My seven and ten-year-old and I were running late one morning after a massive January snowstorm. Against my better judgment, I turned down a street with a large hill. A few days earlier, I was going to help a new Congolese neighbor find her daughter’s bus for the first time, and I thought, “Why not help her get to the bus stop this morning?”


She was excited to see me even though it was only a little after 7 am. I explained that my car was stuck and needed a push.


My car began sliding around the street when I hit the steepest part of the hill. There was an oncoming vehicle, so I planted my Honda Civic firmly into the nearest snowbank, perpendicular to the street. After several unanswered phone calls to my husband, I started digging the car out with the shovel I stashed in the trunk. Eventually, I needed a push to get my rear-wheel drive vehicle off a patch of ice. My elementary-aged kids were not going to be much help in this area, so I decided to walk up the street and find a couple of neighbors to help me.

I was hesitant to ask my Afghan friends because it had been a few weeks since I had visited them, but I desperately needed help, so I knocked on the door. My Afghan friend opened the door and beamed. She was excited to see me even though it was only a little after 7 am. I explained that my car was stuck and needed a push. Thankfully, one of her kids knew enough English to understand, and, gasping in surprise, she ran to find her father and older brothers. As we walked out the door, the school bus I had been hoping to catch began sliding down the same hill, barely missing my horizontal vehicle.


Our Afghan friends laughed, they didn’t need to know much English to recognize that we were having a rough morning.


My new neighbors helped me dig and then push as I punched the accelerator. When the car was finally free, we all realized that the bumper had fallen entirely off. We all stood there in the street, wondering what to do next. The boys kept saying, “We can help you put it back on. It will be easy.” My husband finally answered the phone and came to pick up the bumper and take it home. He was not thrilled to have another car repair and we exchanged a few tense words. Our Afghan friends laughed, they didn’t need to know much English to recognize that we were having a rough morning.

This shared story is just another one for the books, filed away with the time I called my friend a donkey in Pashtu. The time we tried to explain marriage during an English tutoring lessons and in the end, the husband thought I wanted to marry him. Or gratefully, when our friends came over to visit us on Christmas afternoon when we were not feeling well. We started as acquaintances in the same neighborhood and are now dear friends.

Kelsey Manfred is the Good Neighbor Program Director at Arrive Ministries

 

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