At 6:45pm we arrive for the neighborhood committee meeting for the planning of my neighbor's youngest child's wedding. Immediately we are ushered in, greeted, and asked to have a seat. We do so of course, remembering what culture we are in. No one sits in the middle of the room which has been covered wall to wall with various Persian rugs. Everyone finds a seat along the wall, men on one side, women on the other. I am the only woman there who is not wearing a Jilbab (head covering)which feels slightly awkward in such close quarters. As more and more people arrive I find some to be warm, some to be stand-offish, and others who will not acknowledge me with out my hostess insisting they shake my hand. (In this culture you greet everyone with a handshake as you come, and as you go, always.) So right off the bat I am trying hard, yet feeling very much out of my element. Also, this is the first time I have met my neighbor's wife. The husband has arranged all of this, my helping with the wedding, giving the fabric, etc. through Barry, not me. So I am smiling, speaking, asking questions, and answering for the 1 billionth time how old I am (yippee!) and how many kids I have (these are common introductory conversations here). We sit for what is about an hour and then they serve food. Men first. When the men are finished eating the main course and are onto the fruit portion of the meal, the ladies get up to fix their plates. As we are wrapping up our meal, the men are moving on to the meeting and forming of committees. I found it funny how the men did the planning and the woman only gave their input when it seemed something that the men said might not be right. The women mostly conversed with each other during the meeting while the men hashed out the details of transportation and musicians....using a microphone in the house. Because, you really cannot have any kind of a meeting here without a microphone, lol! But I am getting ahead of myself.
After we ate and the meeting was beginning he began to go over a few details such as the date of the wedding, when family was coming into town, where they were coming from, and then he said "it"...he mentioned that I did not have enough material! SHUT UP! I could not even believe it! Now, my pride is begging me to tell you that I was not even close to being the largest woman there, but really that is beside the point. Why did he do that? He then proceeds to ask me my name again, and again says, "Is three meters enough?" As I am picking my jaw up off the floor, restating my name, and trying to make sure I understand what he is saying, he asks again, "Is three meters enough?" By this time the two women around me who speak some English are repeating the question out loud as I am politely nodding my head that yes, three meters more should be enough......what am I a whale? Good grief,! Toss me a fish and call me Shamu!! I could have died. Where is the rapture when you need it? :) Since returning from that meeting I have replayed that scene, more times than I should have, in my head. I am trying to figure out why he did it. I mean, I am just one of about forty other women who have material packets and he never mentioned any of them or their material issues. I don't want to assume his motivation, but I am curious I guess.
So back to the meeting, it lasted four hours....four, quatro, empat...doesn't matter what language you say it in, it's four long hours! Barry's leg begins to swell and my ankles have tile marks carved in them. It's about this time that my eyes meet Barry's across the hot crowded room. I meekly cock my head ever so sweetly and mouth the words, "You owe me!" I enjoyed watching him try to remain respectful as he read my lips and his shoulders began to shake from trying not to laugh out loud. I needed that moment, pretty sure it saved my sanity. :)
What I didn't know at the time was that Barry had been dealing with his own issues. It seems that as the men were greeting Barry and asked what he did for a living, he quickly became somewhat of a pariah to some of them. Seems that not all of them were fond of a pr*acher being in their midst. One man in particular is a "Hajji*" (Someone who has made the pilgrimage, or h*j, to M*cca in Saud* Arab*a) was less than trhilled that we were there. However, no one is too far from the CEO's reach as long as there is breath right? Remember a guy named Saul/Paul? Lift him up and maybe we will see what the CEO will do! Let's call him "Johnny Quest" (if you've watched that show, you'll know why!) :)
As we left the meeting and walked home, Barry and I were relaying to each other what we heard as to what our responsibilities for the wedding would be. Seems like we are picking up the father and mother of the groom from their hotel, taking them to a local home from where we will then walk them down to my neighbor's house where the wedding will take place. This may or may not involve holding an umbrella over their head (ha!). This will be on Sunday, October 2 at the reception, at which time I will also be wearing my matching outfit. On Friday we are getting mani-pedis (all of us ladies in the 'hood I guess) and on Saturday the actual wedding will take place, not clear on our role there yet.
Wow, so much to process, and yet I feel in this retelling that I am not doing it justice. Like I didn't mention how I tried to be faithful to the Son's command to eat what is placed before me when I enter a home and did, but it was stinking HOT! I quietly coughed and my nose began to run, so the girl next to me giggles and said, "It's hot, right?" LOL Why yes, yes it is!
I also met a young woman who was extremely kind to me, the kindest of the night by far. She is a young mother who speaks some English and was friends with Jamie who lived in this house before me. She took me "under her wing" so to speak and would translate for me, as much of the meeting involved words in Arabic and in local ethnic dialects that I would never know. She hopes to practice her English with me, I hope to share something with her also :) but her husband will be returning soon and he is from an extremely strict part of the island, so we shall see where this leads. Let's call her "Mocchacino".
As always, thank you for lifting us up, and if your not........you should be! LOL I mean, we need it! There are many wonderful things here but there are many more things that wear you down here, physically, emotionally, and sp*r*tually. This is literally "someone else's" backyard, if you know what I mean. We need you to intercede for us. But not only for us, but for them as well. Please don't forget them! At the end of the day we have peace, hope, and the assurance that we are never alone. They do not. They desperately need what we have, they just don't know it yet. Lift up that blind eyes see and deaf ears hear, by the CEO's power alone will it be done!
Okay..this wiped me out. I'm tired. Just wanted to keep you posted on the latest. We are lifting you all up, please let us know how we can pr*y more specifically for you, it would be our privilege.
Here are a few pics of our life and our city:
This is the road where the ladies ran into us, hard to believe we would be hit by a motorcycle, huh? :)
I really miss "Big Trash Pick up" in Okc!
Two for one! A shirt that doesn't make sense and a man wearing a down coat...on the equator!!
Four people on a motorcycle, and the mom is riding side-saddle, which is typical here.
The girls and some of their neighborhood friends
Aaron, Hudson, and Marshall playing Mario Smash Party. Aaron flew up to spend the weekend from another part of our island. They had a blast!
Marshall and his new school laptop. He has two online courses this year that he is really enjoying.
Hudson taking his first online course, he really enjoyed interacting with other students and likes his teacher. In his class are 3 kids living in China, 1 in the States, and him in Macchiato.