for those who don't want to just wait it out

like the song says this is a blog for someone who wants to say something (anything) and who's happy to wait and see what time will bring...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ice-cream, banana, sister, father, slap and beat you…

You’ve got to know that it’s a pretty screwed up world when you realise that these are the only words that an 8 year old autistic boy can say. Actually I have another couple of choice words for it too, but I wont repeat them.

We are in a land of many strange contradictions. I have met local people who are so warm and friendly and engaging (by far the majority) and those who seem distant and suspicious. There are extremes of wealth and poverty, masses of land with big bodies of water and football fields of sand… in the last few days we’ve covered quite a few of them.

The heat was obviously one of the first things that strike's you. On the night that I arrived, and when I went back to the airport to meet the team, it was 37 degrees at 2am. You get used to it but it can be oppressive and we understand why, as off today, it’s illegal to work outside between the hours of 12-4pm. People die. So it’s meant that we’ve needed to be productive when we set to work! For our first week, we’ve been working in a centre for special needs children. It has no government funding (although we did meet a Princess when she came to see what we’re up to!) and so it’s pretty run down so we’ve been doing some outdoor repairs and working on a sensory room – particularly to try and stimulate the senses of the kids who are limited with sight, sound or touch.

As we’ve sat in a padded room (literally, it depressed the hell outta me) cutting out stars I asked the team how is this ministry? The answer is simple that we’re trying to show these kids that someone loves them. Someone cares about them. As I’ve wandered around the rooms that they sit in (pretty much alone with minimal adult supervision) I’ve been praying that somehow they might realise, in however many years it takes them, that Jesus loves them enough to send us. From what our little 8 year old friend indicated, there isn’t too much love in their lives. Today as I drove away I just wept for the broken-ness of it.

We have been blessed with some amazing hosts from the international church here. They have been so generous and encouraging – many of them have lived here for years and so as we’ve gone to their homes for dinner each night it’s been great to hear their stories and learn from their experiences. Most work with international companies and so they're mixing with locals’ everyday and have learnt much about the Islamic culture.

This afternoon we took a drive through one of the poorer areas of the land. There are some photos that I'll dot along the way of this post but they’re a little grainy because they had to be taken a little covertly through the car window – locals can be touchy about pictures.

A big thing for locals is dreams and stories. So I’ll tell you a story – a few days ago I was walking through a mall searching for some shoes and coffee other than starbucks. In an effort to practice my Arabic I walked up to a woman and asked for directions to a good coffee place. God must have sent me to the right woman. She was walking in that direction and so said that she would walk with me. We chatted about all sorts of things covering countries and their differences, clothing, shoes and marriage to Muslim or Christian men. At the end of our wander, she turned and asked me if she could give me her phone number. It turns out that her husband is overseas and her two teenage sons seem to have left for summer and so she is lonely. She said that she felt a ‘connection’ with me and so now I get to meet with her again and talk some more.

Since then, I’ve been praying that God might revel Himself to her in a dream. Unlike for most of us, dreams are very powerful to these people and there have been some stories that I’ve heard that God has used dreams (dreams of bread that doesn’t finish but will feed a whole family) to bring people to know Jesus.


There are a couple of things I’ve noticed about the culture and environment here:

o Men walk down the street holding hands or with their arms around each other.

o There are times that I’m still stunned when someone (who’s giving me directions when I drive) says, “Head towards…” (a country that is just bizarre for me to be heading towards!!!)

o It can be important to factor in sand and dust storms into your day – over the last few days the sky has gone from blueish (when I first arrived) to what is now best described as a sort of beige colour.

o Never look at men in the eye (it’s hard because I feel rude – and by the way girls, then Frenchmen are way worse than the men I’ve encountered here)

o Always, always, always take a map in the car with you – even if you find you come across towns or streets that wont be in the map. In a fit of desperation (after being lost one night driving for an hour and a half) I called my parents and am having my beloved GPS being sent over

o When driving in an Arab country, feel free to think of the signs (indicating driving laws) more as suggestions for you to consider whether it comes to speed, crossing three lanes of traffic without stopping or indicating or driving the wrong way into two lanes of oncoming traffic. If you don’t like that the lights have the stop sign flashing, apparently you can feel free to drive on the footpath instead…

I am exhausted and there have been times that I’ve longed for the hug from someone familiar but I’m so happy to finally be here. Will write again soon (and well done btw if you’ve made it all the way through the last couple of marathon posts – I’ll try and be more regular and in smaller doses now that I’m settled in one place)

xxx
j.

3 Comments:

  • At 8:04 am, Blogger bec said…

    Courage, sister! Thank you for the posts, it's wonderful to hear what you guys are up to and to be able to pray more specifically for you and the people you're ministering to. I pray that God will continue to sustain and encourage you. And there'll be a big hug waiting from me when you get home. :)

     
  • At 2:45 pm, Anonymous anna said…

    Wow.
    Sounds overwhelming!

    Glad you're finally there, and great to hear some tidbits of what's been happening and how it's going. Even with grainy photos... your words are wonderful snapshots.

    I hope you (and those you meet!) can be refreshed and revived in the midst of the dust and the heat.

    E-hugs... until you get back.

    A
    xox

     
  • At 1:26 am, Anonymous alex said…

    Hi Jodi, great post, thanks for the update. Am praying for you. PS, I didn't expect the Frenchies to be worse. Love. x

     

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