Unheralded

CHRIS ALLEN: Morocco Journal — Marekech: Yes It Is

Whatever you might have thought about Marrakech, it is. At least in the market at Jama al Fna square. There are actually two markets. One, during the day, is busy, but somewhat laid-back. People wander though the huge square on their way to the covered souks, stopping to buy a smoothie from the many carts lined up end to end, …


Unheralded

CHRIS ALLEN: Morocco Journal — The (Female) Face Of Morocco’s Future

The future of Morocco may look a lot like Fatima. This 28-year-old dynamo took on the Fez establishment — the “all-male” Fez establishment — to fulfill her latest goal. She opened her five-room inn inside the medina last July and is already looking to do bigger things. Fatima (she uses only her first name), got a degree in hotel and …


CHRIS ALLEN: Morocco Journal — Legacy Of The Jews In Fez

The cemetery in the old Jewish Quarter of Fez, Morocco, is sunny and serene. And it’s entirely what you would not expect in today’s environment of news about conflicts between Muslims and Jews. The cemetery is like none I’ve seen. The area is all concrete, the graves marked by low, long mounds or larger monuments depending on the wealth of …

CHRIS ALLEN: Morocco Journal — Oudaya And Our Oldest Partnership

Moroccans are fond of saying it was the first country to recognize the fledgling United States of America. It wasn’t. That was erroneously stated in some article back in the 1950s. The first country to recognize the U.S. was France, which it probably did just to rankle the much-despised British, who, of course, had just lost their colonies. But what …

CHRIS ALLEN: Morocco Journal — What Is Morocco?

Morocco is the home of Casablanca, the largest city in the country, and the setting for the greatest movie of all time (not one frame of which was actually shot there because the world was having a war at the time). It is a Muslim-majority country with pockets of Christians and an ever-dwindling population of Jews. It is a kingdom …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 10

I awoke in the morning feeling as though a 50,000-pound weight was suspended over my body, held up by a thread and giving me scant room with which to maneuver. I literally crawled out of bed feeling as though I had to avoid this weight that was hanging over me. The reality is, the weight of the emotion with which …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 9

I will be honest. When Denise and John suggested that I join them on this trip — OK, it also may have been me inviting myself — I was a bit concerned that the focus would be pastoral. Yes, I am a pastor, but to be honest, I am aware of the heavy burden Africa bears because of colonial missionary work …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 8

Connections and relationships are vital when engaged in meaningful community development. Sudanese  Lutheran Community Development, the organization with which I am volunteering, began when my friend Denise’s bishop approached her about building a relationship with some Sudanese Lost Boys about 15 years ago. When Denise and her husband John go into something, they go big or go home.  Or in this …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 7

Perspective is an interesting thing. On my first day at Olwa 1 Refugee Camp, I went to what I thought was the designated latrine. I had to hold my breath when I went in and found it to be, well, primitive. After using it for a couple of days, one of the women saw me coming out of it and pointed …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 6

I’ve preached on the woman at the well dozens and dozens of times. It is one of my all-time favorite Bible stories, where Jesus encounters a woman getting water at the well in the heat of the day and extends to her love and acceptance when so many had rejected her. But it never held the same power as today. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 5

I returned to my room tonight, exhausted from an emotionally draining day, greeting the news that there is electricity but that there will be no Wi-Fi for the immediate future with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I like to be connected. I’m a wired sort of person, and I will claim that. I enjoy being able to text my …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Lamentations

I am a Lutheran pastor who is currently in Adjumani Uganda, working with Sudanese Lutheran Community Development in refugee camps. Our organization supports community-based organizers in the camps that help us address specific needs and issues. I am here with two other people for two weeks doing Trauma Healing Training with pastors and lay leaders (pictured above) in the camp and also …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 4

I woke up today after an unsettled sleep. The events of the past week, and especially the past day, played heavily on my heart and soul and the power failure in the middle of the night played on my CPAP machine. The combination left me far from rested. The good news, though, was that it is Sunday, and we had …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 3

Our plans for the day shifted. Denise and I had prepared to focus on the women today and Monday, but the arrival of the food truck changed all that. The truck arrives once a month, providing the food that will sustain the village until the truck returns. When the truck arrives, the refugees unload the 50 kilogram bags and stack them. They …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 2

Today began with a trip to the Office of the Prime Minister, where we planned to get permission to enter the camps. Well, it was supposed to begin that way, but our van ran out of gas before getting three blocks from our hotel. I said a prayer of thanks that our driver’s failure to check for gas was noticed …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 1

I knew in August 1988, when I left Africa after six months of traveling and being an occasional student (a phrase I took VERY literally) at the University of Zimbabwe, that I would be back. I am a bit surprised that it took almost 30 years but unsurprised that I return with Denise Scheer and John Musick. Denise was my roommate …