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Shooting Stars

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An update from the North Africa REACH team*

Outreach has been going very well. Language training is, as they say it here, “shweeya b’shweeya” (slowly but surely). We finished phase 1A this week and are now looking forward to phase 1B. I feel like we have been advancing at an average pace, but we are doing very well nonetheless. While here in the city our main outreach is making friends and having interactions. We have all started to find our own little things. Our team leader visits many of his friends from last year. I have found two friends; one to drink tea with and another who helps me with my language. Another teammate has joined a gym and been working out there this month. He has already met a couple people that have the potential to be some good workout partners. One of the guys has found a shopkeeper up around the corner that he spends several hours a week with. We all enjoy it very much and are having a great time with building friendships! So all in all I say that things are going pretty well.

It’s hard for me to put into words how I am doing personally. In some regards I would say that I am doing great! I have adjusted to life here very well. Being an outdoorsy guy myself, I have always enjoyed the camping life. Being here is like a combination of everyday life and camping, and boy do I love it. I have enjoyed the culture here very much. I still get laughed at for my lack of language and knowledge of culture, but I have found friends that are willing to help teach me what I am supposed to do. I enjoy the challenge; going to the market to buy foods, making friends with the people that we buy things from every day, and things like that. People realize now that we live here. There’s a café at the end of our street that has a large television inside, and we’re recognized enough now that the owner saved us four seats to sit and watch Barcelona vs. AT Madrid match. We’ve made a couple friends to sit and watch the games with, and the café owner is going to save us a seat every game. Things seem to be going relatively smoothly.

"I told God that I know he’s up there, and I know he’s got a plan as to why this is happening, but that I am very frustrated with this and want to move on."

However, it’s not all sunshine and roses, and I have been dealing with some really hard times. My quiet times, while good, have not felt growing. I feel like there is a wall between me and God, and I don’t know why, where it’s coming from, or how to get through it. It’s been very frustrating to say the least. One night I remember very specifically that I got frustrated and went to the roof (I absolutely love our roof because the atmosphere is peaceful and calming) and I’m not sure how loud I got, but I started talking about my frustrations with our relationship and I definitely showed my frustration, to the point of tears, and then I stopped and looked up into the sky. I told God that I know he’s up there, and I know he’s got a plan as to why this is happening, but that I am very frustrated with this and want to move on. I asked him to bring me through this, but that if this is what he has for me, that he would give me the strength to endure it. I love looking up into the sky and staring at the stars. I was quiet for a while, and then I started talking to him again. I said “all I want to know is that you’re there and you can hear me.” Not thirty seconds later a shooting star went flying across the sky. For me that was his promise that he heard me and he knows what I am going through. I saw a shooting star for three nights in a row, and that was a huge encouragement to me. I needed to see that.

Things haven’t changed since then. I still feel disconnected, and I feel like there are barriers between me and him. But I know that he hears me, and I have seen him working here. That makes it worth it. It’s still not any less frustrating, but I know that he has this in his plan for my life right now. It’s a lot like the stars; even on nights full of cloud cover, when not a single star can be seen, nothing can take away the fact that I know they’re up there. God isn’t any different. I may not be able to see him, but I know he’s there and I know he’s working.

Ways you can be praying for our team:

  • For me (stated above)
  • That we would continue to do well in language
  • That our team leader’s foot would continue to heal
  • Strengthened friendships
  • As we begin to prepare for trekking
*Names omitted for security reasons.