Building Bridges

The ministry I have fallen in love with at Tech has by far been Bridges International. This ministry is an outreach to the over 5,000 international students we have here at Tech. Bridges works by putting together an american student with an international student (language partners) as well as holding potlucks and fun events for everyone to participate in. It is really just bringing the heart of God here to Tech in a powerful and meaningful way. Our purpose is to show these students the beauty of Deuteronomy 10: 17-21
"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him. He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen."
There is actually a funny story that goes along with me getting my first language partner. During the second week of school I added my name and e-mail to the Bridges list serve and couldn`t wait to meet my language partner. Soon I was sent an e-mail giving me the name Wenee as my partner. Beginning that day me and my partner began to correspond through e-mail. I learned that "she" was from China and was a second year grad student in Chemistry.
About a week went by before we had set a date to meet and have lunch. That morning I checked my e-mail and read from Wenee that said, "Lesley I will see you at Owens at 12. I am short boy and will wear a black t-shirt." I read the e-mail out loud to Leah and we both just laughed. For this whole week I had been talking to a boy :) Oh but the story gets better. As Wenee and me communicated and both asked for new language partners (same-sex) Wenee wrote another great e-mail which read, "Oh by the way Lesley. I am sorry that something must have been confusing but my name is Wen Lee, not Wenee. Thank you and I hope to see you sometime." HAH okay this time Leah and I weren`t just laughing. We were dying. Not only was this a boy, but I had been calling him WENEE for the past 3 weeks! How horrible. But of course I love to say God had bigger plans!
After a couple of weeks I was paired with a new partner, Atieh. Within that first week we met to have coffee and from the first moment it was just so perfect and God ordained. Atieh`s Aunt, Marianne was in town from Frankfurt Germany, for 4 weeks! Little did either of them know that I had spent my past 3 summers in Germany and Switzerland and had a HUGE heart for the German people and culture. The best part was that Atieh and Marianne both spoke Persian, but neither had good english. Marianne the worst, tended to result to her German. So it was just perfect. Atieh and I talked in basic English while Marianne and I were able to talk in German! It was so fun, and just such a blessing. And throughout Marianne`s visit to Tech we were able to hang out a few other times as well, it was so fun.
Besides that first great day, each time I have been with Atieh has been SO fun and filled with joy! Atieh is from the capital city of Iran. She is a first year Grad student in Mechanical Engineering at Tech and her husband is a second year Biology Grad student here as well. Atieh and her husband both got language partners in hopes of learning more about the American language and culture. They are both SO fun to be with and really outgoing and adventurous. We have enjoyed sporting events, shopping, movies, delicious Iranian food, awesome Iranian tea (story I will share later), walking, talking, hiking, sitting on the couch, dancing to youtube videos, reading The Bible in Persian, and so much else. I don`t think I have ever had as much fun with anyone as I do with Atieh, and Mehdi her husband. But as I mentioned earlier one of the coolest experiences we had was them teaching me how to drink Persian tea at their house one day. Atieh brought out her beautiful hand painted Persian tea set and Mehdi and I sat while she poured our tea. Mehdi began to tell me that I could use sugar cubes or granulate sugar, whichever I preferred. In my head I was thinking well they melt and its really the same thing. So I grabbed a sugar cube and plopped it in my tea. Mehdi quickly said, "no, no, no." And then he began to describe that you place the sugar cube on your tongue and keep it there as you drink your tea. In my head I was like WHAT? That is so cool. Haha so for the next three or four cups I practiced, and it was actually really fun!
But aside from all the crazy fun we have had together the best part has been the deep spiritual conversations we have been able to have. I am still unsure of where Atieh and her husband are spiritually, especially coming from a muslim country, but I cannot tell you enough that God has definitely put desires for Him on their hearts. Whenever we are together Christianity comes up in some way, shape, or form. Atieh has asked me many questions about why I don`t drink/party, the meaning of my purity ring (at first she thought I was married!), the ministries I am involved in, and other things. Over break I was able to buy both of them Persian Bibles. In giving them to Atieh I was actually pretty scared. I had no idea how she would react or what she would think of me afterwards. But again, I am just so reminded how small and weak I am and how big and strong our God is. I gave them to Atieh, she opened it and began asking me bunches of questions. We talked all about the history of King Cyrus and Darius (Persian kings of The Bible) as well as about the Psalms of David. It was a great conversation and I know I left that room aglow with the majesty of Christ. It was one of those moments that chills ran down my spine and I was left floored with the glory of God. I also bought a Persian Bible and I have been asking Atieh randomly to help me learn. She is trying, although she keeps reminding me that it is an extremely hard language to learn, but I still want to!
So from the little fun moments to the deep conversations my friendship with Atieh has been such a learning experience and a blessing. Ultimately my prayers are that Jesus Christ would captivate her and Mehdi`s hearts, but until then I am so grateful to know them and spend time with both of them. I couldn`t ask for anything more.

-The photo above was taken after a night of teaching about 20 students from the Iranian society how to play Uno, Sorry, Monopoly, and Twister all night. It was hilarious to say the least!
-And the persian symbols around my blog name are the word Jameela, meaning beautiful, which is inspired by Atieh.

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