Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Morocco and its Adventures

3 months.  3 months! That is crazy.  February FLEW (literally :]) and now the March madness is already here (both in basketball and normal life form).  So right off the bat, I am going to ask you all for prayers.  Time is going by very fast, and it is very easy to get distracted and out of focus on the things that really matter.  We want to soak up the remainder of our time here and live one day at a time, but this is a lot easier said than done.  Please pray that we continue to go to the Jman each morning before we begin our day and ask Him what He would have us do together.  We want to be intentional, but we can’t do it on our own strength. 

This past week was one that I will never have the opportunity to live again, and therefore is a very special memory for me.   To start off, on Sunday we were invited over to the house of some worker friends of ours.  We will call them C and N, and they and their family are very cool people.  So around 130 we arrived at their house to eat lunch that consisted of CHEESEBURGERS.  Yes, folks, I did say CHEESEBURGERS.  They were delightful.  Then we had a time of worship together and our friend Sarah shared some about her life and what Jesus has been speaking to her.  It was a great time of fellowship, and I really enjoyed getting to know them a lot better.  Also, my heart fell more in love with the chill sound of the ukulele.  If you are reading this and can play the uke, do you want to be my friend?  :]

Monday came and it started off pretty normal.  We cleaned the house, did some laundry, and had class in the morning.  Our normal routine had some flair added to it when we packed for our short trip to Morocco though.  There was a conference thingy there, and we were attending to help with childcare.  That night, we got home from our intercambio with Fe Y Vida around 1130 and then finished up a few things before heading off to the bus station at 115 am.  Luckily our land lady’s husband is a taxi driver and so we arranged for him to pick us up which was very convenient.  And then, by 2 o’clock, we were off to Madrid on our 5 hour bus ride.  I was fortunate enough to be able to doze off for a bit.  Everything after that went very smoothly, and by 1230 we were being greeted by D, one of our brothers living in North Africa. 

It was such a blessing to be able to meet up with them a day early and hang out.  The world is full of guys, but there is a shortage on men like them.  They showed us to the hotel that they found for us all to stay at and then we headed out to grab some lunch.  My first tagine experience was a good one.  I have decided that I would enjoy eating with my hands all the time.  Stupid forks.  Also, food in N Africa is CHEAP.  It was quite comical listening to the guys talk about the expensiveness of the food in that particular city compared to what they normally get at home, but for us, we were getting quite the deal on food. 

That evening we went to the square which completely transforms itself at that time.  Food vendors set up, and there is a sort of “cook off” that goes on.  Promoters from each restaurant yell at you in multiple languages to get you to eat at THEIR stand because it is the best.  This was a pretty entertaining process.  We ended up having delicious $0.65 fruit smoothies (TWICE), fresh squeezed cold orange juice, snails, and pastilla (a tasty Moroccan dish).  Also, in the square there is a lot of street performing that goes on.  We saw some really cool tumblers that did a bunch of flipping tricks and also some not so cool snake charmers that didn’t really do anything.  But it was all great fun.  Thanks to the bartering skills of Luca (another brother) I got a Ronaldo jersey for 7 euros!  YIPPEE.

The next morning we headed off to Essa, which was 3 hours away by bus.  It was a great time to just talk about life and how it has been for us living in our separate countries.  I love story times. Once we arrived, we headed to the beach. The day was perfect, and it had just begun. Camel rides on this beautiful beach came next. So cool! I named my camel Phil, and we had a great time together. One important thing to note tho.....DO NOT PUT YOUR PHONE IN YOUR BACK POCKET WHILE RIDING A CAMEL.  If you do this, it will fall out into the sand and your guide will have to go back a long way to try and find it while the entire camel train waits for his return. He wouldn't even let me get off to try and help locate it. Embarrassing experience, but all was found in the end.

After this,  we met up with C and T, workers in the area that were also going to be going to the conference thingy.  We dropped our baggage off at their house and went to find some lunch. And boy, did we find it. For $5 a person, we had an all you can eat amount of fresh seafood that was eaten beside the beach.  It was RIDICULOUS.

Soon after we made our way to the campsite that we would be staying at....about 40 minutes away. Well, some of us did. The other half of our group waited in town to find the missing Mr. P and Mrs. J that were supposed to arrive. Luckily they were located after awhile.  In the meantime,  I was lucky enough to be enjoying the absolutely GORGEOUS view of the Atlantic ocean.  It was incredible. And the campsite was great! Each group had a separate cabin and they were on the beach.   Talk about being blessed. From the terrace of each cabin you could enjoy the crash of the waves and see the sand sweeping across in the wind. Lovely. 

We had it very nice the rest of the week.  Worship in the mornings led by Luca and Nicky.  Meals were provided and we got to eat with our hands the whole time. We had HOT showers. Story time and singing with Mr. P and Mrs. J at night was always fun. And we basically got to play with kids the whole time.  And not just any kids.....really cool and cute kids :) The greatness of this was only heightened because  we had the beach as our front yard. We built sand castles, boats, mountains and dug some impressively deep holes. The water was freezing but it didn't stop us from splashing around in it and getting soaked. And we just laughed a lot. It was awesome. One of the ladies also provided snacks and crafts, so in the afternoon we entertained them in the guys' house with these things and the "Planet Earth" series. They mostly loved it, except for when baby animals died at the hands of the "bad animals". 

So in a nutshell that was our week. We ended with a campfire on the beach where we made popcorn and smores. It was there that I realized that I may never get to see these kiddos again, and it just made me really sad. But, I am so thankful for the moments I did get to share with them.

Saturday morning came very early. We woke at 415 am and cleaned up the house and set off at 5.  Thankfully we had gentlemen nice enough to escort us, even tho they wouldn't have had to leave that early. Can’t thank them enough for all the sacrifices they made on our behalf.  So we headed into town to catch the bus at 6.  Unfortunately there were only 6 spots on the bus and 8 of us, so Luca and Abe took 2 of the spots on the bus while the rest of us packed into a grand taxi.  It was a little over a 2 hour drive, a lot of which I spent sleeping on and off.  We did enjoy some funny English tunes along the way tho :]  We got to the airport about 4 hours before our flight left, so we had plenty of time to chill.  When it was time to board, I was pretty nervous about my bag not making it through again and having to pay to check it.  Luckily, the lady came around and told me I could check it for free due to there not being enough space up top for all the bags!  That was awesome.

 So we arrived in Madrid at 330 here time.  Great.  Everything was going to smoothly.  That is until we went to pick up our checked for free bags.  We ended up waiting for them for an hour, which then put us behind in making it to the bus station on time.  We got there at like 630, and I headed straight to the ticket counter.  The bus to Granada had left precisely at 630, leaving us and all our luggage behind by minutes.  Sad day.  I asked when the next bus to Granada would be leaving, and she informed me that 130 am was next.  That gave us a whopping 7 hours to kill.  We went out into the city for a little to find something to eat and explore, but quickly we realized that everything was pretty far from the bus station and no one besides me was really feeling up to par, and since it was raining we headed back after grabbing some lunch/dinner.  The rest of the time was spent trying to find internet to no avail and sleeping on the floor.  I feel like in the states its pretty normal to see people napping in airports and stations.  Apparently here it is just not something you do though because we got a LOT of stares.  The floor was freezing so we didn’t actually get very much sleep doing this.  It was at this point that a bad attitude really tried to creep in.  Nicky says that you should just never think while you are travelling because it can be quite destructive, and I concur.  Up until this point, I was really calm which surprised me.  When things started getting frustrating with the baggage, being hungry, my pants ripping and hair band popping, and wet shoes/socks due to the rain, we just started joking and mentioning all the happys we had enjoyed in the past couple of days.  Something that we have all started to do is write down our “happys” from each day.  The book 1000 gifts by Ann Voskamp is what gave us the idea, and it has been such a blessing in my life.  I am so proud of these girls.  They were real troopers and kept me positive the whole time.  I also know that there were people praying for peace for us because none of us were stressed at all.  It was quite refreshing.  So when it was about midnight and the floor was cold and we couldn’t sleep and were fighting bad attitudes, we played a fun game called “If you could have anything right now, what would it be”.  I informed Nicky that I would probably sell her foot right then for a down comforter.  We had a lot of laughs. 

Finally 130 came and we were on our way home.  Needless to say, when we arrived in Granada we were all pretty dead.  We grabbed a taxi and by 705, we were in our house, heading to bed until about 230 pm.  The shutters here pretty much cut out all light which was a huge blessing, especially for a time like this.  That night we went to ch-rch as normal.  We even enjoyed some smores over a candle from the supplies that were gifted to us for babysitting.  It is very good to be home. 

So that is the past week.  Thank you all for reading my extremely long posts filled with rambling and an excess of details.  I enjoy blogging to remind me of everything that we did, so thanks for bearing with me :]  We would appreciate continued prayers for our time here, that we would be intentional and finish out strong, as I mentioned before.  Also, if you could all pr-y specifically for our homeless friend Nigel, that would be awesome.  We are exploring creative ways of speaking of Jesus.  We don’t wanna talk about religion.  We wanna talk about the Jman and all He has done for us.  Thanks for all your support!  Remember to keep your eyes up this week! 

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