Instead of having the typical ‘the-conversation-just-ended’ awkward silence today, I had the ‘oh-right-we-both-only-know-like-17-words-in-each other’s-language’ awkward silence. It was with my two favorite Nigerien nurses in the hospital. And I found myself questioning mid-moment of silence what we had been doing for the past 15 minutes if it hadn’t been speaking the same language.
I was thrilled to see them because I didn’t visit them last week and was in Niamey the past few days, so that makes almost two weeks (about how long it‘s been since I last blogged…see, didn‘t you miss me too?). So I guess there were a few minutes of me bounding in screaming and leaping on both of them (is that culturally acceptable?…I dunno, but I kept my skirt on). And I guess a few minutes to go through the Hausa greetings, but I’m not really sure what happened after that.
I thought we had a conversation about how my trip was and what I brought them back and how now one of them worked in a different area of the hospital and how we missed each other and no, I didn‘t find a husband in Niamey. I honestly felt like we had been chatting it up like excited school girls after summer break.
But it dawned on me in that silent moment that I don’t know that many Hausa words. I think we must have just been rapidly blurting words in English, Hausa, and maybe French, (that’s how much I know of the two languages…sometimes I can’t even tell them apart) and a LOT of gestures....but it still worked. Weird, right?!
Someone told me the other day that 85% of communication is body language (or something like that)...so true! Thank goodness! Heck, I'd need that even if I wasn't living in Niger!
And also, I think 85% of people can tell if you enjoy them. That’s usually when I feel most loved by Jesus, when He tells me how much He really enjoys me. So it makes sense that having an "I like you" spirit (which these two women are the bomb at having) around a person is powerful enough to travel across cultural barriers and actually communicate. And thank ya, Lord, for that!... (cuz otherwise I'd be such a mute).
I think someone should write a book about how liking people crosses cultural barriers. And if someone already has then it should be recommended to me.