With laughter, a constantly ringing doorbell and a large supply of cheese pita pizzas, on Monday night we said "see you later" to one of our close friends, Nandia. She is studying abroad in Korea for the next year. I am excited for her but also very sad (and selfish), because she is one of the best English speakers I know here.
The party evolved from a simple question from one of the young adults at my church, "Do you cook delicious food?"
"Of course," I jokingly told Bulgaa after he asked if I made delicious food. So, I began inviting some people over. Eventually, the party turned into a goodbye party for Nandia. I wanted to give her one weeks ago but she protested. She is modest and at that time she was having visa problems. But Sunday she had no valid excuses because she was leaving on Wednesday morning. The party would happen and there would be food--delicious food (hopefully).
I had no idea who would show up or when. Mongolians beat to their own drum most of the time. Erin helped me clean and cook. We made delicious cupcakes (chai and homemade funfetti!) and I made a ton of spaghetti and cheese pita pizzas, Helen and Michael contributed a veggie tray and fruit jello. Most of the food was a hit--with the exception of the spaghetti. Don't ask me why, I don't know.
We played the craziest game of spoons I've ever played, we played crazy Mongolian games, there was poker in one corner, some of them found my new stash of chocolate (thanks katie!), we signed a journal for Nandia, sang the goodbye-God-bless-you song and prayed for our dear friend. Oh, and there was also a photo shoot with Nandia at the end...everyone wanted their picture taken with her.
The party was a hit.
Nandia played a joke on me.
I taught them a shoe game that my friend Austin loves.
Zolaa spoke to me in Korean and pretended it was Mongolian.
But the thing that brought me the most joy was their comfortable-ness. (Is that a word?) I have been praying, worrying, struggling, praying, praying and praying about connecting with the youth and young adults from my church. I beat myself up so much about not being able to talk to them and I count heavily on the things that require no language.
It was hard to say goodbye to Nandia but so beautifully ironic that on the night that I said goodbye to my English speaking friend, I finally felt connected to a group of people that don't speak English.