But now all that seems so silly to me. I love it here.
Some things that used to seem weird but that I'm completely used to now, include....
- wild, disgusting cats everywhere I look.
- there is no such thing as one-stop shopping. If I need an extension cord, milk, envelopes, and band-aids, I better plan on a whole day of shopping because I will have to go to four different stores, on opposite sides of the city, all by bus (or on foot).
- constant fireworks at night. Big, loud, wake-you-up-at-night fireworks.
- people here don't seem to have a concept of racism or discrimination. People openly talk about their hatred for people different than them.
- BIG guns.
- milk sold in bags.
- little to no rain.
- no customer service.
- when planning a fun day out with the family, we choose from possibilities like the Garden Tomb, Megiddo, Gethsemane, Masada, and the Dead Sea.
- metal detectors.
- overlooking the Old City and the Dome of the Rock during sacrament meeting.
- baking cookies in a toaster oven.
- no air conditioning.
- dirty looks from strangers.
- starting most conversations with, "Do you speak English?"
I remember having almost no concept of what all the discord in the Middle East was about, despite the coverage on the news. None of it made sense to me because I couldn't visualize the different countries, religions, and people. But now I see it all with a new eye. I have a new appreciation for minorities, the possibility of war, and the reality of fear. These things can be hard to swallow, but I have a new empathy for people here and I am grateful for that.
I will forever be grateful for the small presence of the LDS church here. We love our little branch like family. We get together for holidays, birthdays, and Sabbath dinners. We serve each other, love each other, and appreciate each other. It's the way the church should be everywhere.
Best of all, Tom and the kids have never meant so much to me. We have experienced all of this together. It has been a great year.