{salam ya'll!}

the truth is, I wasn’t sure exactly how to begin this blog…a simple “hello” or “dear readers” didn’t quite encapsulate the awkward marriage of east and west that’s made me it’s offspring over the past few months. steve and i have been back in america for about a month and are getting settled in (whatever that means) in memphis, tennessee. we have been warmly welcomed by the amazing community here. my heart is so encouraged knowing that it is surrounded by so many who share its passions. it’s been awesome to pray through issues and than practically come up with ways to {be the answers} to our own prayers, trusting in the sovereignty of the Father to guide us as we seek to further His kingdom.

we are  finally feeling much healthier, but strangely, the more we “recover” the more our hearts become sick with the general attitude of th
e west. admittedly I have felt a bit {crazy} upon returnin
g to ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’, though I have enjoyed some of it’s praiseworthy qualities (grocery stores, for instance, thank you GOD for grocery stores! and clean, running water is always a bonus) and it has been undeniably refreshing to spend some much needed {quality time with family and friends}, it's strange to feel closer to home while on the other side of the earth and have your heart ache for the other side of the earth as soon as you return "home". this constant heart pull bears witness to the very reason I {love} to immerse myself in cultures that are so foreign to me (and perhaps the reason why steve and I constantly catch our thoughts and prayers drifting toward travel. It has become so hard to sit still. the headlines on CNN are no longer headlines, they are familiar faces and families).

it’s about the part of the trip where you realize you are no longer the western "outsider" being smiled at and started at out of curiosity and politeness, but to have been accepted as a sister. it is such a humbling experience to find yourself truly accepted in a culture that places such value in sisterhood. a concept that is {entwined} into each woman’s very existence, a sense of belonging so strong.creating bridges between cultural boundries, breaking down the walls. for this same reason, i have so enjoyed sharing stories with people (once I get going it’s hard to stop talking, I am smitten with these beautiful people). I am dying to introduce the west (and anyone who will listen) to a culture that completely caught me off guard and ruined all of the preconceived ideas that I had formed in my head as a westerner, to a nation of women who aren’t sulking about under burqas but who are downright silly, funny, happy, animated, irreverent, smart, strong, complex women; a nation of strong, serious men with extraordinary {family values} and a reverence for God that blows me out of the water. (and yes, as with every culture there are exceptions to the rule, sometimes we forget that oppression, depression, corruption and abuse exist in the good old U. S. A. too). behind every veiled face and gap toothed smile is a testimony that silences my feeble words and stirs my soul.

thank you to everyone who opened their hearts to hearing the stories behind the photographs that we have captured over the past months (especially to our families, who never seem to tire of the slideshow). I really look forward to sharing more with you as we continue to live the questions together.

"if i am crazy it's because i refuse to be crazy in the same way that the world has gone crazy"
- peter maurin (co-founder of the catholic worker community movement) 

© 2010 unless otherwise stated all photos are copyright diane schallert and may not be used without permission. thanks.

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