Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 5 and 6

Let me do some explaining. Sorry about the order of the pictures and words, I'm not very good at blogging.

I went to Aleppo, the biggest city in Northern Syria, where our branch stayed in a really nice hotel. We went there to visit the gravestones of two LDS missionaries that died there during the 1920's. One of them was a mission president. My current District President serving a mission currently in Amman, Jordan is the great grandson of this past mission president and this trip was the first time that they know of that a relative has visited the gravesight.

I've eaten at Yehiiha's house twice. The first time went perfect, the second time (this week) I got sick.

Here's an account of my first time at his house:

So that friend I told you about Yeheeya (John) a really awesome, nice, and humble man invited me to his house for dinner. The house was small and simple but the love was grande and fantastic. for some reason his 4 kids (14 years old to 2) and wife were really intrigued by me. Seriously I don't know if i've ever been more funny, and I wasn't even trying to be funny. I don't even know what i was doing to be funny. It just happened, i just was. Imagine a really traditional religious muslim family that is really good and well mannered. All of them including the mom in her hijab were laughing hysterically. The type of laugh where it's inappropriate to laugh and they are trying not to laugh, doing everything physically possible not to laugh, but can't stop. I'm telling you it was ridiculous. The fact that they thought they were being rude and were trying to be good hosts in a place where hospitality to guests is extremely important (little did they 't know that I didn't care, but in fact was basking in the incredible moment) added so much to the moment. Seriously they were laughing hysterically. Their faces were bright red, veins popping out and they could barely breath.. They would to this thing where they would turn their faces away from me so I couldn't see them dying of laughter, as if I wouldn't notice that they were seizing up in their laughs. At one point I looked over at the mom and as she was hiding her face and turning from me, a huge slimy and stringy drool just gushed out of her mouth over her hijab and all down her dress. She was laughing so hard she was drooling like a little baby. It was a sight to see. i also was laughing so hard too.

This weeks experience :

(Saturday 11-14-09) Ok folks, here I go again. I’m behind a couple weeks so let me see what I can do to fill you in. In order to set the mood, I want to start out with a story from last night, the not so pretty yet extremely comical side of my experience in Damascus. I’ve mentioned to you guys before of a relationship I have with a shoe-repairman named Yehiiya (John). Our friendship is special in many ways, but my favorite part is the love and concern he has for me. He’s always watching out for me and making sure I have everything I need. He’s opened up some doors for me that have allowed me to experience Damascene life at the volk level rather than the Romanticized version usually experienced by tourists or foreigners in a different country. He’s invited me over to his house a few times and I’ve been able to see for myself how the common poor people of Damascus live. Yesterday he and his family had me over for dinner again. It was easy to tell that the family had gone all out to prepare a very special meal for me, probably only equaled a few times per year on very special occasions. I was very grateful and wanted to show my appreciation and my interpretation of that was to eat a lot of the wonderful food. As I started eating the chicken and potato dish, although very tasty, I could tell that it was made with a lot of cheap cooking oil. My taste buds allowed me a flashback to my first few months of my mission when my stomach had a very difficult time adjusting to the different food style. I would throw-up after every meal prepared similarly to how this wonderful potato-chicken dish was prepared. I was cautious not to eat a lot of only this dish but rather ration it amongst the appetizers, bread, soup, and salads. Yehiiya had different plans. Every time I made progress in clearing my dish of food, he would add more to my plate. I ended up eating a lot of chicken and potatoes. After dinner they brought out the customary tea (soda for me) and then dessert snacks after that. By this time my tummy was starting to feel it. I had obviously put too much faith in my digestive capabilities; I knew that I was in trouble. At this point I was completely refusing any snack foods brought out. My tummy was hurting, I thought if I laid down for a while it my help in the digestive process. This only prolonged the inevitable. I mentioned to Yehiiya a couple of times that I need to go home, but he would ask why and tell me to stay just a little longer and even suggest that I spend the night. After an hour and a half of ignoring gastric red flags I finally told Yehiiya I had to go home because I was sick. The only problem with this is that I stayed at his house to the last possible minute before things would start to get ugly and I still had to walk 10 minutes to the bus stop, 20 minutes on the microbus, and 15 minutes to my house. I wasn’t going to make it. As Yehiiya walked me to the bus stop, I knew that I was about to blow chunks at any moment. I couldn’t though because I knew that he would be completely devastated and feel horrible knowing that their special meal had make me sick. I prayed fervently in my heart as we walked in the cold night that I wouldn’t throw up until at least Yehiiya was out of sight. I finally made it to the microbus and said goodbye. I sat in the back next to the window preparatory to the blow. I said another prayer pleading for postponement of the upchuck. I made it to my stop. My stop is one of the busiest intersections in the city center. However, 50 yards away there is a dark pillared abandoned building alleyway. I straight lined it to my dark hidden spot and let loose. It was horribly violent and disgusting. I threw up everything I had eaten since breakfast. My first upchuck was done peacefully, during my second one I heard a loud moaning mumble. I look around and saw a deaf and dumb homeless man screeching out some sort of plea as he pointed outside my newly acquired dungeon. I thought he was worried about me and was pointing to help. I tried to mutter no thank you and beckoned him away. He wouldn’t leave. Every vomit his gestures became more earnest. By my third or fourth vomit, very fiercely I yelled “NO!” I just wanted to throw up all by my self and lay down until I felt well enough to make it home. Throwing up again, I could tell he was getting mad. He was yelling at the top of his lungs in the best fashion that a dumb person can. I couldn’t quite pay attention to him because of other grievances coming out of my mouth so he started punching me. I wasn’t done throwing up so I just scooted away from him and threw up some more. Was he trying to get help for me? I thought I was a little harsh on him initially so I told him kindly no thank you and that I would be fine. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing though, he started soliciting outside help and went knocking on doors still yelling and gesturing. That didn’t help. I was about done throwing up and wanted to sit down and physically recover. While he was still yelling I looked over again and saw him pick up a big stick/club. I decided I should probably leave. As I walked home I realized that he was probably upset because the abandoned building I was throwing up at was most likely where he slept. I hope I didn’t throw up everywhere and that there is somewhere there for him to sleep.

Anyway I went home and recovered quickly and today (the next day) I feel perfect!