Should I write about my first attempt to speak Arabic, when my listener gently replied– in English– that she was from the Philippines and doesn’t speak Arabic?
Or of the women who make jewelery at the center, part of a “small business” enterprise. Upon our second meeting, these motherly and grandmotherly women began calling me “habibti,” a local term of love and affection. They teach me Arabic, show me how to roll paper beads from recycled magazines, and feed me quantities of green olives and hummus.
Or maybe I should write about the fun couple from the US who has had me in their home–twice– in the past week, expressing their commitment to helping me settle in. The map that he made, and the cheesecake she made, were very welcome. The intentional questions they asked, even more welcome!!
On the other hand, I could tell of writing an e-mail to a friend in Pennsylvania, and of crying as I answered her question about how my last week in the US had been. Everyone loved, encouraged, expressed appreciation, and blessed me greatly. My family & dear friends have sent me well. And I miss them.
I could write about seeing a refugee child selling peanuts on the street, long after dark.
I could write about the eyes of a young woman from the same area, distant and guarded until a smile came her way. Unbelievably quickly, the look of caution fled, and her face lit up with her own brilliant smile.
I could write about teaching my first-ever English class yesterday, and explaining to a crowded room of students what the words “hope” and “confidence” mean. “Optimism”– we talked about that, too.
I could write about my first venture into the desert– a beauty unique from any others. But I don’t think words could capture any of it.