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.
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.”
I met my Hui Chinese friend through a mutual friend, and it didn’t take long at all for me to discover she lives in the same building I do and also owns a nearby restaurant that I visit pretty often. Our friendship started out with me asking her if she’d like to come over to have tea (because why else would one invite a stranger over?), and from there we progressed into a sort of “language exchange.”
She was adamant about there being a difference between us; whatever I said or showed her to read that had to do with Jesus, she responded with something like the above.
We had other conversation, some of which was about what she does during the day. After thinking and then listing off some things, she said, “Maybe I am not a good Muslim.”