I awoke this morning to the ordinary neighborhood sounds of a Rafah refugee camp—families in loud conversation, chickens clucking and the sound of horse and donkey drawn carts. I am amazed that other than the absence of children playing in the street, this area looks as it did 10 months ago when I first came.
The vibrations and sound of missiles and gunfire from the past two days would only seem like noise if it were not for the news. The new reporters speak of the death and injury tolls as well as the missiles sent and received. On the internet we can get an English version of some of what is happening around us.
This morning our 8 year old birthday boy, Mohammed, and his 9 year old sister, Sarah, sit on our bed trying to play Monopoly—as if they can read English—HA!—as if they can get along this close to each other for 15 minutes (which is even LESS likely) but there is hope. There are two other pre-teen girls and a boy who recently turned 13 in this home. Each of them has seen violence and destruction far beyond what any child should be exposed to. From my favorite English speaking taxi driver (and neighbor), to the children in this home, everyone has been generous with the wisdom their experiences have taught them. The following is a sampling of this wisdom:
- Stock up on dry goods, sweet water, oil and candles. If you have these things you can survive for a long time. Remember, no electricity = no water.
- Don’t be in the shower while missiles are flying. You don’t want to have to run when you are wet and naked.
- Leave the windows open enough that the glass won’t break when the building shakes.
- Sleep in warm clothes in case someone comes into your house during the night.
- Sleep in the same room with your Mama.
- Don’t run to the windows to look out when the noise is loud and close.—ARE YOU CRAZY? That could be dangerous!
- Stay out of public transportation—just stay home with your family—HERE!
In my hostess’ family, most speak NO English. But it was one of her sisters who gave me my first Arabic dancing lesson. I can’t communicate in words with any of her family, but in actions we love each other—much. Wednesday evening while most of the sounds of war had not yet come to Rafah, this sister found music on her phone and extended her hand in invitation to dance. Did I feel like dancing? No. Did the expression on her face look like she wanted to party? Not at all. But this is the language we communicate in. So we danced. For all we knew it could have been our last dance. But “Thanks be to God” as they say here, we have lived to dance another day.