My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Processing Marrakech

I have been in Marrakech for a week now, and am just now sitting down to process my experience here.  I was invited by a dear friend, Marilyn Lynch, to come and help her with the daily care of the children of the missionaries that are part of the European branch of Covenant World Missions.

When I arrived last Tuesday, there was no one at the airport to pick me up (apparently, another couple was coming in an hour later, so they had arranged for all of us to come together and we got a little jumbled up in our communication).  Needless to say, I was able to haggle for the price of a taxi and was taken down to a small alleyway and dropped off.  It was dark and this young man came and took my suitcase and told me that he would show me the way to the hotel.  I was so nervous about following him through the streetway filled with vendors, motorbikes and scooters flying by at crazy speeds, and then down a dark alleyway with no lights.  I prayed the whole way down the alley as my bag clunked against the streetway made of bricks--Lord, please let this be where my hotel is!

And then, at the end of the alleyway stood a man in a doorway, welcoming me into the RIAD Nasreen.  I never felt so happy to see somebody that I didn't know before!  And before too long, Marilyn came out of our room for a cheerful hug and it was such a joy to see her as we'd been talking about this trip for so long.

The RIAD is a beautiful house that the missionaries rented out, a fountain gracing the center, rooms for meeting, a beautiful rooftop terrace complete with a curtained room.  A place of rest and peace with a staff that served with such joy, such patience, such hospitality.  We had meals served together in the common meeting area...meals with delicious tastes of cinnamon, saffron, and ginger.  We had a delicious mixture of the sweet and savory with every meal.  The time at the RIAD was such a restful...joyful...and pleasant time.

My days were spent were Josue and Sofia--two missionary kids from Spain, and little Cohen--an almost 3 year old who just relocated with his family for ministry in Paris.  Cohen kept us all running in circles, busy little boy that he was, but also kept us laughing at his funny vocabulary and quick comments.  Josue was also a pretty busy guy, enjoying kicking a football outside in the alleyways or up on the terrace.  He had a great sense of humor, often switching into a variety of accents that kept us all entertained.  And Sophia is smart and funny and a joy to be around.  She was helpful with her brother, enjoyed all of our activities and so easy.  It was easy to spend my time with these guys and I enjoyed our moments together, whether it was learning a memory verse, completing an activity, or just watching a movie.

Every evening, we went out to dinner in town, whether at some little cafe (like our favorite little joint called the Henna Cafe where falafel and tajins were the name of the game) or kabobs at the square, or egg sandwhiches from the seller down the street.  It was fun to see the night culture in Marrakech, to see the children playing football in the streets, to smell the scents of the spices and foods being cooked, to hear the wild sounds of animals, people, and motocycles.  The evenings were an amazing time to connect with the other missionaries and I enjoyed getting to know them, laughing with them, hearing their stories about their work and their children and their lives. 

One of the evenings, Marilyn planned a "Family Night" that ended up working miracles for the missionaries and their children.  She brought canvas' for each person, paint, and pictures of other paintings that had been done by Churchill and other artists in Marrakech.  We played quiet music and everyone painted.  I painted this sillouette of Koutoubia, a mosque in Marrakech.  We often heard the call to prayer (5 times a day), and this was a reminder to me to pray for the people of the Muslim faith, that they would come to know the light of Jesus Christ.  Other missionaries had amazing experiences of healing with these paintings and it was just a calming, relaxing experience that allowed everyone to pour out onto paper a bit of themselves.  I was so impressed by the talent of that group.

One day, I spent the day with the missionaries upstairs on the terrace, listening to their stories and praying for each other.  I also was able to be a part of a stress management workshop led by the counselor that they brought in.  That workshop was an eye opener for me.

For months, I have felt overwhelmed by my position at CORM and that day was a day of processing my life at City of Refuge and how to be able to set up better boundaries for my life so that I can survive there longer.  I loved getting to glean from the wisdom and prayers of so many that have walked their lives out in ministry for years and years in other countries.  I felt blessed...and overly-emotional as I finally just broke down and cried the tears that I never cry. 

The remainder of that day felt like this incredibly overwhelming day of processing my life in Ghana.  What boundaries need to be established.  How to encourage community among our ministry.  Voicing those unspoken fears...even if they were only to myself.  I felt incredibly drained, but it was so good.

As I look back, leaving Marrakech today, I would say that this week has been an amazing week of meeting new people, building new relationships, enjoying community, experiencing a new culture, resting a bit, but most of all...examining my life.  It was rich.  So rich.  So necessary.  So sweet.

I'm thanking God for my dear friend Marilyn, who walked me through this all and made this whole tirp possible.  What a blessing to be a part of such a big body of believers who constantly extend their hands out to me. 

Now, to head home...

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