Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 30, 2013

Kindness, love transcend boundaries

When Jesus (or “Isa” in Arabic) will come back to Earth, I think I know what he would look like.

My host dad, Mack Stirling, has always reminded me of the Prophet and Messenger Isa (peace be upon him). Whenever I think of Dr. Stirling, I always find myself contemplating how much he resembles the Prophet Isa (PBUH). In essence, I perceive him to be “the Jesus of my life.” His wife, Dixie Stirling, is the quintessential Christian with her loving, compassionate and forgiving heart.

I first traveled to the United States from my home in Turkmenistan in the summer of 2007 as an exchange student at Frankfort High School and quickly fell in love with the community. My curiosity, happiness and joy only increased with time.

Feeling inspired and encouraged, I returned to the same area to attend college as an international student. In Traverse City, I was lucky and fortunate enough to find a host family in the Stirlings. Without their help, I would have been unable to attend college.

I have been very blessed to have the Stirlings in my life. I can’t think of a way to truly express my gratitude and love to the most generous and considerate people I know. During the four years I lived with them, I was able to learn so much about myself, the religion of Christianity and my own religion.

As a Muslim, I believe in the second coming of Prophet Isa (PBUH). As you may have noticed, Muslims add the saying “peace be upon him” after the prophets’ names to pay them proper respect and emphasize their significance. The misconception that Muslims do not believe in Isa or his second coming is one of the very many stereotypes I have been trying to correct, at least among my American friends. Perhaps that is a reason I have this special connection with my host family. Both Muslims and Mormons have been grossly misunderstood and misrepresented in the public platform on multiple levels.

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