بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Thursday (January 9th) was only my second day here in Saudi Arabia. I was sitting on the floor in the living room waiting for my laptop to charge and playing with my phone. Suddenly I received a message from my friend’s mom.
(Good evening) “مساء الخير”
(How’s it going?) “كيف الحال “
(Thank God for your safety) “الحمدلله على السلامه”
I attempted to reply saying (Thank God I’m fine and how are you?)”الحمدلله انا بخير وكيف حالك”
and (God bless you) “الله يسلمك”.
At that point I think she asked me if I knew who she was and I replied yes saying Um (Mom) my friend’s name.
Then I got a bit lost with the Arabic. The translation read “Wayne static”. I guessed that this meant where are you living, so I sent her my location. The second part I didn’t understand at all and the translation wasn’t even English.
Thanks Google, hahaha.
Finally I did my best to say (I’m sorry my mom… I am not good in Arabic language) “أنا آسفة أمي …أنا لست جيدة في اللغة العربية”
I think she felt a bit sorry for me and suddenly her daughter in law began talking to me in English.
The next day (Friday) they came to pick me up from my apartment. I was so happy to hug my friend’s mom. She hugged me tightly. I remembered her voice from the time she came to visit my friend back in the US. That made me feel comfortable. It was a sense of familiarity that I had been waiting for. The daughter in law greeted me warmly and shook my hand. I can’t describe my happiness.
We arrived to their house, removed our abaya, hijab and niqab and sat down in the living room. My friend’s mom (I’ll call her “Um A”) went to the kitchen and her sister-in-law (I’ll call her “H”) sat talking with me until the lunch was ready. They served rice with chicken and vegetables. There was also a salad. It was delicious and I finished my plate feeling full, but wishing that I had room to eat more.
After that, “Um A” and “H” said that they will take me to the store so that I could get some things that I needed for my apartment. When we entered the store called Panda, “H” turned to me and said, “Please, ‘A’ (her husband) told me to tell you to take whatever you need and even whatever you don’t need”. I think she saw my eyes and she added, “Do not be shy, we are your family”. She walked around the store with me, giving suggestions and helping me choose. When we left the store I felt like crying, because while they may have considered it to be nothing, it was something that seemed so huge to me. It was a weight lifted off of my shoulders and a worry erased from my mind.
Back at their house we were in the kitchen a while as they prepared coffee, teas, sweets and snacks. A few of their cousins were going to come for a vista as well. Eventually they arrived and we all went to enjoy in the living room. I was amazed when I saw this beautiful little table with coals to keep the pots of coffee and tea warm. I didn’t imagine that they would have something like this for inside. It was lovely and also made the room feel warm and cozy.
First they served Arabic coffee. The one pouring and serving was actually my friend’s sister “S”. There were dishes of dates and an arrangement of chocolates. Soon after they cut a small cake. It was two layers of a light chocolate cake with a layer of cream (perhaps a touch of cheese) between them. It was so delicious and the Arabic coffee complimented it perfectly.
Next they served teas. There was a black tea, ginger with saffron and mint. They brought two dishes of what they called “chips salad”. It was potato chips with chopped tomatoes, chopped green peppers and a cream. “S” also served little dishes with tiny traditional pancakes. They were slightly sweet and perfect with tea. Some of the other girls added a little bit of honey.
I can’t explain how much I enjoyed my time with them. They made me feel as if I’m part of their family from the first moment I met them outside the door of my apartment building. I felt so much more comfortable knowing that they were here in Riyadh. Alhamdullah. May God bless them for their kindness and hospitality.
Moving to a new country and being alone is not an easy thing. It is so helpful to have others to reach out to. I’m blessed because my friend’s family was thinking about me before I even arrived. “Um A” messaged me that day as soon as she knew that I had made it to Riyadh. All I can really say is that I will never forget this beautiful day full of new experiences and lovely memories.