Man on a mission

Front of Mormon flyer On my way to the post office the other day, I was approached by a young man on a bike. He was wearing a helmet and a dark blue suit jacket. Pinned to his jacket was a name tag in both English and Chinese. The young man wanted to tell me about his mission: Espousing the virtues of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints and the Book of Mormon. The young man, with facial hair just barely visible, seemed a bit nervous. I thought I might have been the first person he approached. Maybe I was the first soul he was trying to save.

I did not want to disappoint him. I took the flier he offered me, wondering to myself what his reaction would be if I told him I come from the Holy Land. I put the flier in my purse and headed to the post office. I mailed my package and headed back home.

Page 2 of flyerThen, in the comfort of my own room, I gave the flier a closer look. I kept looking at the image on the front side of the flier trying to decipher what kind of message it was trying to convey. Flipping the flier over, I found an invitation to receive another testament of Jesus Christ. I paused, looking at the word "another" in disbelief. As someone who believes that the Bible is the only testimony of Jesus Christ, I could not buy the young man’s mission.

But the incident stayed with me for a few days. Eventually I decided to let it go. As I currently live in a country where freedom of religion and freedom of speech are safeguarded, I should expect more similar encounters. The next time, though, I will proclaim that I come from the Holy Land.

The trip back ‘home’

I’m back to the US after a hectic 20-hour trip from my parent’s place in Amman to our apartment in Maryland. The 13-hour Royal Jordanian flight from Amman to Chicago was long — way too long. I was — and still am — suffering from a nasty cold that left me coughing and sneezing for the duration of the trip. It was truly awful. As for traveling RJ, everyone on the plane was animated as usual. For some reason, the concept of reading on the plane is practically non-existent amongst the majority of RJ travelers. As a result, everyone was quite sociable and chatty, making the idea of taking a nap almost impossible.

Anyway, enough ranting about Jordan’s national carrier. The best thing about traveling with RJ is that everyone on the plane claps upon landing. Quick question: Is this only a Jordanian tendency? Don’t get me wrong; I really like it. When arriving at Chicago’s airport, the immigration official there told me "welcome home." That was when it hit me. I left home to go back home! This is my existence nowadays. I live in limbo, with my heart divided between two different places. It’s really an overwhelming and -– sometimes — trying existence!

Meanwhile, here in Maryland, the spring is just wonderful. The weather is very pleasant and the cornucopia of spring colors is simply breathtaking. Yes, I’m really glad to be back.

If I were to evaluate the two weeks I spent in Jordan, I would say that they were simply wonderful in every sense of the word. The most important thing for me was the quality time spent with my family. As for my assessment of the capital Amman, it seems to be doing really well. Money seems to be pumping into this city, as it becomes more cosmopolitan by the day. Construction is taking place literally everywhere. Brand spanking new projects are mushrooming up all over the place and the talk of foreign investments is continual.

Even my friends who mange their own businesses in the city seem quite content and optimistic. They assured me that new projects are being handed to them all the time and that their business is booming. However, everyone was complaining about the hike in gas prices in Jordan. I was shocked to realize that nowadays filling my old Kia Pride with gas requires double the amount I used to pay only a few years ago.

During my visit, I could not get myself acquainted with all the security checks taking place all over -– an aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Jordan last November. One shocking and unusual scene was finding a security guard in front of our church on Easter morning. I asked my sister about the unusual scene and she told me it was nothing compared to last Christmas when a number of police cars were parked outside the church during the service. It was really sad to realize that churches are among the potential targets in Jordan. Churches, of all things; churches that are attended by no other than Jordanians themselves.

Anyway, on a totally different subject I’m glad to announce that I returned armed with all the goodies that make life worth living: Baklava, Turkish coffee, Jameed, Arabic spices and nuts. Happy times await!

A wonderful weekend with Amal

Amal and I take Annapolis We spent this past weekend with our dear friend Amal, who was in town for a few days. We met at DC’s breathtaking Union Station, where we sat, had lunch and talked like there was no tomorrow. While munching on pizza, we both came to the conclusion that life can at times surprise you, taking you places while you are just too busy to notice. We had met Amal during our Doha stint last year. So it was fascinating to realize that, at that moment, we were sitting in Washington, DC and having lunch in one of the most beautiful train stations in the country. "From Doha to Union Station," Amal giggled. "It should be the title of a book."

We did lots of touring in and around Maryland, taking Amal to the sailing city of Annapolis and then, after a wonderful lunch at Pusser’s, on to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Both cities were alive and buzzing with activity, although each had a distinctive vibe.

Amal is now on her way home to Lebanon, while we return to our daily routines. Nothing beats reuniting with a close friend! Amal is already dearly missed.