Many years passed and Xiao Wei and her family returned to their rural hometown. She began to do some sewing and to grow sunflowers and fava beans on a small plot of land. Some of her friends came to visit and helped her from time to time with the farming. Life became more difficult. She broke her leg while trying to harvest sunflowers. Her crippled daughter died of pneumonia a few months later.
When the Father called our family to full-time overseas service, we weren’t actually even a family yet. We were merely two college students moving towards an engagement and marriage and starting to process what the future would look like.
She listens to hip-hop. She likes to take selfies with her friends on an app with fun filters – the cat one is her favorite. She hangs out at coffee shops and likes to sing with her friends at a KTV restaurant on the weekends. She’s laughing at a GIF that one of her friends sent of a baby dancing. Meet MaHui*, a college student.
We had an extra room that no one was using so why not? We met a friend who is Hui about six months ago and have gotten to know her and her family. We learned during her school break she was planning on living in a small two bedroom apartment with her other five relatives. We knew in our apartment we had an extra room available that no one was using so we prayed about asking our friend to live with us for her two month school break.
I sat around the lunch table and couldn’t help reflecting on the irony of it all. Here we were, celebrating the national Spring Festival (which Muslims don’t participate in) where our Hui friend’s family were smoking and drinking alcohol (which Muslims don’t consume) asking their non-muslim friend why Muslims in fact are not allowed to eat pork! This was not the Islam I had read about in most books.
I have a friend who is Hui. She might be my best friend in the city. Why are we so close when it seems like it takes so long for relationships to be built here in East Asia? Many times when I try to become friends with people here I get surface answers of “I’m fine, life is great, no problems here.”