Sr. Wantabee teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) three evenings a week to keep up her teaching skills and to experience “the United Nations.” Often in a class of 15 students there will not be a common language for the students to chat in or translate for each other. We cover the globe with equal representation from Asia, Africa, Europe, Central/South America and smattering from the Middle East. She often shares with them that a wise man from Africa who visited the States to study, told her, “All Americans are policemen! They ask ‘Who are you,’ Where did you come from,” “Why are you here,” “Where do you live,” and “What are you doing?” So she often works with those types of questions.
Thursday Sr. Wantabee had the privilege to meet with a high person in a high place, the top floor overlooking the city. He walked into the lobby and introduced himself, “Hi, I’m First Name.” Sr. Wantabee reflected that she was indeed in the USA where important people who look out their windows and watching people walking the streets like bugs, introduce themselves by their first name. She responded in kind as they entered his office with a wall of windows over-looking the downtown.
“How are you?” asked he. Having just come from the hospital where she visited patients, the question did not register quite right. What was being asked for? She responded, a bit nervous being with such high people in such high places.
“What do you want from this meeting?” Hmmm, reflected she, this is an important person who does not have time for African introductory chit chat. A very direct American, as she tells her students. She responded equally directly, I need a job assignment so I can go from being Sr. Wantabee to Sr. Gunnabee to Sr. On-the-job.
“What do you want to do?” asked he again. Teach ESL part time as it pays adequately and do volunteer chaplaincy on my time or help in a church, responded she.
“Where do you want to be consecrated?” asked he. She told him about her little church in her neighborhood.
“Sounds great, talk to …. about when we can do it.” and so the half hour went. Sr. Wantabee left the office with a goal of six years, almost reached and a sense that she was indeed learning to navigate in her home world. She had often told her students in Africa to always have a plan so that if at a women’s meeting they ask what is needed, you can respond, a treadle sewing machine, a pressure cooker, or whatever. But here she was in the States confronted with the same question. “What do you want?” She pondered, was she experiencing the pressure on high people in high places to be direct, was she experiencing an American, or was it just a clear affirmation of her work. Those questions open many avenues into the human heart and visioning if she is willing to look at her heart and brave enough to share.