Nasrania = foreigner (in Hassaniya); originally comes from “Nazareth,” alludes to followers of Jesus.
Sahara = my desert home for 8 months, October – May
I’m living, teaching and advocating in the Saharawi refugee camps in southern Algeria. “Nasrania in the Sahara” is my attempt to regularly update you all on my life here, from the mundane, sand-covered everyday to all the ways I hope to see God work through this time.
Hi friends! Time for another monthly update on life in the desert. Since last time I wrote, I went on my first Visa Exit (woohoo) in which I travelled in Barcelona for a week and a half with my sister! Check out those two posts here and here for pictures and short descriptions of what we did and saw.
The last month encompassed Christmas, which we celebrated together before we left for our visa exits, and settling into routines as we continually adjust to life here. I usually start to consider a place “home” when I can get around without the lights on, and our new house has gotten to that point! 🙂 It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here almost 4 months already and only have about 4 left… yet when I think about not being home until May it feels like forever. So there’s definitely a mixture of missing home and feeling like I need to be intentional with my quickly-dwindling time here.
So, here’s a little update on some of the things we’ve been doing!
Prayer is something that we have all been feeling pushed to prioritize this year. Other than meeting to pray for 20 minutes each morning, we have added monthly prayer days to our routine! These days happen on the last Friday of the month, and we incorporate our church service into a day filled with different formats of prayer. They have been a really great way to be thorough in our prayers and spend more time with God than we usually would. So far, prayer days of included ways of praying such as prayer walks, “square prayer,” listening prayer, and prayer stations.
I like being able to vary up the way I pray and the topics I pray about. At first, I thought the different methods and ideas for prayer were a little corny – I didn’t see why I needed to add any moving around or coordination or creativity to my prayers – but after trying it out it has stretched my perception of prayer and given me new ways to go about it.
I’ve added some Standard Arabic study into my regular Hassaniya study a month or two ago. A friend left his college Arabic textbooks here so I’ve been slowly working my way into them! I haven’t done this type of strenuous learning in a while. It’s fun! And exhausting. Considering the Arabic script… I haven’t learned how to read since I was 5 so it’s an interesting experience for sure. With Spanish, I just had to learn how to understand, because I could read those letters already. Now, I have to sound out words and stuff as if I was a young child, learning to read for the first time! I forgot how hard it was, but it’s paying off as I’m becoming able to recognize words.
We celebrated Christmas with a White Elephant Party, along with treats and a little Christmas story presentation by the kids. It was a really sweet time together before we all split up for a while!
The last month has consisted of getting together to celebrate life in a number of different ways.
In the week before my visa exit, I was invited to sleep over with my close friend at her cousin’s wedding. Weddings here are two days, so I spent all day (after class) eating, listening to music, drinking tea, and talking with her friends and family members. We slept at her cousin’s house that night, I went to teach my classes in the morning, and then I headed back to finish up the wedding! We ate and talked and had tea the second day too. Weddings can be really exhausting for the foreigner who doesn’t really know what’s going on, but it’s always a good language immersion experience.
Two days after the wedding was a dear friend’s Ism for her new baby! An Ism is a celebration had 7 days after a baby is born, where the family and friends of the new mother get together to help decide the name and generally celebrate this new life. Again, there was a lot of eating, talking and tea. This new mother used to be one of our English teachers, so it was nice to spend some extended time talking with her about what it is like to be a mom here.
We celebrated Charlie’s 8th birthday here this week. He had some friends over and they played games, ate cake and opened presents. Silas’ 1st birthday is in a couple of weeks and Annika’s 6th birthday is a couple of weeks after that. These are 3 of the 5 children in the American family that are our team leaders. It’s so cool to watch these little kids grow up and become unique individuals!
Finally, a couple of nights ago I was able to “go” to one of my close friends’ baby showers in Nashville. J It reminded me of how thankful I am that modern technology allows me to continue being a part of life back in America despite how far away I am! I Skyped in for a little bit (it was after midnight for me) to see everyone and kick of the party before I went to bed.
I’ll hopefully post again soon (if the internet allows) because I had a cool experience walking to a friends’ house recently! God’s really expanding me need to trust Him here, and therefore growing me in the process.