Sep 21 2017
I’m trying to put my experience in Jordan into words. No language is sufficient to communicate what I am learning from the Jordanians and Syrians that I’ve met these past few days. My baptism into the foreign sights, sounds and smells of Arabic cultire has washed clean my preconceptions and flushed away any fear still lurking below the surface of my psyche. Much of this is due to the amazing Christian brothers and sisters we worked with here, but these language lessons transcended the borders of nation, ethnicity and religion. Here are four universal languages that transcend words and the pictures to go with them.
The Language of Laughing
Everyone understands a smile. Most people have a sense of humor. Laughter is contagious. The laughter and smiles of these little girls made everything worth the effort. The joy of the kids at the church playing on the playground made everyone smile. Laughter and joy is its own reward.
The Language of Hospitality
Arab hospitality is legendary. Now I see why. Jordan welcomed millions of Syrians with nowhere to go. Syrians and Jordanians welcomed us, invited us into their homes, and bent over backward to make us feel at home. From our friends at the church inviting us into their homes and making all our arrangements, to the refugees in the camp bringing us tea and sharing their coffee as we worked, we were treated like honored guests.
The Language of Helping
Trust is built as we work together. We help each other. We need each other. These Syrian muslims became my brothers as we worked together. Our team helped them build a playground for their children. We didn’t do it for them. Nor did we just hire people to do it. We helped. The community center takes the same approach. Syrians and Jordanians help each other. It’s a beautiful thing to see.
The Language of Leaving
We will not remain in Jordan. It is not our home. But we have left something that will continue to bring joy to Children in building these playgrounds. The highest building in Zatari is now our playground. The church and community center here are leaving a legacy for generations to follow, and we get to be part of that. What you leave behind matters.
I still want to learn Arabic, but these language lessons are more than enough for now!