Lately we have really been blessed as we have made some friends with our neighbors. Ever since Ramadan has ended, they have been so much friendlier and have invited us into their homes. It has become a nightly routine where Paul goes outside and plays soccer (well, futbol) with the neighborhood boys. They always come and ring our doorbell if Paul isn't already out there. Micah sees his Daddy leave and immediately starts whining because he wants to join the party outside. I end up taking him outside to play with his soccer ball, but lately we haven't made it very far before a new neighbor comes out and invites us into their home. It isn't always the best timing as the visit lasts well beyond the time I need to be cooking or giving Micah a bath, but I am just thankful for these opportunities. It has been so wonderful to feel so accepted and welcomed here.
The language barrier is definitely still there...so we communicate with the little Arabic I know, or the little English they know. At times it can be very mentally and physically exhausting, as there are many stressors that come along with cultural differences. Some of the homes are extremely smokey-YUCK! Not only do I leave reeking like smoke, but I also usually have a pounding headache. I'm not complaining though (well, maybe a little. ha.) as we have many friends that have lived here a lot longer than us and that don't know a single neighbor at all. Just this past week we were able to get into about 5 different homes and begin to build what we hope will be strong friendships.
We have also quickly realized how generous the Arabs are. Almost daily, our doorbell will ring and a neighbor will be standing there with a plate of food they made for us. Micah and I really enjoy the Arabic food. It is "zacky" (yummy in Arabic) as Micah would say. Paul on the other hand could do with or without. I am proud of him though-he has tried several new things which is a BIG step for him :) We have learned that it is culturally appropriate to return the plate given to us with something on it. At one point I had about 6 of my neighbors plates accumulating in my cabinet. I quickly made some chocolate chip cookies and distributed them back to their owners. However, I am already piling up another stack of plates...so I'm trying to figure out something else to make and give them. Any ideas!?! :)
One of my neighbors enjoyed the cookies so much, that she invited me into her home this past Tuesday for me to teach her how to make them. We ended up making two batches so that she could give them to other friends and family. It was a lot of fun and was nice having our little ones play away together. Before cooking, we started the morning with some drinks. I'm not a coffee drinker, so while she sipped away on some Turkish coffee, I drank some orange Tang. I'm not a huge Tang fan at all...but that is the drink of choice that the Arabs serve EVERY time you enter their home.
One night this past week some older boys took Paul around town in their car. They basically showed him every place they thought Amercian's would like (restaurants, hotels, malls, etc). Even though Paul had already seen all of these places, it was definitely a good cultural experience. They were so sweet and even bought Paul a shawarma (beef with onions, tomatoes, and peppers wrapped in a pita)-ha, you know he loved that! He said he did his best to eat what he could and then would throw some of the vegetables out the window when they weren't looking. Oh Paul... :)
Here are a few pictures from the view from our window of Paul playing soccer with a few of our neighbors.
Micah wishing he was outside too :)