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

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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

And we’re off!

I am currently sitting in the airport waiting to board my flight. I will be gone for a month to North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Los Angeles CA. I am so so so so so excited!! I cannot wait to experience all of these different cultures and to interact with so many people that are different from myself. I genuinely love learning about other cultures so this is going to be a great time for me to learn! I am excited to get to know people and learn how I can serve them well. I’m excited to get to try new things and experience cultures that are very different from America. This is going to be a great trip! I am ready!

Much love, B

Why do missions?

In our training yesterday we revisited some of the reasons for why we do missions, and it reminded me of why I decided to join Hillside missions to begin with.

So why do missions?

  • Obedience to God’s commands to go and make disciples of all nations
  • Love for people
  • Invitation to join in God’s plan and purposes for the nations
  • Drawing people into a relationship with Jesus
  • Recognizing that it is an injustice that 40% of the world has no access to Christian community or the gospel just because of where they live.

This last point particularly stands out to me. There are so many people that do not have the privilege of knowing Jesus because they don’t live in a place that has a Christian community. I was lucky to have been born in a place that does have access to the gospel. If I was born in other places around the world though, I would not have this access. It would be selfish of me to keep my faith to myself.

Much love, B

Countdown to trip

I leave on Wednesday for a month long trip to the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia…let the chaos begin! We are only allowed to bring carry on with us for this trip so I am figuring out what I need and how to fit it all in my little carry on suitcase. A lot will be left behind. I have to pack this evening and get all of my little bottles of liquids together…no more than 3 ounces! I went to the store yesterday and got all of the various medicines and other little things that I might need. I have all my shots up to date for the trip, and am really praying that I don’t get sick while in these places. I want to be able to take advantage of every moment of the trip! I will feel much better once I have packed and gotten everything together. We have training all day tomorrow for the trip so it is becoming real to me now. Only 2 days until take off. AHHHHHHHH! It’s crazy, but I am definitely excited!

Much love, B

Selective Attention

In class today we talked about selective attention and how when we learn a new language we have selective attention because our brain has trouble focusing on everything at the same time. We might focus on the pronunciation of a word but then forget the word that should come next in our sentence, or we might focus on getting a sentence correct but really butcher the pronunciation. We tend to have selective attention when learning languages and that is normal. To illustrate the concept of selective attention, he showed us multiple videos that I really enjoyed that proved it. The one below was one of the videos. Even if you have seen a similar video to this one, watch it anyway.

Much love, B

Worn Out

Today I am exhausted, and my brain is at maximum capacity. We have been in class all day for the past two weeks learning a lot of grammatical principles of languages and such (makes your brain hurt a little), we have homework to do every day, I have normal life responsibilities (if I can get to them), and I am leaving for a month long trip on Wednesday, which I am not prepared for. So there’s a little bit too much just swirling around in my brain today, which makes me overwhelmed. What typically happens for me is that I zone out or shut down when this happens. I’m doing my best to stay focused and engaged, but it’s a challenge. I really just want to curl up and go to sleep. So definitely going to do my best to go to bed early today, and then tackle some of my to-do list another day. Everything will get done.

Much love, B

Finding Neverland

Saturday night I was able to go see Finding Neverland at the Altria Theatre with my boyfriend. I absolutely love musicals, and this one was no different. I loved everything about it. The music was wonderful, the actors/actresses were extremely talented, and the sets were beautiful. This show is about how the story of Peter Pan came to be. It follows the author, J.M. Barrie, and the events/relationships in his life that led to the creation of Peter Pan. Overall, I had an amazing time!

So far I have seen a few musicals. I have seen Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, the Color Purple, Chicago, West Side Story, and some others that I can’t remember at this moment. I am hoping to be able to go see Rent in April at the Altria Theatre. I also want to see Aladdin and am hoping I get the opportunity to see that one in New York City at some point this year.

Much love, B