Thursday, May 27, 2010

and continues....

I accidentally posted that before I was finished...
Also, Im sorry if the pictures don't quite line up with the words. Its hard fitting in the pictures in line with the words.

Where was I?

Right, the Prayer Expedition.

The second weekend we were there was what they called the "prayer expedition" and this was the part i was most worried about. Basically, they told us to pack our rucksacks, split into our track teams again,they gave us a map that was about fifty or sixty years old, and told us to pray over the map, see where God was leading us, and don't come back to the center for the next 48 hours.

The choice of the title 'prayer expedition' is quite self-explanatory now. I don't think I've prayed so much in my life before. It was intense, we had to pray for food and shelter for every day and that we'd get to a village before night fall, that some kind-hearted someone would invite us in, feed us, and give us somewhere to sleep.

On our first day, on of the girls in our group was really struggling with her knees. Another girl prayed that we'd encounter a 'good samaritan' to help us on our way with directions and such.
It wasn't too long after that we met Fahtima and her oh so helpful donkey. She offered Rach a ride on her donkey to save her knees for the next few days we'd be walking AND she carried a the rest of our rucksacks between her and her friend's donkey. Not only did she take a load off our backs, she walked ahead of us and showed us the way!
This is Fahtima, Rachel on the donkey, and myself.

The first day included a lot of walking and our estimation of how long it would take us to get to a village was way off. So, it was getting close to night fall, we actually had no idea where we were on the map because Fahtima took us on an unmarked path, and we weren't in sight of a village. I was starting to panic a bit, but held it in. I found out later though, that both the leaders were starting to panic as well, but kept it inside as well. :) It would've been nice to know others were inwardly freaking out! But i suppose it's good we all kept our cool. Finally we were in sight of a building but it was just one solitary building, but we saw white people on the roof! We figured they spoke English, so we stopped to ask them where we were on the map.

They actually were a French couple living in Marrakesh who work as travel agents. This house was some travel home they were promoting, but they wanted to come and check it out and take pictures. They happened to just be staying that ONE night, the same night we needed a place to stay. Ironic?

They helped figure out where we were on the map then invited us in for dinner and a place to sleep! They had actual beds...AND sit down toilets! Hallelujah! They offered us some mint tea which was delicious. So sugary. And Minty. Hence, mint tea. ANYWAY........the view was outstanding. This is us drinking tea after just arriving and the glorious mountains. I know it doesn't look like the sun is about to go down, but after we found out where we were on the map, we realized we would've been walking in the dark before we made it to the closest village.

That evening myself and one of the other girls helped make the tagine. We had a delicious meal with the family and played UNO with them and their nine year old son! How wicked is that? (Um, im not sure why its underlining everything and making it blue? And i don't know how to stop it. Sorry!). We slept in nice beds that night, woke up in the morning, and were offered breakfast. Not any breakfast though, pancakes and French coffee and mint tea! Above and beyond what we expected! We were on our way that morning to another village, with even higher expectations, which was maybe a mistake........

We were on the right track though, a couple hours into our walk we met Abdullah, well, one of the five Abdullahs we met. :P We asked him where the specific village we wanted to go to was just to make sure we were on the right path and he told us he was going to that same village. Wonderful! A guide who knows these mountains like the back of his hand. Just what we need. Not only that, he offered to take a few of our bags as well! Woop woop!
This is myself, rucksack-less, Henry our group leader, and Abdullah following behind the wonderful donkey. Poor thing, but I appreciated it for sure!

It took us a long time to walk to the village, but it was actually a nice leisurely walk. We finally made it though, thanked Abdullah with some money and English tea bags. He kindly took the money and offered our tea bags back to us. Not a English tea drinker I guess. :) We sat at the entrance of the village for a bit, played with bouncy balls with some of the kids, and tried to make it evident that we were staying for the night. A few people past along with a simple 'salam'. We tried to chat to a few of the women, but they didn't seem interested. Finally, a younger looking chap came into the village and seemed to speak a little French. He tried to work with our little French to see why we were there, what we needed, then offered us a place to stay in his home. Well, his parents home, but his room. He welcomed us in, offered us tea, bread, and oil. Very generous. It seemed to us that maybe staying with him was putting him out, but it didn't seem like telling us no was an option for him. He let us rest for a bit then offered to take us around the village.

While on a walk around the village, we met one of the groups from our year group! We were amazing to see people we knew and who spoke the same language! They apparently were staying in the same village, but were staying in the hostile. Once Rashid, the gentleman, realized we knew these people he seemed to offer us the option of staying at the hostile with them. The problem was, we actually didn't have enough money to stay at the hostile AND get a taxi back to Amizmiz the next morning. We told Rashid that we'd rather stay with him if it was still an option and he simply said, 'no problem' without a smile on his face. We said good bye to the group and continued on the walk. This was a beautiful walk whilst the sun was setting. The breeze was nice and the views were astonishing. But, as the sun was setting and darkness started to settle, there seemed to be a new level of spiritual darkness that none of us had noticed before. As we continued walking, scrambling up rocks, getting higher and higher, farther and father away from the village, I started to worry about where on earth Rashid was taking us. We soon came to a stop though, and the view in front of us was so serene.
This is Rashid and Henry looking at this peaceful view.

Although this was a very peaceful spot and probably a spot Rashid comes to often to just think, my spirit felt very unsettled. As we were up there no one spoke a word to each other. Actually, no one really spoke to each other the entire walk. Everybody was consumed with their own thoughts. Later, I learned that Henry had the words 'family break down' and 'father' running through his head while he was up there and was unsure what it was about. Rashid simply sat. And thought. Throughout the walk he seemed to want to get us further and further away from his home. It was a very strange experience. Finally after a few minutes, i felt so unsettled that I had to stand up and and once i did that, we all started walking back. As we re- entered the village, Rashid stopped at every man we past and conversed with them for awhile. After a bit, it became evident that he was trying to get someone else to take us in, but no one else wanted to. The atmosphere in the village after the sun had gone down was an extremely unpleasant one. The darkness seemed so thick. Finally, we were getting closer to Rashid's house and Henry asked one final time if it was still ok if we stayed in his house. He looked at us with ashamed, sorrow-filled eyes and explained that he had absolutely no problem with us in his house, but his father would not allow it.
He seemed so upset with the fact that he couldn't be hospitable towards us, but we tried as hard as we could to reassure him that we understood, that we didn't want to make anything more difficult for him, and that we were so thankful for the hospitality that he had already shown us.

By this time, the sun had already set and we only had one option left. The hostile. We arrived about 9:30 at night, paid to get in, and were welcomed by the other team that was there. We explained the situation, and went off as separate groups. Our group prayed for Rashid and whatever family issues were lurking in his house. We prayed for the spiritual darkness that seemed so evident in that place. We prayed for light to break through. We were unsure as to why God had shown us to this village, but were reminded of a word that had been given earlier. Someone in our group had a word that we were to bring light wherever we went, and that where ever we put our feet that a trail of light would be left. Maybe that was the reason we were supposed to be in that village that night?

We slept in beds again that night after a late night dinner of chicken and potato tagine. The next morning we were up early and ready to walk to another village to get picked up by the taxis that would take us down the mountains and back to Amizmiz. Before leaving we took a group photo at the hostile:
ONe thing to mention is our group, by God's provision, had enough money to stay at the hostile AND to get a taxi the next morning! Which was fantastic. Both groups walked about an hour's distance to the next village, sat on the rocks and awaited the taxis. They came right on time, took us to the center. We had to delouse once we arrived at the center, just to be safe.

It was an amazing, trying, unforgettable experience. God's provision was so above and beyond and it made me realize just how effortless it is for Him to take care of His beloved ones.

The next day was a well needed reflection day. The days following that were market days and henna days. We are off to the airport early morning and on our way back to Oxford. Thank you Lord!

I hope this gave you a good idea of what the two weeks were like. I am in the process of making a scrapbook of the whole experience. And when I get back, I'll be sure to show you it!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!


  1. ALthough you learned an incredible amount, I can't say that I am thrilled to know that you got dumped in the middle of nowhere in a country where you don't speak the language to "make your way to safety" by dark!!!!!!! :) All's well that ends well I guess.
    - In the first picture you don't look like you had a head covering, weren't you suppose to wear one at all times? Isn't it amazing how God meets our needs, even the smallest of them. It really is wonderful that you had such an opportunity to see him lead and guide you and to watch him answer prayers.
    - I think I would have been freaking out, and you know me, it would not have been contained on the inside- and yeah, walking in the dark, let's not go there!
    You had to delouse??????? What does that consist of? Again, WOW.

  2. YEs..well, the thing is over now. THere was good reason behind me not telling you before huh!? long as we had our hair pulled back it was alright not to have a head covering if we weren't in a village at the moment.
    I've recognized some of my fears mom. You would be proud. Where as before I'd be all big and bad and walking in the dark would be perfectly fine for me, but the truth is..i didn't want to walk in the dark probably as much as you didn't want me to. :)
    yes..we had to delouse in case of bed bugs. Alot of people had to share rooms with cows, chickens, hens, and chicks! So, when we got to the center we put all our clothes in this big bucket and just soaked them. THen we went straight to the showers. We laid our sleepign bags out in the sun. Nothing major just a precaution. It wasn't a problem for me to head straight to the showers, although, I really didnt' mind not showering for that length of time. :) ha ha..

  3. That's true, it was very wise of you to keep me on a need to know basis on this! I am glad you have learned so much about yourself and about the Lord during these days, the amazing part is that we never quit learning. I think that's pretty cool.
    Delousing, well, I bet you're glad that part is over!

  4. I am still amazed by you, Aeriole! And seeing you in such surroundings around the world almost seems unreal to me. Can't wait to see you and hear more in person! Michelle