Monday, July 24, 2006

France Update

An update from Kaitlyn (7-24):
It has been some time since you have received an update from team France/Algeria and for that we are sorry. It has been a crazy few weeks in Algeria with almost no internet and when it was available it didn’t want to work. We began our adventure by taking the train from Lille to Marseilles which was a wonderful blessing in that we didn’t have to cram our team of five, Ali and Fred into a tight stuffy van. We spent one day and night in Marseilles at the House of Hope with two UPC sponsored missionaries named Amos and Moses. We were able to explore the old harbor, and took a boat out to Chateau d’If (the prison used in Count of Monte Cristo). Marseilles is such a beautiful place teaming with African culture and amazing architecture. The next morning after driving all night Fred and Ali picked us up and we headed for the ferry. We ended up waiting five hours to board the ferry, and on departing in Algeria we spent six hours waiting for customs. Algerians love to honk their car horns when they are impatient, and so we heard about ten straight hours of honking in our wait. The ferry was an experience in itself. We couldn’t get private rooms for our eighteen hour trip and so spent the time crammed into seats. We were definitely the minority among the Algerians in the full to capacity boat. They were all very curious why a bunch of Americans were on their boat. There was a very real risk that we could have been turned away because of any reason, and so we were very careful to not talk or express our Christianity. It was weird having to suppress that part of our lives, but it was only until we entered the country safely. We are thankful for the answered prayer in that we had no difficulties with entering or leaving the country. We spent our two weeks in Algeria living in Ali’s hometown of Tadmait. Algeria is split into two main people groups the Arabs, and the native Berber (Kabyle) people. We spent our entire time with the Kabyle communities which are very separate from the Arabs. Our time was spent meeting and developing friendships with Ali’s huge family, exploring different areas of the country, and visiting churches. It was amazing how much faith the Christians in Algeria have. Algeria is an Islamic country, and so for a person to choose Christianity they go against their country, community, and family. The reality of persecution is right in front of these people, and yet they love the Lord enough to sacrifice their comfort and safety to follow him. What a contrast to the freedom we have in America. The Kabyle people were very dynamic in their worship, and when singing or praying they shouted out all at once. We were so blessed to be able to worship and pray with many of our new friends. Algeria presented some interesting cultural and environmental situations. The most alarming was that the toilets consisted of a hole in the ground with no toilet paper, but instead a bucket of water. We got in the habit of carrying around a roll of toilet paper in our purses. Algeria is experiencing a shortage of water, and so everyday the water was turned off. This meant that we bathed from a bucket of water which required so much effort that by the end of it we needed another shower. In the end we toughened up and the lack of comfort was hardly noticed. In all our hard work we did find some time for fun. Algerians love to dance, and so there were many dance parties with Ali’s family. We definitely got showed up on the dance floor… they could shake their hips so fast! It was almost a hundred degrees with humidity the entire time we were there, and so to cool down we spent a couple days lounging on a beach overlooking the Mediterranean. We hired a taxi bus and took all of Ali’s nephews and nieces along. It was one big loud Algerian party the whole way. One particular day as we enjoyed the beach some men road by on Arabian stallions and offered for Kaitlyn to take a ride, and then several hours later a camel came by and both Riley and Kaitlyn got to take a spin. What a day at the beach! Our time went by far too quickly, and before we knew it we were back on the ferry to France. The trip back was uneventful and we got good rest in our private rooms with beds. We are now back in Lille for the last two weeks of our trip in which we will continue doing street evangelism and practical work. We will fill you with more adventures in our next update.
Please be praying for Algeria as a whole, but more specifically that leader will step up in the Christian communities, and that they will find a way to get proper training for discipleship.

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