Day Fifteen, Findaworld Fall 2015 Trip
It’s Monday, a few hours before my ride to the Erbil Airport and back to Beirut.
Two weeks here, living alongside of the people that have to keep living in the wake of what we see in the news. Although these two weeks have allowed me to travel and meet people throughout the region, it’s this small community of families at the Kirkuk Church—living in Sunday school rooms and library space—that has become the most vivid face of the crisis for me. They have become more than faces, and with that comes a sense of knowing that I must remain connected, involved.
I will have breakfast with another family soon, but that hasn’t kept Mrs. Moner from bringing me tea/mini-breakfast (pre-breakfast?). People who have lost so much have cared for me so well. Hospitality is just what one does in the Middle East—it’s woven in that which makes us human. So, every time a displaced person serves me tea or coffee, it reminds me that, in the midst of inhuman treatment, they hold on the the basic things that make—or maybe keep—them human.
There’s a small market about a hundred feet from the walls of the church campus. My translator, S, is at school today and would typically never allow me to make this trip unescorted, but I throw caution to the wind. The armed police who guard outside know who I am and are friendly. I chat in Arabic with the guard who’s outside the shop. I ask if I can take his picture and his eyes light up, eager to pose. Afterwards I head into the store to pick up a box of Turkish Delight for Elmarie. I talk with the clerk about why I’m here. He loves Iraq, and is glad I do, too.
On my way out, the guard is outside waiting for me, now with a few of the officers from across the street. The guard looks embarrassed while the officers ask to see my camera. They point to the pictures taken of the guard and tell me to erase them. I apologize and comply. Then, as soon as I have done what they have asked, the two guards ask for me to take pictures of THEM. Um, Okay…we take lots of pics and talk for a while. They are incredibly friendly, though I never figured out why they had a problem with pics of the first guard. A young guy watching all of this asks to have a picture taken as well.
My final lunch here is upstairs in the kitchen with several families. They make KOOBA, which is a fried pancake stuffed with meat—I’ve had kooba from three different regions on this trip, each unique.
We’re eating in the “kitchen.” Last year, the congregation renovated this classroom to be cooking space for the sixteen families here to share. I think about the excellent meals I’ve had here, and marvel at how they make so much out of so little.
Packing was quick, especially since I’ve left the puppets and chocolate bars (and Frisbee) here. I’ve cleaned up my room a bit. I’m sure Pastor H will be glad to have his office back.
I said most of my goodbyes last night. Most of the families are at work or school now, so it’s pretty quiet. I take a few final pics of the campus and one or two of the smaller kids that aren’t in school.
Adnan drives up to the church campus with Father Faris, who will join us on the drive to Erbil.
It’s a quiet, low-key exit. I’m almost relieved. So much has happened in a short time. There is so much running around my brain and pumping in my heart.
I’ll be back soon.
I’m certain of it.