As promised earlier this week, I’ll spend time talking about the Mosque that my group visited on Thursday as well as a few other things from the rest of orientation week.
One of the women who lives at Stony Point center occasionally attends this Mosque and so she gave us a tour and some background and history. The Islam faith believes that the prophet Mohammad was revealed the will and mind of God through a series of revelations that, once written down, became the Qur’an. Muslims consider themselves the cousins of Christians because the Christian lineage descends from Isaac, and Muslim lineage descends from Ishmael.
After a little bit of this history, we entered the prayer hall, taking off our shoes. The girls in our group were not asked to wear scarves or hijabs, but I know that it would probably have been more appropriate for us to do so anyway. The prayer hall was beautifully simple, with no images on the walls. Muslims believe that it is irreverent to create faces of the prophets, since no one can really claim to know what they look like. Women had a separate enclosed area in the worship hall, and it was explained to us that since Muslims bend down for prayer, it protects the modesty and dignity of women to be separate from men.
They brought in a cook just for us on Thursday which is incredibly humbling. I can’t recall the name of the dish but it was a rice dish with lamb, chicken, sauteed onions, peppers, and a yogurt sauce. It was incredible. I didn’t even envy some of the other groups at other churches who got NY pizza for lunch. During lunch we were also able to hear the call of worship, although we did not observe or participate in the prayer.
Following lunch we toured the school at the Mosque. After 9/11, enrollment dropped exponentially at their school, and they are continuing to try to build numbers back up. Despite my religious differences and having never been in a Mosque before, we were welcomed with open arms. I felt very, very humbled, and realized that though Christians and Muslims may believe different things, and have different traditions, we all believe in peace, love to all, and hospitality. I am almost ashamed to say that I felt more welcomed at the Mosque on Thursday than I have felt at some churches.
We were left with the question: “What would your hospitality look like in your sacred space?” Think about that for a little bit. If someone entered your sacred place of worship, needing hospitality and not knowing the customs of your culture/religion, would you welcome them with the love of God like this Mosque did? I pray that we all consider that many times over.
Sunday we were divided into groups and sent to different local churches for commissioning services. I was very fortunate to be able to attend So-Mahng Korean/American Presbyterian church. The three of us YAVS there shared our testimonies and a little bit about ourselves before being commissioned. It was so powerful and humbling to be so welcomed in by people who had only met us an hour previously. They fed us before and after the service, and listened so intently to everything we had to say. When they prayed for us, I heard voices in Korean and in English and I couldn’t help but tear up during the service because God is present in so many ways and blesses us in so many ways. So a huge thank you to So-Mahng church for showing the love of the Lord and welcoming us in with open arms and hearts. I honestly don’t have the words to express how much your prayers and hospitality mean to me.
On a side note, we did arrive in Hollywood this afternoon. And despite some organizational chaos and a wild grocery store run for supplies, it’s starting to feel a little bit like home 🙂
I want to close with a blessing given to us by German Zarate-Durier during orientation week:
“Wherever you go, feel that God is with you; whoever you meet feel that whoever the person is in front of you has the face of God…go into the world and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you.”
Much love to all!