February 14, 2002 - Dundee Independent: Kristen Elsholz still in Jordan, working for Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Jordan: Peace Corps Jordan : The Peace Corps in Jordan: February 14, 2002 - Dundee Independent: Kristen Elsholz still in Jordan, working for Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, June 22, 2003 - 9:18 am: Edit Post

Kristen Elsholz still in Jordan, working for Peace Corps

Kristen Elsholz still in Jordan, working for Peace Corps

Elsholz still in Jordan, working for Peace Corps

Kristen Elsholz of Dundee has been spending the last year and half in the nation of Jordan, working in a school there for the Peace Corps. During this time, she has periodically shared her experiences with readers of The Independent. She is the daughter of Pat Elsholz of Dundee, and the Rev. Jerry and Sandy Elsholz of Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

Having been in the Middle East for a year and half, I sometimes feel lonely for all of the people at home and wonder if I will be able to adjust quickly to live back in the U.S. Even as I ask myself these questions, I am amazed at how quickly the time is flying.

I also reflect on the contentedness and happiness that has accompanied me on most of my days in Jordan. While there are those days of frustration and homesickness, I realize that my happy days far outnumber the other. What has caused this to be the case? Is it the beautiful hilly scenery I see outside my window? Is it the lights of Israel I see at night? Is it the goats wandering along the street? The kids at work who give me high-fives and hugs every day? My very good friend Bibi who I have found is so much like me?

Days like today remind me why I am so grateful for my experiences in Jordan. Today, Feb. 22, 2002 was the first day of Eid Al-Adha. For me that means a five-day vacation from work. For the Muslim families, it means so much more. Eid Al-Adha is translated as the Feast of Sacrifice. It is the commemoration of Allah sparing Ibrahim (Abraham from the Old Testament) from sacrificing his son Ishmael.

It is the time of year when Muslims perform a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca. the pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam. Any Muslim capable of performing the Hajj is required to so once in their lifetime.

There are steps of ritual to which Muslims must adhere for the pilgrimage. Preceding arrival into Mecca the men must bathe and put on the ihram (two white unsown pieces of cloth that cover the whole body). Women must remove perfume and jewelry. Upon entering Mecca, the pilgrims walk around the Kaba seven times (the Kaba is a box containing the stone which is thought to be the cornerstone for a house of Abraham). Then the pilgrims run seven times between Safa and Marwa, which are two hills. This is done to commemorate Hagar’s search for water for her son Ishamel when he was thirsty. After the commemoration the pilgrims travel to Mt. Arafat and stay there until the evening.

On the return to Kaba the “Stoning of Satan” is performed by casting seven pebbles three times into a certain place. On the 10th day each pilgrim slaughters a sheep (or goat, etc.) in Mina which is located right outside of Mecca. The last step of the Hajj is for the pilgrims to walk around the Kaba seven times.

For this holiday, nearly 1 million sheep, goats and camels are sacrificed. My friend and neighbor Bibi invited me over to see the process of butchering a sheep. She told me she wanted to share the blame in the sheep’s demise. Always interested in something new, I readily announced that I would be there. Friday morning arrives and I pop out of bed when I hear my cell phone ring. Bibi tells me to wake up and get over to her house because I am going to be late. I grab my Peace Corps friend Elizabeth, who spent the night at my house, and we slip on our shoes.

We jump over the wall behind my house and promptly realize we missed the sheep (when it was alive, that is). Bibi is standing over her father who is taking the skin off the sheep. Looking at the dead sheep I realize I’m happy I didn’t see it alive and I can imagine Elizabeth feels the same. Being the ajnabeahs (foreigners) that we are, Elizabeth and I both take a picture of the scene.

We watch as Bibi’s father, Samir, quickly slides the knife between the skin and the body of the sheep. I am amazed at how easily this is done. More people start showing up— Bibi’s uncle, sister, brother-in-law, and children. Bibi’s uncle helps Samir in taking the skin off. I ask what will happen to the skin. Surely it’s too hard to clean? They reply that Tata (grandma) will clean it and it will be hung somewhere or used as a rug.

The sheep is finally skinned and hung up. Elizabeth notices bundles of fat on the body of the sheep. She is told it is fried up in spices and is delicious to eat. Samir tells Bibi to grab a bucket because it is time to open up the sheep. The sheep is sliced through the stomach and all kinds of organs are spilling out. Elizabeth is trying to identify every organ from a distance, asking “What do you do with that?” The reply, “We eat it.”

After all the organs are removed, and the appendix thrown away, Samir and the uncle start removing the meat. Bibi and I feed the six stray cats that surrounded her house from the few scraps of sheep that exist. I ask Bibi what will they do with so much meat. They keep some and give the rest away to neighbors, family and the poor. With this, Bibi realizes it is time to start bagging the meat.

In the meantime, children are showing up at their house in hordes. The neighborhood kids visit each house to collect candy and other goodies. They always enter with the holiday greeting, “Kull Ahm ou inta bahere,” which means “Every year be good.” I turn to Elizabeth and state how much this feels like Easter. The weather feels like spring. The kids are dressed up. Families are getting together. The Tatas (grandmas) of Jordan start the cooking. There is a feeling of celebration.

Elizabeth nods her head in agreement and smiles with whatever memories are popping in her head.

Memories. So many times in Jordan I have tried to live in some of my memories. I have spent time closing my eyes and picturing times at home when I was surrounded by my family. Times when I was studying for my college exams. Times I spent playing cards with my friends while listening to Elton John or Garth Brooks.

Today and every day will be a memory for me. I know when I get home, I will look back on these memories and try to picture myself in them again. I know one day my neighbors and some of my best friends will exist forever in my memories.

This is why I love Jordan. This is why I have not once regretted coming here. This is why even if I have a bad day, I know it is just one day. I know that this experience has changed me.

Bibi and her family used almost every piece from that sheep. Nothing was left to waste, not even the head.

So as I sit here missing family and friends, I will work hard to make sure I don’t waste a single hour, a single minute. These are memories that are now a part of me alai tool (forever).

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Story Source: Dundee Independent

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Jordan; PCVs in the Field - Jordan



By Drayton (cpe0080c6eae707-cm000a73656dc7.cpe.net.cable.rogers.com - on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 5:59 pm: Edit Post

I just would like to know if Jordan is going to still be makeing more Retro shoes.. I just bought myself a AIR JORDAN 2 RETRO SHOE. just wanted to know if their is going to be worth something in the future

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