Written by an Overseas Goer
Our family has been in the Middle East for just over a year now. We’re currently learning Arabic with the hopes of doing business among a people that have never heard the good news. Currently most of our time is spent learning Arabic. Each week, we take 20 hours of class in addition to studying and practicing for 20-30 hours. So much of our life revolves around listening, repeating back, writing, reading, and conversing in Arabic. Arabic is challenging because you can’t directly translate English into Arabic. For example, in Arabic, you need to say “I’m thinking in the problem” rather than “about the problem.” There’s also a lot of prescribed phrases for specific situations. Recently, we said the phrase used to console someone at a funeral when our teacher sneezed… oops.
It’s been a full year with many blessings and challenges. We’ve seen this most clearly with the birth of our son this past year. My wife and I have been so blessed by him. Our baby seems to be a people magnet as he is quite the commodity here and has helped us make lots of friends. Yet at the same time it has been a reminder of the challenges of living abroad. We are bringing our son into a life full of transitions and separations. It is sad thinking about the missed times with grandparents and not being able to experience the blessings of a large network of believers. It’s challenging raising him in a place where our friends aren’t thinking about car seats, nap schedules, or training.
Being here has helped us remember that we are temporary residents on this earth, here for just a short time. It reminds us to live for eternity, our true home. But when I think about this past year the word that comes to mind is privilege. It is such a privilege to live here and to be able to learn language full-time. A privilege to befriend someone who have never met a born-again believer in their life. A privilege to root our identity deeper in the Lord as everything else is stripped away. And yes, even a privilege to give up really good things in the States so that we have the chance to bring the Message that has changed our lives to people who have never heard. It’s our hope that our son catches this vision for his life as well. What a privilege it is to bring him along on this journey.