Sunday, December 7, 2014

Easter in Morocco

Easter in Morocco… well, we didn't see the  usual commercialism that goes along with Easter (the plastic eggs, candy, decorations, baskets, etc.) But I have to say that living in a country that truly worships and is mindful of their creator at all times was a great reminder that all else is secondary to the meaning of these celebrations. Cracking cascarones on someones head is so much fun and reminds me of Easters growing up spent with family or on a ranch, but it has nothing to do with why we celebrate Easter. This year we were able to participate in an Easter service at our branch in Rabat. The music was beautiful and the message was clear and unforgettable.  The Spirit was felt strongly in that home that evening.  After church on Sunday we watched some conference to keep that comforting feeling of the Spirit and then did the usual traditions with the kids.  Peter Rabbit left them goodies, even in Dar Bouazza and we were blessed with the most beautiful rainbow that seemed so close you could touch it. I know that our Savior lives, I know that Jesus is the Christ and was obedient in making the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. I am grateful to have that testimony and the knowledge that through him I am forgiven.

International Festival GWA Academy {Morocco}

While in Morocco the kids attended the GWA American Academy. The cultural experience there was wonderful for them. They were surrounded by so many different nationalities, languages, and religions.  To celebrate the schools diversity, they held an annual International Festival, where the the students from different countries got to represent and highlight the their backgrounds through this celebration. There was music, entertainment, food, and games… the cool part was the families participation in the whole thing. Each family that wished to represent their country set up a booth where they sold food that was native to where they were from. They also got to perform a cultural dance. My wheels were turning when asked to participate. I immediately thought of my friend Minerva, a beautiful and talented retired professional dancer. She had shared with me that she had a background in Ballet Folkorico, having been born in Monterrey, Mexico… and I had danced as kid.  So, we decided we'd do an old classic, El Jarabe Tapatio. The brilliant part about it, is that the number is performed with a male partner. Well, we just happened to each have 13 year old sons who could be our partners. After much bribery and convincing, they accepted the challenge. The problem was, where would we find the dresses? shoes? pants for the boys, sombreros (also a big part of the dance)??? With no time to waste, we hit up the fabric souks for fabric and a seamstress, we also visited the Mexican convent where most of the expats bought fresh chips and tortillas, and asked if we could borrow any Mexican folklorish stuff they had. They happened to have zarabes, sombreros, and a few other things we decorated the booth with. Everything came together literally the night before and the dresses were fabulous. I was seriously worried as all we had was a picture to show the Moroccan seamstress. We finally polished the dance in a weeks time and then the morning of, I cooked 9 kilos of ground beef for tacos, 3 gallons of fresh salsa, and about 40 avocados for guacamole. Our booth was a huge hit, to my surprise, and we sold out of food in less than the first two hours. It was an awesome day, but the best part of all was getting to share this memory with my son, and hopefully instilling in him a love and appreciation for his Mexican heritage.
 The Moroccan food table would blow your mind… So, many yummy desserts and foods.

Fusia got to join us.  I was so excited for her to participate and be a part of this celebration.
 these guys…  finishing up the last of whatever was left at our booth.Moroccan bands are seriously the best !  They stop everyone within an ear shot with their rhythms and chants

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey Part III {The Grand Bazaar, shopping, and the Topkapi Palace grounds}

Our last day in Turkey… We certainly made the most of it. We toured gardens, mosques, and yes… couldn't leave without visiting the world famous Grand Bazaar. My arabic finally paid off. Not because they spoke it, because most of them don't. However they are trying to learn in order to read the Quran, this is why it served us well. When I spoke it and John read it, they were putty in our hands. Ainsley didn't do so bad herself, a few shop owners threw in some gifts just cause she was cute. It's definitely going to be difficult trying to top that anniversary.

Istnabul, Turkey Part II {Bosphorus tour, Hagia Sophia}

We took a Bosphorus tour which was one amazing building, mansion, or bridge after another.
I was incredibly lucky to have captured this moment… a Turkish bride and her fiancĂ© at their bridal portrait session.  She is absolutely stunning to say the least, and that vibrant blue dress tops it off.

The Hagia Sophia had been talked up a great deal by our Turkish neighbor so that was our next stop.  It is architecturally stunning and was once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum. 
This is image left the most lasting impression by far… The picture of Mary and Christ right next to the Allah written in Arabic. Christianity and Muslim depictions side by side.