The moment I walked in the room I knew that I was underdressed, and not just a little either, I was completely in the wrong kind of clothes. I am not used to this sort of thing. I am more of a jeans kind of guy, and although I have had to put on a suit from time to time, I never really know “how” to wear one. I always feel more like I am walking around in someone else’s clothes, someone more sophisticated than me.
Tonight however I was feeling like the suit was just the thing I needed, problem is I don’t even own one.
Oh well. “Shove it down Levi and just try to get through this.”
The owner made his way over to where I was standing near the bar (he was wearing a fancy grey suit, of course) and offered a firm and professional hand shake.
“Are you ready for this?” He asked in a thick almost movie star sounding Irish accent.
“Yes, I have been waiting a long time for tonight!” I replied, feeling even more out of place as I spoke.
Just then several people came through the big wooden door, past Fiker, the large Ethiopian bouncer who guarded the door, out of one world that was the fancy white marble lobby of the hotel, and into another world inside, one that felt more like a scene out of the inside of a Hobbit house than a restaurant. (I am not making any of this up either… This was just one of those days… listen and I will tell you more)
I sat back down on the barstool beneath me and swiveled around nervously. Truth was I had no idea what to expect, tonight was like a big bowl full of cultures from around the world getting mixed together and no one quite knew what the result would be. I was in a hotel in Dubai full of almost entirely Russian guests, in an Irish Pub full of almost entirely Europeans, and here I was, and American trying to tell a story about orphans in Ethiopia.
Nothing in my life has come close to being this out of the ordinary culturally. I felt like I was getting dropped into an experiment and that everyone was looking at me to see what was going to happen.
“So I will be giving you the microphone and you can do your thing” Dave the owner said from behind me, shaking me back to reality.
“Oh, yeah. I can do that” I said. (a lie)
Twenty minutes passed, a few more handshakes, even a few more pairs of jeans to put me at ease and then the microphone was thrust into my hands.
“Hi, my name is….
And just like that it was over, the crowd clapped and we got on with the night, and it was no where near like what I was expecting. A man dressed in a Santa suit got up after me and started off the trivia questions, then a band played and everyone bought raffle tickets, paid fines when they were caught cheating on Google for answers to the trivia questions, and fancy luggage was given out as prizes. All in all almost $5000 was raised on that night, and I am still wondering what happened and where it came from.
You see how we got there was just as out of the blue as the night itself.
Fiona came to visit us in Ethiopia after doing an Internet search for orphan care projects in our city. She came in our door, saw what we were doing and offered to put something together in Dubai where she was living and working. (Just to add to the cultural mix, she is actually from the U.K.)
“Um, okay” We said, fully thinking this was just a passing comment, yet a month later we found ourselves boarding a plan, going to what has to be one of the most incomprehensibly glitzy cities, doing what was probably the most random of things, raising money for orphans in Ethiopia.
Such is the humorous creativity of God I guess, I mean who of us could have dreamed up anything like that?