Monday, April 25, 2011


I found myself in the mountains far from the town of Salalah. I was there with an Omani friend, his father, and his father’s friend. We were there to meet a jabali (person of the mountain) The man was 95 years old and still running up and down mountains. He was a little late when we came in because he was out feeding the camels. It was interesting to see him sit with his grandsons and talk. (The language was Jabali, actually pretty close to Aramaic which I found out later that night-at church) I was there to take pictures of him and his sons, which was also good fun. What struck me the most is how happy he was in this little outpost in the middle of nowhere, with his camels, and family. He also offered to slaughter a goat for us (me) for dinner. I had to refuse as I had someone else to be.
“Do you think we will make it to church on time?”
“Insha Allah”
I cracked up laughing, and then marveled that my friend was asking Allah to get me to church to celebrate Easter. We had spent a fair amount of time the night before telling the Christian version and the Islamic version of Easter and debating on whether it was the same God. (The answer is yes, and not that I think all religious disputes and 2,00 years of fighting should be summed up on this blog, but the difference lies within the interpretation of Jesus and the trinity/and the Prophet, not with the almighty himself.) They also told an interesting version of the death of Jesus I had not heard, and am really disappointed with all the Islamic teachings I have had (generally from Christian American educators) that in Islam Judas was made to look like Jesus and he was killed. I didn’t have time to ask what happened to Jesus, but it was interesting.
When I got to the church I was greeted, while walking in the backdoor of the courtyard “Hi, can I help you?”
“Uh sure is this the church?”
“Yes this is a protestant evangelical English service”
“Perfect” (with the only church within a 12 hours busride, I didn’t have the opportunity to be picky. I also wondered at why the pickiness mattered considering the location.)
I walked into the sanctuary, and was greeted with plastic chairs, and a pastor from Virginia. There were a few other Americans, a British family and a Canadian couple. The large majority though (60ish) were Indian or South East Asian, which made “Come, Now is the Time to Worship” and “Christ the Lord has Risen Today” sound very international. The kids all received Easter baskets. The pastor, who I found out was only a week or two fresh at the church, used American idioms I had missed in my normal conversations (“Christ rising was a game changer!”)
Much like my Jibali friend who lived in an outpost in the mountains, this was a religious outpost. (Imagine how Muslim communities must feel in the States?) The Christians also invited me to break bread with them (score for the communion, although wine is a little hard to attain in this country) and join the potluck after the service. I wondered if they were slaughtering goats?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Ian, I was wondering what is happening in Oman as far as news of the royal wedding? Are people there interested and talking about it? Drake Relays is this weekend and the weather is beautiful for a change. Blue, clear skies and a high in the 70's of which we havent seen for a while. The festivities have begun and the campus looks beautiful with the tulips blooming and the magnolias trees also in front of old main. I will be enjoying the weather later this afternoon, to be precise, 4:31. Wish you were here but know you are being thought of and missed. Everyone says "Hi". Did you get to see the wedding? Take care and see you soon. Jane

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