Finding ‘family’ on the other side of the world

by Jemmina

‘How long have you got left?’
is one of my most dreaded questions. I hate it, because then I have to think about leaving this place that has become my home. About leaving my friends, the people who have welcomed me into their lives.

I’m beginning to realize that leaving home, to go back home will be as hard, if not harder than leaving home. I have come to love this place and its people. I love the life I live here.When I think about this, I realize that my time here has been much more than just a visit, or an extended travel, but this has become my home. One of them anyway.

A tourist comes, looks at some stuff, buys some souvenirs eats at a restaurant and maybe talks to a few people. And this is great, I love travelling places and going to tourist sites.
But that is not what I am doing, I have friends here, I have a life here.

For instance, today, I went to church in Beit Jala. A small Baptist church in Arabic, translated for the foreigners by the Pastors son/my friend then we sit and drink coffee over conversations.
Afterwards my friend picked me up and we went to her in-laws for lunch, where we ate Maftool(a kind of couscous) and chicken. Then after hanging out with her son and husband for a while we went to her parents house to drink tea on the balcony.
The lovely thing about this is that I have done this many times, so now, instead of being given the special treatment that guests usually get, I am simply treated like family.
I sit and have conversations with Issa’s(her husband) family half in English half in Arabic over lunch.
And when I turn up at her parents house, I am greeted by her dad who hugs me asks me how I am and calls me ‘Amo’ which literally means Uncle, but is also used to address the niece or nephew(same with ‘mama’ and ‘baba’). And here you call any older family friend Aunt or Uncle, so for me to be called ‘Amo’ is a huge privilege.It means that I have become like a niece. So we sit outside and drink tea with mint while I talk to her nieces and joke about silly things.

And its for these reasons that I will find it incredibly hard to leave this place, this place that has caught my attention. Recently I’ve found myself getting a little depressed and sad.
Its hard to explain the connection and how I feel about leaving this place, but your prayers would be greatly appreciated. Prayers for encouragement, high-spirits and great time spent with those who mean the most to me here would be greatly appreciated.

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