Side note (or pre-note as it were): Gabe told me today after I complimented him on being particularly neighborly, “just call me State Farm.” Little does he know, that’s exactly what I plan to do indefinitely.
So, we live in an apartment complex now. With much more opportunity to see/talk to neighbors than when you live in a sub-division. (Although we loved our neighbors before and will miss them terribly. Talking to you, Amy, JaJa, Florence, Allison, and Jason.) HOWEVER. Even living rightnextdoorto and practicallyontopof people doesn’t mean you automatically start shooting the breeze with them (or even making eye contact).
And this brings up Things We Can Learn From Our East African Friends, Volume 1. They are GREAT neighbors to each other. Sure, to each other, you might be thinking. Well, guess what, when an American family takes a tiny step and shows interest in being their friends, BOOM! Out comes the neighborliness. In full regalia.
Neighborliness at its most basic level is the whole “cup of sugar” phenomenon. Not to quote from one of my own e-books, but… okay, you caught me. Quoting from my own e-book here (a quote which, ironically, includes me quoting someone else):
I’m a natural-born keep-to-myselfer. Heck, as a kid, I used to play board games in my room for hours at a time. Alone. (Well, technically, I was playing against an imaginary opponent named Person, but we won’t go there.) So the cultural trend toward isolation (with technology so often replacing face-to-face interaction) is something I have to consciously push against.
“There was a time when neighbors ‘neighbored’ more than we do today,” Jeanette Lockerbie writes in her little book, A Cup of Sugar, Neighbor. She explains that before supermarkets and easy access to corner stores, neighbors often borrowed from each other when they ran out of something. This invariably led to friendly visiting…”
She goes on to say that we just don’t do this any more. And her book was written in 1974. So you can only imagine how “far” we’ve come in the last 40 years.
(You should totally pick up my e-book, by the way. It’s called Once Upon the Internet, and it tells the true tale of our family going to 52 Zoos in 52 Weeks and staying with people we met online. Fun stuff.)
Anyway. Last night, we had our neighbors Hodan and Mohammed and their four adorable kiddos over for dinner (they had us over first). And our American neighbors, Josh and Laura, too. Somehow we got to talking about how Laura and I have been borrowing things from each other a lot the past few days. (Can I borrow a can of beans? Do you have any peanut butter? Parchment paper? Mini sweet peppers? Clean underwear? Kidding. I only get those at the thrift store.)
Gabe said that Americans don’t typically do that kind of thing, and Mohammed asked why in the world not.
I said I think part of it is pride. We don’t like to need help. We want to be self-sufficient.
He clearly thought that was silly.
So do I.
Why wouldn’t you want to help your neighbor in need? And then, when you’re in need, they help you? It sounds eerily similar to something I read in my favorite book once.
“…as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness…” (2 Corinthians 7:14)
So we told our Somali friends that we admire the way they do things, and we want to be more like them in that way.
We want to hold our possessions loosely. We want to share with abandon. We want to be part of a true community.
We want to be good neighbors.
Speaking of good neighbors, Josh and Laura went to Lowe’s and had a key made for us. A key to their apartment. We’re going to return the favor.
If you’d like more detailed info/prayer requests about our Life at Abbey Lane than what I’ll be sharing on the blog, please contact me here, and I’ll add you to a special e-mail list. I’ve only sent out one update so far, so you aren’t behind much at all.
And hey, if you haven’t heard, I released a new e-book last week called, We Dream of Cambodia. I’d love it if you’d check it out. And I’d double-love it if you’d share it with friends.
Now. Who wants a free PDF of either Once Upon the Internet or We Dream of Cambodia? Just leave a comment telling me 1.) which e-book you want and 2.) something neighborly you’ve done or plan to do this week.