I never thought that I could love a big city; that was before we came to Damascus. I feel as if I can’t explain the wonders of this culture without showing someone in person. I looked through all of the pictures we took, and I don’t think a single one of them does the city justice. In the ever new stream of stimuli, I can only describe a fraction of what this city is like. The magnificence of Damascus is soaked into every area of life–the cityscape itself, the history, the people, the activity and vibrance!
Last Thursday, we as a group retraced Saul’s adventure in Damascus. We read the history of Saul’s vision on the road to Damascus, walked into the Old City and read of Saul’s companions leading him by the hand into Damascus, read of Ananias’ part in Saul’s conversion story in Ananias’ home, re-enacted Paul’s escape from Damascus by sliding down a pole from a second story youth hostel (perhaps like the home where Paul stayed?), and finally ended our journey at the Bob Kissan church, which commemorates Paul’s escape.
This past Saturday we were free of Arabic classes and ready to explore deeper into the city. We conquered the steep mountain roads of Mount Qasyoom, one of the mountains on the border of Damascus. Once we reached our destination, we looked out over a city that stretched from one horizon to the other. I was dumbfounded! It was incredible to see the city climbing up the side of Mount Qasyoom, to guess which dark splotch was the Old City and the abbey where we lived, and to know that in every square of the entire city there were bikes, taxis and buses surging through the streets; Muslims and Christians walking side by side; yummy shwarma, falafel, and cheese-stuffed breads baking on every street; and other intricacies of the culture going on that we have not yet noticed. All of this was happening from one horizon to the other.
We are all incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be in this vibrant city. As we travel from Damascus to Lebanon from Thursday until Sunday, our group is excited to experience another part of Middle Eastern culture.