Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Last full day in Iraqi Kurdistan

          The next morning it was my turn to lead the morning worship. During the trip, everyone got a chance to lead worship and everyone chose a different way to do so. I began mine by reading my blog post from a year ago. I had been in Europe and had been in a really bad place back then, deep in the midst of depression. My mom had sent me a prayer titled Gentle My Desperation that I posted on my blog (http://julia-exploringtheinfiniteabyss.blogspot.com/2011/10/gentle-my-desperation.html). I read this post and prayer to my delegation and asked them how they respond when they see the world at its worst. Others shared about their own feelings and how they too questioned where was God. It was in the midst of our shared brokenness, that I saw hope and I saw God. God was there in the midst of pain. God was there in our togetherness. God was there.
         The rest of the morning and early afternoon (with the exception of another meeting) was spent working on the press release. I posted this press release on my blog a couple of weeks ago. However, I did not say all the work that went into it. I wrote the release myself after input with several other delegates. We then as a group went through the release paragraph by paragraph to agree on the final wording and ideas. I have to admit that it was tough to handle the criticism of my work, but it was also very rewarding to come up together with a statement that the entire group could stand by.
         The meeting we had was with a women's activist. She presented us with a lot of information about FGM (female genital mutilation) as well as honor killings and the shelters set up in Kurdistan to help women. She gave us a lot of information, and in some later blog post, I hope to say more about the subject, especially since getting back I have had to read a book for my History of Middle East class on the subject of women in the Middle East. The meeting left me somewhat depressed for I had never realized the severity of the situation and exactly what was happening in that area to women because of long-held traditions. However, the woman we met with was a breath of fresh air as we heard her passion to help women and working hard to make Kurdistan a better place.
         In the afternoon, we went to the Culture Cafe in Suli for our press conference. I read the statement with a translator, then others in the group answered the press' question. Oh, we also ended with a song translated to English, as "Grant us peace." After the press conference I went with three other delegates back to the baazar. I loved this shopping trip! I bought scarves, spices, a teapot, and small gifts fro friends. On the taxi ride back we sang "I'm a little teapot" to the taxi drive. We were just being crazy and it felt so good. We then got into my friend Kanar's Mustang, put the top down and drove around Sulaimani in the dark singing Celine Dion. It was the perfect ending to a great trip. 

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