You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, as the saying goes. Since I find myself in a very different environment than the usual church circles (i.e., I’m with 20- and 30-somethings in language school each morning), I have to get used to being a normal guy, and take care not to unconsciously put on “clerical” airs. It’s stretching me, and I think it’s also helping me be a “real” Christian person, not a stereotypical “religious type”. Hearing them ask me if I knew why people were walking around the city with ashes on their foreheads told me that these young Europeans have next to no religious or faith background.
|The view looking south from our living room balcony.|
Our section consists of a class of six students and one teacher, and I win the prize of oldest student, hands down. Oldest student means that I’m the one who gets to struggle the most with learning the verb forms, subjunctives and adjectives and who knows what else in spoken Arabic. When called upon to say, “He wants to swim,” I easily mix up my hes and shes, and my singulars and plurals. Quite a lot of fun. Except when I realize that I’m making the same mistake time and again. In one of those moments of frustration last week I appended my fumbled Arabic sentence with one of my favorite interjections: “Nuts!”
Well, talk about making an impression on others. (In Christian lingo, that’s called “your witness”… showing how God lives in a regular person.) The three Dutch, one German and one American, plus the young Lebanese woman teaching us, immediately burst out laughing. Why? They loved the expression, “Nuts”. They hadn’t heard that before (except for the American). One of them said to the other, “That’s great – I’m going to use that expression! ‘Nuts!’” My witness, indeed…
|My shortcut to work, with rainwater gently cascading down the picturesque slope.|
Winter is the rainy season here, and one recent, rainy day I had left my umbrella open to dry in the passageway to the classrooms. It’s another of my American cultural artifacts – a very large, collapsible type. Seeing it there turned the head of one of the teachers on the way to her class, and she good-naturedly muttered (in Arabic), “Two or three refugees could fit under that tent!” My teacher laughed, and translated the comment for us. So, the following few (rainy) days that teacher asked me if I had brought my tent to class. Yet another witness…
|LebCats 1 (a, b, c and d) – “Shajra Bsaynat"|
So here they are… the LebCats! Hope you enjoy them. [LNB]