Neighborhood Kids

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Olive tree and Mystery Fruit tree

Kids here in Jordan often play in the street without their parents nearby. The older ones take care of the younger ones. You can see their moms sometimes peek out the windows from their apartments. Yesterday, there were several kids gathered around the wall to our apartment, trying to pick the fruit from trees in our yard (I will call it mystery fruit, because I don’t know what it is yet). Two girls, ages 10 and 12 were the oldest of the pack, the smaller one pushing a stroller with a chubby baby brother and the other carrying her little sister. Sarah, the one pushing the stroller, age 10, assumed leadership of the group. Along with them were an assortment of around eight other siblings, friends and neighbors. When I first approached them, I could see apprehension in the older ones eyes, wondering if I would scold them for picking from the tree. Instead I welcomed them, asked their names and invited them in to have better access to the tree. The girls lifted the stroller through the gate and filled it up with the mystery fruit. I also let them get some grapes and pears from other trees in the garden (the house we are renting has several lovely fruit trees).

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The grape vines are full!

This evening, as Gary and I returned from church, we saw the group of kids waiting for us by our gate, stroller and all. In a polite and confidant voice, Sarah asked, “May I just have one word with you?” (In Arabic of course) I chuckled at the formality and maturity of the request coming from this skinny little ten year old girl. “We were wondering if we could exchange skills, we could teach you and your husband Arabic and you could teach us English. We have this rare opportunity now that we have foreigners living near us.” Her sincere brown eyes widened as she waited to see if I understood her request. The other kids all watched and remained silent so their little leader could speak. I told them we could practice speaking together whenever we come home after work. Sarah smiled with her cute little crooked teeth, chubby baby brother gurgled.

After chatting with them a bit, Gary and I told them goodnight and went inside. I remarked that I was expecting them to ask for more fruit when I saw them all waiting for us at our gate. I was impressed with their maturity and desire to learn English. We’ll plan on setting aside some time for the language exchange with the neighborhood kids that little Sarah proposed.

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Tiny Trash Truck!!

In Paris, after seeing the Eiffel Tower, I saw a tiny trash truck! It was sooo cute!! It’s shorter than Gary and I, and we’re pretty short. Anyways, I had to take a picture with it.

When in Paris… take a picture with the tiny trash truck.

 

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Traveling to France and Jordan

We left for a mini-vacation/layover in France on August 1 then left for Jordan on August 7.

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The houses in Thibvillers were beautiful!

First we arrived in Thibvillers, France and stayed in the cutest little old barn converted into a cottage. Some friends were kind enough to host us for the host us and help us with initial transportation. Gary and I biked around the countryside to nearby villages. The countryside was very quiet and peaceful. The houses were mostly ancient with beautiful gardens.

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We stayed in this little cottage. I am holding lettuce from the garden and a baguette! 

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Our host’s house

After two nights resting in the countryside, we went to Paris and stayed in a tiny little Airbnb apartment. The entire apartment was smaller than our guest bedroom in Oklahoma, but it was right in the center of Paris which made it easy to get around by metro. My old roommate and her boyfriend showed us around the major tourist sights for the first two days. The last day, Gary and I took our time exploring Notre Dame and then relaxing in the gardens surrounding the Louvre. I was happy about our budget while in France. We didn’t pay for any admissions into tourist attractions, which I was fine with because there was more than enough to see for free. We only spent money on train, bus and metro tickets and two meals, then shopped at a grocery store for the rest of our meals. We had our fill of cheese, bread and wine. It was so great to see my roommate again. 

We flew to Jordan on the 7th of August. There was a little bit of a hassle trying to get ticket information sorted out because I had forgotten to update my passport to my married name, so we had to get the name on my ticket changed. I was a little worried that would be difficult when we arrived in Jordan and got our visas, but thankfully it went smoothly… so while we’re here, I’m still Sarah Bradford. 🙂 We arrived at the airport around 3AM and someone picked us up at the airport to go to a city outside the border of Syria. We’ll be staying at the church for two nights, then renting an apartment from a family who is going on vacation for a month. Then we’ll have to find another place for the remaining five months.

Something I’ve been noticing both in France and now here in Jordan is how traveling puts you in a position where you have to receive hospitality. Friends and even complete strangers have been so hospitable and generous to us already in the short time since we’ve left the U.S. To be quite honest, it is very uncomfortable for me. I don’t like to be in a position where I am a burden. I don’t like feeling like I’m accruing a debt, and I feeling like I need to repay for everything I’ve been given. I like being in the position where I can take care of myself, pay for myself, transport myself, clean and cook for myself. It is a very humbling thing to be served. Admitting that I am not independent, not all knowing, that I need help is very humbling. It is humbling to accept gifts that you know you don’t deserve and know you can’t repay. It reminds me of the position we are in with Christ. He gave his life for us, he daily gives us everything we need and more, he lavishes love and grace on us, he seeks out relationship with us (for some reason, lol)… and we really aren’t in a position to give him anything. We certainly can’t pay him back. Sometimes His love makes me uncomfortable… sometimes I feel like I should try to pay him back, to earn his love, to close the gap between us. But he already closed the gap… he made us not mere creatures, but his sons and daughters… co-heirs with Christ.

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Jane Eyre

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I just finished reading Jane Eyre and wanted to record my impressions and thoughts about it. When I began, I thought I was going to hate the book because I had seen trailers for the movie (I had never seen the movie) and also knew the basic plot. When watching movies or reading books, I tend to hold grudges against the male characters. As a kid, I always rooted against Jasmine giving Aladdin another chance after his lies, I was disappointed in Belle for falling for the Beast after he kidnapped her. I also remember enjoying Pride and Prejudice up until the point where Elizabeth has a change of heart towards Mr. Darcy… for me, it went downhill from there. Anyways, I knew before beginning the novel that Mr. Rochester would give me plenty of reasons to dislike him (hiding his lunatic wife in his mansion, injudiciously marrying her in the first place, tricking Jane into almost marrying him, etc.) and I knew Jane Eyre ends up with him, so I was expecting to be disappointed by this story. I decided to read it nonetheless because it’s a classic and I had the book on hand. I was pleasantly surprised by the novel and ended up really loving it and the author, Charlotte Bronte.

I think had the novel simply revolved around the romance between Jane and Mr. Rochester, I would have been correct in my assumption that I would dislike the novel. However, the story was about Jane, her character, passions, strength, determination and beliefs. I was super excited to see some incredibly strong and brave feminism in this mid-1800’s novel. Though she was a poor, unconnected, orphan girl Jane saw herself as an equal to the men around her, even those in positions of power. She also succeeded in helping them see her as an equal through her strength of will, wit, wisdom and character. She points out, multiple times, how women are equally as intelligent as men and should have the same opportunities.  “Women are supposed to be calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow- minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”  She also refused to be controlled by men, “I am no bird and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.”

I also love the theology contained in this book. When Jane is a young girl at Lowood, Mr. Brocklehurst teaches a rigid stoicism that rejects natural bodily desires such as hunger, the desire for warmth, the desire for affection, etc. He teaches these bodily desires are evil and should be repressed in order to purify and save the soul. Similarly, St. John believed that his desire to marry a woman he loved and his physical attraction to her was an evil weakness that he must overcome.  These men believed in a cold God who despised all human pleasure and was only pleased by a self-flagellating type attitude in humans.

Jane however, did not buy into this belief about God. She desired to enjoy life and its rich pleasures such as food, friendship, family, romantic love and marriage. She however did not pursue pleasure at the cost of righteousness. When faced with the temptation to marry Mr. Rochester, despite him already having a wife, she chose to deny herself for the sake of doing what was right.   “I care for myself. I respect myself. I will keep the law given by God sanctioned by man. I will hold fast to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad- as I am now. Laws and principles are not for times when there is no temptation; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour.” However, when it was good and lawful for her to marry Mr. Rochester, she did and enjoyed his love.

Where Mr. Brocklehurst and St. John rejected all emotions and passions as evil, Jane had the wisdom to know when to abstain from indulging in a passion and when it was good to do so and to enjoy it. Bronte planted much wisdom about emotions and God in this story. I think one of her points was to show that emotions are not evils that should be shunned, nor are they a license to do whatever you feel. Instead, you must do good regardless of your emotions, but when good and your emotions are in sync, then embrace and enjoy them.  Jane was truly happiest when she did both what her heart desired and what was right in God’s eyes. This reminds me that God gives us passions and desires for His glory and gives us the freedom to pursue those desires. When we do so within the limits of his law, then we are happiest and what once seemed like limits to us we actually discover are enablers of true freedom and happiness.

I loved seeing this theme so prevalent in this novel, because it hits very close to home for me. Over the past few years, I have been learning that I do not need to feel ashamed or embarrassed about my emotions or desires. I cannot easily change them and it does me no good to try to repress them; however, I do not need to be controlled by them. Also, I have recently been noticing a belief among some people that emotions and intelligence are mutually exclusive. That is, if you feel strong emotions, then you cannot think clearly or act judiciously. This is absolutely false and Bronte illustrates in Jane how a person is able to both feel very strongly and still act rightly. “Crying does not indicate that you are weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you are alive.”

Anyways, I absolutely loved this book and could go on about different themes and bits of wisdom and humor, but this is enough for now!


“I would always rather be happy than dignified” — Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

 

 

 

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Hijab

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When I lived in Jordan in 2015, I remember meeting an American, Christian girl who chose to wear the hijab in Jordan. Just in case you are not aware, Jordan is not a country that forces women to wear hijab or any other particular types of clothing. Sure, the majority of the women wear hijab, but you can find plenty who do not most anywhere you go.  So, when I met this young woman, I was curious why she would choose to wear the hijab when she was by no means obligated to do so. She explained and I really liked her reasons, so here they are:

First and foremost, she wanted to let Muslim women know that becoming a Christian does not force them to change the way they dress or eat. She wanted them to know that they can still dress in a manner that is comfortable and decent to them. The only thing that is necessary is faith in Christ… not faith plus removing hijab, eating pork, giving up your culture, etc. You are free to do those things, but you are also free to abstain. God doesn’t require a check-list of do’s and don’ts… He wants relationship with you.

Secondly, she also liked to have fewer barriers between herself and conservative Muslim women. She found that conservative families often had fewer issues with hanging out with her because they weren’t afraid of her being a bad influence on their daughters or wives.

Finally, she also liked the fact that her wearing the hijab would often spark up conversations. People would ask her, “When did you convert to Islam?,” assuming that the hijab meant she was a Muslim. This would give her an opportunity to explain that she wasn’t a Muslim, but a Christian who choose to wear the hijab. This would often shock people… “so you’re allowed to wear hijab as a Christian?” This often led to a good conversation about what the essence of Christianity was.

Anyways, I admired her for her well-thought through decision to wear the hijab in Jordan.  It took courage because she did get criticism about this (sadly, mostly from Christians). Legalism can go to both extremes… we often see it in the form of rules and regulations about how much should be covered up, but sometimes it comes in regulations about how much should be exposed. Let us quit nitpicking each other about our exteriors, what we eat or drink, customs, etc. Let us instead focus on how we can strengthen relationships with one another and with Jesus.

Sure, there are some things that are sinful and we do need to call each other out, in love, about those things… but before doing so, try to examine if this thing is just a personal preference or if it really is important.

Anyways, just in case you are wondering, I will not be wearing the hijab in Jordan… because I don’t want to. And, yes, that is a good enough reason. 😉

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Hot Chocolate and Dried Marshmallows

Recently, Gary and I have been going through old photos as we have been packing up to move to Jordan. These reminders of the past caused me to reflect back on when I first moved to the states for college. I was nineteen years old and oh so innocent. I remember one incident that occurred shortly after I began classes at OU. It still was early in the spring semester and I was diligently headed to my 8 AM class. I was wrapped up in my winter clothes, as it was still frosty outside, and as I walked down the south oval, I noticed a booth set up handing out free hot chocolate to students.

Now, a little bit of background information… We have hot chocolate in Brasil, but it is the kind that you have to mix with hot milk… there are no Swiss Miss type packets that you just mix with hot water and it’s done. Also, I had just recently been introduced to those little dried out marshmallows in the Swiss Miss packets… those were nifty.

So, I walked up to the booth, and thanked the student who promptly handed me a cup with a little packet in it. There were hot water tanks on the booth, so I figured this little packet in the cup must be an off brand of the Swiss Miss hot chocolate packets. So, I tried opening it, but as I was fumbling with the little packet, I noticed another student fill up their cup with already mixed hot chocolate from the tank. Hmm… this little packet I was struggling with wasn’t the hot chocolate mix then… it must be those little dried out marshmallows that Americans eat! So, I filled my cup with the hot chocolate and then continued trying to open my little marshmallow packet. At this point, I noticed the writing on the packet for the first time, “Extra lubrication for extra pleasure” it read. Instantly, it dawned on me that this was not a dried marshmallow packet. I look up, already feeling my face turn a bright shade of red, only to see every one of the students manning the booth looking at me with confused and somewhat disgusted faces. I abruptly shoved the condom in my pocket, grabbed my hot chocolate, made an about face and marched to class, glancing around surreptitiously, hoping that no one else had witnessed that little episode. I can only imagine what would have happened had I managed to open the packet and dump the condom into my hot chocolate!

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Random Thoughts Before Moving to Jordan

A few random thoughts as we prepare to move to Jordan…

Our flight there is August 1st and our return flight is for January 31st.

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Photo Credit: Hannah Bradford. I think I was like 15 in this picture…. I just noticed my nose was right on Jordan. Lol

Spices— call me a weirdo, but I’ve really been obsessing over what to do with my spices while we are in Jordan. I love cooking and I love my spices (See Confessions of a Food Troll)! They are a pretty expensive investment though because I like to have so many different types. So, I hate to give them away when we leave, because then I’ll have to rebuy all of them when we get back. Maybe if I store them in an airtight container in a cool place, they’ll last until we get back? But then that brings me to the second problem… spices in Jordan. I know I can get whatever spices I need there (probably cheaper and better quality too), but it’s still kind of expensive to stock a kitchen with all the spices I want, especially since we will be living on a very limited budget while we are there, as neither of us have a source of income (yet?). So that predicament brought on google searches like, “can I take spices on international flights?” I realize I am being ridiculous and we’ll be fine with a smaller assortment of spices in Jordan…. But these are the things I worry about sometimes.

Food — When we finally decided on a date for moving to Jordan, I decided to not buy any more “long term” food and just go through what I have in my pantry and freezer. By “long term” I mean stuff like rice, beans, lentils, pasta, flour, canned goods, frozen goods, spices, etc. I am still buying fresh fruits and vegetables… and chocolate of course. This is partly to save money for our trip and partly because I absolutely hate not using the food I bought (See The Tabbouleh Tragedy). So, over the last few months, I’ve been becoming very creative with my meals, only cooking using stuff I already have. It’s actually been a lot of fun… kinda like a puzzle that I am slowly figuring out. It’s very satisfying to see the cabinets empty of dried goods and see the freezer empty out. I love the feeling of taking random ingredients like sushi rice, frozen turkey, frozen vegetables, and a jar of hoisin sauce and some other ingredients and making a great meal out of it. This is something I’d like to do every year or so now… I love it!

Preparations for Jordan— OMG what are we doing?!?!?!?! AGGGGHHHH. If I open this door, a flood of overwhelming emotions starts to pour out, so I slam it back shut….. let’s take these one by one…

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Photo Credit: Hannah Bradford. This is my goofy brother … sometimes I feel like this is what I’m doing with my life, lol.

Job for Jordan — There are none on the horizon for me or Gary… that’s nerve wracking… I don’t really know what to do with it. We can use our savings, but that is not ideal by any means. Here, there is guilt, doubt, apprehension and fear. I remind myself that money is not everything. We are still young and we have time to work again and build our savings again. God please provide for us.

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Photo Credit: Hannah Bradford. This was our Jordanian cat, Mookie (he was the best, R.I.P.). He was our Christmas gift when we lived in Jordan. Little did we know, this fierce shelter cat was our gift because our parents were too broke to buy anything! lol… he was the best Christmas gift ever!

House in Jordan — Members of the church we will attend are graciously searching for an apartment for us. This is a huge blessing and gift. I do need to follow up with some more emails though… I will get on that today.

What to do in Jordan — With our job situation still up in the air, we do have some ideas of what we will be doing. I will be studying Arabic and volunteering with Syrian refugees. Gary, if he doesn’t find a job, will be studying computer programming, and serving the refugees as he is able. We pray that we can be humble and learn from others around us. We also pray that we can be a blessing to those around us.

Excitement about travel — On our way to Jordan, we will have a five-day layover in Paris. I am super excited about that because I will get to see my old roommate (she’s the best!!!) and her boyfriend! Also, Gary and I will get to tour some of Paris!! Also, while in Jordan, we have a few places we would like to visit: The Gulf of Aqaba (the most beautiful coral reefs I have ever seen!!), Petra (is absolutely breathtaking… amazing hiking and history) and the Dead Sea (get that mud!). I’m excited about experiencing these things with Gary and I hope we are able to enjoy them. I am also so excited to just be back in the Jordanian and Syrian cultures. These people are so hospitable and inspiring and I am excited about the adventures Gary and I could have. I am hopeful that we can make good friends while we are there… Please provide us with community, God.

Preparations for Paris— We still need to find housing while we are in Paris… it is getting close. I like the idea of a hostel (I guess I have romantic notions of being a vagabond), but Gary isn’t too fond of that idea. We’ll see what we end up doing.

Cold in Jordan— I am nervous about the cold winter months. Both Gary and I are complete babies when it comes to cold weather and Jordan gets cold… don’t let images of the scalding hot dessert fool you…. It gets cold and snowy in the winter. Actually, the first time I ever saw snow was in Jordan and the coldest I have ever been was also in Jordan.

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This actually was in Indiana visiting friends… but you get the picture.

When we get back from Jordan — I think this will have to be a separate post, because this one is also very overwhelming and I haven’t begun to sort this out yet.

 

God, I worry about a lot of things. Help me remember that I am actually not the one in control of my life. I have given my life to you, as has Gary. You take care of us. We are your children and you love us. You have given your own life for us, so we know you will not withhold your love and providence in any area of our lives. Please help us to trust in you. Thank you for your love and help us to love others, as you love us.

Amen

 

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Photo Credit: Hannah Bradford.

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Why Does Beauty Hurt?

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Photo Credit: Hannah Bradford. Yellowstone National Park

Why does beauty hurt? Tell me, am I the only one? The thought hit me as I sat alone on a hilltop over a lake. The emotions were hard to put into words. The beauty and peace surrounding me gave me that bubbling-over sense of contentment, excitement and happiness. Yet, at the same time, a twinge of sadness. I had experienced the same sensation while watching a breathtaking ballet that beautifully captured the romance, tension and complication of a young love. Another time it hit me while listening to a song played at just the right time in the car.

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Photo Credit: Hannah Bradford. Yellowstone National Park

Why does the beauty make my heart hurt? A little squeeze that tells me, that just observing the beauty is not completely enough. No, it’s not jealousy… although, to be quite honest, a little bit of that may be present as well while watching the ballerinas. I think it is a natural and good desire to want to take part in the beauty. We weren’t made just to observe beauty, but to be beautiful. Likewise, we weren’t made just to observe love, but to love and be loved.

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Photo Credit: Hannah Bradford

 

“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”  — C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

 

 

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Why do I have hope?

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Photo Credit: Hannah Bradford. From her time in Ireland

A few years ago, during college when I was still living at the Duffy house with roommates, I wrote out, “Why do I have hope?” on a chalkboard in my room.

Over the years I have been writing out answers on the board.

I think it’s time to work on a different question, so before I erase the chalkboard, I want to record some of the reasons and elaborate on a few.

  • I don’t have to try —- to sanctify myself… God has already made the new, alive me and put His Spirit in me to carry out the work of sanctification… it is not on my shoulders… if it was, I couldn’t do it
  • Nothing can separate me from His love
  • My life isn’t about production
  • I am not alone, He is with me
  • He who began the good work will complete it
  • Delight in the Lord —- relationship with Him isn’t about feeling guilty, doing the, “I am but a worm” routine over and over…. It is about delighting in Him!
  • He is faithful, even when I am not and He always has open arms— to receive me after I decide to go my own way
  • Hope remains —- that joyful expectancy of something wonderful to come… it remains… even in the afterlife (along with faith and love)! I look forward to a heaven full of adventure, learning and new hopes and dreams!
  • My righteousness doesn’t depend on my actions, it is fixed on Jesus and I have thrown myself on his grace.
  • Hope is fulfilled through knowing Him, not through desired outcomes —- sometimes the desired outcomes will come, sometimes they won’t but hope in Christ will never be disappointed
  • Jesus has made my “job” easy and has taken the hard parts on himself… now my “job” is relationship with Him
  • He has already won the battle
  • Redemption is happening now, not waiting till later
  • He has and will continue to pursue me… no conditions
  • Because hope is not fragile
  • The Spirit will guide me into all truth — I do not need to worry
  • I don’t have the power to ruin my own life
  • He is in control, not me
  • My life is not and will not be wasted
  • His sacrifice is enough for me and all people
  • “He is especially fond of me”

 

Really, the reason for my hope comes down to Jesus. I have hope because he rescued me from the domain of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of light. And though sometimes I feel there is still darkness around me, I know he has defeated it and one day it will be finally gone.

 

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Yarmouk University

I’ve been packing up the house the last few days to prepare for moving to Jordan…. Just things that we won’t need for the next few months… like decorations, pictures, some books. The house looks super bare now… it’s a little depressing… I’m not sure if that was a good idea. Maybe I can get flowers to liven up the place. Anyhow, preparing to leave has gotten me remembering some experiences from Jordan from past visits.


When I was in Jordan for a few months in 2015, I had several awesome and fun experiences. A few times I played the biggest fool though, which is expected when entering another culture. I’m glad things like this don’t really bother me that much… I have a pretty high shame tolerance… it takes A LOT to embarrass me…. I think that comes from growing up in two cultures… I had to get used to committing social faux pas on a very regular basis.  Anyways, one of these situations happened when I first moved to Jordan. I was living with a Jordanian family, but the situation wasn’t the best for a few reasons. One of the problems was that the living situation didn’t really allow for me to meet anyone outside the family and their immediate neighbors.

So, I decided to take matters into my own hands to meet some people my own age. I decided to visit the nearby university to meet some students… how hard could it be? I just needed to meet some girls, get their numbers, get invited to their hangouts… and voila… friends for the next few months! So, I left the house alone early one morning and took the bus to Yarmouk University. As I arrived on campus, I quickly realized I was like one of 3 female students on this huge campus not wearing a hijab. As I looked around me at the hundreds of students going about their schedules, I felt extremely conspicuous. Several students stared. I had no idea where I was, no idea where to go, no idea how to go about meeting people.

 

So, I tried out the least awkward way to start a conversation… I awkwardly walked up to a group of female students chatting outside a building and asked them, in my broken Arabic, where the bathroom was (hoping they would just take me because there was no way I was going to understand their answer). The girls did graciously take me to the bathroom once they figured out I could not understand their explanation: “upstairs, down the hall and second door on the right.” My plan was working… female bonding happens in bathrooms, right?   So, as we walked, I explained my situation as best I could, “I am an Arabic student visiting Jordan in order to practice my Arabic… I don’t know anyone here… will you pleeeaaasse be my friend?” Well, no, I tried to be a bit cooler than that… but that’s what I felt like I was saying. Anyways, they took pity on me and got my number before heading off to class, assuring me they would call me and we could hang out another day. Sweet!!! Got a number!!!!

At this point, I was feeling a lot like a creeper guy who walks around trying pick-up lines on random girls to get them to give out their number.  I embraced it. I shoved down the feelings of, “You are acting like a complete dork!” braced myself for the impending embarrassment and rejection, and I went around campus, searching for girls who could possibly become my friends (or at the very least people to practice Arabic with). I found an outdoor food court and asked to sit down at a table with some other girls and introduced myself. We got into a conversation about different guys at the university that they were interested in… before they had to go to their next classes, I scored some more numbers and more promises to hang out. Next, I ordered food and found another table of girls to sit with…. I asked to sit and they said yes…. Then immediately all got up to leave… Ouch!!! Rejection…. Well, you can’t win them all.

At this point, I felt I had worked hard and had exchanged enough numbers that surely at least one would call me.  So, I enjoyed my meal in silence… until I heard a loud ruckus outside. I finished my shawarma and rushed outside to see a large crowd of students watching a fight. I figured since I was immersing myself in this university, I might as well find out what was going on. I pushed my way into the crowd and asked a student what was going on. He explained, “they are actors! From a television show… they do satire.” Then I noticed the camera crew… it wasn’t a fight… they were just acting. At this point I spotted two women without hijab: one older and eccentric looking with a bright pink hat, the other young and pretty. They were definitely part of the television crew, but they looked approachable… I at least felt we could bond over our lack of religious head coverings. So, I caught up to them and asked them what was going on. They explained to me that they made television shows for a small local channel and they are doing a little segment about violence in universities. Currently, they were shooting a short film depicting some current events at another university. Then, the lady in the pink hat (she was the makeup artist and the younger lady was an actress) asked me to help the crew! So, I followed them around, carried equipment and even helped put makeup on some of the actors (I had to bloody them up because of the fight scene)!  At one point, she even asked me if I wanted to be in the show and called over the director and asked if there was a spot for me. Unfortunately, he didn’t recognize my great acting potential (rightly so, lol) and said there was no role for me in their film…. But it was still cool to be considered!

 

Anyways, after this whole escapade, I was pretty exhausted and decided it was time to go back home. It had been a very full day. I have to say, I was very proud of myself during my bus ride home… I also pondered how it takes a lot of guts to be a creepy guy who asks for random girls’ numbers (not condoning the behavior… just sayin).

Turns out, the next day I found an opportunity for a new and better living situation in a different city, so I actually was unable to hang out with any of the girls I had met at the university. A few actually did call me, and I tried to explain over the phone that I was moving sooner than I had thought and would, unfortunately, not be able to hang out with them. I really don’t know if they caught any of that with my poor Arabic skills…. I eventually had to hang up on one girl because I couldn’t understand anything she was saying anymore…. I felt bad about that. All my hard work was for naught, but seriously, those experiences at the university, awkwardness, rejection and all was totally worth it!

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