Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Xenophile

So, tonight, I called Brooke as she was reading to Asia..(I'm away from home for meetings.) They were reading a great book, Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words, I believe it was.
Nancy loves ALL things French!
And, they just happened to be reading the definition of Xenophile when I called.

For those of you who don't know, Xenophile means: a person who likes foreigners or things foreign, a person very interested in celebrating people's differences.

Well, that could pretty much sum up the Johnson family. Our families were in missions ever since we were tiny.

Brooke moved to the Philippines when she was 3 months old, I did when I was 5.

We grew up with parents who did not look at foreigners as foreign, they saw them as friends. Really good friends.

We went to our friends parties, we had fun with them, we played with them. Sometimes language and culture was a barrier, but we still had fun.

After high school, I lived everywhere from England to Austria to Africa, (and oh yeah, America).

And I traveled through most of Western Europe, with forays into Siberia and sleeping on a ship deck while traveling across the Adriatic Sea.

I also slept in trains and train stations that I probably shouldn't have. And when my cousin Liz and I went to Paris, we had a Prime location.
Brian in Paris
Our accomadations were On Champs Elysee. When I say on, I mean ON. Because the park bench we slept on (well, I slept, she stayed awake all night) was on the sidewalk of Champs Elysee.

Brooke traveled to Indonesia and Malaysia, and spent time studying the Cherokee language when she took linguistics.

Then, together we moved to Taiwan two weeks after getting married and then we also went to Ukraine,  London, and probably somewhere else...
Taroko National Park, Taiwan

Kiev, Ukraine
And along the way, God has really given us a serious case of Xenophilia.

We really enjoy studying other languages and cultures. Back before we had kids (and hopefully again soon) we used to have a Bollywood evening, where we cooked Indian, listened to Indian music and watched a Bollywood movie.

Or we would steam up shia long bau (an amazing Chinese dumpling), pull out the chopsticks, and listen to a Jacky Chan CD. (Yes, for those of you who don't know, Jacky Chan is a well known singer in Asia. David Hasselhof was a very popular singer in Europe while I lived there, but that's another story.)

Studying language and culture is hard work, and right now it is considered our job, but it is also our PRIVILEGE.

Just last night I got together with some friends of mine(that I hadn't seen since we left Manila 9 months ago), and I was actually able to communicate with's awesome. When I first met them, I could hardly stumble through greetings. Now, I still (and always will) have a long ways to go, but we can communicate! It's SO worthwhile!

There's so much to see, so much to do, so much to experience in the world--we hope our kids get infected by the Xenophilia bug as young as possible, and enjoy the world as much as we do.

Here's to raising a bunch of little Xenophiles!

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