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..."
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.
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:
I heart Benson: