From June 13th and in honor of Teej.

As a public health student and a wannabe citizen of the world, I think a lot of deep thoughts. I follow the small actions of one person or group or country and see how they affect the brittle eggs of eagles, the unborn children, the aged grandmothers.  I track track track and I ponder ponder ponder.

But right now, there is this man in my house.  He is a client of my parents’ business.  The parental units’ website can be found here: www.4cesi.com .  This man is one of the owners of a fantastic Italian food importing company.  He always comes to our house bearing gifts: fine fine fine olive oil, an oregano wand (that’s what I’ll call it) that you just wave over your food to add the seasoning, truffle salt, etc, etc, etc.  But today he came at lunchtime, not a rare thing.  And so my mom promptly offered coffee, tea, water, a bagel (toasted or un-), and a bowl of warmed through canned chicken noodle soup.  And he loved it.  Maybe it’s the company, but there is something about anything made in love and offered simply that makes the palate smile.  Even a prime Italian trained palate.

This reminds me of some macaroni and cheese experiences I’ve had this past year.  I was set-up with an international student to act as a host and a welcomer to America.  All of the partnerships met together for a potluck. My partner made fantastic Chinese dumplings, homemade, hours of preparation.  I made boxed mac & cheese.  It was well received.

One time I had my partner, Jenny, over after classes to make her lunch.  On a time crunch I made boxed mac & cheese.  She loved it.  A few days later on her birthday she couldn’t stop talking about it.  American food is quicker to make and more filling than Chinese food so she would like to expand her cooking to include American foods.  She knows it is not as healthy as her own food, but it’s easy and tasty and fills her up longer.  So on our walk home I stop into a Walgreens and buy her some mac & cheese, the big box, the microwave one-person size, etc.  She tells me I am the most considerate American she knows.  Buy a neighbor some mac & cheese and see if they respond so well.

Later that week my mother called to say we were being invited to a Burundi wedding this summer and that we were asked to make American food for the marriage feast.  When the wedding rolled around, this time it wasn’t boxed but homemade mac & cheese.  It was well received.

And it slowly hits me, pounds me, ponders upon me.  It comes down to all this.  All my deep thoughts matter not until I realize that it is okay to have been born in America.  God had a plan. 

While I am here I can welcome, I can offer hospitality, I can love even in simple mac & cheese sort of ways.  When I am gone I can be welcomed, accept hospitality, I can be loved in simple ways and love in return.  There is a season for everything.  There is a place for mac & cheese in a friendship.  There is a season for mac & cheese and a season for graciously accepting ugali, fufu, pap.  And God knew what he was doing when he placed me in the land of mac & cheese but called me to other lands too.

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