Saturday, February 16, 2013

When Israeli Snails Talk

In between agonizing over Hebrew labels of chips at gas stations, pulling up Bible references of Christ's ministry at Capernaum/Sea of Galilee/ Jerusalem, and mediating the younger siblings' rivalry in  their Tiny Towers game app, I watched the ancient world fly by outside the window.

Sometimes, we would pile out of the car, reverently survey the holy sites and share how dipping our hands into the waters that Jesus walked on added color to our understanding.

Other times, we were just kids, road tripping on any country road, squashed in the backseat and annoying the heck out of our parents.

After a particularly frustrating morning of Hebrew road signs and a few (or ten) missed turns to the Sea of Galilee, my mom snapped her head back and yelled at us to stop joking about irrelevant stuff.

We gave it a moment of respectful silence.

Cody: Do you know what the Sea of Galilee said to the sea gull?

Me: I see Sisi. Wait . . .  I was blind but now I see?

Jody: See ya later, sea gull!

Cody: Nah. It said, "I'm single!"

Jody and I looked at each other and ate another hazelnut wafer.

Cody: Yeah, I didn't get it either.


Soon, our mom crumbled and joined in. 

Mom: I have a joke. A snail went to the Salt Lake and said uh oh, this was the Dead Sea!

We waited.

Mom: Put that on your blog! It's my first joke! I made it up last night before going to bed.

(Before you judge, let me say that my mom has the best Chinese fart jokes. Ever. Perhaps our hummus diet this week and collective indigestion inspired her. Cody will try telling them in his Mandarin class next time to see if he scores extra points.)


We weren't the only ones taking liberties.

A Chinese tour guide sat solemnly on a rock and started intoning her version of biblical stories to her nodding atheist tourists:

"Once there were fishermen who gave up their fishing boats to follow Jesus because they thought they would get better lives once He became King. After He was crucified, they were mad because they had to start all over again. So they came back to this village and tried to fish in vain until Jesus came back from the dead and helped them catch fish. Then they realized that they were not very good at fishing so they became teachers instead."

Next time I'm contemplating a career move, I better read up on the apostles.

Camels on the road side always makes me feel like 
Lawrence of Arabia.

Hummus. Falafel. Shawerma. Tehina. Chicken Shishlik. 

These soldiers like photos. And texting.

Tile paintings in Armenian Quarters.

Somehow Cody can make crossing himself with holy water at the place
 where Jesus fed the five thousand look like he just stole
 an ancient relic and hid it Indiana Jones-style.

Peddling outside the Garden of Gethsemene.
My proudest tourist shot.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Two Truths and a Lie

Beneath the red plastic streamers hung from the yellow lamps in a cheerful effort to look festively Asian, we sat in silence, trying to figure out what we were going to say.

This was our church group ladies' Chinese New Year party and we were playing two truths and a lie.

We had just finished a round of ice breaker bingo, with pregnant women bumping against moms worried about their teenagers, asking each other about the characteristics on our bingo sheet. Somehow I felt a little pegged. Sisi, was your favorite class Math? Did you hide underneath the blanket with a flashlight to read a book? Have you eaten bear before?

But then again, I was a disappointing serial "no" when I got asked the Did you paint/ water ski/ sew/ sing solo in a performance? I didn't realize that I was such a game sinker in bingo. Of course, that meant that it was that much easier for me to win.

So, two truths and a lie.

I scrunched up my nose trying to figure out ones that were crazy enough but not so scandalous that the ladies got worried about me leading the church groups for teenage girls.

The first few who volunteered were uber spiritual and sweet. The lies: I got baptized when I was 22, not 21! I was a modern dance major, not ballroom dance major! I never got my scuba diving license because I wasn't heavy enough to sink into the water!

Then there was the moment everybody loudly laughed when one of the American moms said that she was once married to a Chinese man. But the kicker was that that wasn't the lie. Major faux pas. Blame it on the game.

Two people left. The other lady was still furiously scribbling and scratching out hers on a piece of paper, looking more nauseous by the minute.

So I smiled and weaved my stories:

1. I was bitten by a copperhead snake and did not realize it.

2. Adam Levine, from Maroon 5, opened the door for me at the 
Sundance film festival and I didn't recognize him.

3. I kissed a boy and did not remember it. 

They guessed wrong twice. 

Then we were onto the last one. 

She swallowed hard, avoiding eye contact. 

Her lie? 

Back in 9th grade, she had skipped the first day of school.

God bless little church ladies who couldn't lie just for the bragging rights in a game.