Yemen 2009


Scattered qaat leaves beneath my foot,
Veiled women dressed in black.
People jabbering in Arabic around me.
Welcome to Yemen.

Open-doored Dibabs driving by,
Little boys kicking a ball in the street.
Stray cats sitting under the chicken coop.
Welcome to Yemen.

Women carrying pitchers on their heads,
Men fashioning Jambias out of metal,
Children watching their parents intently.
Welcome to Yemen.

(a poem I wrote after the last time I was in Yemen. Reading it brings back memories and pictures to my head.)

April 29 – Daddy and I woke up at about 5:20 to go the airport. They were boarding when we got through to the gate and went right onto the plane. I read and napped some on the flight. Then we landed, and stepped outside onto the stairway down to the bus… breathing wonderful Yemeni air once more.  (It didn’t feel like it had been a year and a half since I’d last been there – it felt both longer than that and shorter than that!) Anyway, we got through passport control… in which the guy was convinced my dad was an Arab. Then we met our friends outside and drove to their house. Being up at a higher altitude than usual, I had a pretty bad headache at this point, but ignored it and drank lots of water. 😛 After lunch we went to the Old City and shopped and took lots of pictures. Sometimes I just stood there taking it all in and loving being back. We got shwarmas for dinner, and then the three of us girls stayed out and walked to the house where they were having youth group.
I sat there “wowed.” It made me want to cry… I’d noticed it but not realized it last time I was in Yemen, but now I was able to put my finger on it – the people in Yemen that I know have such community. It’s something I want to badly, but it’s so hard to find unless you’ve grown up together or are like-minded – and in such a diverse and transient place like Dubai, that’s almost impossible to find. But I want it. I want community.
After singing, sharing, prayer, and a thought-provoking discussion on forgiveness, we played duck-duck goose… (request of Tim… we played that you couldn’t say the same animal twice, though, so it went like this – “Duck, cow, turtle, canary… goose!” ) then we played Ninja and started playing mind games, but everyone had to leave.
The power went out as we got back to where we were staying, and so I got ready for bed and read my Bible by candle light. Such fun. ^.^

Part of the Old City from the Art Museum.

April 30 – We woke up and ate breakfast and got ready for the day, then left for the hotel where daddy was staying. During the morning we watched the kids, which was a blast. At first it was just Joy, Grace, Katherine, and I, but after a little while Tim and James joined us. We played all sorts of games with the kids, helped them color and cut and joined in on their Bible stories and activities. During the second half of the morning, we played sleeping lions, and the main leader read the kids stories, so all of us youth were playing mind games and army-crawling under chairs with one of the little girls.
In the afternoon we took a dibab down to the Old City, so Catherine could go shopping and so I could get a few gifts. We climbed up to the top of the caravanserai, art museum, and the Bab al Yemen (door of Yemen), which was exhausting at altitude, but wonderful just the same. We wandered around for a while trying to decide what to get as gifts for people, and Joy made us try this disgusting gum… We took a Taxi back to Joy’s house and took pictures on their Mac. While we ate dinner, we watched Bella. After the movie finished, we talked and went to bed.

May 1 – The best day.  We were in for the singing in the Church service, and then took the kids to the other building of the hotel and watched them. Elizabeth, Tim’s sister, was there, too, which was enjoyable, because I remembered her from last time and really enjoyed her company then, and even more so this time! The kids ran races in our shoes, and we then raced having to step over them.  Tim, Elizabeth, and I talked a lot about siblings. At lunch, I sat with daddy, another family, and Tim, which was very enjoyable and we had a lot of good conversations. All of us youth took a taxi home. Joy, Catherine, Grace, and I took pictures and talked, then we took another taxi back to the hotel to go out to dinner (Yemeni food! – kibda, salta, bread, tea, lahm saghar… mmm!) with our parents. Afterwards we got Baskin Robbins and watched the Last Sin Eater. None of us wanted to go to bed, saying that morning would come sooner and then I’d have to leave. Eventually we did go to bed, sadly.
Yemeni food. The best in the world. Mmm.

Now I’m about to go into some more thinkin’ stuff, so here’s the link to all of my pictures before I forget. I didn’t take nearly as many as last time, partly because we didn’t go as many places, and partly because I already had a lot of the places we went. But here they are anyway. 🙂 (I’ve switched to Picasa because Photobucket hasn’t been working for me lately. Anyone know how to post pictures from Picasa to a blog?)

May 2 – Mr. M picked me up at around 7:30, and we drove out to the hotel to get daddy. (He’s a crazily aggressive driver! It made me glad he reminded me to put on my seatbelt, and that they had seatbelts in their car!). Daddy and I read some of “Le Petit Prince” in the airport and on the airplane, then we watched Yemen disappear as we left. Tim’s words from the day before came back to me, he’d said something like “I couldn’t stand leaving Yemen if I wasn’t ever coming back again.” It’s hard trusting God in things like this, leaving a place you love so much you’d want to pick up your house and move it there and live there forever, but you know that right now God wants you right where you are. Contentment is hard sometimes.
It was even harder leaving Yemen this time than last time – I’d made more friends who live there, experienced the culture even more and loved it even more… I’ve been home 4 hours and already I’m longing to go back.

Going there I’d been afraid it wouldn’t be as good the second time around, but it was so much better – because I knew where stuff was, and had opinions on things and knew what I loved to do there.

It comes with lots of questions. “Will I ever go back? When? How? Why? Where in Yemen would I be? Will I ever live there? How does my desire to learn Hebrew work in to wanting to live in an even more Arab country than I live in now? Will I ever be part of a real community?”
That’s what I hate about Dubai. I don’t mind the heat I don’t mind the traffic. Even the city wouldn’t be so bad if we had community. It’s there in little bits and pieces, but not like I saw it in Yemen. No people who just sit there and completely open up to each other about what’s going on in their lives right now, and pour themselves into each other’s lives. I love our Church, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t get how community works with over 800 people – that’s members, not counting their families. And how community can happen when some people are only here for two years. And how community works when you don’t have anything in common except that you live in the same place and go to the same Church – maybe you don’t even have the same theological views. Maybe you do, but they just play out differently.
Last time I saw it, but didn’t know what it was. This time, I went to Yemen and in the back of my mind, I was searching for community. I found it, but not in the place I wanted to find it. The night before we left for Dubai, I was listening to a song by Michael Card, called “The Basin and the Towel.” I love that song, but this time listening to it something new really stood out. “The call is to community, that impoverished power that sets the soul free…” And I know that my heart said I want that community. But the bridge of that song is so true – “And the space between ourselves sometimes, is more than the distance between the stars…”

Amazing as this trip to Yemen was, though, I’m really struggling with being content where I’m at right now. Please pray for me. Pray for contentment, and pray that I would be able to look past theological differences in friends and really love them and open up to them.
My friends and I have many differences. I haven’t been to youth group in over 3 months. To be honest, I don’t miss it. I’m not going to college. We do family worship. We’re one of about 5 homeschooling families here who homeschool for the same reasons.
But we do still have things in common. It’s just harder to look past the disagreements than it is to look at our agreements.
I had my small group last night and shared my thoughts on community with them. We’re going to talk more about it and work at it.
Pray for grace.
And pray for God’s help in building a community.

Bail o Dia Ort,

In an upstairs room, a parable
is just about to come alive.
And while they bicker about who’s best,
with a painful glance, He’ll silently rise.

Their Savior Servant must show them how
through the will of the water
and the tenderness of the towel.

And the call is to community,
The impoverished power that sets the soul free.

In humility, to take the vow,
that day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

In any ordinary place,
on any ordinary day,
the parable can live again
when one will kneel and one will yield.

Our Saviour Servant must show us how
through the will of the water
and the tenderness of the towel.

And the space between ourselves sometimes
is more than the distance between the stars.

By the fragile bridge of the Servant’s bow
we take up the basin and the towel.


3 thoughts on “Yemen 2009

  1. Mr. M says:

    I wasn’t crazily aggressive! And I was trying to be good! And there wasn’t any traffic to be aggressive with!

    I learned all my driving from Mr. P. =P

    Mr. M


    • kyleian says:

      Mr. M – I never said it was a bad thing. 🙂 I enjoyed the ride, actually. It just caught me a little off-guard!
      It almost reminded me of dune bashing, only without the motion sickness side of it!


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