My best experience I had during the mission trip to St. Louis was definitely participating in the advanced English class. There were mostly Muslim women in the class and they could all speak very good English with few mistakes. At this level, conversation is the best way to practice English.
The first night there were only two women in the class; one of which was named Fatimah. She is a refugee from Iraq who has suffered much due to the harsh wars and terrorism in that area. I learned a lot about the terrible conditions in Iraq. Fatimah explained how their government in Iraq refuses to supply the common people with having basic utilities such as water, electricity, etc. But even with no utilities, you cannot buy a house in Iraq for the equivalent of $80,000. Anytime people protested, the soldiers would start shooting on the mob of angry protesters. To make things worse, ISIS invaded. Fatimah sadly told me how when ISIS invaded, they killed two people out of each family. Fatimah’s husband was one of the victims. He was shopping in a store when out of no where, three terrorist came in and shot him in the head. My heart broke for her. Fatimah had two sons and a daughter at the time. She still lives with her two sons here in St. Louis and her daughter lives in Little Rock with two daughters of her own. She said she would never go back to live in Iraq.
However, not everything she said was terrible and heartbreaking, she told me a lot about her daily life. I was surprised at the amount of cooking Muslim women have to do. She cooks traditional Iraqi food for every meal. Never once did I hear her say she ate at a fast food restaurant. As for Fatimah’s spiritual beliefs, she is a devout Muslim. However, I was encouraged to hear of how highly she spoke of the church. She attended a church close to where she lives and she said the people there were very kind to her. In all, it was a great experience and I hope I will be able to do it again next year.
Wrriten by Ethan Whiteley