23 May 2017

Refugees in the Book of Mormon

There are multiple refugee stories in the heritage of many religions and cultures.  From Passover to the Hijra to US Thanksgiving to so many other examples, it's likely that most people have a refugee story.

One of my favorites is from my own religious tradition, in the Book of Mormon.  There are a number of refugee stories in the Book of Mormon, but I'm writing here about the people of Ammon.

The people of Ammon were a group of people was being targeted because they had converted to another religion.  They had also taken a vow of non-violence as part of their conversion.  A small faction in their homeland incited war against the people of Ammon and many were being killed. They had to leave.

But the only place to go was to the Nephites, the people they had warred with before their conversion.  The Nephites didn't much like the people of Ammon's ethnic group, calling them lazy and filthy.  And the people of Ammon had killed many Nephites before they took their vow of non-violence.  The people of Ammon were not at all sure it was wise to go to the Nephites, but Ammon (their new religious leader who was a Nephite and the son of a former Nephite king) convinced them to seek refuge with the Nephites.

So the people of Ammon picked up as a group and went to the border of the Nephite land.  Ammon, who had prayed about all of this, went to the chief judge and asked if the people of Ammon would be admitted.

And here's the part I like best.  The Nephites voted (no idea if women were allowed to vote, but I'm assuming not) and agreed to take in the people of Ammon.  But not only did the Nephites give them a place to live, they also agreed to protect them so they wouldn't break their vow of non-violence, in exchange for a tax to help support the Nephite army.

So you have one group of people welcoming refugees who not only were from an ethnic group they hated and fought with, but they agreed to give them a place to live and provided military protection because they would no longer fight themselves.  Good stuff. And I hope my pronouns didn't get too confusing.


21 May 2017

There's a rather large event going on in Riyadh right now.  My favorite part is the Islamic Summit because there are flags from all over the Muslim world lining the streets.  It's lovely to see all those old friends.







08 May 2017

Cucumber Feta Salad

This is amazing. If you're stuck with the huge American cucumbers, peel and seed them, but if you can get smaller, thinner-skinner cucumbers, you can just cut them up. The amounts are all very adjustable.  Fiddle with it to taste.

1/2 kilo cucumbers, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1-2 T chopped mint
1/2 T or more sumac
Pinch or more cayenne
A bit of minced garlic
Blop of olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt 

Mix everything together and serve.

07 May 2017

But the Plumerias are Blooming



In The Geography of Bliss, a book I didn't like much, the author says that people in Moldova were really focused on the fresh vegetables and he seemed to think that was odd.  But for me, after living in Kyrgyzstan once and having returned since reading the book, that phrase is perfect.  The vegetables really are very fresh (something that cannot be taken for granted), but even more than that, sometimes you just need to focus on something good.  So yes, the vegetables are fresh, but when you say that, you're also acknowledging that a place like Kyrgyzstan isn't always that easy to deal with, but it's certainly not all bad.  Even if the vegetables are really limited in the winter.

Right now my corresponding phrase for Saudi Arabia is "But the plumerias are blooming."  They started blooming again a few weeks ago, after it warmed up a lot, and they'll keep going till November when it cools off.  I have lots of plumerias in my garden and I can smell them when I go outside, especially in the evening. 

It's hard to be here when it's hot.  The heat is awful, of course, but it also takes away my last bit of independence.   I really can't go anywhere without finding someone to drive me because I live too far to walk from any public indoor place.  Biking is a possibility, but I have to admit to being really annoyed with having to bike in the heat when a bunch of men are driving around in cars.  So I can either be annoyed and find someone to drive me in an air conditioned car, or I can be annoyed while also baking on a bike.  When none of your options are good, it doesn't really matter much if you have choices.

Saudi does seem to be relaxing some of its guardianship rules though.  One can hope. And the plumerias are blossoming.

03 May 2017

Four-wheeling

The very first thing we ever did in the desert was four-wheeling.  There are people renting four-wheelers in outside the city in nice sandy patches and can rent one for about $15-20/hour.  

I don't ride, because I am not that coordinated, but I still love to go out with the group and be in the desert.  Also, we go down the escarpment and I never pass up a chance to do that.




01 May 2017

Strasbourg

I can't believe I didn't mention what we ate in Austria.  We had a kitchen where we were staying so we went to the grocery story (rather complicated by our arrival on a Saturday night a few minutes after the grocery store had closed for the weekend) and mostly cooked at home.  There was lots more spaetzle and cheese along with yogurt and muesli.  Delightful.

We had one night between Austria and needing to be back in Paris for our flight, so that morning we decided to go back through Strasbourg, I think to maximize castle and Lego store visits.  I was just happy to go to Strasbourg since it has a long and interesting history.  We were mostly driving but I still loved it.  And we were back to French food.  Also, the place we stayed had kuglehopf.