Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to help your expat friends

No, we don't have medical clearance yet, but I am trusting that the Lord will have us go back to China in a few weeks. We are ready. But, with that, comes the unfortunate part of traveling-the whole saying good-bye part. I won't write on it for long because I hate it. I said good-bye to my best friend two days ago and she asked me what she can do to love me and my family when we are gone. I sat up last night and wrote down a few things. They are not at all earth shattering, but maybe they will help you know how to love the people you know who live outside of America.

1. Send email. Even if it’s trivial, like, I ran into your grandmother at the Bingo hall last night. And she won $15 dollars and a gift certificate to Luby’s. Send them that email. They will laugh and then feel like they are connected to your world in some small way.

2. Send care packages. Put in them the small things that mean a lot to your friend. It doesn’t have to be big, just meaningful. Ask them what things they are craving and put those in. If you can’t afford a care package, maybe send an e-card or buy them a single song online and send it their way. Or send snail mail.

3. Pray for them. And then tell them that you are praying for them. Your friend wants to be reminded that there are people in the States contending for them and their work.

4. Go see them. I realize this is rather impractical for most people. But, if you have the resources and can get time off then do it. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to have friends come and see your world. You would experience the sounds and smells that make up your friend’s home.

5. Ask them questions about what their days are like. Don’t assume your friend is too busy to answer your curiosities. It shows them that you want to understand their day. We’ve had lots of people tell us that they were afraid to email us because of security. If you are talking about your personal life and what is going on, there is no problem in most places. Ask your friend for email parameters.

We have even had families that get their kids to send our kids emails. This engages our children and gives American kids a glimpse into life overseas. Be creative and be consistent. This will speak volumes and will sustain that person when days get discouraging and they want to use the words in their new language that they learned on the street but they shouldn’t repeat to anybody.

Hope this helps.
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