Saturday, January 2, 2010

Note to a friend (extending to all of my dear friends) for the New Year:

Thank you for your New Year's Wishes! It's been tough being away from my family for the holidays, but God always goes before us and has provided a few new friends here, who remind me of you and your family, because they have had me over to their house several times over the long Winter break for dinner, games, and movies. I learned how to play Dutch Blitz a new game that I really enjoy but never win! I highly recommend this game for the winter! I have been taking time to read from Jeremiah and Colossians and realized that I need to pray more often for my students and the teachers I arrived with. It is so easy to complain or see the difficulty or negative sides of things especially when dealing with the stress of language/communication and adjustment to a new culture. Instead of complaining I am trying to pray when the notion arises or speak words that are edifying (words that will speak to the truth in the situations and remind others of the love grace and forgiveness that is needed to continue living peaceably). It's working so far. I've really missed my students over the winter vacation which is funny to say but I think since I am here in my apartment by myself for the last couple of weeks that I have occupied my thoughts with questions about who they are and how I can help them to learn the most they can this year. I wonder what these students will be like when they are 21 or 30 and it makes me happy to know that they will hold on to the ideas of community and responsibility that will allow them to contribute to society for the greater good of all where they choose to live their lives! I wonder if I am to be a part of this development for next year or if I am to return to the states. I have to make a decision in February but until then I am praying I am still trying to find my niche in the new curriculum and have to get geared up for a new semester.

I have been taking short and long walks in the gorgeous weather. The rains and cool weather are on their way, but now the temps are in the 60s and 70s and I have loved just walking down the streets with sunglasses and a light jacket feeling the sun on my face! I love sunshine and find it difficult to think that when I return to Illinois this time of year there would be snow and ice. I like snow don't get me wrong, it's just tough cleaning off the car and shoveling etc... I do miss snowball fights and haven't had a chance to make my annual snow angel :( I hope to go to Ifrane later in the month with my snow pants, leg warmers and big boots etc to play in snow!

I have tried a new recipe for cinnamon rolls and am perfecting homemade french fries....... I know it's not the healthiest choices but this reminds me of home or America shall I say. I have also found a new love of writing post cards! I am now trying to find ones that I think my friends will get a kick out of, but sometimes I forget who was supposed to get which one! LOL I am sure that people will love the notes anyway!

I have been cat sitting for another teacher who is in the states for the past couple of weeks and have solidified my decision about owning pets larger than Mr. Hatchett (my African clawed aquatic frog). It's interesting because I have never seen cats as very interactive creatures, they mainly keep to themselves, but these two cats names 'Hot lips' and 'Baby' are simply hilarious. They are about a little over a foot long and about 5 and a half inches wide....BIG cats! When I come to feed them they start making noises that remind me of words like 'hello' hey but they probably just mean something like 'where have you been?! We are so hungry! Hurry up and feed us already! Oh and while you're at it can you change our litter box and pick up the Christmas tree we knocked over the other day? Yeah and about that old bag of cat was left open on the floor so we just finished it off yesterday...just wanted you to know." Ha ha ha! So I just carry on conversation as if they are listening, but the way they stare at me sometimes makes me think that they understand me! LOL

I have ridden in many taxis going to friends houses lately and have found that all taxi drivers want to know the answers to 3 to15) important questions:

1. Where do you want to go?
2. Can you tell me when to turn if I show signs of not knowing where I am taking you although my initial nods and hand waving made it seem like I knew exactly where to take you?
3. Where are you from?
3a. Do you speak Arabic? French? English?
3b. Are you a student?
4. How long are you staying here?
5.What do you think about the city/country? "How do you find the city?"
6. Are you Muslim?
7. Do you live here with your family or alone?
8. Why aren't you Muslim?
9. Why did you come here when you could choose to go anywhere?
10. Where have you traveled in the country?
11. What do you know about Mohammed?
12.Where do you live in the old city or new city?
13. You are beautiful, yes?!
14. Do you like the food of our country?
15. Will you be Muslim, incha 'allah?! (God willing)

And after a plethora of questioning with answers to suffice the curiosity of the taxi driver they say "Marhabah!" Welcome! "Enjoy your stay! This is the best city in the country! Go all over and you will see that this city is the heart of the country! B'slaama! Good bye! and someone else who needs a taxi is yelling at the driver their intended destination before I get a chance to pay him the fair and the new passenger proceeds to shove me out of the way in order to get in. I readjust myself and go about my way, laughing about the event of transportation that is totally different each time and highly unpredictable! My friend who has lived here for over 15 years said, "Not just the taxi drivers, all of the people here want to know who you are, what kind of a family you come from, and WHY you are here! That's the way people are here...and once they know this they will either leave you alone or they will invite you over to eat! The people love to help you and othersif they know that you are a good person (which means if you show that you respect their culture by the way you live your life here) because that's what people do...they are really inquisitive and they want to feed you and make you feel welcome here!"

I look forward to starting a new quarter of the school year with my students! I am also thinking of budgeting to take language courses once a week in order to improve my Arabic (Darija) and/or French! I feel so alive and aware of so many things but often wonder what this means nevertheless I am enjoying living here and although I miss being in Illinois and seeing my family I know that I am here 'for such a time as this'. Some moments and conversations that I have had have assured me that my life will never be the same because HE is moving and changing me so deeply. In moments of weariness I pray or read the special notes that were written a little journal and then I am overwhelmed again at the love of my dear friends and family. When I am frustrated or exhausted I am often flooded with the presence of HIS love and comfort in the friendship and support of YOU! Thank you Thank you Thank you for refreshing my spirit! Your cards, packages, emails, and notes have inspired me to love people here all the more. Your love for me and prayers are being answered each day in small glimpses and in ways that we will never know, but of course HE knows and will continue the work that HE has begun in YOU where YOU are, in ME where I am and in US! Praise Honor and Glory Be to our God...all wealth, wisdom, power, strength and everything belongs to him and finds its purpose in HIM alone. Blessings, smiles, and salaam to YOU in this new year!

It brings me peace to know these words:
"Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart for a special work."
"YOU must go everywhere I send you, and you must say everything I tell you to say. Don't be afraid of anyone, because I am with you to protect you."
"See I am putting my words in your will pull up and tear down, destroy and overthrow, build up and plant."Jeremiah 1:5a,7b, 8,9 & 10

Friday, January 1, 2010

Drummers of the World UNITE!

J I thought you would like this video. I went to a wedding and this is the music played at the wedding processional!

Missing My Bro...(one of my favorite drummers in the whole wide world)

The new year is here and nothing battles homesickness better than contact with family and friends! It's been great getting to chat and skype with so many over the past few weeks. I am grateful for technology (i.e. this blog, FB, and myspace, etc). I am really missing my brother and so I decided to look up his 'rockin' band (Electric Kool-aid)on YouTube and this made me happy! J,if you are reading this today, just want you to know that your bands music makes me smile! Can't wait to hear you guys play again upon my return to the states.

I know...I know... I am very far away, but every time I walk down the street and some random Berber drummer comes up to me playing his drum for money I always think about you and how much you love what you do and how you would immensely enjoy a jam session with him! I am sure that you would love N. Africa due to the spontaneous artistic creativity that seems to permeate the air! Sometimes early in the morning I am awaken by drums like the ones in the video below. Enjoy! ( oh and you can dance if you want to...) ha ha ha