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January 4, 2003 - SURINAME
Iím just continuing from December 27th's entry. I thought I sent it to Don last week, but obviously I didnít!
One of the women, a native Surinamese, I met at the missionary farewell came by. Jennyís going to take me into the bush when the missionary group goes in later this month. She cooks for the peopleÖÖIíll be able to help. Never thought Iíd become a missionary.
I finally got to go to the synagogue last night. The early Jewish settlers here were from Portugal, many via Brazil, and apparently the structure of the building is what a Portuguese synagogue looks like. I wonít go into it since structural details are not my thing.
A couple of interesting things. Itís orthodox. Women upstairs and peripheral, men downstairs. The floor, upstairs and downstairs is covered with sandÖ..a reminder, I guess, of the exodus from Egypt across the desert. Real sand, like in a sandbox. You couldnít see the floor.
The service was conducted all in Hebrew by a thirteen-year-old tourist from Holland! Not a word of Dutch. The kidís father was from one of the orthodox families of Suriname. Most of the people there didnít know the Hebrew. After the service there was a reception (itís called a kiddush): a tiny cup of wine, a challah (twisted sabbath bread), and ! a cheese sandwich on a white roll.
I brought along Freddie, the Baptist pastor whose church I visited last Sunday and who has become a friend. He was pretty brave. He put on a little skull cap and didnít say a word when we were told he had to be downstairs with the men and I had to go upstairs. By the time we left, he was shaking hands and saying Shabbat Shalom.
I like FreddieÖÖ..we talked for two and a half hours afterwards, sharing our very different views of God and religion. His born-again; mine still filled with the same questions that I started asking when I was 15. My views on religion havenít developed a whole lot in the last fifty years. Basically I think all religions have the same moral foundation and Iím willing and eager to experience them all. Freddieís belief system is much deeper, much more biblical (literal interpretation), and, of course, based on the acceptance of Jesus as God. His knowledge of the Bible is impressiveÖÖ.and I know only the good storiesÖ.and almost nothing of the New Testament. We had a good time talking, knowing neither of us was going to convince the other of anything.
(Note: I do not include my spirituality in my religious views. For me, they are two different things.)
Iíve been pretty sedentary during my first two weeks here. Spending a lot of time online and reading. Iím liking my time alone, though I think my landlady feels sorry for me. Some days I never ever go out the door.
OK. Thatís it for now. Iíll do another entry before I leave for India on the 15th of February. I have been invited to spend a week at the American Embassy School in DelhiÖ..and, though I have been very conflicted for years about whether I would go India, I couldnít refuse their generous offer. I am happy to get e-mails about suggestions for India (Ashrams? Not-to-miss events. People to look up? Whatever.) Iíll be there until May 14th.
By the way, before I go to India Iím taking a side trip to Nantes where Lars and Nirin live. Remember themÖÖLars is a chef, Nirin, a doctor and they are major foodies. Theyíre the ones who made me that fabulous birthday dinner in Seattle. I just wrote them that I was planning to put some of our meals online and maybe some readers would fly them to Australia or New Zealand or the US to cook for a week in their homes. I canít wait to eat in Nantes. Lars and Nirin have said that their pots are trembling in anticipation of my arrival.