I meet people easily, so I walk up to people here in Tanzania, stick out my hand and say, “My name is Rick. It’s nice to meet you.”
They always respond, “You’re welcome.”
It confused me in the beginning. My first thought is to say, “I didn’t thank you for anything.” I only use “you’re welcome” as a response to “thank you.”
Although bewildered at first, it has settled in the soft part of my heart and I find it very gentle in my soul.
I really like, “You’re welcome,” as a greeting. Before formalities of name and questions of how a person is doing comes the greeting, “You’re welcome.”
One of my new friends in Singida is Cyril.
Cyril is overseeing the building of a new Outreach Children’s Center in a town 2 hours away from Singida. It was a toad-strangling rain, so Floyd Hammer, the founder of Outreach, and I drove Cyril to his home.
Even though it was pouring rain, he insisted we come into to his very humble abode. He told us, “I want you to come into my house because you will bring a blessing with you. My house will be blessed because you come inside.” What an incredible way to make a person feel good!
We crowded into his tiny little house where he, his wife, and six children live. One daughter, Agnes, and the other daughter, Happiness, scampered around arranging plastic chairs.
One thing I have admired about every African community I have visited is the value they place on you visiting their home. Whether I’m in West African Ghana or East African Tanzania, I’m treated like royalty. Cyril introduced us to all his children, sat us down and gave us a bottle of water to drink and fruit to eat. They all seemed genuinely disappointed when we left. I was, too.
Their hospitality is contagious and inspiring. They place tremendous value on people setting around talking.
I’m taking home a new custom with me. I’m going to invite more people over to my house to sit around and talk. When they walk in my door, I am going to greet them with, “You’re Welcome.”
And I’m sure they’ll look as confused as I do.