Day Twelve, Findaworld 2015 Iraq Trip
Friday , and I’m back in Kirkuk after almost a week in Erbil and the Duhok region. I’m nursing a major headache from the early morning drive. Four hours of careening through the winding roads at crazy speeds, rarely applying brakes on the curves, so that the car would drift into the opposite lane. I’ve been told that people drive fast here to avoid sniper fire (or maybe he was just auditioning for “Fast & Furious: Arabic Drift.”)
I catch a bit of sleep in the pastor’s office, then invitation for tea from Mounir’s family—no translator with me, but we did all right; I feel at home with them—lots of joking, I feel at ease. I’m realizing how much I missed the people here at the Kirkuk church. Three more days to enjoy them.
The Mounir’s daughter, Noora, comes home from school with some friends. One of the teens is this young guy named Rudy who speaks great English. He says he doesn’t go to school. He works in a beer shop. That is a dangerous thing here in Kirkuk, which is very conservative. I remember a few years ago the church’s preschool received a lot of damage after the beer shop next door was targeted with a car bomb.
Dinner tonight is with Mounir and his wife. Like many of the families staying here at the Kirkuk church, they are Assyrian Catholic and from the village of Kirkush.
I fondly remember meeting Mounir and his wife back in May. After they fled Kirkush in August of 2014, they struggled to find a place to stay. At one point they were living in a house with 36 people in one room—the men would sleep in the garage while the women slept in the house. When they asked the Presbyterian Church in Kirkuk for a place to stay, there were already over sixty people living there. The only available space was the library. They accepted. Though they don’t have a bathroom, they have a small outdoor nook in which they can cook. When asked about their accommodations, this was Mounir’s reply: .
“Praise God, we are comfortable here. But we must go back home. It is my soil. It is the soil I am made from.”
So, dinner tonight was in their bedroom/church library/dining room. Adnan and Father Faris join us as we feast on kabob. Here’s a couple that have lost everything, live in a church library—and they’re throwing a dinner party! So many messages from this simple act: Life goes on; don’t stop doing the things that make life good; you don’t have to let loss grind living to a halt; simple is good, too; kabob is awesome (ok, that one’s mine).
Kids are still playing with Rocko and the finger puppets I brought them last week.
There are a lot of teenagers here, and it’s fun to interact with them. Normal teens. One of them, Noora, give me a piece of jewelry as a gift for Elmarie.
I brought out some candies to share. At some point we started using Rocko to catch the candies being thrown, which eventually resulted in Rocko having a few too many.
Like I said, Normal Teens.
I’m really going to miss the little community that has grown here.