Living in a country where your native tongue isn’t the national language gets you outside your comfort zone. Ordering food off a menu is one thing — having a conversation about the food is quite another. So when my uber-outgoing spouse suggested we invite the couple who lives in the apartment one floor up from ours for dinner tonight — I felt some anxiety, particularly since such an invite was also taking our guests, Tyre and Sheryl, outside their comfort zones.
Did the Longinos let that stop us? Of course not! Tyre and Sheryl were wonderful — embracing the moment. And it turned into quite a memorable one! Our neighbors arrived, asking us — in French — if we spoke French. There was a very pregnant pause when we told them that we did not. I could see the thoughts racing through their heads. They went something like: “Oh boy, this is going to be a long evening.”
John did an amazing job translating — I was able to pitch in occasionally and help. We managed to have an enjoyable — albeit slow — discussion about a number of topics. Everything from distinctive cities in the U.S. to the difficulties facing a Muslim woman (our neighbors hail from Mali and are Muslim) in finding a job in France. The highlight of the evening, however, was when we discovered that our neighbors loved gospel music. And when they discovered that Tyre sang in his church, they put in a request for “Oh Happy Day.” Tyre –a real trooper — obliged and sang the old hymn as the rest of us clapped along.
What a wonderful moment! Music, it seems, really is the universal language!