Goodbye to Bahrain; but first, “The Souq”

– Helping Grandmama with her luggage

This (above) may not be the clearest photo in today’s collection, but I absolutely love what it represents. Mr. T., having spent two and a half weeks getting to know his Grandmama Rebekah, helping with her luggage as she makes her way to the airport, a few hours ahead of an 11:00 pm departure for her journey home – a series of flights that should last somewhere around 30-hours.

All of a sudden, after almost three weeks in Bahrain, it was time to say goodbye.

Today’s collection of photographs includes possibly my favorite from the entire trip. It is this “mother-son” portrait, taken when Andrew and Rebekah were visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where dates were processed. Here is what she wrote in the text that accompanied her pictures:

Here are some pics of “The Pearling Path” – and of the date factory where they got the syrup out of the dates when they were brought in. The site backed up to the port (now gone). Now this is “The Souq”. Andrew says, “If dad doesn’t know the name of the city/district/suburb/whatever, then just say ‘Bahrain’.” This site is on the same island where the airport is located.

Rebekah

The Souq, according to LonelyPlanet.com, is “a warren of narrow streets and alleyways emanating south from Bab Al Bahrain. Here you can pick up everything from electronic goods and bargain t-shirts to spices and shisha pipes. But the real reason to visit is to wander through the bustling streets of a market that still evokes the atmosphere of an ancient souq.”

Rebekah talks to everyone. Of course she does. But Bahrain has reached out to her via this culture of gracious hospitality that invites people into relationship.

Here is what she says about the next photo:

The spice shop. Smells much nicer than The Body Shop. Love this guy. He told me all about the spices.

Rebekah
– Rebekah with the spice guy

Understanding the history, the people, and the cultural background of a place has always been a key element of travel for our family. When the kids were growing up we would do “travel prep” with lots of history and geography lessons, then read aloud from related texts and novels when we were on the road.

For example: The year we strapped four bikes on the back of our minivan, visiting ten Civil War battlefields in two and a half weeks, we watched the entire PBS Civil War documentary series together. Friday nights with pizza, popcorn, and Ken Burns.

Mr. T. is now two and a half years old. He recognizes me on the video, but I don’t know him at all. Now, however, he does know his Grandmama Rebekah, and they can build on that relationship.

“Stay Connected”

The other image that really grabs and holds onto some of the deeper elements of Rebekah’s time in Bahrain is this one. Just a quiet “goodbye” at the airport. “Stay Connected” reads the advertisement on the wall. The words could not have been more spot on.

What is the purpose of this life, if it is not about staying connected?

Being connected to our Creator, through the life, death, resurrection, and then invitation of Jesus.

– Goodbye, Bahrain. Stay connected

Being connected to our family – often a very deliberate and disciplined intention, through the years and the tears and the – sometimes – thousands of miles.

And being connected to our community – especially community built around following Jesus, where faith is lived, and taught, and practiced, and experienced together…

When this post publishes, around 9:00 Friday morning, EST, Rebekah will still be in the air. I anticipate meeting here at RDU around 7:00 Friday evening. It will have been a long day and a half of travel for her, but well worth it.

Because we don’t just tell stories, we live them. The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Stay connected – DEREK

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