Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bedouin Ways

(Yesterday's blog, late post.)

The work continued today with Anton and I meeting with Matthieu on the ministry plans ahead. Rita would work on the web site, painting, murals and cleaning would continue. The big thing today that we were all looking forward to was the Bedouin feast that was being planned tonight in our honor.

We have been invited to participate in something that is very rare. A lamb would be killed, and the day spent preparing many foods for the evening meal. There were guests invited, us, and the chief’s extended family. Others were invited but they took a second seat to us, and ate either before or after the main meal.

The table was set, which consisted of two table cloths on the rugs in the large community room. Bowls and plates were set out. The bowls were all filled with yogurt and sour cream mix. The chief showed us how it is done. He reached into the plate of lamb and rice and grabbed a fist full of food squishing it into a solid mixture and then popped it into his mouth using some kind of special action. I don’t think I mastered it well. I have no idea how many hands got into the bowl.

Most of us tried to use our spoons as often as we could, including them.

I ate lamb tongue, lamb brains, someone told me I ate an eye but then it turned out to be something else. The food was good. The salad was amazing. There was limited tongue available so Albert and I got to split it. It was an honor. Really. Or so I was told. . . . While everyone watched and laughed.

Music and dancing took place after the meal. We were also celebrating a little girl’s birthday. It was a good night.

Later that evening I took a walk with Matthieu around the compound. I went because it was with Matthieu so it should be safe. It was dark. As we left the compound a group of kids collected around us and followed us for a few houses. Matthieu shares about the houses on the right. They were cow shelters before we turned them into houses. We turn the corner and the kids disappear. We walk on in the dark for about 100 yards. We pass two family buildings along the way. One building was structure in progress. They build in stages. This house was a room that got a second floor at one time, and then another room on the ground floor was bricked in with a second floor kind of started. Probably preparing for a couple of sons that would one day have a wife and family. He’s been slowly working in the house for probably 10 years. We get fairly far down the road and Matthieu tells me we need to turn around and go back. The next section belongs to another tribe of Bedouins that do not share in our efforts. Over the last month two have been murdered by fellow tribe members because they had become believers and told their family. One was a 14 year old girl.

We get part way back up the road and a vehicle slowly passes us, but then stops and speaks something to Matthieu. The vehicle moves on slowly down towards the other tribe. I ask what was said and Matthieu says to not bother with it. We keep walking and get to the entrance of the camp and we turn left and walk by homes, some are still pretty rough looking, others are brick and cement. Matthieu keeps looking over his shoulder.

We talk about employment. Unemployment in the camp is around 90%. No one will hire a Bedouin. The kids can work in the fields surrounding the camp for 3+ dollars a day. They pool their funds and life goes on. He has been able to get some microfinance happening for a couple of the families. A honey operation; a delivery service. The costs of microfinancing here is high.
I ask him about the little groupings of tin houses just outside the entrance to the camp and he says that those people are Syrians. Another type of tribe, but not Bedouins. They are living in little tin shelters that are nothing greater the 6-10 feet across, back to back with a three foot dirt/sewage walk way between the rows of shacks. The bathrooms on the outskirts and look like outdoor showers that we would create in the woods while camping. Some plastic and anything else they could find to create a little privacy.

We get to the end of the camp and turn down another road and he stops and says he can’t go anymore. Needs a rest. Matthieu’s heart is giving him some pain. He suffered a heart attack a few months ago. He continues to push himself physically and is suffering more that he should allow himself to suffer. The last few days I’ve seen him struggle with strength. Pray for him as you read this.

We rest. We talk about his dreams for his family, for the Bedouins.

On the way back we pass a wide open grassy area that is not being used for anything right now. I ask him what this is to be. He tells me that about 10 years ago this Bedouin tribe were living in the same type of tin make shift housing that the current Syrian tribe is in, and it was in this area. Over that time, we got them moved into permanent structures of bricks and concrete that you see most of them now living in. He tells me about the time when they (he) was finally able to clean this area up and get rid of the tin structures and clean up all the sewage and filth that existed.

As we get close to the compound we finish talking about the things I wrote about in the previous blog regarding compassion. These people do not want compassion that comes from pity. If they receive any compassion, they would as that it be out of love.

A long day, but a good one.


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