Saturday, December 25, 2010

Last Day for Blog.....maybe not.

Goodbye Morocco. Hello painting. In the weeks ahead, while I am prayerfully seeing what is next in my story, I will be painting a series of works on Morocco. I'm looking through all my pictures now for subject matter, and I am hopeful the paintings will tell this part of my story in a way that words cannot.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


As I sit in a comfortable chair in a beautiful home decked with Christmas beauty in the United States, I am thinking about Morocco. I am thinking about the precious students I was given during my stay there. They were so eager to come to art and to learn, relax, create. I hope they will feel blessed to have spent the time together. I will miss all my students. They were gifts to me during my stay.

I will also miss friends I made among my colleagues. Three of them, Jill, Judy and Lynn, were my travel buddies on some amazing side trips both in and outside Morocco. I was just getting to know some other very special people and hope to keep in touch with them. I'll miss playing dangerous card games with Gail. I want to give a special thanks to Habiba, a Moroccan who befriended me and who wants to keep in touch. 

I feel sad that my workload schedule was not understood by those who make decisions. I feel sad that the art supplies never arrived while I was there. I feel sad I didn't get to say goodbye to our bakery boys who wanted to learn English and who helped me with my Arabic. I've had to let go of quite a number of things on this journey - from glasses, phone, purse, car (briefly) to special art students and dear people who graced me, and I hope I loved and graced as well. And now, I've had to let go of the work I was called to. 

I am very thankful for so many happy, crazy, profound and funny memories in Morocco. I hope to post some final pictures soon, and then close out this blog. It's time to go hug and squeeze my grandchildren and celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior.  

For unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given. Fully God, fully man come to die for your wrongs and mine. Now, talk about a mystery of grace, a free gift and really fantastic! I love Jesus and He loves me! Now, that's something no one can ever take from me. I hope you have enjoyed the children's art and this journey with me.

"Let my song be for you, for you alone
All praise and glory flow to your thrown.
Let my tender heart, within this jar of clay
Be always open to the Wind of your grace."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas!

After safely landing at Seattle's airport, I was warmly greeted by my sweet friend Joy. We hugged long and hard! I am so blessed to be home. We drove over to Vickie's house, and she had hot soup simmering on the stove with the twinkling Christmas tree in the background. Vickie served us piping hot veggie soup in Christmas china and prayed thanking God for my safe arrival and our friendship.

The Moroccan Adventure blog has come to an end. Thank you for being on this journey with me. We'll see what God has in mind for my next chapter.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Farewell Morocco! - Police Story

"No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath... We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?" -Donald Miller,Through Painted Deserts"  

I have ventured out, and I have seen, tasted, touched, smelled and heard amazing things in this unusual place. I have thoroughly enjoyed much as well as  grown during this chapter of my story.  I have drawn closer to God.
I have lived Morocco, not just read about it. The reasons for leaving the school will remain private. If we have a cup of coffee in Seattle together,  we'll share our stories.

Before I leave, this true story is for the gals who went to PFO with me as well as dear roomie Jill. Since we had such high hopes of making a difference in the lives of children, I want to honor these ladies: Judy, Lynn, Gail, Courtney and Jill, with one last Moroccan moment.

So, Robin was driving Judy and me to Californie Marjane, when her cell phone rings. Judy asks if she should get it. Robin takes the call. Stops at intersection. Police officer heads towards Robin's side of the car, staring hard at her. Robin rolls down her window while putting the phone away. The police officer with large plastic white gloves...or are they leather?, demands to see Robin's driver's license. After taking it, he tells her to pull over to a side street. He then tries to speak French, and she says English only. (Good job Judy on not speaking French:-) He then demands 1 million dirhams($200,000.) Robin says not in her lifetime. 

The police officer smiles right after he asks for the money. He then demands $500 dirhams. Robin asks for the ticket first. He says he will give it to her after she pays $500 dirhams. She asks for the ticket. 500. Ticket. 500. Ticket. Back and forth ad nauseum. He then walks away with her driver's license and the car registration. Seems to be talking on his cell phone. Humphing around about 50 feet from us. I prayed out loud, "Dear Jesus, you see the situation we are in, please help us." Everyone says amen. The police officer walks over and throws the license and registration at Robin and struts off. Robin drives us away. 

Just a regular, everyday occurrence in our world. 

Don't forget to pray out loud ladies. I love you!

So, on to the next chapter.........

The Adventure Is Winding Down

I just have some random thoughts today as I pack for home. The Moroccan art adventure is winding down. I am staying in the States after Christmas.
It's been an amazing experience living in an Arab, Islamic country, a sometimes third world country working at an "American" school.

I hope to have some time to process the experience, and then go on to make art and help others create as well.

New ideas...orbiting the giant hairball.....trying creativity.

Or as the Bible puts it:

No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.

— Matthew 9:16-17 

I have had some new ideas with good, healthy boundaries. I have had an adventure of a lifetime in a few short months. I am so happy to have been a part of 440 students' lives for a while. I am thankful.

"If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research, would it?"

- Albert Einstein

Starting an elementary art department is something like that; new ideas take time, creativity and research. Time is what I was not given here.  The old business model of efficiency won the day.

I've got to get packing! Can't wait to be home for Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Without a Heart

First and second grade work.
That's a very depressing way to start a blog, so, I don't think I'll write any more about that today. Sometimes, a lot is left out in these blogs. My main goal in starting this blog was to share my excitement at making and teaching art in Morocco. Things should be happy, upbeat, boy aren't we having a blast kind of jargon. The medinas are fascinating, the tea delicious and the people amazingly friendly. There ya go, much better.

Then there is the other life I lead....
And yet, you know what? I have had a blast teaching art this fall in Morocco. The kids are really happy in class, some girls ask me every day to start an art club, and I just love passing along a love for creativity. Kids run up to hug me or say hi all day long. They run to me to show me something they have drawn outside of class. Every day I hear a student say, "We get to do it in our own unique style." Bravo! They get it.

Third Grade Camels.
I do want to mention the most hurtful comment expressed to me today. Humor me, it's just a teeny, tiny venting. Basically, it went something like this: "She must have all kinds of free time if she wants to start an art club." I wish we could pause the tape, and someone who is more articulate than I could speak to that spurious, cruel comment. But, life doesn't seem to work out that way, does it, and we don't get to have superman save our day or spiderman wrap the villain in slime and then explain how hard an art teacher really works. Where's that movie?

Where is my wonderful grandson, Caleb, who is Bumblebee Transformer? He'd help his Gigi in a painful situation. 

First Grade portraits.
Tonight, I put up a little artwork of the children with wonderful, grace-filled help from Judy and Karen. They are excellent women  who love Jesus and who are a part of my grace map. I love and thank them for speaking worth and value into what I do and in me tonight. I was in no position emotionally to put up any art tonight, but they gave me the lift I needed to do my best. The show was in conjunction with the "Winter" musical concert. I was invited to show work of the students by the music teachers about 10 days ago.

I didn't want to miss a chance to show off what the kids have been doing.

Bless you, ladies. Even if they didn't mention you from the stage -here's to you tonight! I had a heartless day, but filled with grace from friends.

"The birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it." ~ Frederick Buechner

Enjoy the show!

I have more photos, but I just ran out of storage with to follow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


"This idea, that reality is something to which we must be returned at considerable cost, is one which is seldom understood by the casual reader, but it is one which is implicit in the Christian view of the world." To sum up, "I have found, in short, from reading my own writing, that my subject in fiction is the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil." --Flannery O'Connor

Today, I went home sick, well, actually, I went to Judy's and Lynn's apartment to sleep for the afternoon. My cold/flu had gotten the better of me, and I just didn't have the energy to teach. I am very appreciative of the various times of grace extended to me today.

The third graders extended grace to me in listening well and drawing camels when I was feeling poorly this morning. They laughed when I said to draw a baked potato first, but they actually did it. I'll try to post some of their drawings tomorrow.

Judy extended grace to me in letting me sleep on her bed, and she even taught my art class because the sub never showed up.

As I was slowly walking toward Judy and Lynn's apartment, a fellow teacher asked if I was OK. He took the time and extended grace to me and mentioned that if I needed medicine or anything to let he and his wife know. 

Jill and I have gotten a new "house helper" as they say around here. She speaks only french, but I was so happy I was really able to understand her and communicate in French. That's a huge grace that I have pulled some French out from the deeper parts of my brain. And, her cleaning and cooking was a grace. It was so nice to come home to a hot meal I did not have to cook.

Another grace that happened today was when one of the K-3 aides mentioned she lives near me and we should get together. She is Moroccan, so I was really happy about this invitation. I suggested tea, and she said, "Yes, you are welcome." "We will do it." (The emphasis is on "are welcome".)

Yes, I am still sick, but as I have slowed down a bit, I see grace extended throughout my day.

Thinking on my Flannery quote, don't we all just love a person who extends grace in our world? That person is heroic in your story and my story. And, isn't that just what Christmas is all about? The biggest, grandest extension of grace was Jesus.

With God's help, tomorrow, I hope to be an extender of grace. May it be the subject in my story as well.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Art vs Craft

The long tussle between art vs craft or even Art with a capital "A"vs craft with a humble "c" has probably been going on since cave paintings. I can just imagine the conversation: "Those drawings are of Aunt Eve's bison stew recipe; that's not  real Art." "Sure it is, the bison is drawn so beautifully." "Yeah, but it's a functional drawing for a recipe. Real Art floods your soul with truth or joy or love." 

Well, I have been wrestling with the same tussle in my own head as my students do projects related to the Christmas season. I'm teaching art, I come out of a background of learning to draw and paint via the classical method. However, children love all things related to the season.

I had the second graders make decorative stockings, but I insisted they try their hand at learning how to draw a mouse correctly to place in or on their stocking. They just beamed with pride when they had successfully drawn their little mouse!
And, it was on a colorful Christmas stocking as well. What could be better?

During my middle school class, I had the students divide up, into quadrants, a photograph of a dad's hand holding a child's hand and then replicate the photo as a sketch. It was really hard for many of them, but the one who excelled the most had lots to work on, so I felt I had challenged and encouraged her today. 

I am fighting a cold and fever; so that's all for tonight for me! I want to share the story about the policeman stopping us because one of us, the driver, was talking on a cell phone and that is now against the law while driving, but that story will have to wait. I'm getting some shuteye before the next round of prayers from the mosque.
Night All!
A lone, unclaimed lion. Anyone?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

True Confessions

Today's adventures, and yes, there were more than one, will have to be told over time. It amazes me how much adventure or unusual activity can occur in one day in this part of the world. I guess it is just unusual to me. It's probably just plain boring to others. Today was maybe a bit of illegality, but I'm not sure. Probably not.

You have to think of the word "illegality" in a third world, bartering and bribing-rich cultural way, I probably haven't done anything wrong at all. Think of it in terms of a shame and honor culture, not a right and wrong culture like the USA. The greased palm world in which I live is where you need to go. Thanks. That will help immeasurably.

Lest you think my faith is slipping, it is increasing daily, and so our my prayers!  I began the day attending a lovely church service of three congregations gathered for a Christmas service. The sermon was in French with an interpreter. The pastor unfolded the aspect of Jesus' humanity in quite an engaging and thought-provoking way. I had connections from scripture and CS Lewis's Narnia stories. I felt renewed and encouraged in my faith as I left for yet another set of adventures in town.

Today was the last straw. Well, probably not. I was trying to change dirhams to US dollars, and my girlfriends and I had heard from the concierge at an unmentioned hotel that I could get dollars at a change place across the street. The first place we spotted, Something Union, looked official, but the gentleman inside wasn't returning for an hour, so it was closed, so to speak. So, we went to another building, and yet another Something Union, and there was a young gentleman inside. Whew.

I handed him a pile of dirhams, and I mean pile, and he did some calculations, called a couple of people, and said he could give me US dollars and a few dirhams in exchange. Whoopee, I thought naively. After a great deal of counting and recounting, he handed me the money and said calmly, "What I am doing is illegal, you know, but I am going to give you your money." (Why me?  I am trying to have a sane, calm, upstanding citizen, mature Godly woman kind of day.) It says Something Union on the outside, doesn't it? Where am I? Mars?

Anyway, I grabbed my US dollars because, if you have been following this blog, you know I have no credit cards or money usable outside this country due to the robbery in Paris. I need the dollars for my upcoming trip back home. I AM going home. I have no idea what he is talking about, but stumble out of there. (Please forgive me, Lord, for any sins of omission.)

Once my friends and I escaped outside, they said to me that I should have tipped the guy with the dirhams he gave me. I was totally confused by then. I feel like I will never fit into this culture. For heaven's sake, no one ever trained me to tip people at the Something Union money exchange! Don't they get paid?

As we drove off and headed into another fracas I'll recount another time, I thought about the twists and turns of my just part of one day!

Th adventure continues....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Love and God

One of my students painting himself life-size.
I am easing into the day today by reading Donald Miller. Some say he has theological issues, so beware. We all have theological issues. I'm aware. I live with mine every day.

" be in a relationship with God is to be loved purely and furiously. And a person who thinks himself unlovable cannot be in a relationship with God because he can't accept who God is; a Being that is love. We learn that we are lovable or unlovable from other people...That is why God tells us so many times to love each other." 
 Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality)

"I think Jesus is saying, Look, you guys are running around like monkeys trying to get people to clap, but people are fallen, they are separated from God, so they have no idea what is good or bad, worthy to be judged or set free, beautiful or ugly to begin with. Why not get your glory from God? Why not accept your feelings of redemption because of His pleasure in you, not the fickle and empty favor of man? And only then will you know who you are, and only then will you have true, uninhibited relationships with others."
Donald Miller (Searching for God Knows What

I'm packing for Christmas vacation, and I am thankful I'll be worshiping Jesus with family and friends back home.  Can't hardly wait! I want to see so many faces and just look at them! Seeing God's artwork in my family and supportive friends is really so huge. Home.

"Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons."
Donald Miller (Through Painted Deserts)   

Sixth grader working on body drawing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

This, That and The Other Thing

Moroccan Dryer
My internet is up and running again, and I think I recharged it for two months. That is questionable because the two nice guys who helped me at the INWI counter at the Marjane said they could only do so much recharging per hour, (really?) and they would finish in a half hour after my departure. No receipt, just a nod of the head. Is this for real? Do I look like an idiot? I end up trusting all is well doing it their way. I'm in the process of giving up control, again.

Horses in the median!
Most of my conversation, with the guys, on time frames, was in French, so I might be off by an hour or day or week. Urggh. I wish my French could keep up with my needs. I've learned and remembered a lot of French, but there is always so much more to know. Yesterday, I did a great job of saying, J'ai perdu ma carte d'ouvrir le telephone, and got my phone unlocked....slipping and sliding all over the ma's and mon's, le's and de's. Judy, my personal French tutor helped with that conversation. 

Mutton in the median!
One guy at the counter today said he learned most of his English from Pink Floyd. I was wracking my brain to remember even one Pink Floyd song, but I smiled and nodded good job. Later, I looked up Pink Floyd, and saw that the lyrics are a bit odd to be used as an English tutor: "Arnold Layne had a strange hobby collecting clothes, moonshine washing line, they suit him fine." Never in my wildest dreams would I think that Pink Floyd would bring two very different worlds and languages together but, that's the power of art. I bet they'd be proud as punch they were spreading the English language.

At Friday's on the "Cornish"
On the way home, Jill and I saw this, that and the other thing. I have decided to share some "local color" photos with you. It's an amazing adventure to drive to and from the "Walmart" type store. After our harrowing drive, we celebrated victory by eating at TGI Friday's. (Yep! There is one here.)A waiter asked if I wanted my picture taken; I thought my friends, Alice and John, Erica and Mike, might enjoy this one. They live in Seoul.

The adventure is slowing for the weekend...

Internet In Process

I'm in the process of getting internet access from home; I'm on my lunch break, and usually only do blogging in the evening. However, my portable modem stick ran out of minutes, so here I am. The stick is like a pay as you go phone, and one has to drive to a kiosk in the "Marjane" shopping area to get the portable stick up and running again or "recharge". Jill and I have hopes of doing that tonight. 

I'm in process in a lot of ways here. I'm in the process of getting art supplies. I'm in the process of formulating curriculum. I am in the process of obtaining a workable schedule.  

I am in the process of settling in, and in the process of maybe moving because our living situation isn't quite on the level. I'm in the process of giving up control in some new areas and praying more. Most of all, I am in the process of getting ready to go home for Christmas. I'm looking forward to a few of days of rough-housing with my grandsons and not thinking about any of my processes!!!!!

The adventure continues!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Art, Art, Art!

I'm teacher tired and art tired today. I was prepping, cleaning and instructing non-stop save for 15 minutes of pizza eating. (Have I told you pizza is different here? Maybe it's the new cheese, crust and lack of basil. No matter; one has to be flexible in cross-cultural eating!)

I am thinking of ideas for the 9th grade drawing class as it is fast approaching, and I had three new girls ask for an art club after school. I have to figure out who to ask about that. I haven't done an art club in years, but it would be fun to have 5-10 students who were really serious about art in an after school club.

The students are putting on a "winter" concert, and the music teacher has asked if I would put up some art. If only I had been asked 2 months ago....I just wish art could be put up quickly and easily. I wish I could say to a pile of art, "Up you go!" and it would be up. However, that's not reality in my world. So, I'll do it, but spend hours and hours in prep for about 2 hours max of viewing. Then it all comes down. That's the nature of school art shows:-) I pray for helpers, who love art, to come alongside me.

I'll try to post some pictures of a variety of art that was done today, but my pre-paid internet stick at home needs to be recharged, so it may not happen today. 

I would like to share a picture of some of the pottery made here in Morocco for now. I just love the glazes and cool shapes! These beautiful pots are sold on the side of the road as well as in the old and new medinas.

texture rubbings - 6th grade