Monday, July 11, 2005

Busy, and multi-cultural

It's been a good weekend here on what some friends call the north-side of the "south side of Chicago." At least for now, it's not "the baddest part of town"...

I have a relatively new AA sponsee, who is 18 days clean - so talking with him, and listening to him (much more the latter, at this stage of the game) is a big part of my non-work time. And I started the process, this weekend, of trying to compress down my belongings into what would fit into a studio apartment. So the mess has, if anything, increased slightly, but order has also increased fractionally. I've still got a long way to go to get to "ordered," but I'm on the way.

This week, I am starting another study group down at Fourth Presbyterian Church on Monday, packing Wednesday and leaving Thursday night for four nights (3 days) on Thursday night. So life is pretty, well, chaotic - to put it mildly.

But beyond that, a lot of my non-work, non-AA time has been spent with my new LSTC roommate, Erkan.

Erkan arrived on July 1st from Istanbul, Turkey. He is a fascinating man - 33, a Turkish Muslim working on his doctoral dissertation on (as best I can understand, so far) understandings of creation across various faiths. In some ways, we are as different as can be - he is as thin and bony as I am, well, not; he speaks passable English, whereas I am 100% Turkish-impaired. His full-time salary as a teacher in Istanbul would be about $600 a month - well-below poverty levels on my scale. So in our backgrounds, we are vastly different. But he seems to have a great heart, and a desire to learn all he can about this country and how we live and love. And so our first week together has been fun.

Over the summer, Erkan is taking a class in English for international students - which he's finding quite challenging. So as we try to talk about our respective days, the mini-Turkish/English translator gizmo gets a workout - even though Erkan would say it knows very little!

I can't imagine what it would be like to leave family and friends for that kind of duration. Yes, I left family and friends when I came here, but it's not a big deal to get back to Kansas - let alone Ohio. But with Erkan, Istanbul is literally the other side of the world from Chicago. He's called his mother, who lives about 500 km. away from where he lived in Istanbul, 3 times since he got here. She effectively lives as far away from his home in Turkey as I live from my friends in Kansas City. She's cried each time he's called - which only reinforces his belief that "there's nothing like a mother."

So we talk - about food, about the neighborhood, about Chicago, and about the twists and turns of our respective faith journeys. It will be an interesting thing to watch this relationship blossom and grow, for however brief it is. But for now, it's late, and I'm going to bed!

1 comment:

Kevin said...

He needs to know the love of Christ, Steve, and you seem to model that love very well.