This morning, for the third time since I arrived here, I woke up to the sound of Arabic voices radiating from giraffe like towers rising across the city. The unified melody is curious and unfamiliar as the language is unknown to me. Yet, the strength of devotion they emulate is becoming one of my favorite components of living in Oman. I am a white Christian woman who grew up on hymns and contemporary tunes. Still, the energy of the Muslim call to prayer is affecting me deeply and I am excited to see where the discovery of a new religion and culture will take me.
Homesickness has come haunting a bit more than normal this trip. I don’t miss my bed or my cell phone data or even my carefully cared for succulent plants. I don’t miss my Netflix account or my favorite sushi place (yet). I simply miss the company of those I spend my days with and the empty spots they fill are most obvious in those times when the sun hibernates.
Coincidentally, sunrise and sunset are two of the six times a day that Muslims are called to prayer. This Call to Prayer known as Adhan (“to listen”) is a purposeful act and spiritual commitment to Allah and a reminder of surrender to him. In my tradition, I also spend time in prayer but not often out loud with others.
On the first day here, I woke up around 4:00am due to a severe case of jetlag. As a result, the dark, eerie essence of unfamiliarity and emptiness reminded me of my loved ones at home. I twisted and turned in my sheets thinking too much and questioning my reasons for being so far away in a foreign place. As the clock ticked away in the corner I breathed and concentrated on a spot on the ceiling hoping I’d drift back to sleep.
Suddenly, a song arose out of the air and in through my windows. The morning prayer. A sound that normally would be a backdrop for an Iraqi war film nestled over my body and ironically my heart was instantly at ease. A shaky, uneasy morning was met with an easy, confident voice of prayers. It reminded me that a community of students at Hope is praying for my group and that those I am missing at home are rooting for me and wishing me well. More importantly, it confirmed that God is indeed here in this place.
I am always going to wish those I love most are here on this journey with me. But, I am even more encouraged now that I will meet future loved ones here in this community of Omanis. In fact, I am confident that relationships within this new culture will change my heart and the hearts of those I share stories with at home and on this blog.
I hope you will stay tuned!