Dear Angela, Ryan and Laura,
I'm sitting here in my wet swimsuit because I just came from a day at the beach, but I wanted to tell you about my day. By the way, you cannot say "wet" here In Sierra Leone. It means something completely different in British English, which is what most people speak here. Every time I say it, someone teases me. I'm trying to strike it from my vocabulary. Also, Minnesotans say "noooooooo" alot. I say it when I disagree with something and everyone teases me for saying it. I tell them it will be my legacy when I leave....everyone will remember me for saying...."Noooooo!"
This morning I invited my closest friends over for a pancake brunch....a real American breakfast. I have fond memories of making pancakes for you guys on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Remember when we would have toppings of blueberries or cherries or apples and whipped cream? If I didn't have whipped cream, I would use slightly melted vanilla ice cream and you all loved that. Ice cream for breakfast...what kid would refuse that? Anyway, today I made sausages and bacon and pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup. My friends called it "maple sauce" which at least I could understand. I made German coffee later and everyone liked that too. Laura makes the best German coffee ever and I have to say that today I would have riveled yours. My friends thought the breakfast was sweet tasting, but at least I exposed them to what Americans eat for breakfast, which is what cultural exchange is all about, right? I have realized lately that being here in Sierra Leone is not only about learning about other cultures, but also about exposing my friends to my American culture. I had a great time explaining how to prepare the pancakes: put butter on top of the pancakes, put some blueberries on top if you wish and then warm maple syrup. The things we take so for granted are totally foreign to others. What a revelation. I also made a rum cake and I also served cheese and bread for my guests who were too shy to try the pancakes. Everyone had a nice time. We talked about family and I showed them photos from my running album and from Angela's wedding. I am so lucky to have such good friends here. They all thanked me profusely for the breakfast. One thing I noticed is that everyone lingered after the meal. My Lebanese friends appreciate and value family and friends and they do not cut these visits short. In America, after the food is consumed, everyone usually goes about their business. Today, the brunch was a 3 hour affair and I was happy to spend this time with my very good friends.
Today...appreciate the people around you. Think about what makes them special. Think about what makes them unique. Remember back to how you came to meet them. I miss Angela, Ryan and Laura and Scott and Tom and Allison and Regina and Kristin and Kevin and all the people I have made pancakes for over the years. But I feel very lucky to have met such wonderful friends here in Sierra Leone...people to get to know and to share my life with.
Count all the blessings in your life. Be safe. Appreciate the small things.
And I hope all is well in your corner of the world.