The first few days of the Adventure
After I return to Lebanon I will share the adventure day-by-day, but for now I will share bits and pieces as time and internet allow.
The days are full—my heart, too. Stomach also: the Iraqi people are conspiring to make me fat.
Every meal I sit in the “home” of a different family. The homes were Sunday school rooms a year ago, now one classroom is the living space for one family—usually five to eight people. Each room has four to eight beds pushed against the walls, maybe a television, and a sink and toilet. Even without access to a full kitchen, these families give me the full treatment of Arabic hospitality.
Between meals, we go to visit with different churches throughout the city that are now home to many families. Every place I go, I hear the same word: “Hamdallah”—Thank God. Thank God we are alive. Thank God Da3sh (what U.S. calls I.S.I.S.) didn’t kill or rape our children. Thank God that we have a place to live and are comfortable.”
I have found an interpreter, “S” who is a young Muslim man. He accompanies me wherever I go. He is Muslim, but he is very interested in learning from—and relationship with—people of many faiths. This is an Islamic value that “S” holds very strongly.
“S” is letting me listen to wonderful contemporary Muslim worship music. I am sharing some of my Christian music with him, but also Springsteen. He LOVES Springsteen now, and begins to dance every time I play it.
“S”shared with me a wonderful song by a Muslim called “Not In My Name.” It is a beautiful plea to the extremists, saying that what they are doing is not Islam. It is just one of many Muslim voices which are speaking out against Da3sh, and speaking FOR peace and love between all people, all faiths.
The church where I am currently staying is protected by high walls and is guarded by Iraqi Police. At night, many of the families staying here (about 65 people) gather in the inner courtyard: adults sit and talk in a circle, teens play soccer, and the little ones are playing with the finger puppets I brought. The Police come into the courtyard to make tea and play with the children.
I also brought kazoos. A few nights ago, the kazoo music became so loud, I wondered if the people outside the gate would begin to marvel at the strange prayers that the Christians have.
I am treated so very well, but life here is very hard for the people, and I can feel the weight on the people here.