This is my Home
It’s been almost 19 years since I first left home and moved to the Middle East. I don’t quite know what I thought I had to offer to a centuries-old conflict, but I felt called to go – and off I went! It’s been such an adventure, and there are still a few chapters to go (I hope).
Isn’t it always the case that, whatever we bring to God, he always has so much more to give back to us? I arrived in Jerusalem as a single woman, and am now the proud owner of a husband and five children! Joining a moderately large Arab family and learning how to merge this culture with my own, I have had to ‘enlarge the place of my tent’ (specifically, the larder) and ‘strengthen my stakes’ to be able to stand firm in the whirlwind of daily life. Like a good Jordanian mama, I will ‘Keep Calm and Carry on Cooking,’ unless you want mulukhiye - in which case you can go and visit Teta. I can stuff vegetables and grape leaves with the best of them, but I cannot stand the smell or taste of that!!!!
Living in another country is a great way to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit! I am still working on patience, and I’ve had lots of help along the way – with special thanks to the Israeli Ministry of Interior, the Jericho and Qalandiya military checkpoints, and the Jordanian traffic police. There have also been many opportunities to practice joy and laughter: family celebrations, women’s gatherings, and when IKEA opened stores in both Israel and Jordan! (OK – I’m not quite that shallow, but seriously – have you seen the regency-style furniture that is all the rage over here?)
I have learnt two new languages: enough Hebrew to get me into trouble (when I answered the wrong question at a mall security check and told the guy yes when he asked if I was carrying a weapon), and enough Arabic to build a good relationship with my in-laws, teach Sunday school and (very occasionally) be mistaken for a Palestinian or a Jordanian (I am still totally unable to comprehend any Egyptian sitcom though).
I have seen enough poverty, suffering and injustice to break my heart several times over, and if that sounds like an exaggeration, I dare you to come, visit and see for yourself. I have also had the awesome privilege of ministering alongside unsung heroes who quietly, and without acclaim, give of themselves daily in serving the poor and the broken. They have restored my faith in humanity, and they continue to give me hope that all is not lost. The Middle East is many things; first and foremost it is my home.
- Mad c