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We had a meaningful trip to Morocco, but it's good to be back home and in the office. Callie Minks, Sharon Price, and Martha Robertson represented Lexington Avenue Baptist Church with compassion, diplomacy, and effectiveness. We greatly appreciate the financial assistance given by the church. Even with that, each of them had to make a significant financial contribution for this trip, in addition to giving up vacation days and income from work. They now have to return to their normal schedule after arriving home a couple hours after midnight on jet lag. The trip was rewarding and enjoyable, but no vacation, with little rest and hearing the heart wrenching stories of refugees and migrants. I hope you will take the time to thank Callie, Sharon, and Martha for representing our church in Morocco.
Morocco Recap: I spent my week in Rabat, in worship, leading some sessions on adult Bible study, children Sunday School, praying for conflict nations, visiting friends in the church, hanging out with the pastors, and observing the work of CEI (International Aid Committee). CEI is an impressive organization ministering to one of the most challenging situations in the world with African migrants. The organization consists of one paid director for the whole country and volunteer groups from each church, mostly busy university students. They visit migrants in their homes, interview them on scheduled days at the church, and offer various kinds of assistance such food, transportation, clothes, scholarships, and micro business projects. These students do such an excellent job, you would think they were all paid staff. Our gifts to refugee ministry are very well spend to bring some relief to a desperate situation. Much more needs to be done. We hope you will listen with interest as we tell their stories in the coming weeks.
Saturday, October 12
"A young migrant woman shared her incredible story with us this morning. She let me hold her sweet baby, but wouldn't let me take him home with me." --Callie
Friday, October 11
"A great week is coming to a close. Today I met with the pastors of Rabat. They took me to McDonalds for lunch. There was quite a bit of excitement as the King came through town right past the church in the afternoon. We had an evening prayer service for peace in nations in conflict. The evening ended with a lovely dinner with a family who are members of the church. The husband is a diplomat. The KBF Caravan came back to Rabat but I haven't had time to speak to Martha, Sharon, or Callie yet."-Keith Stillwell
Thursday, October 10
"Debriefing and Bible study after a full day in Oujda. Some went to the end of the frontier with Algeria and visited with the refugees, while others met with a human rights organization here to learn how they are addressing these needs."--Martha
"The schedule given me by the Rabat Church has been perfect for me, especially with regards to the work of the International Aid Committee. On Monday we visited in three refugee homes and had lunch in one, so we experienced their living conditions. On Tuesday, we participated in preparation day for receiving refugees. So they filled food bags and Callie Farmer Minks and I helped fold clothes. On Wednesday, they asked me to speak a word of encouragement to the refugees, before they interviewed with Rabat church member volunteers. I am quite sure I was not up to that task. Refugees interviewed to discuss their needs. Various kinds of assistance is available, food bags, clothing, scholarships, and more. One of the most interesting and promising is micro-enterprise projects like catering and sewing. A program for learning hair styling is being conducted at the church. When they complete the course, they keep their combs, scissors, and practice head to start making a little income styling hair. As I rested in my room this afternoon, I heard them talking and laughing and seeming to show a little hope, even in a most desperate situation. I am so glad that our church supports this ministry." -Keith
Tuesday, October 8
Martha, Sharon and now Callie
In Fes for two nights. We had a long day on the bus driving from Marrakech, but we enjoyed our dinner and fellowship with the Fes church. We are off to Ifrane in the morning to visit Al Akhawan University as well as Tarmilat just outside the city.
Keith and Callie
Lunch with the pastor and his wife, one of their daughters and their baby boy. Work with CEI (Rabat International Aid Team) sorting clothes and filling food bags with oil, meal, rice, sugar, and sardines. Callie rejoined the Caravan of Women on their way to Fes. Keith led a session on teaching the Bible for Rabat's Bible Study cell groups.
Monday, Oct. 7
"I met many people today whose stories and living situations broke my heart in pieces. Stop what you're doing to be thankful & pray for those around the world who are suffering in ways you cannot imagine."--Callie
Sunday, Oct. 6
Worship with Rabat. Beautiful music. Martha Robertson and Sharon left during the service (during Keith's sermon) so that they could catch a train back to Casablanca to rejoin the Women's Caravan of Empowerment then on to Agadir. Keith and Callie Farmer Minks helped lead communion. Callie and Keith met with the youth (university student) group for lunch. Callie and Keith enjoyed a wonderful big meal in Carolina's home the family, pastors Daniel and Camile and family, and Honore (partnership leader and translator). Things are going very well. Our friends in Rabat are as lovely and inspiring as ever.
"We did have a wonderful worship in Rabat this morning. Sharon Price and I hated to leave early, but we did make the train to join up with the caravan. We had a wonderful Bible study with women from Agadir church and we are looking forward to more time with them tomorrow."--Martha Robertson
Thursday, October 3
At 5:55 p.m. the team (Callie Minks, Sharon Price, Martha Robertson, and Keith Stillwell) fly out with a team from Kentucky Baptist Fellowship (KBF) from Cincinnati to Paris, France.
Friday, October 4
Fly from Paris to Cassablanca, Morocco arriving at 1:40 p.m. (8:40 a.m. in Kentucky). The LABC team travels to Rabat for a welcome in church members’ homes and then an intercessory prayer meeting.
Saturday, October 5
Soccer and games with university students. Games with children. Work dinner with Morocco/Kentucky partnership team to discuss the partnership.
Sunday, October 6
Worship. Sermon by Keith, “Maintaining Faith in Hard Times” (2 Timothy 1:1-14). Martha and Sharon rejoin the KBF group in Cassablanca then travel to Agadir for dinner and a meeting with the women of Agadir.
Monday, October 7
Martha and Sharon: Visit women’s ministry site with women of Agadir. Travel to Marrakesh. Dinner with women of Marrakesh.
Callie and Keith: Visit refugee homes with Rabat’s Refugee Ministry Team (CEI). Work session with women/sisters fellowship.
Tuesday, October 8
Martha and Sharon: Visit women’s ministry site in Marrakesh. Travel to Fez. Dinner with women of Fez.
Callie and Keith: Workshop with CEI. Callie Rejoins KBF group in afternoon. Keith leads a training session on “How to Conduct a Bible Study” for Rabat Bible study groups.
Wednesday, October 9
Callie, Martha, and Sharon: Travel to Ifrane (home of Karen Thomas Smith) for a dialogue with Muslim women at Al Akhawayn University. Visit women’s project at Tarmilat. Worship with church in Ifrane (Karen’s church).
Keith: Visit Institute of Theology, Al Mowafaqa. Work with Refugees through CEI.
Thursday, October 10
Callie, Martha, and Sharon: Travel to Oujda. Meet with Refugee Ministry Team in Oujda. Visit women’s ministry project. Dinner with women of Oujda.
Keith: Visit National Library and Universities. Work session with Children’s Sunday School teachers.
Friday, October 11
Callie, Martha, and Sharon: Travel to Meknes. Lunch with women in Meknes. Travel to Rabat. Dinner with women in Rabat.
Keith: Work session with pastors. Teaching, “The Attitude of Christians in Conflict Countries.” Intercessory prayer for conflict countries.
Saturday, October 12
Visit women’s ministry project in Rabat. Tour Rabat. Group debriefing. Worship in Rabat. Travel to Cassablanca.
Sunday, October 13
Travel Home. 6:40 a.m. Cassablanca to Paris. France to New York to Cincinnati arriving at 9:59 p.m.