Religion…

Hi there! First off, happy Easter everyone! Hope y’all are having a great day!

After going to church this morning, one particular (Omani-related) thought bubbled to the surface after several weeks of simmering quietly in the back of my head. What about my faith? In this past year or so, I’ve come to know myself better in many ways, including my relationship with God. I was confirmed in my church recently, and I feel as if I’ve grown closer to God.

I’ve been wondering how my experiences next year will change the way I look at my religion. As you probably guessed, I’m a Christian, and most of Oman is Muslim. That being said, I have little doubt that the Omani people will be accepting to my religion. (As I will be accepting of theirs, as well.)

That being said, I will be surrounded by other ideas for a year. Of course, I won’t be converted or anything ridiculous like that, but I am excited that I will be able to compare another religion to my own in depth. Although this might scare a few people, I think this opportunity to study my faith, in comparison to another, will make it only stronger.

I’ve always felt that most religions are different interpretations of the same story, the same goal, the same God. Despite what many radicals believe, I think all believers of any religion are “right”. Maybe that doesn’t make me a perfect Christian, but I simply refuse to believe that the rest of the world is wrong and destined to burn in hell.

A couple weeks ago, my pastor gave an amazing sermon. It was based on the beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  He compared several pictures. Three of them were ones of radical violence (from all different religions). The last one was the following:

This depicts Coptic Christians locking hands to protect Muslims as they prayed in Tahrir Square in Egypt. His words were so profound they moved me to tears. The peace he described gave me chills, and I want it so badly to be true. It felt so right that I was going to Oman in that moment, so that maybe I could do my part to make the idilic peace a reality.

His words helped to dispel some of the apprehension and nervousness I’ve had about going abroad. I know this is right.

On another note, I am intrigued to know if I will be able to attend a church while in Oman. Regardless of my attendance, I think I will be capable of growing my faith outside of church. I do wonder, though, whether or not my host family would be uncomfortable with me keeping a bible on my bedside table, or wearing a small cross around my neck, or watching sermons online.

Even if they aren’t comfortable with any of that, I’m not worried. God will not desert me, nor will I Him! Religion isn’t dependent upon anything other than oneself.

Hope I didn’t scare anyone with my Bible-talk! I’m not a crazy weirdo, I promise.

Don’t forget to be a peacemaker today. Whatever your religion, peace is beautiful.

With love,

bailey :)

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A New Start

Hey guys! I hope everyone had a great day! I’ve been thinking about my future travel plans a lot lately (well, duh. Who wouldn’t?). Another amazing opportunity spawned from my upcoming year in Oman has dawned on me.

I get a completely new start.

This one is for real. When I started high school, we were supposed to have the chance to completely clear the slate. Well, that we a load of bs. It was all the same people, just in spiffy new outfits, carrying freshly sharpened pencils.

I won’t know a soul (except for my 4 fellow YES Abroaders). That is slightly terrifying (noticing a theme here?), but amazingly exhilarating, as well. No one will know who I am, what clothes I wore in the sixth grade, or any other completely irrelevant nonsense. I can shed all the wrong ideas people have about me. I’m free.

Now, this is beginning to sound like I have some deep hidden personality that’s dying to leap forth. Not really true. I’m pretty real, but I think everyone gets caught up by the person you used to be. Things just tend to get bogged down after being in school with the same people forever.

That being said, you don’t have to go halfway across the world to start over. It can happen any time you want; but it’s up to you to start letting go. I think just having the prospect of leaving soon has helped me broaden my perspectives, and get over the little things that fog our perception.

Being positive is immensely helpful, as well. Lately I’ve especially struggled with this! I’ve been bringing myself down unnecessarily.

Anyways, I hope everyone had a beautiful day. Even if it wasn’t, forget about what sucked. Just let it go. It doesn’t matter!

Here’s a gorgeous picture of some people loving life.

with love,

bailey :)

I’m going to Oman!

Hey guys! It’s only April, but it’s already heating up in Atlanta. It’s finally time to start turning over our closets, and dusting off our shorts and tanks. I do love spring,(except for the pollen!) but summer is calling my name. Among the amazing things summer brings with it, the fact that school is out probably tops my list as the best! But even among all the murmurs of summer’s arrival, I can’t help but to think one thing. Oman! (Quickly followed by, HOT.) Summer is almost around the corner, and after that, my crazy halfway-around-the-world adventure begins!

Words cannot describe my excitement.

I have absolutely no idea what to think! A) I have never been out of the country, and B) Even if I had, it still wouldn’t prepare me for this. It’s a whole new culture, with entirely new customs, beliefs and lifestyles. Not to mention that I have no idea what the people are like 7801 miles away (yes, I did calculate it.)

Now, all of this might lead one to think that I am scared out of my mind. And I am. Which is exactly why I am going to this country that seems like a world away.

Let me explain.

I’m currently taking an Arabic class at my school. I think the language is fascinating (and terribly difficult, as well), but most of all, I think that the culture is absolutely beautiful. It’s vibrant, rich, and amazingly old. The day that my teacher handed me a flyer about the program, along with a lecture on the abounding benefits of studying abroad, I decided I would apply. Now, at the time, Egypt’s government hadn’t fallen to pieces in result of any Facebook revolution, and I chose it as my first choice. I had to write several essays on who I was, why I wanted to study abroad, and my abilities as a future cultural ambassador. (more on that later) I had absolutely no idea I had any chance of getting the scholarship (Did I mention I don’t have  to pay a dime to go to Oman for a year? Sweet deal, right?) Several months later, I got an email that I was a semi-finalist for study abroad. I flipped out. I started hyperventilating and I texted my best friend with so much caps she must have though someone had died. The organization (YES Abroad) was sending me to Denver, Co, all expense paid, to meet me, judge me, and decide if I was a proper candidate for the program. I got to meet all the other 75 semi-finalists in an intensive 3 day conference at a hotel outside the airport (I still have no idea what Denver looks like. We never went outside the hotel. Ha!) Everyone was amazing. If we got that group together again in  15 years, we’d rule the world. I was suddenly doubting if I was going to get this thing.

While we were there, we learned more about the program. It was started after 9/11, in an effort to improve Muslim/American relations through young “cultural ambassadors”. We talked about all sorts of situations that we would potentially meet whilst abroad, as well as why were doing it in the first place. We discussed what it means to be an American, and how we differ from other cultures. We had group teamwork evaluations and an individual interview. All of our evaluators were YES alumni, (those from other Muslim counties that came to the US, as well as Americans that went abroad) which was an amazing opportunity to meet and talk with these people, that were only  a couple years older than me, about their huge experiences. All in all, it was a pretty mind-opening experience, and made me realize how different we as Americans really are.

After three days, we all shed our tearful goodbyes and boarded our planes. (We got really close. It’s so amazing to be surrounded with intelligent, likeminded people for three straight days!)

We had to wait about a month before we heard back. They were a week late with the final decisions, so on my spring break, I was using every available computer to check my email.

Then I got the email, freaked out, cried, jumped for joy, etc… Which, leads me to today!

I hope all that wasn’t too boring, but I figured I had to get the background details out of the way before the real fun began.

Everyone have a great day, breath, laugh and enjoy the world around you. Peace! :)