Summer has definitely hit Amman with a vengeance. When I arrived in late August, I was freshly hardened from our mind-meltingly hot and humid Wisconsin weather, and Jordan seemed like a dry, stiff vacation in comparison. It also helped that within a month and a half things had simmered down to a perfectly comfortable 19-21 degrees. But now – the dust is the killer. It just hangs in the dry air and seems to replace all the air in your lungs. It could be worse, though. Khalil and Wajih have told me stories about the Gulf area (Khalil lived in Saudi for 30 years before coming to Jordan) and how it easily gets into the 55-60 range. For your metric-challenged people (I’m sorry) that’s 140 degrees in Fahrenheit. The sun reflects brilliantly off the white sand and dust in Ayn al Basha, causing me to squint pathetically whenever I venture out of my classroom without shades, but strangely enough the Iraqis and Palestinians going to class almost never where sunglasses and seem unaffected. Wajih told me that the light usually just doesn’t bother them, but he admitted that once on a trip to Dubai in August, the sunlight was literally bright enough and hot enough that it almost burned his retinas just as he crossed the street from one of their sealed and air-conditioned buildings to another. Good to know.

The city is continuously emptying of my friends, and now Silas is next on the list – he’ll be returning back to the states soon. It makes me sad because he was one of my first friends here; without him I never would have joined Dozan wa Awtar. With school being out, I don’t see him nearly as often as before, either – but I made up for it last weekend when I kind of invited myself along with him to a German-language church out on the west side of town. He speaks German fluently, and although my ancestry is definitely close to 50% Germanic, I haven’t kept up quite as well with the family history as he obviously as, or at all. However, I hadn’t been to a Lutheran service here in Jordan before and this seemed like a good chance to not only see how Lutheranism went in Jordan, but also to hear it in its original tongue.

The liturgies and rhythm of the service was in fact quite identical, and although I had to amuse myself with reading the parables of Jesus from Silas’ Bible during the sermon, I definitely enjoyed myself. Of course, every one of the attendees spoke English with perfect fluency as well and we were all happy to talk about our respective work here, so far from our native homelands. The Germans were all visibly shocked when I informed them that Silas (who was happily chatting away in rapid, guttural Deutshsprachen in another part of the room) was not actually German, and told me that they would have been completely believed him if he had said he was from Berlin. I did learn a little German, too – but, for posterity I can add “ß” (which is actually an “S” sound) right next to Tajik and Russian in my list of “Languages that use letters that look like English but are actually completely different.”

Speaking of church, I had a really great worship experience last night with Imad, the Egyptian janitor that works at the Christian Academy. The academy is doing some remodeling over the summer while the students and teachers are back in America – fairly major stuff in fact that involves ripping out and replacing all the walls on the 4th and 5th floor, and completely adding a brand new 6th floor on top of everything. He and the administration wanted me to stop by after work so I could dictate how I wanted the new ethernet cables placed in the walls, but I wasn’t able to get over there until almost 10 at night. Over the phone, I apologized to my friend and colleague for my lateness – I knew he had a young wife and new daughter to look after, but the darn thing with Arabs is that they’re so kind and friendly that you’d never know if you actually were disturbing them because they will insist that you will come over and have some food and drinks with them. 🙂 He and I chatted for awhile in his apartment, then headed next door to the school, where I quickly drew up a diagram for where I needed plugs and jacks to be to hook up the various wireless routers I’ll be installing in a few months.

Back downstairs, Imad introduced me to two fellow Egyptians who were helping with watching the school over the summer. I stepped out to grab a drink of water, and upon my return found myself treated to a fervently spiritual Arabic prayer to Jesus. The three of them kneeled and prayed together for 20 minutes. I learned that Christian Arabic prayers are extremely similar in content and flow to English prayers, with phrases like “Bidoon anta, ma fi Ayesh!” – without you, there is no life, and “Na’iftah qoluubna alayk” – we open our hearts to you. Imad led the two younger men in song, “Tahahl alayna, Yazuah” – Come to Us Jesus. Their high-pitched voices floated effortlessly through the chords in the Arabic style that would have made Pavarotti proud. I was truly honored to be there with them to hear their joy and spiritual strength. I thanked Imad for allowing me to join them, and he chuckled and translated my gratitude to his beaming friends. “You might not be able to to sing with us now, but in Heaven we will all speak the same language together.”