My Nine Year Old Mentor

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Brad, the 50 year old leader of our group looked me in the eye and sternly said, “If I tell you to get on the bus, get on the bus.”

Ten minutes later his voice rose above the noise as he said, “Get all the Americans inside right now.” And the somewhat agitated crowd of locals were told to leave.

His instructions brought an end to the conversation a few travel-mates and I were trying to have outside. Our incomplete Arabic and the villager’s broken English made our exchanges difficult, and I’m certain they were offended by our refusal to follow them home for tea, but my desire to retreat to safety trumped my desire to honor their hospitality.

We were ushered inside the tiny ramshackle church turned makeshift vision and dental clinic as Brad repeated his command – “All Americans inside. Now.”

I was starting to get nervous. Continue reading