Our Family’s International Journey Part 2
If you haven’t yet read Part 1, you may want to do so. I originally thought I would write Part 2 in the same way I wrote Part 1, telling unique stories of our travels to various places around the world. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that our fond memories are more about the people than the places. (I am still including interesting tidbits here and there in parentheses)
Our kids’ first friends in Amman were Egyptian Americans. Their parents Fawzy and Linda have been dear friends since our first week in Amman in 1997. They babysat Jonathan when I first started seeing patients at Hope Clinic in 1998. Linda was my second nurse when my first nurse moved back to America, and she still serves at Hope Clinic today. I was blessed this past week to talk to Linda by phone and get caught up on their ministry in Amman and I enjoy praying for them every day.
There were the Jordanians and Palestinians who were such generous people and who blessed us greatly in our first few years in Amman in so many ways I can’t even begin to recount. My eternal thanks to Usama and Aida; Faik, Suhair, Hala, Yara, Mais and Rawan; Abeer and Mahfooz; Samir and Yola; Sami and Josephine; Helen and Assad; Issa and Louisa; Yousef and Lydia; Jamal and Suzanne; Shifa, In’am and family; Asma; Ghada and Jarius; Haifa and Elias; Basima and Nasri ; Fadi and Vera; Marwan and Inge. My friendships with Nuha and Suhaila continue to bless me even today across the many miles.
We met my distant Lebanese cousin Hiba through my closer cousin Issa. Her daughter Joanna is Bethany’s age and her son Mounir is Joshua’s age. We took several family vacations together and the kids spent a lot of time at each other’s houses. Hiba was so sweet to watch Jonathan while I was serving at Hope Clinic and Linda had to step in as my nurse. Hiba, I know you subscribe to my blog and I want you to know that I love and appreciate you very much!
I led many women’s Bible studies during our 15 years in Amman. For a couple of years, the ladies who came were North and South Americans and Europeans who were married to Arab men. Because I grew up in such a family, I was uniquely able to relate to them and what their experiences were, and speak encouragement to them from a place of understanding. I have such sweet memories of being with Kerry, Marta, Leslie, Edith, Lili, Tiffany, Diane, Maximiliani, Janice, Christine, and Ann over the years. Emma was not part of that group, but we shared many a meal with her and Kamal – they are more like family to us than friends.
Our Syrian Kurdish friends Khaled and Zainab; Arsalan and Farida; and Haji and Na’ila taught us so much about loving our neighbors; caring for the least of these; contentment; and being generous even in poverty.
The first babysitter for our kids in Jordan was a British friend, Tim Young. We had only been in Jordan about 4 weeks, and he insisted we go out on a date for Valentine’s day while he stayed with Bethany and Joshua. We later had a regular babysitter named Anita from Iraq so that we could have a weekly date night (which we highly recommend to all our married friends with young children).
Our friends Matt and Andrea from New Zealand introduced us to truly delicious coffee and got us drinking it when we never had wanted to before. It is on our bucket list to visit them in New Zealand one day. When we go, we will want to visit our other Kiwi friends, Joel and Suzanne as well, and perhaps add on a trip to Australia to see our Aussie friends Richard and Janet.
Our German friends Andreas and Maria graciously hosted us in their home both in Amman and in Frankfurt. They are kind, generous, and godly people with a great sense of humor.
Our Swiss friends Jurg and AnnaMarie hosted us in their home near Geneva. The first time I ever visited a vineyard was the one owned by the family of Karine, another Swiss friend we first met in Jordan. We all enjoyed the boat ride on Lake Geneva with her and her father. Switzerland is truly a beautiful country to visit, and even better with friends.
Touring Spain was much more enjoyable with hosts Sam and Jill. They went above and beyond gracious hospitality to the point of having my mom stay with them as well. The trip to Spain with us was our gift to her for her 60th birthday since she is a former Spanish teacher but had never visited there before. (Seven year old Jonathan discovered a new favorite food there: calamari).
We really enjoyed visiting our dear friends in Marseille, France. When they lived in Amman, they were like family to us. It’s wonderful to be reunited with friends who have moved on, picking up where we left off. (They took us to a local pool – Josh had to borrow a Speedo type bathing suit and Jonathan a bikini bottom because the pools there don’t allow swim trunks/shorts. Rick chose not to swim that day).
Who knew that a trip to Qatar for Bethany and her Jordanian school friends for a Model United Nations conference with Rick as a chaperone would be where Bethany fell in love with music therapy? It is truly the perfect calling for her…
Who knew that a trip to Uganda for Joshua and Rick visiting friends of friends and doing a short term missions project would open the door to Joshua expanding his palate from chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese to so many more foods? When your hosts only have pineapple to serve you on the boat and you’re starving, you eat it! (reminds me of that commercial for Life cereal in the ’70s: “look, he likes it! Hey Mikey!”).
Thanks for reading this far. It’s been fun to reminisce though I know I haven’t begun to share with you all our stories nor all the amazing people who we encountered along the way. We have been so blessed and I know we will continue to make more friends and memories on the journey ahead of us.