Saturday, May 30, 2009

Challenge to Bedu Shepherds

Abu and Um Tulip are crazy busy right now getting ready to leave for a summer holiday in America. We are thrilled to see family and friends, especially for the grandmas and grandpas to get to know their newest grandson and have some quality time with Oliver and Teddy Bear. We're a bit nervous about the flight, but as it's been two years since we've been back, it's going to be great to see everyone.

Oliver turned six today and also graduated from Kindergarten yesterday. The best part of the ceremony was the hula hoop dancing and routines that looked like they were taken from 'Little Miss Sunshine'.

My sister recommended I look up LED sheep on You Tube. I guess some shepherds in Wales had a blast with their sheep, LED lights, and some filming techniques. I wonder if our local Bedu shepherds can top that. Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Legend

It's not often in one's life that he has the chance to meet a legend. I've never met a really famous person. Someone asked me this just a few days ago. I can think of three close encounters with marginally famous people in my life.

I met Alan Trammell at a baseball clinic when I was in high school. I think the words he said to me were something like "You gotta hold the baseball [such-and-such a way] for me to sign it." Wow. Awesome.

When I was entering eighth grade Chris Webber was entering Michigan as a freshman. He and Jalen Rose came to a summer basketball camp I was attending. Each of the kids got to go one-on-one against one of them. I went against Webber and tried a fade-away jumper. He blocked it. Of course, he was too nice to block everyone's shot, so I like to think he looked at me and thought I had a chance to hit a 18-footer, so he'd better block it. Or so I like to think.

My other brush with "fame" was when Fernando Ortega visited Hope College and was about to play at an event. I was closest to the piano, and he said, "Can you help me move this over a little bit?" I did a great job too.

So none of those people are really all that famous. If you're not a sports fan or follower of great Christian music you may not know who any of these people are. But in the last few weeks I got to spend time with a legend.

"Abu Billy" is the founder of the institution which I now lead (although he never imagined it becoming what it is today). His picture is displayed in my office. Several times recently I've been asked if he's still alive. "You bet!" I say, "He's probably in better shape than I am." Recently I've been able to tell them that he's coming to visit.

Almost three weeks ago Abu Billy did come to visit our country, the place he called home for over forty years. We met him once before, but meeting him here was even more special. We got to see him with people who look to him as a spiritual father, people who worked closely with him for decades, people who grew up under his caring eye.

He is going on eighty years old and I was sad to observe a sign of decline in that his hearing is getting bad... until I learned that he's been deaf in one ear since contracting scarlet fever in childhood. So much for decline!

It's hard to express how it feels to now be leading the institution he founded. Humbling... certainly. But it's a blessing too, knowing the concern and prayer he put into his work. And it's an encouragement to see all that can be accomplished for the Lord by a life fully surrendered to Him.

-Abu Tulip

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

If you build it they will come

Well, the past month has flown by. It's May already and we're preparing for a trip to America this summer. The weather has gotten warmer which means we get to do one of my favorite things - take the boys to the park so they can run off some steam! This is often difficult in our city, as nice public parks are few and far between. Fortunately a brand new park just opened up not far from our home. We went on Friday morning, just a day after their grand opening (the park is sponsored by HSBC). I counted somewhere between 50 and 60 children at the park. This is a small park, with a merry-go-round, 2 monkey bars, 3 swings, 2 slides, and a see-saw. It was CROWDED.
However, much to my surprise and elation, the kids were wonderful. We sometimes go to the big park on Medical City Road and often have problems with the children hitting or throwing sand, and parents are sometimes unfriendly. Abu Tulip and I came up with a theory. That big park is, well, huge, and people come from all over. They do not know each other and therefore do not care if their children are kind, if they throw trash everywhere, and do not mingle with others. This park is local, on duwar hawuuz. That means, traffic circle with the water tower. I mention this because there is no longer a water tower, and it's not really a traffic circle, but for those that know the city it is also an area of some great QIZ shops, similar to the one Kinzi mentioned out by duwar Waha.

But this park, at duwar hawuuz, is local. The kids know each other, as they all live in the neighborhood. A young girl took to my boys and made sure they each got a turn on the merry-go-round and swing, telling the older boys that the ajnabi (foreigner) kids deserved a turn, too. A lovely lady invited me over for tea, and was happy to chat with me. At this local park, people understand that how you treat others will affect your day. Arabs care about community, and certainly don't want their cousin, uncle, neighbor, etc, to hear anything bad about their family. These kids seemed to know that any bad behaviour would have consequences.

The funniest question I was asked that day was from some middle-school aged boys. They asked, 'fi 3indik dog?' or, 'do you have a dog?'. They didn't know much about America, but they did know that Americans often have pet dogs, and were curious if we had one as well. I told them no, but that my sister in America does. What is interesting about their question is while they asked me in Arabic, they used dog, not kelb, for dog. My theory about this one is that 'kelb' refers to the mangy, street dogs that no one wants as a pet, and 'dog' refers to the cute ones Americans keep in their homes.

These are some of the boys. Tuckered out from playing, I guess. Sort of captures how I feel at the end of the day as well! Life with my 3 little boys is rewarding, but busy and exhausting, too.

~ Um Tulip