When we lived in Amman, Jordan, my kids sometimes played the game “Heloo aw Haamid?” while we were driving around town. They learned this game, translated “Sweet or Sour”, from friends at school. Basically, they would wave to people in other cars to see what reaction they would get. If the people waved back, they were “Heloo” or sweet; if they didn’t wave back, they were “Haamid” or sour. The majority of the time, people were “heloo”/sweet/friendly in reply. This was our experience of people in Jordan over all. For the most part, they were friendly, generous, and hospitable.
We moved to a neighborhood in Florissant, Missouri last November. In this neighborhood we are the minority. Each day when we walk our dog, we wave to cars as they drive by. For the most part, people wave back to us. Almost everywhere we go in our area, people are warm and friendly to us.
I have traveled throughout the world and, in my experience, the majority of people are friendly and welcoming. They may look different than I do. They may talk differently than I do. They may believe differently than I do. They may act differently than I do. However they are all made in the image of God just as I am. Since I am instructed to love my neighbor as myself, I choose to act lovingly toward them. Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s always the right thing to do.
In December, I invited my neighbors to my house for a Christmas tea. It was good to meet them and get to know them better. The next month, I invited these ladies to start coming to a monthly ladies’ prayer meeting at my house. Not all of them attend, but our core is two white ladies and two black ladies. It has been so enjoyable to spend time with these ladies and be in prayer with them.
When I took the train to Chicago to visit my brothers, I sat next to a college student who is from Afghanistan. We talked about her life and her country. Since then, we have become Facebook friends and I have taken her out to dinner twice. It’s been a great opportunity to show her love and kindness and I’ve enjoyed learning about her family and her future plans. I hope she has been blessed to have an older American friend who is eager to spend time with her and care about her.
Every day we have an opportunity to be “sweet” or “sour” to the people around us. It’s easy to be sweet to those who are like us; it’s harder to be sweet to those who are different than we are. It’s hard because it can be scary to step out of our comfort zones and enter into a situation where we aren’t sure what the outcome will be. I can assure you that God will be with you in every situation and that obeying Him is always the right thing to do. And there’s a good chance that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the response you get. You may even make a new friend in the process.