Sunday, October 10, 2004

It's Been a While

I just realized that it's been over a week since I've blogged anything. Sorry about that. The days run together here probably even moreso than they were in Baghdad before we came out here.

A lot has happened over the past week, but not too much that's really worth sharing. One thing of note is that I stopped by the Iraqi Universities and College Graduates Club Saturday a week ago with Rob as my protector. It's a good thing he came along since it was just a bunch of men, none of whom spoke any English. That would have been rather uncomfortable for me to be there by myself.

Anyway, as a result of stopping by there, I got hooked up with the wife (I think, possibly the sister) of two brothers who were there and she and I have been meeting just about daily ever since then. We're doing the same thing that Mahasin and I were doing in Iraq - going through this childrens' Bible and translating it from Classical Arabic to Colloquial Iraqi Arabic. We're focusing more on the reading aspect than Mahasin and I were, in that, Mahasin wanted me to memorize the stories while Reghid is just having me read them back to her. Another difference with Reghid is that she's "only" 20, and doesn't have a college education. She's intelligent and literate, but she didn't go to University, so I'm getting more of the "poor man's" colloquial rather than the "educated" colloquial that I've often suspected Mahasin of teaching me (since she teases when I use words I learned from my family at the school).

Reghid has a five-month-old baby boy who plays with us as we work, when he's not being taken care of by his uncles. Mostly we work at the Club, but once I went over to her house here in Amman. Her brother/husband (I'm leaning toward husband at this point) travels between Baghdad and Amman, looking for work. He spent 10-15 years in the Iraqi Army and has had enough of that life. The day I visited her house, his half-sister Besma was there too. Interestingly, they share the same mother and had different fathers - hers Christian, his Muslim. This is especially interesting considering that women, barring their husband's death or divorce, are only allowed one spouse, while men are allowed up to four (although there are cases of more). So, it's common for half-siblings to share a father with different mothers, but rare for them to share a mother with different fathers.

Anyway, at their explanation of their parentage and resultant religions, they asked what I was. I responded that I was Christian, but that I was studying all of the Holy Books - and pulled out the Chronological Qur'an that I'm working through now. Khalid asked which of the Holy Books (meaning the Towrat (the Law), the Zabour (the Psalms), the Injeel (the Gospels), and the Qur'an) Christians followed. I explained that the Jews followed the Towrat and the Zabour, and that Christians followed the Injeel, but that the Injeel said to study the books that come before it (which it does in using the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets as its basis). Then I said that the Qur'an says the same thing - to study the Scriptures that came before it (many times in the Qur'an are "believers" told to study all of the Holy Books and to ask the people "of the Book" (i.e., Jews and Christians) if they are confused about anything). He didn't disagree with that statement at all, but said "I don't know the T, Z, N." So I said, "Well, would you like to?"

The next day, we didn't manage to meet for language study, but I was able to drop off a Bible in Arabic for them and they were very grateful for it when I saw them yesterday.

What's really fun about all of this is that this family basically doesn't speak a lick of English, so all of these conversations have been completely in Arabic, although occasionally with the aid of a dictionary.

Speaking of them though, I'm late in getting ready to go meet them, so I should get going. I'll try to arrange some time later today or tomorrow with someone's computer and write some more about this past week then.

But in the meantime, be hoping with me that my chain of command will have open hearts and minds. More explanation on that later.

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