Our family moved to this house in August of 1996. We had just gotten back from a tour of Israel. While there we'd see different sites and many times our guide would say something like "This place is sacred to the Jews, but they can't go there now because the Muslims have put a mosque on it." or "This site is holy to Christians, but the Muslims have put a graveyard on it so you can't go there." It left me wondering 'who are these Muslim people?'
The first day we move in we see, you guessed it, Muslim people in our neighborhood! Right next door too. One of the men says "Aren't you Victor?" He had met Victor at Lou Anne's house. They are her neighbors and she has been phenomenal at reaching out to this family over the years.
I've had sort of a rocky relationship with our neighbors. I tell you it has been tough sometimes. The first thing was they brought over some food and we thanked them. I reciprocated with an apple crisp. When I dropped it off the husband kept asking me what was in it. I told him everything and wondered what was going on. Later I learned that they can't have anything with vanilla extract because it has alcohol in it and they aren't allowed alcohol.
It didn't take a genius to figure out that they probably threw it away. I was bummed.
There have been a lot of misunderstandings over the years:
*The staring. Yes, there is lots of staring that I find so uncomfortable-even when I'm in my own backyard.
*Kids playing in the street. Even the tiniest are right out in the street without parents in sight.
*Putting their leaf pile in front of our house. I truly find that odd. (and rude)
*When I would take some of the women to appts. they wouldn't knock on my door. They would always call and go out to my car. Never at my doorstep. It definitely made me feel like they thought we were 'unclean'.
*Sometimes the boys won't talk to me. I find out later it is because I am a woman. Yet they sure will come over and play movies in our teen center.
You get the picture. God has tested my heart many times and I fail most of the time with these neighbors. It seems like it is a little better though. The mood is shifting.
I was thinking of Paul the Apostle and how he was designated to preach to the Gentiles. Man! He must have run into all kinds of cats with every kind of belief. Yet he loved those people. It wasn't any kind of big deal to him. He moved throughout the ancient world and served God wholeheartedly in the midst of all kinds of gods, ethnicities, living conditions, violence, imprisonment, brutality--I get convicted just thinking about it.
Well, I will ask, like Paul, and say "Remember me when you pray."