Winters in this part of the world are a strange phenomenon. Truly. And they come on so quickly! Two weeks ago I was walking around in my house in shorts and a t-shirt, and within a matter of days the temperature has dropped just enough that we are now wearing layer upon layer, bundling up in blankets, and using flannel sheets and bed buddies to heat the sheets before climbing in.
It doesn't matter that the high for the day as far as outside temp might be in the 70s. What matters is that low that creeps down into the 50s. Combine that with apartments built of concrete and marble slab and NO insulation and literally within days the temperature IN your apartment is lower than the outside temperature and it's this weird kind of cold that creeps into your bones and won't go away. Believe me when I tell you that you don't want to get behind the "cold curve" as we've started calling it. Once you get behind, there's no catching up!
So turn on our heat, you say? Nope! Not that easy! SOME apartments have split AC/heating units (not ours, although our landlord was kind enough to leave these lovely pipes sticking out of the walls in the kitchen, master bedroom and living room as a little extra incentive to have them put in ourselves- nice, huh?), however the cost of buying and then running said units is so astronomically high that very few do it.
There is also the option of "sobas". Those are heaters that you can role around wherever you want that are powered by a propane tank and have flame burners on the front. Ideal for a toddler, right? They do work to heat the immediate area of about 3 feet around them in every direction but they aren't incredibly safe especially with little people running around. Also, if you've been watching the news and have seen the protests taking place in our dear country, this is one of the issues. The price of the propane tanks just went up from 6 JD to 10 JD (1 JD is about $1.40). May not sound like a huge amount but considering most families buy at least 1 a week if not 2 or 3 depending on how many heating units they have, this can add up pretty quickly!
So I've been mentally gearing up for winter, and I confess whining a good bit in my head. I'm not ready to feel achy for 3-4 months straight because I'm tense from shivering! I'm somewhat grumpy about having to get up to a freezing cold house where I can literally see my breathe before we can get some sort of (probably not so safe!) heating option going. I don't love the idea that we pretty much close off the front part of our house during the winter except for walking through to go out the door, because we just can't keep all that space heated. I HATE having to put literally 4 layers of clothing on my toddler so that I can be assured that she won't wake up too cold during the night and she still wakes up with a freezing cold nose and fingers. I am most assuredly not looking forward to another winter of ear infections, runny noses and colds because we are just not quite ever warm. And on and on I went, whine, whine, whine, complain, complain, complain.
I glanced at the pile of clothes growing bigger and bigger in my bedroom as I have time to go through another closet or box of old clothes. Jackets, sweaters, socks, tights. Things we don't need, becasue we already have ENOUGH. NO, TOO MUCH.
We've been setting these things aside to give to the Syrian refugees. You can't live in this part of the world without being aware of the continuing conflict in Syria and the thousands upon thousands of men, women and children who have fled their homes to neighboring countries in many cases with little more than the clothes on their backs. Many of these families fled in the summer time with summer clothes on their backs.
And nothing else.
And now winter is upon us.
And they are cold. I am not cold. We are not cold.
I have hot water. They might not have any water.
I have warm blankets and flannel sheets. They MIGHT have a mattress on the floor.
I have 4 layers that I can put on my toddler, and my worry is that she might wake up a little cold. They might have 1 layer to put on their precious little ones and their worry is death from exposure.
My girls have layer upon layer of fuzzy socks in fun colors that they put on and laugh while they play slip slide. They might not have shoes.
So, no, we are not cold. We are abundantly warm and abundantly rich in so many more ways than I can count. I remind my girls to look at that growing pile of our excess that we have yet to give away when they begin to tell me they are cold, and I tell them to put on another layer. Because they have it. And there are so many who don't.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
1 John 4:16-23
**I fear that so many in the body of Christ in the US, are unaware of the refugee crisis that is threatening so many precious people here. We live in a part of the world that is misunderstood by so many. And misunderstanding all too often equals fear. Unlike Haiti or various African nations or South America, these people are not easy to access and they don't reach out welcoming arms to white faced Americans. But that doesn't make them any less needy or any less worthy of experiencing the body of Christ in action. You can pray and you can give. Yes, we live here so we can't NOT be aware of the crisis happening basically on our doorstep, but I want to make you aware too! Look into the Syrian refugee crisis and what you can do to help. Do not let your misunderstanding of these precious people cause you to fear them or even dislike them before you have prayed for God's mercies on them. If you want more information, contact me and I can point you in the right direction.