Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ups and Downs and Ups and Downs and Ups

Yesterday, I laughed so hard and cried as well when our custodial cleaner came into the office. She just received hearing aids and discovered how many sounds she missed. She was walking around covering her ears because everything seemed too loud. She sheepishly evaluated her own noise level and deemed she was very loud.The poor thing. I'm glad she can hear her son and is not missing out on conversations, but the noise levels are too high. I hope she does not get discouraged, but it is delightful that she is a new woman again. She is enjoying that she has the gift of hearing restored.

It reminds me of a comment my father made this summer. He said that he felt bad when I was 9 years old and received a pair of eyeglasses. Apparently, I sat in the back seat of the car and gleefully pointed out all the things that were apparently not visible before getting the glasses. He said I laughed and laughed and wanted everyone else to see what I could now see. My father felt badly that they did not discover my poor eyesight earlier.

It is beginning to look like the fall season here. Temperatures are still around seventy-five Fahrenheit during the day, but some leaves are now being shed from their trees. For many, it is coolish, but I feel great. I have the freedom of wearing short-sleeved shirts and light clothing. Very nice. We do not have Daylight Savings Time clock changes, so we are now eight hours difference between East Coast USA and Amman.

It is very interesting to watch the Egyptian workers around the Jesuit Center. Their methodology of work has not changed since they built the pyramids. Everything is done by hand and it is time-consuming, but their steadiness and their ability to work together is admirable. They seldom tire, they never take a break, they start early in the morning, and they are always cheerful. They are quite impressive and other nationalities can learn a great deal from them. They were once the proud rulers of the world; now their stature is of low-class immigrants.

Nothing is ever easy, though. Though they are tremendously excellent workers, they fail to think. They set up shop in our driveway and do all their preparation work in the center of it. We ask them to move to a corner away from the path of the cars, but they simply do not understand the concept. They will bend iron rods there and they will mix cement. The driveway is sufficiently large where they can have plenty of room to do their craft and allow foot and car traffic to pass, but they insist of doing it right in back of the cars. They are bewildered when we want to pass because the concept that they might have to move cannot be considered.

Yesterday, we went to Balad, the old downtown area, to get supplies for the play. It is always quite an adventure. I was with four Arabs yesterday, but men would still walk up to me, stand still, and stare. I would look back at them as well and then wink. They have no idea how to respond to that so they move on.

It was awful to see the penned up animals in tiny cages: birds, rabbits, pigeons, turkeys. Mostly, they were right next to the butcher shops.

The men here treat women horribly. The three women in our group were gawked at as if they were the very first women men have seen in their lives. It is just so rude. We do see hints and pockets of women getting more rights, but I think the cultural revolution will occur when society demands that women are treated differently.

The Christian faith gets so messed up here. It takes on the societal aspects of Islam. The cultural ways they practice their religious rituals gets ported over to Christians who think they have to act the same way, but they don't. They are free from those constraints, but the cultural pressures are huge.

It is expected that an adult gets married by a certain age and they cannot move out of the family house until they are married. Wealthy, successful adult women have to stay at home in the family homestead if they are not married. If a man is 40 and has not married, shame is heaped upon him until he buckles under and marries a women he does not love. It is very difficult for Christians to marry because a man has to first establish his career and by the time that happens, all the women Christians are married off so he doesn't have a great pool from which to choose. Christians want to be able to love their spouses, not have an arranged relationship.

I am a huge mismatch here in Amman, which is the best reason I am here. People are filled with great angst and they know the society does not benefit them, but they don't know how to live with ease by charting their own course.

I am indebted to this great group of German women who formed a knitting circle to makes hats, scarves, and socks for Syrian refugee children. Over 240 pairs have been made already. We plan to have them delivered to the camps this week.

As I finish my vanilla rhubarb cough drops, I realize just how much I enjoy them.

The Philippines has been hit by a massive Category Five Cyclone that has devastated parts of the country with already over 10,000 dead. This is going to take them a great while to recover and of course, we can never bring those dead back to life. I hear another massive storm is on the way. This poor country is going through much hardship.

After Mass this morning, we had a small party. I enjoyed it very much. It is our third one and about 40 people came, which thrilled me. They love gathering like this and the food was great. The first time, we have about six people; then we had fifteen; today, those 40 stayed around, took photos, ate, and enjoyed a great time. I'm so glad to be able to do it because the Filipinos need to come together to enjoy the support of the larger community.

I decided that I would be like a Boston driver today since they are so friendly and considerate. I drove slowly and patiently to church and I stopped when someone was in the wrong lane. They, of course, yelled at me for existing, but I don't mind their juvenile rantings. It is kind of fun. As I was doing it though, it really paid off. As I saw a reckless driver, I stopped, while he ran right into another car that was parked on the side of the road. About 30 feet later, I stopped when I saw aggressive drivers, and bam! They hit one another. I thanked God. I also noticed some very kind drivers on the road and I tried to extend as much generosity as I could to others. The covered women often look scared to be driving, which makes us all vulnerable.

I was talking with an Arab friend and asked about driving lessons. She told me that the lessons are very strict and they are the same rules of the road as we have in the U.S., Most people fail at least six times because they do not understand the fundamentals. Jordanians see it as a revenue producer, but I hope they continue with strict standards and decide to finally begin enforcing these rules. The country needs it badly, but you knew that I was going to talk about driving, didn't you?


  1. What a lovely newsy post. You have touched on so many topics and given us an insight into various areas of your life in Amman. The world is small - you have a Filipino presence in your parish as do we here in Canada. We grieve with them for the devastation that has resulted in the loss of life. We connect in community as do you while we wait to hear who among our friends has been impacted.

    As I read about the influence of the Islamic culture on your Christian community, I reflected on St. Paul's writings to the various churches in the 1st century as they struggled in a similar way.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. I learn so much from you. Blessings and prayers.

    1. Thanks, Lynda. Filipino workers are all over the world and are the workers of the world in many respects. I'm sure that you are a great presence to them, especially in their time of need. We remain connected in prayer for loved ones and friends.

      Yes, the Islamic culture stamps an imprint on Society as you would expect. The struggles here are different from communities in the West, and it is much like the struggles 1st and 2nd century Christians faced. Thank God, the Jordanian King is so good.