Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jean from Lebanon

So, Saturday at the airport we finally tracked down Jean, who was actually one of the first passengers off the plane, but we did not think it was him. Jake joked with him that he looked so much older than 18, and Jean said it was because he didn’t have a chance to shave on the plane. :) Here is a picture of them right outside the airport:

When we meet people for the first time that are going to be staying in our home, I always get a little nervous and uneasy at the start. It is just completely out of my comfort zone to have someone stay in our house that we don't know, not to mention who is from a different country. As usual, God quickly calmed my fears on the car ride home from the airport as Jake and Jean chatted about everything under the sun! To start, Jake quite frankly brought up the subject of terrorists from the Middle East, and talked with Jean about the fear that sets in when Americans see Arabs, especially in the airport. Jean was very understanding and said, ‘it’s just a fact, and completely understandable’. He said because of the 9-1-1 attack it has made it next to impossible for anyone to get a visa out of Lebanon. Then he said, “That is why I don’t call my visa a student visa. I instead call it a God visa, because God made the way for me.” My first impression of Jean was that he was a very genuine, kind, and intelligent person.

Jean told us how is mother was so worried and so sad that he was leaving that she cried about it all the time. But, she also was so happy for him to get this opportunity. He told us that his family really wants him to study medicine while he is here in the U.S. He shared that his sister has her MBA in microbiology, and she works in Lebanon only making about $300 per month. He said it is so difficult in Lebanon because there are just no good opportunities for work, even if you have a great education. He shared that his mother taught French in the schools there for many years, and now she has worked herself up to director of a school. Jean’s mother wanted all of her children to have French names, and they do. Jean’s 1st language is Arabic, 2nd language is French, and 3rd is English. Even though English is his 3rd language he spoke extremely well. He didn’t know a few of our slang phrases and terms like ‘doesn’t that just blow your mind’…very blank stare when I said that to him mid-sentence. There are also a few synonyms/word interchanges that he wasn’t sure of like town/city and a few others.

Jean stayed with us Saturday through Sunday morning, and then Jake took him to his host family’s house in Pella which is where he will stay throughout the year. The Vermeer Corporation out of Pella, Iowa is the company who will be sponsoring Jean's schooling at Pella Christian. We are hoping to have Jean over a few times a month to keep up with him and take him to some ISU games. Now for some more pictures:

Jean brought us some gifts of food from Lebanon - bread, green olives, pastries, and a mixture of nuts:
Check out how big this bread is! It almost is like a huge tortilla:

The bread is so good….very flavorful….and the pastries just melt in your mouth.
The first thing Jean wanted to do when he got to our house was get in touch with his Mom to tell her that he had made it! So, he grabbed the computer, pulled up MSN instant messenger and was connected to his home in Lebanon within seconds. He also figured out that I have a web cam on my lap top - which I had absolutely NO IDEA! So, we were able to see his family through the camera, and they were able to see us! The first thing his family wanted was to see Jake on the camera, and when they did they blew him tons of kisses and smiled and laughed and cried. It was so sweet. Jean wanted his family to see JJ and Jayla, so here he is showing them Jayla on the camera.

We also took Jean to the Kingdom Hoops facility to show him around. He will practice and play with Jake's Kingdom Hoops program this year.

Yaw went to Clear Lake with some of his friends this last weekend, so he didn't get to meet Jean until Sunday morning. Sunday morning they had LOTS to talk about....and talk they did. They had lots of questions for each other.
As I sat and watched these two have conversation over Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, it was a reminder to me that God has and will continually call me out of comfort zone in my walk with him in this life. When I look at these two international students sitting at our table in Huxley, IA I am almost in shock. I would have never dreamed it a year ago. I am surprised at how God has guided Jake to have a heart for all different nations of people. None of this is from our doing….but yet God has set forth the steps for both Yaw and Jean to come here to the U.S. and to get an education. God has given Jake the platform of basketball as the connection point for communication with all sorts of countries. And, in just opening our home and our minds and letting go of stereotypes, I have discovered the blessings of learning about other cultures, and ways of life. Stepping out of my comfort zone has been quite the experience, and a huge blessing!

1 comment:

Lori said...

I especially like the blue blankey around Jake's neck in the picture at the gym. LOL. Reality of being a dad, always! Can't wait for more stories! ~Mom