Friday, September 29, 2006

Iftar with Friends

Iftar is the daily meal that breaks the fast during the month of Ramadan. This past week, one of our co-workers had the opportunity to share an Iftar meal with friends.

I definitely have mixed feelings about Ramadan. In some ways I hate it and in others it is enjoyable and provides opportunities for relationship building and maybe even witness opportunities. I have been invited to eat iftar with the same family the first day of Ramadan during my four years here in this city.

The family have me to arrive a few minutes before iftar begins. I help them set the table and set the food on the table. Then we must wait for the exact moment of sunset. We listen to the call to prayer from the mosque. We may be sitting at the table, and the moment they hear the call to prayer, then we start eating. Usually people break their fast by eating a date and then a bowl of soup. After that comes the main meal, usually rice and chicken and salad.

Later, after clearing the table, we go to the sitting room, where we are served tea and something sweet. During Ramadan there is a special sweet called atayef (a-TAY-ef), which is like a small pancake wrapped around cream cheese, coconut, or nuts and fried. Only during Ramadan do we get this special treat.

After we finished eating, my friend's daughter, Heba, who is a university student, helped me with my next Bible story. I had prepared the story of the baptism of Jesus. She listened and corrected my Arabic, and then we recorded the next story on tape, the temptation of Jesus, for me to practice. I left with her the story of Jesus healing a paralytic. I was thrilled that as she looked it over, she remarked on what a nice story, and she looks forward to translating it from English into Arabic. I love doing stories because it may involve the whole family. They all like to get in on translating and then listening and correcting me. I think it's a marvelous opportunity that as I let them teach me Arabic, they are being taught God's Word.

Posted by PF

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