Middle East Update July 2022

July 2022

I arrived in the country several weeks ago. The trip over was lovely. It reminded me of pre-covid era. I didn’t have to wear a mask, show proof of a covid test, or fill out any health forms.

Have you ever tried to touch the sky? It doesn’t matter how close you get, it always seems just beyond your fingertips. During these first few weeks, the phrase “Reach for the sky” has been invading my mind recently. It is the act of trying new strategies, of being okay with missing and only grabbing air, of believing that dreams actually do have a potential, and of reaching for the impossible.

Reaching for the sky is not like a Disney song, where characters are able to somehow jump over unreasonably wide crevices. They just barely make it to the other side by narrowly catching on to the ledge.

“Reaching for the sky” is walking on a ropes course in the trees. We know we are safe because we have a harness on. However, even with that knowledge, we can see the ground a long way below us. Anything could happen.

Reach for the sky

Take a step forward

Learn how to balance

Wobble and fall

Know that grace is there

Stand back up

Step towards the impossible

Reach for the sky


Reach for the Sky – Language

There are so many styles of language learning. I started joining a language learning coaching group. It is really like an accountability group. Everyone in the group is studying a language. Everyone shares what techniques they have tried in the past two weeks.

On my first meeting I learned about making vocabulary lists, the importance of giving yourself mini quizzes, and an oral journal. All this was just from listening to the trials and error stories from the others in the group. It was a lot of new ideas for one day and slightly overwhelming. At the end of the session the coach asked each of us, “what new strategy will you try or what strategy will you try again in the next two weeks?”

I instantly slammed on the brakes. In two weeks, I would be starting a new style of language learning during the summer. It is called GPA. I told them, “That will be my new thing that I am trying out.” However, when the meeting was done, I thought about the new ideas they talked about. Maybe there was one thing I could try during my personal study time. I chose to reach for the sky.


Reach for the Sky – Neighborhood

I am still in temporary housing. I have a great housemate and we have very nice neighbors. Yet at the same time, I haven’t been able to totally unpack. In the back of my mind, I know that I will be moving out of this neighborhood in a few months.

Julie,* a friend who I will move in with, and I got a contract on a house that we will be renting together. The owner is still doing the finishing touches on it.

I got to visit it. Since it is still being built, it was left unlocked. I walked right in. The house was big with lots of white tiles. It had a really nice open kitchen. Later when I talked to Julie, I realized that we had visited the wrong house. The owner was building the two houses right next to each other at the same time. I had visited the left house, whereas we will be renting the right house.

While I wait, I am enjoying this house that I am currently in. From the balcony, I like to watch the neighborhood come alive as the sun begins to set. There is a strip of small stores and restaurants across the street from us. I see lots of hired workers going about their business. Lots of young boys go in the stores buying sweets (I assume). Sometimes I see cars pull up and fathers walk into the store for something quick. From the cars, I can see young girls looking out the window. A few times, I have watched groups of women and teenage girls walk down the road.

I didn’t want to just watch, I wanted to be a part of the neighborhood. I set an alarm for dusk as a reminder to go for a walk. Sometimes it was a walk across the road to the strip of stores, through which I can use a few words of the new language. Other times, I would walk around the neighborhood. I will be leaving this neighborhood in a month or two, but I decided to reach for the sky anyway.

I reached for the sky.

What about you? Will you also reach for the sky?

* Names are changed for security reasons

About Me

For most of my growing up years, the Middle East was my home. Later, my family moved back their home country where I studied Recreational Therapy in College. During my studies, I contrasted the children with disabilities in my childhood and the ones where I currently lived. In the Middle East, the children with disabilities were often ignored.

I knew I wanted to go back overseas. In order to gain experience, I volunteered with an NGO hospital. I loved the way the hospital was able to do surgeries for those who could not afford them. However, there were many people the hospital could not help. These people had to continue to live with their disability in a culture that did not accept them. I had found what I wanted to do.

I would like to see people, with and without disabilities, loving and serving the Creator in a community that sees and values them for who they are.

I will be working at a center located in an old village in the Middle East. The community center was set up to help meet the needs felt by the community. It is a place for children to come and do art classes, learn English, participate in business classes or any other new activity that is developed. There are several families in that community with children with special needs. Although there is no program for them, the community center director is looking forward to finding a way to meet this need through the center.

For the first two years I will be learning the language, as well as working at the center with the programs already put in place. My goal will be to begin with learning to know the culture, the people, and how the community works. Just as the Son walked and lived with people, my first steps will be to build relationships with the people within the community.