Monday, July 27, 2009

Travel Log, June 13-14 (part I), 2009

June 13, 2009

Our last day of work (Saturday) dawned bright and hot. We were pretty chipper at breakfast, as we ate our last meal of hardboiled eggs for a VERY long time. (I only choked it down in order to get protein) and had our last devotions with Dick and Dee. The new crop joined us--even though they were barely awake, as they arrived late the night before.

Everyone was a buzz with excitement--ROOF DAY!!!!

First, the gals took MANY trips to the river with Donkey. We and Donkey mutually HATE each other now. Ooooooooh the rat. Then, when we had three regular barrels and one huge barrel filled, and the men mixed gravel and sand and cement together, they quickly started mixing in water. Amy, Anna, Y, and two AZs, and I were on the roof. We had Y to spread cement, two people to dump cement from buckets on the pulleys (from the men and cement below), two on wheel barrows to dump cement, and one to help spread/wet the bricks (so the moisture in cement didn't leave too soon).

Tryin' out pulleys.
Joey is supervising.
We stuffed Y in the water barrel.

I was on wheelbarrows for one disastrous turn, pulleys until I dumped a bucket accidentally on the extremely good-natured men below, but my calling was spreading and wetting. I LOVE spreading cement. It's like frosting. I love frosting.

We're on the roof!
Amy and I LOVE to work on the roof.

We first put a sloppy layer to fill in the bricks, then a smooth layer of a couple inches on top. I watched Y at first: spread with the trowel to get it level, then pat bumps smooth. Check. I did that for him whenever he used a 2x4 to pat large chunks even smoother. Sweet.

The whole thing looked like:

At one point, J brought a turtle up from the river. Aaaw.

Our last visit to Rashida and Fayeeda's was sweet. Dani and Mel came, so they were able to translate and explain that we were leaving, but would pray for them. They thanked us profusely, fed us almonds, threatened us with tea, and hugged us and cried. them.
Fayeeda and my team

That night, we called home for the first time. We got Mom at Husky Stadium for David's graduation. Aaaw, Happy Graduation, Bud! Little Bachelor's in EE!

[written June 14, 2009]

[Yesterday] we felt a huge camaraderie with the guys. We know each other a bit now, even if we can't say much to each other. ;) After lunch, B and M said how much said how much they appreciated us and how much fun they had with us. We gals teared up majorly. Amy reciprocated with a speech about how much we enjoyed it, learned, and loved their smiles and hearts. Anna said she loves them and wants to come back, and I thanked them for their patience with us (they laughed). We all (gals) CRIED during their prayers over us. Every guy shook our hands, looked us in the eye, and thanked us. B gave us big bear hugs. Aaaaw...I wanted to hug everyone, but wasn't sure that's culturally acceptable. Sigh. I love them all, but especially Y, M, and T stick out as awesome. Sweet, man.

Meluda brought a watermelon!
I love them!
All the workers with my team!

Melodie took the four of us right away to the beach. It felt SO good to sink in the frigid sea and wash off work dirt and sweat. We actually swam in it--so we can say we've swum in the Med. :)

Then we showered at home, had "tea" (coffee) and set off to Hoceima for henna with Melodie. We went to Fatima's home, looked at pictures of hennaed people, and excitedly chose our designs. We each got our left arm and right ankle done in some way. It smells like rabbit pellets and look like mouse first. We bought cheap perfume ("Fancy Flirt") to spray on it to keep it wet for a while, while it soaked in. Mel's truck reeked. We bought drinks at a super market. I tried Poms--delish carbonated apple drink. Mmmm.

I get henna!




While in the car, waiting for something, we met "Anna the chicken":
Anna the chicken.

A couple minutes later, Anna looked different:
Anna the Chicken

At home, we avoided bumping into people, ate harina for dinner. Then, bed.

June 14, 2009, Part I
Oh man. Today we leave Al Hoceima/Izemourren/the FOR. :( We are all sad. I think I'm leaving a bit of myself here--I really LOVE it. Not for a place to stay much longer--but I'll be glad to return! And the people!! S and W have been sad since a few days ago when we started packing a bit, and it was so hard to say goodbye to the boys at work yesterday.

We got to sleep in until 7:30am this morning! We're packed, cleaned, and ready for fellowship at 10. I am enjoying one last moment on the roof. I love you, Izemourren!

After shower, breakfast (of pistachio pudding, banana, and nectarine--NO bread or eggs), and reflection on the roof, we had our last worship meeting. B, S, and kids and sister and Mel came down. We sang a lot and had a good time.

We wrote a song, to the tune of DoReMi:
"Do, the stuff, they make chobbes from.
Rays, that give you farmer's tans.
Me, the girl, that gets stared at,
Fafa, a boy that's really cute!
So, what M always says!
La! A word that means no!
Tea! A drink we always have!
and that will bring us back to..."

Anecdote: Yesterday, at our last 6am breakfast before work, Dee sat down as the four of us munched groggily away on bananas and chobbes. Beth calmly said, "Oh. There's a cockroach on the table somewhere. Not sure where it went." *munch munch* Dee looked at us in awe and said "MY, you've all adjusted!"

Then, Joey, Dani, Josiah, Benson, Anna, Amy, Bethy, and I set off in the van for Chefchaouen! WOOHOO!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Travel Log, June 12, 2009

June 12, 2009

The elections just ended--everyone is celebrating in the streets; apparently, they think "Tractor Guy" won. Because the country is so illiterate, each candidate chooses a symbol--tractor, flower, water spigot--which is drawn in numbered boxes on walls in all the towns. People check the box for the picture they like on their ballots. This was beautifully illustrated on fliers left everywhere by Tractor Guy: a big tractor with a check mark over it. The word around the house was that Flower Guy was better.

A new team arrived tonight--four over 45 year old men from the AZ church. Not as cool as our AZ team..but one did immediately offer to set us all up with his single sons because "real babes go on mission trips." Ahem.

I bonded with a BABY. I do NOT do well with babies. I don't know what to do with them. I told W this (through Dani), and she asked, "but what will you do when you get married?!" "ensha'allah, I'll figure it out!" But tonight, I held Miriam. She fell asleep on me. I asked Beth, "What is it doing?!" Beth said, "umm...sleeping..."

Miriam and me

We had a great time talking on the roof with Dick and Dee. It was good to process the trip; what we are learning, what we are seeing.

[This I wrote on the flight home.]

The work Friday (12th) was all ROOF. Friday we prepared it by handing boards to the guys, who nailed them to each other to create roof grid of flat boards, supported by small tree trunks from underneath/inside the house. They then laid bricks on top in a tight checker board pattern, and laid rebar supports on top of the wood, in between the bricks.

Framin' up.

Forest of Support

Bebo moves them bricks.

Beth and I got to tied some rebar! That was SUPER fun. We used pliers to twist thin wire around small rebar ovals and long straight pieces, so we had a looong thin Us. Joey said he'd pay me $10/day to do it full time, because I liked it so much. AWESOME. Again, if physics doesn't work out...

We also fetched hundreds of bricks in the van and trucks. Hundreds. Feel the burn.

A car appeared in the morning at the brother's house, and a schnazzily dressed man came up to the site. He spoke French to M and Dick, and smoked right in the middle of our group. The men were all giggling at him. We could tell that M (and B, once they switched to Arabic) were talking about us (the girls). When he left, M explained that he was a cousin who lives in France now, and is very rich. One cigarette costs more than our workers make in a day. They were asking WHY he doesn't help his destitute family--that we (these four American women who are not used to hard physical labor and are much more comfortable way over the ocean at home) flew out to help his family, whom we don't know. Why wouldn't he? He said that he was only here to visit, not help.

J and M explained that that is typical Islam. There is no sense of obligation to help the poor or one's family even--no sense that one should out of love. We see huge houses dotting the landscape, accompanied by mud huts, where poor relations live. No need to help. Nope. M and B and we gals had a good discussion about why we came and what it means to the people. Just by being here and trying (haha and often failing) to do this work, and by sitting with the women, who rarely have visitors (let alone foreign ones), we are showing a love and caring they've never seen. They may call us "true Muslims", but would rarely see that in a real one. We are just trying to show the love of Jesus.

On a less important note, M and B said that we are personally changing people's opinions of Americans, too. They see news of our wars and greed, but we can show that on an individual level, we really aren't that bad. :)

Friday afternoon, after a shower, the women (The Four, Dani, Dee, Melodie, and Josiah/Benson/Elias) went out visiting. We had tea (ooooh tea. sigh.) and cookies at "Malika the First"'s. She was the first person FOR built for after the 2004 earthquake. They found her living in a tent with her five kids and drugged out crazy husband. After building the house and buying her a donkey, she and her hub have completely turned around and are doing well. She speaks Arabic--which is unusual for country women, who usually only speak Rifi. Her oldest daughter, Hasna, is 15 and on a scholarship to attend boarding school in Hoceima. She speaks French, and is learning ENGLISH! That is amazing. We spoke to her and her basics are so good. It is really encouraging--she will have so many more options in life, knowing French and English. We also met a cute 12 year old who looks like she is only 8, due to uncontrolled diabetes. Mel says that her mother (a friend of Malika's) just doesn't understand and is only recently learning how to take care of her disease, but doesn't always get the supplies she needs. Mel helps as much as she can. Also sad was a lady who is 30 and unmarried: Dani and Mel say that she is now considered "too old to wed" and floats between families' houses. It is just tragic that these beautiful women have so few opportunities or expectations in life. Praise the Lord for where I was born.

We also played with the kiddies more at home...

Amy colors cement trucks for Josiah and sticks stickers on Amal:
Amy and Children

I heart Benson:
Me and Mubarak

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Travel Log, June 10-11, 2009

(Sorry for the delay in posting. I got busy. :P )

June 10th, 2009

This morning, we had our last devotion with AZ and hugged them all goodbye. :( <3

First thing at work, Amy and I worked on the septic--me digging, she picking. Then Dick called us to be brick fetchers with him. We drove to "Home Depot" to get 600 bricks. Yes. Work out, dude. Nothin' like being a group of two young foreign women and an 80-year-old man loading a pickup with construction materials while twenty able-bodied local men sit around gawking.

[Wow. Mosques just started up. Can hear at least two different ones. Immediately this time a chorus of howling dogs joined in. Eerie.]

Our assembly line of brick unloaders was puny, so I got to run back and forth a lot (marathon training!). Amy and I dug and picked more, until T rescued us and picked more in two minutes than we did in two hours. Beth and I did anther brick run--this time, for only 300. The men finished all four walls today. SWEET! I love the obvious, visible progress that comes in construction (maybe I should give up physics).

AMY digs a septic tank!

Yesterday, my rash was worse, AND I ripped a hole in my pants--right on my behind--so today, I retired my whole-week-long work outfit. Dani lent me a long-sleeve shirt (less rash!) and Sarah left pants for me. Sadly, the pants are for men and about four sizes too big. I was hitching them up an awful lot today. Tomorrow, I borrow belt.

Hangin' with the guys inside.

We finished an hour early ( 1pm) today, so we had a nice sit before lunch. B and Elias (2) found a big ol' palm-sized toad in the creek and brought him up for a visit. Anna and I pounced at and petted and cooed over him, while the men jumped back in disgust. Ha! They can handle spiders and scorpions, but not...frogs... The frog had a leech on his side, which was ooky. Someone removed it for him. I rescued him finally and returned him to the water.

E and B
Elias and BigMo visited!!
Blurry toad:
Aaaw toooad.

Of course, we saw Donkers.

After work, we showered and I NAPPED for an hour, with my iPod. Whew. We had a chill tea with the ladies, babies, Dick, and Dee. Moroccan ladies love to lounge. We lounged. We knitted. Well, I did. I'm knitting socks using German yarn from my last awesome trip. Appropriate, no?

Dinner was insane. All three toddlers were screaming. Had to ESCAPE. Feel better. Too many people now though--they invaded my sanctuary. Sigh.

June 11, 2009

[Original entry]

Tired. Need to be away from kids for long time. Will write tomorrow.

[What happened that day, as far as I remember, because I didn't write tomorrow about it.]

The gals, Dick, M, and Y drove in one of the pickups WAAAAAY out into the country to the farthest house FOR has built. It needed whitewashed, septic tank filled, and door frame cemented.

The drive was eventful. We drove through and up and over gorgeous hills and creeks. We saw some donkeys and people, but it was *really* out in the middle of nowhere. Going up one of the big hills, the truck overheated. Shooooot. Y, M, and we gals leaped out of the back and pushed. We pushed the truck up the ginormous hill. Yes. We stopped by J's house, and he gave us water for the radiator. That thankfully held until we got to the site, but every hill we prayed hard that we wouldn't have to push again!

The family was sweet at this site, but we didn't talk to them much. Most of the time, I helped move [what would I help move? What?] rocks [oh yes] from one pile over to the edge of the septic tank. M was in the tank, building walls out of the rocks. Big ones, little ones, huge ones, pebbles. We saw a gigantic daddy long-legs, but no Charlottes. Whew.

Fillin' in the septic tank
It's another rock-puzzle!

We also had fun whitewashing, of course!

We drove back successfully--no pushing on the way. :)

[Aaand that's all I recall. The rest of my entries are a bit more detailed. :)]

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Travel Log, June 9, 2009

Today was both really, really good, and kind of sad. I've been fairly emotional. The AZ team's leaving in the morning, so we all prayed with them at lunch. I will really miss them. Beth put it perfectly--usually one does not like EVERYone in the group; we ALL clicked and I've been so blessed by each one. Russ and Rick are amazing leaders. Callie is a sweet and earnest 16-year-old gal. Sandy is down to earth and cheery, yet sarcastic and hilarious, AND runs marathons (including the Disney Marathon!). Susanna is an amazing 19-year-old mechanical engineering student with a passion for Jesus and people, and we got to bond with her over homeschooling. ;) Sarah is one of the most selfless people I've met--and inspiring in her attitude toward perpetual singleness! WOOHOO! No one is good enough to match her zeal and stubbornness in things of the Lord and life. That's it. God will (or won't) bring someone in His timing. I want Sarah's attitude!

We will miss them.

Getting out of bed is getting HARDER. But devotions after a gulp of coffee and some hardboiled eggs--getting easier! And work? Almost TOTALLY great! Ha!

(Written on June 10, 2009)

Man, today [the 10th, for those of you keeping track] has been hard. It was hot and bright at work, the AZ team left this morning (so we're all sad), the ids at home have been horrifyingly loud and whiny, Amy's and my allergies are waaay bad so we took Sudafed and are foggy, and Beth's strangely exhausted. I had to leave the salon with the loud, too chipper, or too down people for the beautiful, cool porch and my iPod and Bible. Tomorrow we are reading Acts 1 and 2 with Dick and Dee. This speaks to me:

Acts 2:25-28
"David said about [God]:
I saw the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will You let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of Life. You will fill me with joy in your presence."

So...yesterday [ahem, June 9], our last day with AZ, we started digging a septic tank, carried and fetched loads and loads of bricks, enjoyed tea and lunch, and laughs with the boys, and I rode DONKEY. I had to be able to say I did. I did. It was fine. Yes. Done.

I rode DONKEY!!
Susanna picks at the septic tank while Russ and Sandy supervise:
Susanna picks with supervision from Russ and Sandy
We're puttin' up a second wall!
They're puttin' up the second wall!
The ladies currently live in that house across the valley with their brother and mother:
It's comin'!
Rick picks:
Rick picks.
We be tired.
We love this hill:
We know that hill so well.
Sarah, the mama, Fayeeda, Hanan, and Susanna:
Sarah, the mama, Fayeeda, Hanan, Susanna
GROUP PICTURE!! AZ, us, and the boys:
The boys, the AZ team, and us!
We rode in the back of the truck home. I miss the drive:

The AZ ladies visited town for henna and a last shopping trip, while we chilled at home. So drained. Beth, Amy, Joey, and I had a fab homeschool reminiscence. We were all in homeschool soccer and band and know tons of the same people. We were mocked by Russ and Dani, but that's fine. ;)

The excitement of the night was J's presence at dinner. B, S, and S and W's younger sisters came, too, but ate out of view of J, the single male. Interesting. After dinner, we heard his and B's testimonies. Again, pretty cool. J is the sole provider for his mom and SEVEN sisters, and B is a totally awesome gangsta dude.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Travel Log, June 8, 2009

It was hard waking up this morning at 5:30am after a day off. The Lord will give us strength for five more days of this!!

We were in the modeling mood before work:
We all got fancy before work. Hee. Note the posed knees.

Today was really fun in spite of my fears. I was at the ladies' site all day, as were most of the Moroccan workers. Joey wants the roof on by Sat, gosh darn it! The others ran errands a lot, but my team was there most of the time. We could only get water (yay hmar hmuck), more bricks and wood, take nails out of wood (both are reused), and fetch and carry for the expert brick layers. It was awesome--we got to know the men better.

Y and his young brother M (15) both speak a little English, so between them, S, and our wee Arabic and charades, we communicated quite a bit. They are all such flirts. Haha! And show-offs--they had arm wrestling competitions for us, and then made us go. Amy beat me and Anna, and Anna beat Mustafa. :)

Yusef vs. Smalls, go!

Y, J, and A built one whole wall today with bricks, cement, boards, and rebar. The bricks look and smell like terra cotta. We moved a LOT of bricks around. Let. Me. Tell. You.

We prepared with brick piles and wood supports:
Prepping for wall building
Y starts his part of the wall:
Yusef builds a wall!
The boys work hard:
Lay them bricks, boys.
Anna and Beth sift sand so it's very fine:
Anna and Beth sift sand to be fine enough for the brick cement
I hand bricks to the brick layers, with attitude and style:
The bricks and I got to know each other so well.

Callie and I took tea back to Rashida and Fayeeda today. Rashida was at the doctor's office (we charade and baby-arabic-ed) because of a hurt back. Fayeeda told us about Hanan going to school in Ait Kameran someday, and that Fayeeda's dad died when she was about Hana's age. "Papas Hanan" (Hana's father) left them. :( I'm really encouraged by how much better communication is going--with them, the boys, and W and S at home.

Lunch was split pea soup (mmmm) and sardines. Like, whole, cooked, fish bodies. With guts and a head. The Moroccans devoured them, and I bravely ate one. It was ok...

Whole fishes:
Sardines for lunch...mmmm....?
How we ate every work site lunch, on the ground and with communal bowl and bread:
Split pea! This is how we ate every lunch. On the ground.

I used Sandy's "special tree" for the first time today. Yep, couldn't hold it all day. After the squatty potty, it wasn't that difficult.

Sandy had quite the time getting lunch to us! Joey drove the pickup, Dee sat in front, and Sandy sat in the back with a huge load of boards and the big tub of food and dishes. She was fine until...the hatch flew open while they were driving!! Sandy yelled to Joey, but he didn't hear her. She sprawled across the wood, holding to the truck with one hand and one foot, the wood with the other foot, and the food with her other hand, praying that the wood wouldn't slide and she wouldn't die and the food wouldn't spill. She drove by us yelling, and we laughed and yelled "GET A CAMERA!!!" It wasn't until she was down by the riverbed (Joey had to turn around) and saw Anna coming with tea from the ladies that she got Anna to stop Joey. She, the soup, and the wood arrived fully intact. :) Alhemdu Allah!

Sandy, perseveringly and precariously perched in the pickup:
Sandy almost died, but saved the lunch and wood in the back of the truck!

Since work, I've been chillin', showered, washed some clothes (hand scrubby!), drank coffee at tea time, ate too many Bugel-like fried things and cookies with Nutella, and had fun repeating Arabic and Rifi words over and over with the gang of gals, S, W, and Dani. :) Lovely.

Notice my legs pre-shower--this is not tan line, this is dirt:
This may look like a tan line...but it's worksite dirt.
Clothes tiiime:

Tonight we shall eat and hopefully sleep early! I have a weird rash on my two forearms that started yesterday morning. It's either allergies (took Benadryl and Sandy gave me cortisone cream) or a heat rash. Hopefully...!

OH MAN. On the way home, Amy, Anna, Beth, Callie, Susanna, and I rode in the back of Joey's pickup (sans wood or food). IT was a BLAST! We stood up and blew in the wind and drank in the view. Mmmmm! Men waved, stared, and probably heckled (but we couldn't hear). Yep. We cause scenes wherever we go, man.

Toyota should pay us for this:
Toyota commerciaaaal

WELL, we had a lovely evening--unexpectedly so! I, on a whim, asked W to tie my scarf like they do. It looks good!! I loved it so much! Haha. Later, after dinner...

W and me:
Wassema tied my scarf for me!

(written June 9, 2009)

...Dani tried on her new jilaba and head scarf. Inspired, Amy asked S to tie hers, too. Soon, EVERY female in the house (except Miriam the baby, but yes Amal the 2 year old) was wearing a headscarf, tied expertly on by W or S. That's be...13 gals! We were so cute and took lots of pictures. :)

Every woman in the FOR house!

***Remember, there are lots more pictures from Al Hoceima here.***