Poverty and Contextualization

Yesterday we met a believer and another worker at Carrefour, which is like a Super Target surrounded internally by a mall. We hopped in “L”‘s van (first time we’ve gotten to all ride together in 1 car!) and went to a few of his humanitarian aid sites. We went to 2 schools that serve over 800 students each and have no running water or workable toilets. The toilets, sinks, faucets were stolen a few days ago and school starts on Monday. L is trying to raise money to repair them before then (hoping for something from us), but we had some reservations: Is the government using L to fix problems that is should be fixing itself? What’s to prevent someone from doing this tomorrow? Why were there people there working on washing the floors and paiting the walls when there was a serious health crisis that needed to be addressed? Why does the director of the school not delay the start a week? While we were at the 2nd school, someone there placed a call to the governor’s office, who, in turn, called L and asked to see him right away. We ran back to L’s house so he could get changed and dressed up to meet the governor, who was most suspicious of our presence at the school: 5 westerners walking around, taking pictures. L had to convince him we were with a humanitarian aid organization, and were not giving our photos/videos to the opposition party. From what I understand of their politics, it’s pretty much a 1 party system, and the president is pretty much a king....

Funky Cold Medina and other cool things

I have to start out with this photo showing the view from our hotel window. I’d like to say the 5am call to prayer woke us up, but it didn’t, as tired as we were. Anyhow, yesterday we woke up very late (10 am or so) and went down to breakfast which is nothing but croissants and strong coffee- which is pretty much all I ever need for breakfast, God bless the French! After breakfast, we walked a couple of blocks to the “Medina”, which means city in Arabic I guess. It really means the old part, I gathered, as the buildings and streets got really old and really narrow. In the center of the medina is the mosque, and spoking/spiraling out from there are a specific order to the shops. In this medina, there are 2 main alleys through it from the end of Ave Bourgiba. The one on the left is crammed full of tourists and vendors desperate for your business. If you go down the one on the right, you’ll probably be the only westerner there, and the vendors aren’t out for blood. Instead of trinkets, they’re selling clothes and shoes and sunglasses and stuff we get at the mall. Anyhow, this particular day we went the tourist route, and I have to say I’ve never seen anything like this place. Any touristy trinket you could hope for could be found here, everything from decorative metalwork to miniature “boubly boubly”, which I found out later is actually called chicha (again, more on that later). Anyhow, B left us there on our own, so that he could...

Day 1 continued…

Wow… I am so overwhelmed. I’ve never been anywhere where english isn’t spoken. It’s like a whole different planet than what I’m familiar with. Everything is white with blue trim. Cars are small and people drive crazy… running over curbs, scraping against other cars. The arabic language sounds like an argument. Even a calm conversation sounds like the participants are raising their voices and getting upset. Maybe it’s the 14 different ways to pronounce the “H” sound. After we landed in XXXXX we went through customs and I tried a little French small talk with the customs officer. They speak French in XXXXX, but I’m pretty sure the guy didn’t think I was speaking French because I learned French with a rural Illinois farm town accent. We took 2 taxis to B’s apartment (taxis are only large enough for 2 passengers, plus luggage), and since I was the only person in the group, besides B (who spoke arabic), with language skills (ha), I was doomed to always ride in the “other” taxi for the week. Just getting a taxi and negotiating a fare at the airport involved what looked to be quite an animated debate, that even involved the police. Somehow my taxi made it to the same place B’s did, and we arrived at his apartment around lunch time. These pictures are of the outside of the apartment (landlord lives on first floor, B’s apartment was directly above him, with access to the roof). Looking out his window, I could honestly say I couldn’t believe I was in Africa. Middle East, maybe, but not Africa. It is really...

Somewhere over Italy

This is a copy of my journal I took with me on my 8 day mission trip to XXXXX, North Africa. I was invited to come along on this trip by “B”, my friend, who lived in XXXX and other places in North Africa while he was a working there. He needed to take this trip so that he could finish vacating/packing up his apartment as he and his family had recently moved back to Virginia. I traveled with B, Cam, and Ryan, all from our church. Ok, here starts my journal: for real this time. 12:50 am (or is it 6:50 am)? The sun has just risen and we’re somewhere over France I assume, Lione (Lyon?) by the Italian map on the screen. We all know Rome is pronounced like it’s spelled, so why do the Italians spell it Roma? We all know that’s a kind of tomato… who do they think they’re fooling? Anyhow, I’m tired but excited, only got a couple power naps in during the night (despite the Tylenol PM, Sleeping mask, and earplugs) because there’s only so long you can sit in a seat before you can’t stand it. In the middle of the night, after 6 hours of sitting in the seat, I think that magic amount of comfortable time that you might be able to sleep is around 15 minutes. Short night. Good food. Cam really likes the food, and we’re all about to discover how off-the-wall wacky this guy is. Here he is pretending to barf into the bag. Italy is beautiful, I tell you, beautiful. Although we technically weren’t in...
Page 25 of 25« First...10...2122232425