Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mar Musa Monastery, Syria : Interesting people (Part 1 of 3)

This is Part 1 of three posts on the monastery Mar Musa in Syria. Syria shares a border with
 Iraqi Kurdistan and there are many Kurds who have been effected  by the events of the last year. There is a large refugee camp in the north of Iraqi Kurdistan.

I love meeting interesting people. And it is amazing how they turn up so  unexpectantly in my life. Soon after arriving in Sulaimani in February I began to hear team mates speak of Jens the monk from Switzerland (although they called him Jantz which seemed strange to me, as I knew that was a last name). I haven't had much opportunity to get to know a monk so I was very interested to meet him (and I know a few real nice people from Switzerland).

 Jens  has recently arrived in Sulaimani from Mar Musa monastery in Syria.  He has been sent by his community there to live in the "Old" Chaldean church in the centre of Sulaimani. His dream is to live here in community for at least 10 years and to develop a place of  interfaith dialogue. Presently, the old church is not being used as a church. The new church is much closer to the CPT house and most Sundays someone from the team goes to worship there. Of course all the service is in either Arabic or Chaldean so worshiping together means sitting and being among other Christians and feeling the vibe.

The cross that rises above the simple Chaldean church.

 The front of the church and the altar.


The quiet courtyard of the Old Church. It is situated in a  maze of tiny streets close to the bazaar and main square of Sulaimani.
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On the day we went for tea with Jens he had a friend visting from Liege, Belgium, which is on the border with Germany. Andres Rump is a film maker who has created a documentary about the friendship between Bruder Jihad, another monk from the  Mar Musa monastery  and Scheich Ibrahim, a Sufi imam from Damascus. (more on this in Part 2 of Mar Musa Monastery: Scheich Ibrahim, Bruder Jihad). He lives in a small community in Liege who dwell in small wooden trailers. He described them as "circus wagons". Their source of electricity is solar panels on the roofs. He told me that he has to make choices in how to "spend" the small amount of electricity produced. So sometimes there is not enough for the computer. Other more important things take priority.

Andres often remarked on the wonderful birds that live around the courtyard of the old church. On the day I visited the trees nearby were full of black birds (don't know the kind), singing as if their lives depended on it. It was marvelous.


One of the trees nearby to the church

Andres was in Sulaimani exploring and searching for the subjects for his next documentary. He had known Jens from the months he spent in Syria, so when the fim maker heard that he was now living in Iraqi Kurdistan he came to see what opportunities might present themselves. As of yet he is still searching, waiting to find the right interesting people with interesting lives.


A tour of the rooftop of the church: Jens in the foreground, team mate Bud Courtney in the middle and Andres in the back.

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