It happens this way …
Last Sunday our new neighbors, a lovely Ethiopian couple, invited us to a party celebrating their daughter’s first birthday. We have known the father for over a year and have loved his sweet spirit from the moment we met him.
He had rented the house in December 2017 with the hopes of turning it into an adult foster care facility. He spent over a year renovating the house, getting the required certifications, and waiting until he could get out of his apartment lease before he and his family could move in earlier this year.
The birthday celebration was extraordinary. Over 75 people – mostly from our neighbor’s Ethiopian Christian church – converged on our little cul-de-sac. We soon realized we were the only white faces at the party and were treated royally.
“Oh, you’re the neighbors!” we heard over and over. We had our personal concierge guiding us through the protocols of eating Ethiopian food – from the washing of hands because we would be eating with them to the ingredients of each dish. We were warned about the spicy ones and encouraged to try all the others. Everything was homemade and the colors and tastes were an education in themselves.
For those who don’t know Portland, we are a mostly lily-white part of the world. To be among these beautiful people – and, indeed, from the smallest child – and there were dozens of them running around, telling us how old they were, showing us their toys – to the oldest elder, they are beautiful – was a visual delight. I couldn’t help but marvel how they traveled from another continent, learned English, and created such a warm, loving community.
We were honored to be invited and to have our new neighbors settled in. And, the latest news: they welcomed their first resident in April. Their dream, which has taken a long time to unfold, is finally coming true. And our neighborhood is richer for it.