Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eid al Adha

The past few days since Thanksgiving we've been celebrating the Muslim holiday Eid al Adha. This commemorates Abraham's journey up the mountain to sacrifice Ishmael. In Islamic tradition families slaughter a lamb and offer the food to the poor in memory of Abraham.

I spent the Eid weekend with some of my Arab friends from the university in their home. Here are pictures!

Wish her eyes were open...

dancing in the living room...

Eating one of many fantastic meals!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. I missed my family yesterday, but I couldn't have asked for a better Thanksgiving here.

There was some pre-Thanksgiving drama, but it was all over by the actual day.

This is Kat, my roommate and co-worker who punched another co-worker in the face.

This is Austin, my co-worker who was punched in the face by another co-worker.

Here are4 of us making the pies- me, Kat, Aaron, and Luke.


The best part is relaxing after-wards! We read, slept, and watched Lord of the Rings.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On my walk back to the office from Subway (the chain restaurant that made its way to the Middle East), I had to cross 3 busy streets. Crossing streets in in any country outside of the U.S. is sure to be adventure. The cars are speeding down the lanes, not bothering to pay attention to the lane divisions or the street signs, or even pedestrians. I wasn't really scared- I was used to it by this point.

Next to me also waiting to cross the street, I noticed a petite woman covered completely in black. While I see these woman all the time, none of my friends are so conservative as to cover even their eyes and hands. I was intrigued by her small frame, her cover, and the fact that she was following a 50 year old man by about 3 or 4 steps. "Please, how can I talk to her," i thought.

As we crossed the street at the same time, I feigned fear. In broken Arabic, I exclaimed loudly, "Oh no! I'm scared!" as the taxis and buses sped towards us. The covered girl jumped into action and immediately positioned herself between the cars and myself. She grabbed my arm and guided me across the street. We crossed 3 streets together.

When we finally reached the curb, we parted ways much to my disappointment. I thought to myself, "If she turns around and looks at me twice, I'll follow her and introduce myself." I turned around, and then she turned around. "Okay, one more time." I took a few steps and turned around again, and saw her turn around as well. YES! I ran back towards her, and as I did so, she took out her cell phone. We exchanged numbers, waved goodbye, and I skipped back to work.

I don't even know her age- I couldn't see her face or eyes or hands. But her voice was young and cheerful. And kind. I called her yesterday (all in Arabic, by the way) and now we have plans to get together tomorrow, inshallah. I have many Arab friends, so why should this excite me so much? Maybe its because she was so mysterious, or maybe because of our silly meeting, our maybe because we are meant to be friends.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


My favorite German left today. We celebrated her last night with dancing in the street, as she decided that she could be culturally inappropriate at-least one time before leaving. So Judy sang, "You Said" in the street, arms freely waving and feet skipping. Life here without her will be quiet.

Here we are at her going away party with two of our friends. (Sorry about the bad quality, but I was using a special "underwater" disposable camera.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Breaking the Fast

We have just broken the fast for the day. See how happy we are?! This is my Palestinian friend who teaches at the University, my German friend, and my old roomate.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ramadan is a month of discipline. Fasting. Letting go of the physical needs in order to cling to the spiritual.

I was able to experience these things the last two nights. I let go of my selfish, physical desire to simply stop eating when I am full, and I continued to scoop food from the piles of rice and chicken on my plate as the cook added heaps.

Luckily, I was not alone with my dear Arab friends because my vegetarian roommate was with me. I got to sneak her meat onto my plate and eat it for her.

I could feel my face begin to heat, and sweat dropped from my forehead and I concentrated on eating more... and more... and more. Whenever I looked at my plate, there was still so much left. I began to push the food off my plate and let it "drop" onto the table and floor around me, hoping no one would notice.

Somehow we finished, but my plate was never less than half-full. Little did I know that next there would be 3 desserts brought out, one after the other.

The eating finally finished around midnight. Since I was spending the night, I told everyone goodnight and went to sleep while the rest of the family stayed up preparing for the next meal.

The next meal took place at 3:30am. I was awoken from my "nap" at 3:00am to the smell of fried food, very aware of the fact that none of the food from dinner had digested yet. We dragged ourselves to the table and then ate fried filafel and french fries until 4am. Once we heard the Call to Prayer, it was officially bedtime. 4:30am.

Everyone slept until 1pm. Then, we got up and the preparations for the next meal began.

Ramadan. Its kind of fun.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Friends from the University

Mount Nebo... where Moses looked over the Promised Land

Two of my favorite guys! Luke is a co-worker, and soon Austin will be one as well!

Friends from our Conversation Club out for lunch

Meet Cristine, my Arabic instructor and co-worker at CGE.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Visit to Zarqa

Strolling down the street with my friend...
She is one of my English students and invited me to her home Saturday to eat the national dish called Mansaf. I loved meeting her family and friends and just relaxing.

Evenings of smoking shisha

Friday, May 22, 2009

More Pictures

My roommate, my Iraqi friends, and me at Jerash!

The sunset over Palestine. (The sun is reflecting off the Dead Sea.)

New friends at the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus.

The amphitheatre in Jerash.

Ancients ruins of the southern most Decapolis cities (Jerash).

Do I look the same? (I would never dress this way inside the city- I am scantily clothed in this picture because we were hiking in a secluded area.)


So much time passes, that when I sit down to write, I am flooded with choices. Do I write about how much I miss my family and friends- especially knowing they are enduring hard times?

Or do I share about the exciting vision that my company has for reaching out to students and how we are beginning to be flooded with young people wanting to dialogue, hang out, and learn English?

Or should I tell the story about how I lost 5 American college students AND my boss's little kids in the city for 2 hours when I was put in charge of them and sent them away in a taxi?

Maybe people would want to know that I had mass with the Pope when he came to visit. Or that my German friend and I were followed and circled by creepy Arab men the other night.

I have so man stories to tell, so much I wish those closest to me could see, know, and experience. But because its an overwhelming task, maybe I'll just post a picture...

This is the roof where I slept in Syria four nights, and probably where I picked up the bedbugs that followed me back home.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Where I Shop

When I need fruit and vegetables...
A close up view...
When I need bread and baked goods...

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Office

These are the people that make up my life each day here in the Middle East- atleast from 9am-6pm. They are my co-workers and my language instructors. I am actually the only American woman in our office, which creates a unique challenge, but lots of laughter and growth. These are my friends.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

This is Joanna, another American girl living here. We attend fellowship together on Friday morning and usually come back to my apartment to watch LOST on pirated DVDs. (Below is a picture of the King's Highway. Below is the Red Sea with Palestine on the other side.)

This is an Engagement party that I attended. 200 women dancing in a ballroom and one man... the future groom.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thankful for Maryana

I just got back from a 2 day trip to Aqaba with my co-workers and friends from CGE. This is Maryana, a Jordanian girl and one of my closest friends here. Behind us is the Red Sea and Palestine.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Favorite Arabic Words

Recently I have discovered that 12 year old boys and I have much in common.

There are a few words that I have learned in class... and I bust into giggles. Its quite embarressing when when you explode into stifled laughter and snorts and no one else does.

Shitta= Rain (and Winter)
Fag= Wake up (masculine)
Fagit= Wake up (feminine)
Fukka do = Lost
Biffokker = I think
Wada fuk = He hired you

I am not trying to be dirty. ;)

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Windmills. In early December, I crafted a plan to remind myself that I am God's Beloved. I noticed an abundance of windmills in my hometown, so i decided that everytime I saw a windmill, i would stop to remember God's love towards me. I did this for two months, and it was quite boring and redundant. God loves me. Very nice. Something told me to continue anyway as long as i was in the U.S., since there aren't exactly windmills in the Middle East.

Flashforward to Tuesday and to the Middle East. I awoke hopeful. Yet as the morning stretched, my determined positive attitude was overtaken by the realization that I am nothing more than a one year old child- dependent on everyone. Losing against my willpower, i cried in Arabic class after multiple tries and being unable to read aloud the board in front of everyone. The tears continued when I couldn't order a sandwich at lunch, and then again when i went to work with my 3 American, brilliant, male co-workers who are part of my team for developing a business program for college students. They have degrees in business, and the only thing I have to contribute to our work is perhaps free on-the-side counseling. :) I suppose I could bake brownies for our meetings. Anyway, I decided to try to develop a friendship with the business prodigies in between business discussions (since they also happen to be my Arabic classmates), but they seemed more interested in debating the Red Sox and flirting with our beautiful and mysterious Arabic instructor than be-friending the "therapist who cried in class." On the way home, the mixture of cold and rain did not make the wait for a taxi pleasant. Two years of this language and working in a business?? How did I get here? With frustration and a flare of drama, I asked God for evidence that He wanted me here and that He was involved and had a purpose for me here. Seconds later, I set down my laptop bag to rest and when I looked up... I saw a five-foot fake windmill outside of a restaurant! (See the picture)

I guess that means that I should stay. And that God loves me enough to make a windmill in the Middle East. I wonder how many times does God try to show me His love and faithfulness, but i think i don't need it? The sudden desperation for His love opened me up to tasting it.

Lits Bits of the Levant

If you make eye contact with cab drivers through the rear-view mirror, you will be given their phone number as you exit.

People will openly reprimand you for not speaking fluent Arabic. Especially if you have been in country for over a week.

If you are asked a favor, such as to give away your laptop, it is shameful and rude to say no. Instead, you should repeatedly say, "I will see..." until the matter is eventually dropped.

You can wear skin tight jeans and blouses if your head is covered.

A good Arab friend will do anything to help you and post-pone other responsibilities to aid a loved one.

Family comes before work. Employees may suddenly leave without notifying their employer if a family matter arises. (Such as the death of a great-great uncle's friend.)

Illegal pet monkeys cost about $500.

There is no such thing as "down-time" or personal space. If you are alone, others might believe you are depressed- in which case they will seek to spend more time you.

It is very Arab to say, "I love you" over and over again with tears and kisses to the same sex.

When my Christian Arab co-worker (a male) was asked the question, "Is it shameful to look a woman in the eye?" he responded with an, "Of course not! Where did you hear that?" Then, when immediately asked, "Is it shameful for a woman to look a man in the eye?" the response was a very matter of fact, "Yes."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pics of my apartment... the roof, our kitchen, and my room!

This is our roof that we share with our Palestinian landlady and her Indonesian house-help Elsie. And this is our view at sunset. Below is our kitchen and one half of my bed-room.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


"Each day I give myself one task. Today I went to buy butter." My friend Carol, on living in a foreign country

Well today I went to Haboob, the local grocery store. I bought cabbage, papaya juice (by accident because I meant to buy apple), wheat spaghetti noodles, toothpaste, raman noodles, toilet paper, yogurt, and canned peas & carrots.

Janelle and I went to the market downtown to look for a big wardrobe for my bedroom, since they don't have closets here. We didn't quite find what we were looking for... but we did find last week's episode of LOST inside a pirated DVD store!

Tomorrow its off to work and then afterwards to have tea with my new landlady downstairs. I have a slight headache, so perhaps I'll go to bed early.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Warm Room

Today marks day 1 in my new apartment with Janelle, another American girl. Day 1 of emailing and blogging from our Warm Room.

Our apartment in the winter here can be chilly, so Janelle blocked off the living room with cushions and furniture. She then moved the soba, which is a space heater, into the living room... and now the room gets toasty as the heat is trapped in the small space. Now, a problem arises if I need to go to the bathroom or to my bedroom or kitchen, but then we can run back to the Warm Room. Ahhh.

So far, I have yet to be cold since I am busy unpacking my 200 pounds that flew with me across the world. (Weather these last two days has been pretty mild too.) I look forward to falling alseep in my home and waking up to the Call to Prayer and bright Middle Eastern sun.

Pictures will be posted soon...