Has It Really Only Been 3 Days?

May 23

I woke up around 5:30 am. I was just too excited that I was in Kurdistan and could not wait to get to see some of it! After several more hours everyone else was awake too and at 8:45am we headed to the PLC office. J The office is right above a bakery- yum. There we received some information and our task for the day. The task was for us to split into two groups of three (you know so we wouldn’t draw more attention to ourselves than necessary) and explore the bazaar. Anton, Ben, and Ted were in a group and Adam, Ryan, and I were in the other. Tasks we needed to complete at the bazaar included exchanging $100 to Kurdish currency, picking up SIM cards for our cell phones, drinking fruit smoothies/ juice, learning a few Kurdish phrases, and making it to a restaurant by noon. It was kind of like the amazing race in that as soon as we left the building we were on our own and praying the taxi driver we found knew where he was going and what we were saying. We arrived at the bazaar, walked around, walked some more, and then walked until I developed blisters on my feet. The bazaar has EVERYTHING. Everything from fashionable modern heels to traditional Kurdish Klashi; from spices to live animals; from smoothies to cell phones, from DVDs to fabrics, it is so much cooler than a Wal- Mart. An interesting thing about the bazaar is that the people are probably more into building relationships and getting to know people than selling and buying. It isn’t uncommon for a shop- keeper to just sit down with you and have a cup of tea. When we were searching for specific items we discovered it isn’t uncommon for a shop- keeper to leave his store (potentially losing business) to help you find the store that carries what you are looking for- and also making sure the person there is respectful to you, because you are now his friend. We need more of this hospitality and less of the self- service mindset we’ve been taught for so long. I am thankful that I was able to experience the service of the bazaar because while I am here to serve, I need to learn from them what exactly that looks like here and how I can most respectfully serve and love them.

After the bazaar we ate a delicious, extremely filling lunch, and then came home to learn of the house rules, what each member already on staff at PLC does, safety ‘rules,’ and some more of what is culturally acceptable in Kurdistan.  Right now I am overwhelmed with information, but more excited to start building relationships, learning, and loving here in Iraq.

Kurdish Wedding/ Engagement Party

After writing my blog about the bazaar I went downstairs to chat with Cayla (Matt’s wife), who is amazingly sweet (more on the PLC staff later) and Jessica. They were in the kitchen prepping for dinner as the kids (Emma and Micah) were eating watermelon. After chatting with everyone for a bit, Emma and I started playing Polly Pockets upstairs in her room. Not more than 10 minutes into Polly Pocket playing (or really just setting it all up and making up background stories for our Pollys) Jessica came in and asked me if I wanted to go to a Kurdish engagement party. It was for the older sister of the first girl that PLC sent to Turkey for heart surgery. THIS IS HOW AMAZING AND IMPORTANT THE RELATIONSHIPS PLC BUILDS WITH FAMILES ARE! I, of course, said yes. We literally had 15 minutes to get ready (as Jessica thought the party was tomorrow night and not tonight). Jessica, Emma, and Micah all wore traditional Kurdish clothes (gilly-kurdi?) and I wore more make- up than I had ever worn, or feel comfortable in, because I needed to show how much I respected the family we would be paying congratulations to. After picking up Michelle (Cody’s wife) we headed over to the party. Little did I know that engagements are SHORT in Kurdistan. Like we missed the engagement party in the time it took us to realize the party was tonight, decide to go, get ready, and go and we were there for the wedding reception and pictures. The women there were all dressed in gilly- kurdis and looked absolutely beautiful in their bright/ sequined/ beaded outfits. They were all smiles and immediately took us inside to sit on the couches when we got there. I think the reason for this was to take pictures with the foreigners. The bride and groom were busy taking pictures with the other guests of the wedding, so I didn’t feel like we were upstaging the beautiful, BEAUTIFUL bride at all. After sitting, trying a little bit of the super sweet breaded desserts, the dancing began. It was not Western wedding reception dancing, but a Kurdish dance (basically side stepping, while holding hands in a circle, and moving your shoulders up and down). It was a lot of fun, but for those of you who know me it was also still a lot of not Liz to get up and dance. After some dancing we left the party and I pretty much just went home, ate a late dinner, and slept.

May 24

Today started off early again, at least for me. I woke up at 6:00am to shower. I wanted to make sure I gave my hair enough time to dry. Walking out of your house with wet hair is a huge no, especially for women. We got to the office (which is just a 10 minute walk) and talked about office rules, maintenance, and weekly schedules. After this we were informed individually what we would be focusing on this summer. I learned a little of my tasks. I’ll be the blog editor. This means I’ll be reviewing everyone’s blogs, picking pictures/ titles, scheduling who blogs when and what the content will be. It sounds pretty fun, but I know there is so much that goes into this that I’ll be learning over the next week- like what do people what to read, what makes the blog, editing, who will write what best, and things like that. Then we went to lunch at a falafel place- delicious. After lunch Awara talked to us about Kurdish culture and what we were NOT to do.  Then we headed over to Matt and Cayla’s house for chile, corn bread, snicker doodles, cake, and Megamind. I, of course, fell asleep.  And that is today- tomorrow morning Cayla and I are going to the bazaar. 🙂

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