I have no idea what prompted me to come up with the idea of covering my head (or my brother’s!) using my ‘blankie’ as a shayla one night when we were spending the night with my grandparents.
We didn’t grow up somewhere where we were exposed to Muslim women covering their heads, and it was certainly long, long before that was something that we would seen on tv with the frequency we do now (and even if it had been, all we were watching at that age was cartoons!). It’s hard not to find it a bit prophetic given the love and intrigue of the Middle East that I developed over the intervening years.
By the time I was in 8th grade, I was persistently pestering my parents to allow me to spend the summer visiting a friend who lived in North Africa. My parents were not jumping on board with the idea that their blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter thought she was going to go anywhere overseas alone (especially to spend time with a friend and her family that they didn’t know very well) but particularly not somewhere they feared I would stand out so much.
It took another two years before they let me go overseas, and that on just a five week long missions trip with a well known organization, to a place they at least thought was less likely to potentially be tumultuous.
It was ten years from the time I first talked about going to the Middle East before I finally got there – and that was to the Arabian Gulf.
Dozens of trips, mostly alone, all over the world, with many to the Gulf or other parts of the Middle East, it was another six years before I finally got to visit that friend that I had first wanted to visit in North Africa.
I love how sometimes God births in us a love of a particular region or culture or something – often long before we have any idea what He’s planning to do with it – and then He gives us little glimpses along the way of seeds He had been watering and that had begun to grow!