weird things about living overseas

Apologetics or Trusting?

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Recently I visited an ancient mosque.

It’s something I do as often as I can. I like to pray on mosques. Weird, I know, but there’s something about calling out the name of Jesus in the middle of a place that denies his deity that makes my heart sing. Some of my best conversations about Jesus have been in a mosque.

This particular day was a little different.

Because this mosque is part of an ancient section of the city and visited by thousands of tourists each year, they have what I like to call the “Evangelism Section” near the door. It’s manned by two very lovely ladies who were quick to give me and my visiting friends loads of pamphlets in Arabic and English on women in Islam and the five pillars of Islam. We were happy to oblige and give her some of our own materials. Quid pro quo, right?

And then she asked me if we wanted to watch a five minute video about Islam.

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Cleansing

Traveled for a week.  This is what we came home to...

Traveled for a week. This is what we came home to…

I live in a dirty place.  You can’t imagine the dirt I deal with on a daily basis.  When it “rains” it’s really just mud drops falling from the sky.

And I walk most places. (Traffic is horrific in this mega-city, so it’s usually faster just to walk.) Through dirt, dust and weird mud puddles created by someone’s cleaning buckets. And all this in sandals because it’s crazy hot.

Every part of me that is exposed to the air get really gross. My feet are coated in grime. My hands and face are gritty. For this extra clean girl it’s a nightmare.

So I wash. Continually. Went on a quick trip to the grocery store? Immediately after putting the groceries away (or at least the perishables) I wash my hands, feet and face. When I return from visiting a friend I wash my hands, feet and face. Over and over I wash so that I’ll feel clean. (Notice how I said “feel.” After all, I’m still wearing the grimy clothes.)

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A Day in My Life

this-is-me-and-this-is-my-life-2

Ever wonder what an expat does all day? Here’s a day in my life:

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Preparing for Ramadan

ramadan-prepare

Yesterday millions of Muslims began their yearly 30-day fast for the month of Ramadan.  It is a strange time to be in the Middle East.  The rules are different.  Life is different.

Yesterday, my friends went to their local market to buy tons of food in preparation for their first night’s futuur, the breaking of the fast.  They will boldly walk through the day without food or drink believing that it pleases God and, therefore, will add to their “good” account which will allow them passage into paradise.  They will cook a humungous meal in anticipation of when the call to break the fast will resound throughout the city.  People will race home from work, desperate to fill their empty stomachs the second it’s allowed.  Then, for a few moments, there will be silence throughout the mega-city.  The only sounds heard are of utensils scraping plates as Muslims all over the city concentrate on what’s directly in front of them.

I, too, must prepare for Ramadan.  I don’t go to the market to buy hoards of food, but I do stand before God and speak the names of my Muslim friends.  I arm myself with a prayer guide and remember that as the month goes on I will find myself fighting an intense spiritual battle.  I relax my schedule so that I can spend more time in prayer and worship.

Tomorrow the day will replay itself.  And the next day and the next day.  And by the end of the first week people are tired.  They’re weary of waking before dawn to eat enough food to last them the entire day.  They’re tired of staying up extra late to eat while the sun is down and it’s permissible.  They leave work earlier and earlier because they’re just too tired to stay.  The heat of the midday sun drains their water and their energy.  They’re dehydrated and angry.  Three more weeks to go, they say.  They wonder if they can make it.  They long for a cigarette they can’t have.  They see their children scarfing down McDonald’s and wonder if God will notice one french fry.  And then they remember that they are committed to Ramadan.  I am a Muslim, she says.  This will please God, she believes.

The same will happen for me.  Each day a little more intense than the day before.  I will fight against anger that somehow creeps in.  I will wonder if I can make it through another year’s Ramadan.  I will ask God why I live among Muslims.  And he will answer.

In as much as Ramadan is difficult, it’s beautiful as well.  I love invitations to futuur.  I love hearing about their beliefs and reasons for fasting.  I, too, fast, I tell them.  Really?  They can’t believe it.  And I tell them of a love for God that I have that makes me long to hunger even more for God’s presence than for physical food.  I tell them that God loves me and does not require fasting of me.  But that he does desire my whole heart.  So my fasting isn’t obligatory but a choice I make.  Just like I choose to praise God.  Just like I choose to pray.  Just like I choose to love my husband.  It’s hard for them to understand this through the veil of rules and obligations.  And yet the truth is there.  Ready to embrace them when their eyes are finally opened.

Will you pray for Muslims with me during this special month?

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My Home

moving

Moving to a new city means hours of wandering around finding this store or that necessity. The other day I had a specific list of places to find as I dodged mopeds, hopped over the results of donkey carts pausing for passers by to look at the owner’s wares, avoided strange puddles in this desert city, and averted my eyes from young men trying to get my attention.

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