Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy halloween everyone.

Yeah, seriously, that's it for today. Sorry.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More photo fun for all the kids.

Me. Me really tired of blowing my nose from the cold I got here. Yeah, less than thrilled... but my beard is starting to come in nicely.

The biggest pomegranate ever. Not only was it good on the outside....

...but it was awesome on the inside. Pomegranates are proof that God loves us, especially if you squirt a little lemon juice on them.

A tiny lizard that we found in the kitchen. We believe that his parents live in the mosque next door, so we took him out and set him free on the wall next to where they like to hang out.

Probably the best photo I have taken here in Morocco. Sunset last night with the faintly visible moon...

Monday, October 23, 2006

From Jess:
Journal entry: October 21, 2006

“Father, Thank you for yesterday, the night before, and the day to come… Thank you for your abounding grace, truth, and love as it has been demonstrated through Hyatt… Two nights ago was the celebration of the day the Quran was given to the Islamic people… As a gift, Hyatt took me out to get dressed up and have a traditional “celebration” photo taken… afterward, she gifted me with Henna for both of my hands… I wish I could thank her in the way in which it was appropriate… in addition to this and the djebla, she gifted us with a dish of six hour cooked cous-cous as well as shabekeya … How can I thank her… I feel so unworthy, yet so grateful… She is a demonstration of your love to me… Thank you.

“I pray that I never forget that my mouth should continually be filled with praise for you and as witness of and for your glory… You did not forsake me when my strength was failing and others we’re speaking against me… You were never far from me… You continued to comfort me despite my discomfort… You continue to revive me… I hope to continue to sing your song… You have brought us here with only your grace and mercy… I can only hope that we do not loose heart… For you commanded us to be a light to the world and we will do so… I pray and hope that my diligence is worthy of being approved by You. I pray that I continue to pursue and demonstrate a mind and heart for what represents peace, love, and faith. You have shared that your servants shall not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, be patient, and in humility love those who are in opposition… cover me Father… cover me.”

Saturday, October 21, 2006

From Jake:
Since the pictues seem to be so popular, you may see a few more...

We had our first rain since arriving here. It came in on a rather amazing storm font that also brought us this rainbow. Ever seen a rainbow over the Sahara? Well, now you have and so have we. Great - check.

I am sure that jessica will do a write up of her adventure the other night, but this was part of the result. Shortly before 1am, Jessica still with her crazy Moroccan wedding makeup on back from a crazy night out with the girls, showing off her new henna, and making me feel a little better through my cold. Wow - check.

Me. Yeah, me, sitting in a giant, silver, shiny chair with a hat made for little kids. Yeah - check.

Friday, October 20, 2006

My night out....

Hyatt and I during our night out... be sure to zoom in a bit to take a look at my make-up job and my boob poking dress pins...

I would like to post more but I am about to cuss because this computer is not up-loading any of the other pictures I want except this one... AH!

Maybe next time...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New photos for you.

Jessica in a traditional Moroccan wedding/exotic dancer outfit.

Hyatt, Jessica (in her new djelaba) and Zahor in their daily language study at Hyatt's carpet shoppe.

Breaking of the fast at sunset in the Sahara.

Another view of Midelt.

A traditional "lftor" or sunset fast breaking meal. Mmmmm.... dates....

Later today be sure to check this blog for a possible butt-shaking contest video starring Jessica and Cory.

Monday, October 16, 2006

New favorite sandwich: onion & bread. period.

New favorite time of the day: time with Hyatt & Zhor. Over the past week I have spent everyday (with the exception of one) learning Arabic/Amazer and teaching English in Hyatt's rug, pillow, etc. shop... These appox. three hours a day give me life. We laugh at eachother and are forced to learn one anothers lanuguage to communicate. On that note: I must say that Hyatt knows way more English than I do Arabic/Amazer... Zhor is more less at my level... Thank you God!

Yesterday Hyatt told me she loved me and in walking me out of the souq asked me if she could give me a jilaba (sp?). I told her that wasn't necessary, in so many words, but she insisted, in so many words... I am so grateful for their friendships...

More pictures coming soon!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A much more lighthearted update. Photos for you...

Jessica reaching a new level of illumination. This is looking up the stairs from our door, out to the roof.

Apparently you can make any town look glamorous. This town has its ups and downs, but there is very little that is really glamorous. The photo can lie...

Friday, October 13, 2006

So these are my (Jessica’s) most recent thoughts & struggles:

1. I struggle to understand what keeps me from living a life fully committed to Christ. I can’t help but wonder of the change that would come in the world if in the midst of all vehicles of ministry we believe are doing good, those who made a commitment to ministering, truly lived as Jesus lived. I struggle with promoting, teaching, sharing, and presenting a gospel that I don’t fully follow myself. I struggle with wondering what would happen if all who committed their lives to serve you by serving others, truly did just that. I would like to, and often do, rationalize and grasp for reasons not too… but those reasons are getting old and tiresome. What would come from such a movement where people truly dedicated their lives to live like Jesus. A Jesus without a home. A Jesus who endured suffering. A Jesus who carries on in spite of rejection. A Jesus who demonstrated no division between his words, his actions, and his choices. In living not completely like Christ, am I not sinning? Am I becoming too comfortable with rationalized rejection and marginalized suffering?

2. I still struggle to still follow Christ. It’s not because I’m unwilling, unwanting, or uninterested. I think it’s because I don’t think I understand "us" – whomever us may be. I struggle to understand our good-willed ideas, places, roles, desires, reasons, or pleas. Why am I so willing to tag your name to so much of what is the antithesis of what Christ embodied, suffering and rejection? I am often confused as to why it is so easy for me to live under so many deceptive and altered truths. How can I continue to read His Word and not question the way in which I live out my given existence. I am not trapped, so why do I often act like I am. Maybe I am just afraid. Maybe I am too selfish to desire to carry another’s burden. Maybe I’m too afraid of what will happen if I try. Maybe I’m too afraid I’ll hurt them more. Maybe I’m too afraid of hurting myself. Why can I not simply just drink from the cup with the Biblical knowledge that in that specific act, I will become more free in You to hurt.

3. There are parts of me that continually scream to let go of everything and become closer with Christ; closer with others. Yet, what are the costs? Am I willing to daily and diligently engage the sacrifice of the costs? How will these costs play into my marriage? This given marriage. Our plans? His plans for us. I think I am tired of wasting time… I'm not quite sure yet...

Monday, October 09, 2006

After twoish hours of Arabic study and a nice hot glass of chocolate/coffee heaven I decided to go out for a long walk around the city - presence. Not three minutes in, a boy all the age of maybe 8/9 began calling me "Madam." At first I ignored them, I am not French and I knew in my heart what would come if I replied. After a block or so of pursuit I turned around and greeted them kindly with a smile. After all, they were cute monsters.

As they continued to pursue and follow me with begging, and I'm sure not so kind words (but how am I to know) I pulled out all the Arabic I have, greeting them, placing blessing of God upon them, etc. Still they pursued and laughed. I should mention here that there was a leader who did the pursuing and his followers who did the laughing.

After another block or so I began speaking to them in English telling them they were beautiful children, that I was impressed with their tenacity, that I appreciated their desire to pay attention to me, but most of all that they are beautiful children of God. In response to my English the ring-leader began to speak jibberish back and began laughing harder... I continued to smile...

After appox. 10 mins. I think they came to the conclusion that I was a lost cause and turned around... Today I need to learn how to say in Arabic, "You are a beautiful child."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Yesterday progressively got better...
Sunday school statement of the day: God is faithful.

After a week of struggles and inconsistency and adjustment and questions I feel more at peace today. Much more at peace... I have decided after much prayer, conversation, and encouragement from my husband and Cory (have I mentioned there is a Bryan in there too... yup, three guys and a girl = whoo-hoo!) I have come to a better understand of my inital place here in Midelt.

For the next four weeks I am committing myself to the following:
1. Three one hour long walks each day, at the least... continuing to expose myself (in the proper sense) has been important to me since first coming here and now a commitment of action.

2. Next: three hours of language study a day. Whether it be from a book, Cory, neighbors, etc. I will study and hopefully learn and catch on... it's only a matter of time!

3. Finally, I will continue to treat others as Christ would. I will smile, greet everyone the same, laugh, and live my life here with single-minded obedience. I will follow Christ and diligently work to create around my "self" an atmosphere of grace, love, peace, and laughter. This is my commitment...

Following my four week commitment? I am not yet sure... we'll see!

I will be faithful.
- Jess

Saturday, October 07, 2006

This morning was different.
I cried.
In the face of hatred, how do you best demonstrate love?
In the face of language barriers, how do you best demonstrate love?
In the face of the previous two, how do you best become useful in the name of love?
In the face of Christ, how can I allow language and hatred to hinder me?
Why do I feel I need other supports? other contacts to make things happen?
Shouldn't the support of Christ be enough?

Within the five days here we have been called hateful names by a few; greeted, welcomed, and kissed my many more; learned the arabic alaphabet and are able to read with time; are learning few by few words; and are learning how to best make use of our time here. At times it presents to be never ending, other times I recognize promise and hope.

God has been gracious, but my heart is not settled. Why can I not find peace here yet? My fear is that it's not because of the place or those who live here but because of my own self and all that I allow myself to think, whether it be logical or illogical.

We are both getting better physically. Yet, I long to be useful once again. It's difficult to feel useful when you cannot speak the language to figure out of what use you can be.

This year is going to be a difficult one.
- Jess

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hey everybody, we are in Morocco. A flight from Chicago to New York and then again to Madrid, Spain put us just a few hours from some friends of mine in Salamanca, Spain. And what do you do in Spain? Why, drink wine in a box, of course....

Now, granted, there is wine in a box in the US, but have you ever seen it in the little soymilk type of waxed paper carton, I think not... And everyone says the Europeans are so cultured. I still have my doubts.

What else do you do? Well you can always visit the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca. The night time illumination is definitely the best time to see this spectacle.

The ancient gothic cathedral is best seen during the day, however. It is one of the few gothic cathedrals that is not completely dark and dismal, but rather has a huge dome filled with windows that lets in spectacular light.

Now transmitting from Morocco...
This is a small village we stopped in on the way from the coast. Instead of whitewashing everything, which is common other places, a Jewish refugee (a long time ago, though I don't remember when) started the use of a blue dye in his whitewash. Now, the entire medina of this town is a pale, ghostly blue. Quite an amazing sight.

While beautiful and amazing, Morocco still has a hard street life for many people. Hopeful immigrants from all over west Africa come to Morocco with the hopes of making it to Europe for a better life. Some work hard and wait for legal papers to make it over to Europe (or as one Brit told me, "they're just waiting for a leaky boat and a dodgy geezer"). Some beg in the streets. Still others just don't make it at all.

But as for Jessica and I, we are in Midelt, Morocco. A small-ish town on the edge of the Sahara, in the mid-Atlas mountains. We are slightly ill as we adjust to all the new food, bacteria, water, etc., but in general we are fine and eager to begin learning. Look for another upddate soon, very soon, along with pictures of our new home.

Afterward from Jess:
Last night a family we were breaking the fast with took advantage of my lack of Moroccan language and told me that I needed to wear tighter fighting shirts... Cory (the friend we're staying with) relayed the message and we laughed... oh, these mountain men!!!

Otherwise, things really are going great and we're learning... we met with the women Cory is working with (who make Berber blankets, sweaters, etc.), a man who is working with an NGO locally, and have been shown around town... oh my... what a day our first day has been!

Overall, things are going great - Ramadan is good, breaking the fasts are even better and old men are hitting on me left and right... what more could I ask for?