Who is your neighbor?

IMG_1915This painting has been a really great one in redefining what neighbor means to people. For a lot of the galleries we have been using this piece as the last one that people see. When we get to it and pose the question of whether this person is your neighbor or not, a lot of people have initially said, “No that’s not my neighbor.” In general, people don’t tend to think of a person on the street as being their neighbor. But when we talk about the painting and how it is meant to break down the barriers of people’s definitions of what neighbor means, and that yes this person on the street really is your neighbor and should be loved and cared for, people are moved by it. Hopefully it will cause people to go away thinking even more about who their neighbors are and how they can love those people daily. By being a part of this art gallery, it has even helped me widen my definition of neighbor.

Much love, B

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Standing out

There are a lot of great things about North Africa. I truly do love being here, but some days certain things just get to you. I recognize that I am a white, blonde female and so I will automatically be stared at because I’m different. The staring isn’t what gets to me though. It’s the I love yous, the cat calls, the hissing sounds, the kissing faces, the comments, proposals, and the looks from a lot of men. I just look straight ahead, shake it off and pretend like I’m not paying attention, and it typically doesn’t bother me that much. The cat calling is not really that much different then if I walk down a certain part of Richmond city in the states. But it’s the frequency of it that sometimes just gets to me. It’s anytime I go outside, which is just a bit much. I’m actually going to enjoy not standing out when I get home in a few weeks.

Much love, B

Driving

The way that people drive in different parts of the world is really interesting because each part of the world has their own set of rules for what to do when driving. In North Africa the driving is very different from America. Drivers are constantly honking. It doesn’t actually ever stop. They honk at people and cars to get out of the way, they honk to let another car know they are there, they honk to let you know that you can go, etc. It’s like a chorus of car horns at all times. Nobody wears seat belts. Lanes do exist on the road, but nobody actually uses them. You can ride on any part of the road, there is no need to use the lines, and you can make an extra lane if you need one or make 2 or 3 extra lanes if you can…whatever you need you can create. The cars all look like clumps when driving instead of lines, but it’s whatever works! Also the speed limit is more of a suggestion. Based on traffic you decide how fast you can go.

Cars weave all around the place, but everyone knows exactly what they’re doing. Now imagine trying to walk across streets with all of that going on. Cars do not all wait nicely for you to cross the street here. You have to walk while these cars are moving in a little game I like to call dodge cars. You just have to keep walking and weave your way through the vehicles, hoping that they will briefly slow down and not hit you. Or in the words of a guy that we passed on the street, “I just close my eyes and pray to God.”

Much love, B

Art

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This is one of my favorite pieces on our art gallery tour. I love the contrast between the colors in the background and the faceless woman in black. What I really love about this painting though is that the woman has no face, and I love this because of the meaning it brings out in relation to our theme of loving your neighbor. The fact that the woman has no face is representative of the fact that our neighbor also does not have a distinct face. Our neighbor is everyone no matter what they look like, where they live, or what their religious beliefs are. A person living on the street is our neighbor. Muslim people are our neighbors. People that are different from us are our neighbors. And as a result, we are called to love each and every one of them.

I love that this painting challenges us to think about who our neighbors are and what we are doing to love them. It is a great one to have in our gallery, and I love being able to talk about it with people.

Much love, B

North Africa art gallery (2)

Being a part of this art gallery has been an amazing experience. The art gallery provides a space for people to ask questions about Christianity where they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. A lot of the people that came were curious, asking questions, and moved by the art and the message of the art. That is an incredible thing. Other Christians from different organizations were encouraged and excited by this art gallery and wanted to replicate it in the future. They said that they have never seen so much opportunity to share the gospel in the 4 years they’ve been living here. They loved how the art gallery allowed for sharing the gospel so openly and naturally to Muslim people in a way that they had not seen here before.

On the second night of the show, I talked to a girl that is currently studying English at college so I could communicate with her pretty easily. She has lived in North Africa her whole life and has not traveled outside of it. I was able to spend about an hour with her getting to know her. I got to know about her family, her interests, her favorite places here, foods she thought I should try while here, etc., and she got to know me. We talked about cultural and religious differences, about the art, and about the message of loving your neighbor. I started building a friendship with her, and I really enjoyed our conversation. I pray that she will be impacted by our interaction and that she will want to know more.

I also pray that in general the people that were at our art gallery would continue to ask questions about Christianity and would come to know Christ because of this. I pray that the message of the gallery would take root in people’s hearts and would change the way they interact with the people around them.

I feel extremely blessed and honored to have been a part of this opportunity with these people. I love my neighbors here both Christian and Muslim alike. This place and the people will hold a special place in my heart from now on.

Much love, B

North Africa Art Gallery

I am splitting my post about the art gallery into two parts because there is so much that I can and want to talk about.

So while we are on our gallery tour we are creating pop-up art galleries in four separate places around the theme “Love your neighbor.” All of the artists that created the pieces for our show responded to this prompt for their art. All of these artists are also Christian and create art as a result of their faith in Jesus. These art galleries offer a really great way for people to interact with Christian people where they most likely had not before. It also allows for a more natural way to have a conversation about our faith in Jesus because all of the art is created by people that believe in this. We get to present our faith in a non-threatening way to Muslim people currently, and that is important.

I have not been a part of this experience before, and I didn’t really know how it would go. It was a lot more work and preparation than I anticipated. There’s actually a whole lot to do when you are setting up an art gallery on the go from scratch! I helped with the set up of everything, but was really nervous because I don’t know much about art, and I didn’t know if I would be able to connect with people well. But we had our first show opening yesterday in North Africa and it went amazingly! I loved being able to talk to people about the art and the meaning behind the art. I found myself actually being able to connect to the art and was able to explain the art in simple but meaningful ways to the people I came in contact with. It wasn’t actually that difficult at all, because I believe in the message of this art, and I want to share this message with people.

I had this one conversation with a Muslim woman about some of the similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam. Before coming on this trip I had just finished reading the Qur’an and learning about Islam, and as a result this allowed me to connect with this woman in a way that I would not have been able to otherwise. She was surprised that I would have read the Qur’an and asked me why I would do that. I told her that I was doing an internship that allowed me to learn about other cultures and religions because we wanted to understand more about our neighbors. She was definitely shocked that I would want to do something like that or that I would take the time to do something like that. This allowed us to have a meaningful conversation about some of the things in our religions. It wasn’t that I changed her mind about Islam and converted her to Christianity all of a sudden, but it allowed for a non-threatening conversation about our religions. I hope she was able to learn more about Christianity through me and the message of the art in the show, and that she will have more questions about Jesus and faith in him. I am excited for more opportunities like this!

Much love, B

Day 2 in North Africa

We did a lot of walking today, which was fine by me because I think that is one of the best ways to experience a place. We walked all through various streets and a market place today. There are so many beautiful tiles that are a part of the homes and buildings here. I feel a little bit overstimulated today with the different languages being spoken and the noises and the people and the new places and everything else that was going on as we were walking around today. I love being here, but but it’s definitely a lot to take in. My brain kind of hurts. I am still trying to get used to people just staring at me and calling at me and talking about me. I am learning how to avoid some of this, but some of it is inevitable. After all I am a white blonde girl in a place where that is not a thing.

I did start learning some basic Arabic phrases today and got given an Arabic name! I learned how to greet people and introduce myself, and how to say good, thank you, and I am hungry. It’s just a start, but it was fun to be able to learn a little bit of the language. I hope to continue picking up simple words and phrases while here.

Much love, B

Exhausted and Excited!

Flying is always a tricky thing with me. I am not really a huge fan of planes because of how squished you typically are, and I can never actually sleep on them. But it’s always exciting because you know it’s taking you to your destination. So it seems to be an unfortunate evil that has to be overcome. We arrived to our destination, and I’m fairly exhausted with only having gotten about 9 hours of sleep total for 2 days. However, I cannot explain the excitement I felt when the plane was about to land. I was looking out over North Africa and could not contain the joy that I was feeling that I’m actually here. I want to take everything in! As we were riding in the taxi I just wanted the man driving to slow down so I could see it all, although I know there will be plenty of time for that this week.

Initial observations:

  • I stand out because I’m blonde and white.
  • People drive quickly and there doesn’t seem to be a speed limit or lights or anything. It’s just like go and honk at people to move. It’s really fascinating that people don’t actually manage to hit one another. Sometimes it seems really close. But no. I like this driving style though…it’s how I wish I could drive in America.
  • The call to prayer sounded at 6:10 pm. I am curious about the other times that it will occur.
  • So many new things!!! Yay! Trying some new foods tonight.

Much love, B