Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An American in Jordan? Make That Americans in Jordan!

So, yesterday a group of ladies that I simply adore had a gathering at City Mall. These ladies are unique in so many ways. They are mostly American (shout out to the few from other places like Brazil and France), mostly Muslim (yeah, I'd be the exception here), and mostly Generation Xers. So, why do I like them so much?

Well, first, they're a taste of home. It's a group of people who has a similar experience here, seeing the funny, the uplifting, and the sad from a shared perspective. Most of these ladies are married to Arabs (as am I), so we see this world from the outside of the inside (did that blow your mind, teehee). We see inside the families and as a part of the culture, rather than the typical outsider experience.

I also love these group gatherings because these ladies' experience is so different than mine. They help me see the common ground between Muslims and Christians in a visceral and real way. Most of these ladies not only wear hijab, but also the jilbab (the coat/dress that goes over your clothes). How different is that from the way I live? Their in-laws are beyond grounded in the culture (some to the extent that they don't speak any English). While mine are as well, much of their life experience has been spent traveling to other parts of the world.

But the biggest blessing that these ladies give me is showcasing how people of true faith can use their God-given gifts to make a difference. They remind me that the issue is not whether you are Christian or Muslim, but do you follow the tenets of your faith. These ladies live an example of good Muslims that shows me what that should look like. And, I appreciate them for this.

They also show me the commonalities. Talk around the table centered on such things as what type of education is best for our kids. We talked about the schools our kids are in and what the benefit of that is. It's nice to know that everyone is worried about the same things. How do we put food on the table, are our children getting a good education, and how do we live as people of faith and pass those beliefs and values along to their kids?

And, honestly, I wouldn't have expected such a large group to turn up and remind me that there are lots of us here who can be supportive to each other. We must have had 30 people and it seemed like every time we turned around more people came. I am so glad these ladies graciously honor me with the opportunity to be part of their community. Thanks, Umms!

Happy blatherings!


At 1:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I passed up a chance to meet the new US ambassador's wife at an American Women of Amman meeting to hang out with these ladies...I'm thankful MommaBean invited me to tag along!

I tried AWA in my early years here, and it 'seemed' like a very needy group that could easily suck you dry. Granted, it was much harder then - no phones, cars, few taxis, no creature comforts. There was also a group of heavy prosyletizers, which made me uncomfortable. So I decided to build my support system at church, and have a strong and lovely circle of friends.

But, like you, the Ummz Circle is also a great new group for me. The difference I feel with this group, contrasted with the old AWA crowd, is that synergy, commonality, cross-religious support and encouragement.

They welcome me even with my right-wing extremist views! Not just 'tolerate', but welcome. Big difference, as El 3atal pointed out.

Thanks again, MB, great post.

At 3:15 AM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

Wow! Thanks to both of you for continuing to want to hang out with us. We gladly "tolerate" you. Hee hee. A gathering wouldn't be the same gathering with Momma and Kinzi.

(By the way, you two have a near-celebrity status, especially with a few of the ladies who found out after you left who you really are--Famous Blogging Ladies) :)

At 3:16 AM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

That should read "without" Momma and Kinzi. Or you can leave "with." It all means that the two of you add so much of that something special.

At 6:57 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Teehee. Thanks Kinzi, I know you enjoyed it as well. Near-celebrity? Well, I have a feeling it's the closest I'll ever come to celebrity :).

At 9:55 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

We are so pleased that you are interested to sit with us and not just 'tolerate' us as well, but try to see how similar we are and have some great times together. In our small way here we are bridging the gap. Let's do it again!

At 2:49 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

I'm already looking forward to it!


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