(I wrote this three years ago, but I figure I can share it again here because I've been sharing a bit on Instagram. This year/month marks five years since the trip to Syria.)
In April of 2010 (during an internship right out of college) I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel with a small video team to Syria and Lebanon to shoot a music video. Yes, a music video.
During the fast paced one week adventure, I filled my lungs with the Middle Eastern air, I picked its dirt up with my shoes, I touched its buildings, I ate its food, I witnessed its beauty, I wrapped myself in its culture. But most importantly I met and spent time with some of its people.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the trip and here lately the memories have been weighing heavily on me. So, I would like to share one of the many stories from the experience. I’ve talked about this encounter many, many times, but for some reason I haven’t written it down. I figure this is an alright place to do so.
Making Friends With A Bedouin Family
The team I traveled with was made up of five men and me… the only female. However, we did have a female translator for a couple of days, which was such a blessing because that allowed me the opportunity to talk openly with the women I met.
Traveling down a desert highway in route to Damascus, packed tightly in our van/bus, we passed a bedouin family living roughly fifty yards away from the road. The decision to stop and meet the family came as somewhat of a shock to me. I was thrilled at the oppertunity and hoped that the other female (the translator) and I would be able to go out and meet the family as well.
I’ll never forget seeing the women excitedly rushing to our vehicle to usher she and I out or the kisses they showered on our faces and the arms they flung around our necks. I’d never felt so warmly welcomed anywhere.
The family had never met Americans before. In fact, they said the only people they had ever met that were not from that part of the world were Australians who were passing by many years before our arrival.
I'm not sure I can put sentences together that would truly express how generous these people were to us. This family lived in tents, all of their belongings (which were few) crammed under sewn together cloth tarps. These people had nothing yet they were offering us everything. They told us that they wished they had a goat to offer us so that we would stay and eat with them. A whole goat! Though to most that may sound crazy, for a family with so little to offer one to us was an unbelievably great gesture. A gesture that made me reflect on the selfish fact that I hide my gum from friends so that I don't have to share.
Along with the goat offer, the women made us cups of tea, not taking any for themselves until we had to tell them our bodies couldn't hold any more!
One man pulled out an instrument he made himself and started playing a song. When asked what song it was, he replied that it was a song of honor for us. Wow. My chest swelled with emotion. A group of strangers walk up to a man, his family, and his place of living unexpectedly and his reaction is to sing a song of honor to them? This doesn’t happen! However, it did and I will never forget the sweet moment.
After an hour or so we unfortunately had to say our goodbyes and part ways. A sadness still follows me today knowing that I will more than likely never see their faces ever again. However, I am beyond thankful for the opportunity and the time God gave me to spend with them.
Honestly, I have no memory of their names (my biggest regret - forgetting to carry a pen and notebook and not having a better memory) But I think, even though I don't remember their names, they left a way bigger impression on me than a name ever could. Yes, each of these faces are their own, but I left their company loving the people of Syria even more. I left them humbled and with a heart full of love. I don't think about the guards and guns I saw over there. I think about the love and generosity one family (among many others) bestowed on me and the people I was with. I think of the beautiful faces I met that week.