is having open-heart surgery tomorrow (Monday) morning at 7:30 to remove a tumor on his heart. He’s just 6 months old, and we love him like he’s our own. Will you pray that the surgery is wildly successful? And that his mama and daddy are filled with peace? Thank you!!