Saturday, December 11, 2010

Top 10 Lessons Learned in the Last 2 Years in the Middle East

Time sure has flown this last month. We hosted a volunteer group from home and then I have been busy trying to finish end-of-the-year work so I can leave on Dec 17 to spend Christmas in America!! I am excited to be "home" for Christmas! At the same time, I am a little nervous about America. I know I am a very different person than I was just 2 years ago! I was going through some of my monthly updates the last 2 years and wow, I was just a little embarrassed about what I used to write in updates, but I guess that is just part of the growing up process where hind vision is 20-20.

Here are some things I know I have learned in the last two years:
10. How to live alone and with some half-crazy strong personality roomies! You know I love you, but ISTJs and ENFPs are very different and I think we can both admit we learned a lot from each other!

9. How to clean mold off walls and couches! Bleach water is a cure-all, unless it is rain season, and then it is an almost lost cause. It is important even in the cold winter to crack windows so your bed/closet/couches get some airflow and don’t breed mold. Mold comes in many colors too!

8. Politics. Drama. Instability. Yes, Soldiers on the street with m16s and army tanks are normal to me now. As well as the resistance militia. Hmm, this probably sounds really weird. I have learned the major political players and how to follow what they are saying in the news, and am getting better at keeping the 16 different political parties straight and who is on each side-even as they switch alliances!

7. Dancing. I am the first person to admit that I am a WHITE, BAPTIST girl, who has no dancing or rhythmic abilities what-so-ever. But that is not a legit excuse at parties here, so I have learned to dance, or how to entertain friends by letting them teach me to dance each time. I have had many Arab friends teach me Dabke (more of a village line dance) and Arabic Dancing (lots of hip twisting and wrist rolling).

6. Working for a start-up business is not easy! You don’t just go to work and do the same thing everyday. Each day you analyze what you are doing, and how it could be more effective, or successful. Strategy and vision are vision are very important.

5. Don’t spend 10 days in Cairo. If you want to see the pyramids and mummies, spend one day there, not 10! Don’t eat the food unless you are prepared to get a parasite/food poisoning and be sick for the next 3 weeks. For a wonderful vacation though, the Greek isles are everything you have heard that they are—pristine beaches and cute villages, so relaxing and perfect and with much better food!

4. Wasta: “connections” it all comes down to who you know. Especially as a foreigner, once you make the right relationships you are “in” and have someone who can help you get anything done. I have learned to make wasta and to use wasta from people.

3. My vocabulary has changed, and I don’t just mean I have learned Arabic, which has been a huge learning experience the last 2 years, but the Arabic speaking mindset comes out in my English and in my thought processes now. “Inshallah” (Lord-willing) and “lhumdillia” (thanks to God) come out a lot more. Living here I have learned very well, that I can’t make plans cause they can change so quickly, so plans are always “inshallah” and I give God praise for so many more things that he deserves using “lhumdillia” daily.

2. Flexibility. Like #3, plans are ALWAYS going to change, multiple times. Internet, water, and electricity are not givens, but factors that play into most plans. I recognize so much better now that I am not in-control, and when I thought I was in-control of my life when I lived in the States, that was just an illusion. You never know what each day will bring, but lhumidllia, we have a God who is with us always and never surprised by each new day!

1. The Power of God’s Word. The Word of God transforms lives, and even though it is thousands of years old, it has a fresh teaching everyday. It is also a much better witness than I am. Too many times I can be defensive or try to phrase things so as not to offend people, but the Bible doesn’t do that. It is direct and divides marrow. It is the Words of Life and leads people into the way of righteousness, and transcends all cultures! I have seen the Word of God change my life and the lives of others the last two years-Lhumdillia!

1 comment:

kellie j. said...

Love, love, love this! These are some great reflections! So good to take the time to think through all of these things and put them down "on paper". You've done so well turning trials into lessons . . .