Sunday, October 21, 2007

You went where?!

Afghanistan - May 2007

In May of this year we were able to take one of the most amazing trips we could have imagined taking. With one suitcase for the three of us, we got on a plane to Kabul, Afghanistan to visit my parents, Dan and Mary Allison. We had thought about going and tried to plan it earlier, but this was the time that worked for all of us. Our minds raced to imagine what we might see or even the dangers we might face, especially bringing a six month old with us. On the way, we had an overnight layover in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and then flew into Kabul the next morning.

We got off the plane and entered into another world altogether. Every woman, and there were not very many at the airport, had her head covered and showed no skin on the rest of her body. The men were serious and businesslike. The women and men didn't interact much. As we walked into the customs area, a man pulled me up to the front of the line with Maya and left John at the back of the line. I admit it was a little scary, but I waited for him on the other side while he went through the line. Maya was, of course, dazzling everyone and calling attention with her bright blue eyes. After the luggage arrived we walked out of the airport to meet my parents and Fayaz, who works with them in the HOPE office.

The air in Kabul is orange if you can imagine it. There is dust everywhere and you can't help but think of the time when Jesus lived because it is at least closer to what he might have seen. The day we arrived, President Karzai had also been traveling and so we saw a good number of military officers and military vehicles around the airport. We arrived at the HOPE compound in the heat of the day and for the first time met the staff my parents have come to love so dearly. They greeted us with as much warmth as they could muster. Afghans are not generally affectionate, but in there eyes you could see how glad they were to have us visiting.

We got acquainted with the offices, the rooms where the international staff live and the room where everyone comes together to eat. It was incredible to finally see and feel what my pare

nts had been living for the past year and a half. In the subsequent days, we were able to visit a few different parts of the city, including the Malalai Emergency facility that HOPE Worldwide is constructing and a women's prison where HOPE WW plans to provide some vocational training. In the afternoons, we were able to jo

in the staff, along with some of the orphan children that they care for, in some friendly games of volleyball.

One of the highlights of the trip was traveling with nearly the entire HOPE staff to a mountain that jets out into the center of Kabul. Rumor has it that the wall lining the top of this mountain was built by Alexander the Great thousands of years ago. We climbed for a couple of hours until we reached the peak and could see the entire city. It was breathtaking!

During our time there, we were able to see and hear about the grants that they are applying for and get a picture of all of the ways that HOPE is planning to serve in Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan in the years to come. Often times when we hear of Afghanistan, all we hear about is violence and we get a sense that there is no hope for the country. What they never put on the news is the hundreds of organizations that are there risking their lives to rebuild it. It was so obvious to us that there truly are beacons of light in Kabul and people that are trying desperately to bring hope to a hurting people. We are so grateful that we were able to take the trip to see my parents, their home and their work. It is an experience we will never forget.

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