Today is a sad and monumental day. Today is the day that Wiki left Sea Town. Wiki moved here 3 years ago and within 3 weeks she was aquainted to half the town at least. A year ago when she moved to the Big City and I came to Sea Town, I could hardly imagine the impact this quiet and funny friend had made. Everywhere I went, when people learned I was American, they asked: “Do you know Wiki?” I began wearing a t-shirt with her picture and the phrase “Wiki is my friend” on lonely days. I would be instantly surrounded by people asking how she was, if she was happy, when she was visiting again, and if their unmarried son had a chance with her.

The past few days Wiki has been here for a quick visit. She’s been showing another great friend around the town and saying goodbye to people here. In two more weeks, Wiki will get on a plane and leave Central Asia for home. In honor of the wonderful person who is Wiki, I have decided to create a list of wonderful facts on her. All those who know her can add to it as well. It will be like a dictionary…. no, more like a reference book. That’s right…. during today’s installment of The mab Blab, we will write the Wikipedia! (Oh, don’t tell me you didn’t see that coming.) Here we go….

1) No, Wiki is not her real name. But, our Central Asian friends can’t pronounce her name. So, many of them call her Wiki. The other day I was trying to get her attention across the street. I kept hollering her name, but she didn’t turn around. Then, I yelled “WIKI!” and she instantly looked.

2) Wiki is very conscious of energy conservation. She wants everyone to reduce, reuse, and recycle. So, “lights off if you’re out of a room more than 15 minutes” is more than a slogan for Wiki. It’s also tattooed on her arm. Right under the “Mom” tattoo.

3) However, Wiki’s energy conservation is juxtaposed to her love of lamps. If you want to torture Wiki, put her in a room with a bare light bulb. A bare, white light bulb. Or, worse yet — bare flourescent! (No, I think that goes beyond the Geneva Convention.) She likes the overhead lights off and the room light with a variety of warm lamps. Not sure where to place that torchiere? Ask Wiki. Not sure the right type of shade that will give off a pleasing light? Ask Wiki. Wiki knows lights.

4) Somehow Wiki has mangaged to live in this tea-laden society for three years even though she drinks neither tea nor coffee. Nor coke. Nor anything but water. (Well, sometimes Kool-Aid.)
5) But don’t let this make you think that she’s a health nut! She may enjoy a bowl of tomatoes for breakfast, but she also always has a bag of candy in her purse. I also like the fact that Wiki thinks an acceptable meal can be made up of cookies.

6) Wiki likes to save her money. Remember #4? She not only prefers water, she’s always got a bottle with her. She knows exactly how much money she can save per ounce if she refills her water bottles from a big bottle at her home (or my home or your home) instead of buying a new small bottle at the store. She also knows the cheapest ways to get around town by riding the fewest number of buses (even if it involves walking a few dozen blocks first).

7) But Wiki is not stingy! She is one of the most generous people I know. Wiki is continually asking people if they want something or if she can get them something. If anyone is in need, Wiki helps. If anyone doesn’t have money for the bus or whatever, Wiki has it.

8 ) Wiki doesn’t wear jeans. I don’t think Wiki owns jeans. I had known her for almost 4 years before I saw her in capri pants. And they weren’t very capri. More like “Ma, get the cows out of the barn, a flood’s a-comin'” pants. Her usual outfit is black pants and a brightly colored button-down shirt – usually long-sleeved or 3/4 sleeved. Over here, there are women who cover their heads for modesty or religious reasons. These same women usually wear certain types of pretty tunic tops that cover their butts. Some go to the knees. Wiki has been known to wear these tunics as well. We all have bets on how long it would be before Wiki goes covered.

9) Wiki is relationally-oriented, not time-oriented. Today, she made it to her bus just in time. Why? Because she had been with friends. I have felt sorry for her in the past two days. She had about 900 friends to see and had to cram them all into a short time frame. So, she decided to leave the house by 9 and she’d be home that night by 9. Well, Wiki usually got up by noon and was in by 11. In between was lots of running around, seeing friends, and sharing life.

10) Wiki is a wonderful, God-honoring woman who has become a dear friend. I really didn’t know Wiki when we first moved to Central Asia. The first time she and I hung out without the group was the day she took me to buy some furniture. We laughed a lot and had a great time. In the following years, I’ve come to really value her place in our community and in my life. And, I’m not sure what I’ll do when I realize I won’t be getting any more phone calls that say: “Hey! mab! What are you doing? So, I was thinking of coming tomorrow. Oh, you’re so sweet!”

Wiki, we love you a lot and will miss you very much. You know that you are welcome back any time. (I’m still holding on to hope for Thanksgiving!) And, if you realize that the beauty of Colorado just can’t match the winters of coal smoke and blizzards, come back to live with us.

Now, it’s y’all’s turn. For those of you who know Wiki (or lived with her), share some of the great things we all love about her. There are so many! The camera, cats, villages, her laughter, wondering who’s listening behind the door, her hilarious and sarcastic wit she hides behind that sweet smile, and her universal love for everyone…. now I’ve given you ideas. Give us stories!

(And for those of you who don’t know, that’s my peeps K-la, Wiki, and Ab B. up there with yours truly. Don’t you girls just LOVE your mabBlab nicknames? I’m pretty amused with myself.)