“You Lost Me At Hello”

-Burundi T-shirt sightingDSCF0828

It is always a fun distraction as I drive in Bujumbura to pay attention to the T-shirts going by on pedestrians or bike taxis or motorcycles. Many of them are jerseys for American or European sports teams or the castoffs from the company picnic or family reunion. Occasionally, one of these shirts will grab me because of the ironic or bizarre nature of the message. Yesterday, a middle-aged man was wearing the shirt I quoted above- “You Lost Me At Hello”. This T-shirt plays on the popular (okay, it was popular in 1996) saying from the movie Jerry Maguire, “You had me at hello.”

As I thought about that slogan, it really resonated with some of the cultural dissonance and distance we feel at times in Burundi. I get the basic greeting (usually) but then our linguistic and cultural paths diverge. Unless I am willing to look for common ground and work at understanding, I may find that I quickly dismiss those around me and label them “the others” with whom I will never go beyond a polite “Hello”.

"We said, 'N"amahoro.' Now what?"

“We said, ‘N”amahoro.’ Now what?”

As we interact with medical students, our Burundian colleagues, and those who share the city with us, I am challenged to continue investing in them despite the lostness that I often feel. But in that lostness, there can also be a vulnerability and a realization that we are not doing this in our own strength or in our own understanding. We have a calling to be in this place at this time and can trust that He who called will be faithful to give us what we need to go deeper, to go wider, and to go beyond Hello.

Are there people around you who might think you ought to be wearing this T-shirt? Do you dismiss them after “Hello”?