Things are different here | Lifestyle – California News

Things are different here | Lifestyle – California News

“Stop! Stop!” my passenger yells. I stomp my brake pedal and narrowly avoid a T-bone accident on my passenger’s side. The other driver seemed confident I would know the Belgian law of priority to the right where I must give way to vehicles approaching from the right at intersections.

Things are different here.

Later, Becky and I walk through a Brussels park where a huge dog startles us as he runs past to catch his owner. Leash laws seem either nonexistent or unenforced, so we watch where we step.

That evening, a waiter patiently explains that Brussels restaurants charge patrons for water. For an extra 7 euros I am happily hydrated. Later, a restroom attendant asks me for 50 cents to use the toilet. Apparently, there is a charge for water as it is both consumed and expelled.

Things are different here. Yet, in many ways, they are the same.

During midweek, I take the subway to the Rafael Center. It’s an intercultural Christian community based in Brussels that houses 300 immigrants, many undocumented. I help a handful of their residents run a community food bank.

As I disembark the train, I walk through a predominantly Muslim community. It’s different from my temporary home near a Baptist church, but it’s also much the same.

A rubber ball bounces from a yard onto my walking path and a little boy ambles after it. I throw it back, but it falls between his feet, prompting giggles and laughs from us both. He throws it back to me. His dad gives a cautious smile to this American stranger. He’s a dad. I’m a dad. We understand.

I…

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