Sunday, July 28, 2013

Amazed Once Again by My Saviour

"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
                                                Isaiah 53:5-6

"There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God... For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith."                       Romans 1:10-11, 3:23-25a

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away,
He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.

With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God!
For such a Redeemer as mine.

When clothed with His brightness transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love,
I’ll shout with the millions on high.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

                                    He Hideth My Soul - Franny Crosby

Amazing love!  How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

                                   And Can it Be - Charles Wesley
What can I say that has not been said before?  So undeserving we, so filled with grace and mercy He.  No matter where I am, it is Jesus Christ that sustains me day by day and He that is completely sufficient. Alleluia, alleluia - the majesty and glory of Your name

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bedtime with the Bedouins - Part One

WOW has this post been a long time coming!  Let's go way back to July 5th when I left America.  I saw the insides of airports and airplanes for a long time before arriving in Amman, Jordan, on the morning of the 7th at 4:30 AM! 

An amazing family here (a lovely couple and their four cute kiddos) woke up during what I consider to be the middle of the night to pick me up from the airport and take me down to Petra for the day (3 hours both ways + 6 hours exploring one of the ‘Wonders of the World’…in the summer heat.  Are these people great or what?!).  For beating jet lag it was perfect – not only did I take a long nap in the car, but I’ve slept every night I’ve been here, hamdidillah (praise God).
The next day we drove up north to Mafraq, a city near the Syrian border.  I swiftly unpacked into the room the hospital had prepared for me and went to sleep again (I really kind of like this sleeping thing, apparently).

On day three I started my hospital orientation with a nurse from Holland.  About an hour into orientation, a woman came through the door and the nurse and her started talking in Dutch.  A couple minutes later the new woman turned to me and said, “Would you like to come with me and stay with a Bedouin family tonight?”

“Yes!” I said, thinking something like 'when am I ever going to get another chance to do this?'

“Okay, great, we’ll leave in about an hour,” she said and left the room.

Packing a few minutes later, I started laughing.  I did not know this woman’s name or where we were going.  Before you completely question my sanity, I did know why we were going (relationship-building, etc) and that she works in a clinic a few hours away associated with our hospital AND again, when was I ever going to get another chance like this?  Ha ha.

We drove about an hour away TOWARDS the Syrian border…like ‘hear-bombs-all-night, see-that-village over-there-being-burned’ type towards the border.  First a nice paved road, then a dirt road, then a pothole-riddled sand “road” till we started seeing homes like this:
Arg!  It’s time for me to head to Amman with some friends for the weekend so I am going to have to finish this story later [this was actually posted on the 25th, but didn’t make it up for real till now, sorry :P].  Love you all, please continue to pray for me, know that the LORD, He is God and we should shout joyfully for His name, serve Him with gladness, be thankful to Him, and bless His name “for the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” Psalm 100.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Blog in Which I Flirt

Okay, let me first say that I have never purposefully flirted before (…at least consciously, says one ;).  I recognize that normal friendliness can be taken as flirtation, but in general I generally think it’s pretty rude to flirt for the purpose of manipulating someone into doing what you want them to do.  Today, for the first time in my life, I broke that unwritten rule and flirted unabashedly...and it worked. *wry grin*

Today was a LOVELY day.  Some friends and I decided to get away from Mafraq and explore Jerash (an ancient and modern city), Ajloun Castle, and eat at “the best restaurant in Jordan.”  All was accomplished PLUS an ice cream stop on the way home with just one teeny little flirting incidence.

Jerash is a cool city. It boasts human occupation for over 6,500 years and was one of the ten great Roman cities known as the Decapolis League.  What I didn’t know till reading about it is that it’s nestled in a valley of the mountains of Gilead.  So yes, “There is a Balm in Gilead” may or may not have been hummed intermittently throughout the day. :P
The first historical reference known about Jerash was by my buddy Josephus at the turn of the 1st/2nd century.  Apparently the “tyrant of Philadelphia,” Theodorus, took his treasure there for safe keeping in the temple of Zeus.  I climbed around Zeus’ temple, but found no treasure…hmm, maybe next time. ;)
Ajloun is a castle built in 1184-85 as a fort to protect against the Crusaders.  It was in a chain of forts which lit beacons at night to signal each other from the Euphrates to Cairo!  Tell me which one of you is not picturing Lord of the Rings right now!!!  They also were a part of a pigeon chain from Damascus to Cairo – apparently the strong little chaps could make it in under a day.  Pretty impressive for small wings. :-)

An Arab historian tells a story that some of the stones the castle was built with have crosses on them because a monastery once stood on the site.  Apparently it was inhabited by a Christian monk named Ajloun, but when the monastery fell into ruin, the castle took its place.  So they say…
You can’t really see the castle for the trees (which is pretty amazing in the desert, but it’s a nice site due to the Ajloun Nature Reserve nearby maintained by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature).  This is why I had to flirt.  Because there were trees.  Okay, I didn’t have to, but this is why I flirted.

According to the normal summer schedule and the schedule posted on the government website, the castle is open for exploration till sundown.  With that in mind, we lollygagged around Jerash and arrived about an hour before sunset.  HOWEVER, the gate was closed and all of us in the car instantaneously gasped and said, “Ramadan!”  Castle hours were shortened by an hour so that the staff could go get ready to break the daily fast that evening.  We had driven all that way only to find that our desire was unattainable!

Or was it?

A gentleman in the car sighed and said, “You guys should go flirt with the guard and make him let us in.”  I chuckled, but then thought about it.  I’m in a touristy place where no one will probably ever see me again and flirting with an Arab man takes no more than smiling and greeting him, so if it could get us in to see the castle it was worth a try, right?  I could play the ignorant tourist card, right?

As I type this out I am laughing at the fact that this actually happened.  It probably gets me kicked off the perfection pedestal, but it was about time for that anyway.

I got out of the car with my head uncovered (normal for tourists, abnormal for local culture), but my hair was pulled back so that wasn’t too bad (here “loose hair = loose woman”) and walked with purpose up to the gate.  I left my sunglasses on till the guard turned around then whipped them off and flashed him a smile.

“Marhaba!” I greeted him, staring him right in the eye. “We have come to see the castle, please.”  His face fell as he informed me from the other side of the iron bars that it was already closed.  “You see, things are different because of Ramadan,” he tried to explain, sputtering with multiple excuses.  I just kept smiling at him, with a hopeful glint in my eye.

I could literally see the indecision on his face.

And then he broke.

“Come through the gate,” he said with a grin, and told one of his guard buddies (who was wearing pj pants, oddly enough) to give us a little tour.

“Shukran,” thank you, I told him, and we went on our merry way.  The castle was pretty neat.  The view was amazing – we could see all the way over to the Dead Sea!

I don’t plan on making this flirting thing a habit, but maybe once every 28 years is okay?  Maybe? ;)

Praise God for a fun, relaxing day building relationships with new friends (I really do mean those I went with, not the castle guard :P).

Continue to pray for A* as she misses her family and N's* abscess wound to heal.

Pray for me to keep my focus on the LORD and be faithful to keep my relationship with God up on top where it belongs and that I would love people well.  "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage... And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."  Galatians 5:1, 6:9

Monday, July 15, 2013

To Break the Law or Not

The man stared into my eyes.  "If we do this, we could get thrown in jail."  In my peripheral vision I saw the teenage girl with us nodding in affirmation. "Do you still want to?"  He asked.  I took a deep breath and decided.

But before we get to my decision, let me set the stage a bit.  Saturday I was able to visit with several Syrian refugees and enjoyed the time ever so much.  The first home we entered had a three-week-old baby I got to cuddle - which in itself makes for a good day!

A Jordanian girl, Egyptian man, and this American girl (no, this is not the start of a joke ;) went out with basic hygiene and food gifts (etc) for families who have been displaced by the war in Syria.  We basically just listened as they shared their stories, hugged them as they cried with worry about unaccounted-for family members, and talked and prayed with them.  

A little girl in one home was sick, so her mother asked me to assess her and offer medical advice, which I of course was happy to do.

As the Egyptian man gave the first address to our cab driver, the Jordanian girl looked over at me and said, "Wow, they live in a disaster area!  Even before the war started that was a bad part of town."  We all looked at each other and shrugged. We'll go wherever they have need.  Plus we had a man with us - so culturally appropriate!  We had large, heavy packages for each house.  The woman at the first house told us the next was only a few blocks away and assured us there was no need to call a taxi.

Ha!  I guess SHE hadn't done her math to figure out that 40 degrees Celsius is over 100 degrees Farenheit!.  Just sayin'.

The poor man got the brunt of it.  Gallantly heaving the bulky box over his shoulder, he led us girls to the other house in the hot, hot, heat.  On block number three I saw sweat pouring down his back and the girl’s face and basic nursing training stepped in.  “Hey guys, I have a couple water bottles in my purse. Why don’t we stop and drink so we don’t get heat exhaustion or dehydrated or anything of that ilk?”

That’s when it happened.  The looks of surprise.  Both of them, staring at me.

The man stared into my eyes, “If we do this, we could get thrown in jail.”  In my peripheral vision I saw the teenage girl with us nodding in affirmation.  Why on earth would we get thrown in jail? I queried.  “Because it’s illegal to eat or drink on the street during Ramadan,” came the answer.  I knew I wasn’t supposed to eat or drink in front of people during Ramadan for politeness’ sake, but I didn’t know it could make me a prisoner!

“Do you still want to?”  The question came.  I took a deep breath and decided.  

Decided to let my national partners choose. :D  I’ve found that, in general, the locals know best!  After contemplating the options, they decided that if we stepped away from the road and surreptitiously sipped we’d probably be fine.

I went with it.  I drank water on the side of the road during Ramadan.  And I didn’t get thrown into prison. Neither, by the way, did either of my companions drop into the dusty street with heat exhaustion or dehydration.  I’d say that was a win/win (shout out for Heather).

I have a PRAISE!  Thank you for praying for A*.  Her mother, sister, and baby got to come visit her today!

Another PRAISE is my continued health and safety.  I know a lot of you are praying for those and please know that I do not take it for granted!

Continue to PRAY that I grow in my Arabic speaking – 46 words and, Lord willing, counting! :)

PRAY for N*, my patient with an abscess that must be drained daily.  It's close to her spine so it needs to heal well and not get deeper!  I almost put up a pic, but then remembered some friends who would kill me  for doing so (okay, they’d probably just puke, but still not a great outcome). So for those of you who (like me!) didn’t know about TB abscesses, here’s a link to find out more:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sin.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  I John 4:7-11