My neighbor came over the other day. She does that often, usually trying to help me do something, or show me how to do something “correctly.” This time it was about cleaning my roof.

In years gone by, roofs were the place where Kurds slept during the summer. You’d take your mattress up to the roof after dark, but make sure you were back in the house, out of view, by dawn. This was a pleasant respite from the sweltering heat inside the house, as the wee hours brought cooling temperatures! Some even took blankets, though I’ve been told foreigners never did that! Culturally, however, it’s very inappropriate to actually look at anyone else on their roof!

So my neighbor and I traipse up to my roof with broom, hose and squeegee in hand to begin the task. As we begin cleaning the dust, dirt and remaining construction debris, I asked her, “Now, tell me again? Why is this important? Why do we clean the roof – where no one goes and/or sees?” She begins by telling me stories of her childhood and how she looked forward to those nights when she and her siblings would have their parent’s permission to sleep on the roof. She knows I love to entertain and love having guests in my home – “Where are you going to have your guests sleep in the summer? They can’t sleep inside – it’ll be too hot!” So we continue sweeping, spraying and pushing the water down the drain.

She then takes me by the hand and has me look over onto a neighboring roof – something culture still dictates is extremely shameful. She says, “You see that house? You see how dirty that roof is? They’re foreigners.”

Am I a foreigner? Yes. Am I making headway into being an insider, at least with this young woman? Apparently! Please ask that this young wife and mother of two will come to know the One who sees the dirt in our souls and wants to cleanse us. Also, please ask that my language skills will rise to the task.

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