Nov 9, 2009

A Change of Heart

Marrakesh, 1990 - The sound of snake charmers, men with crutches, babbling street vendors and the smell of strange incense was all new to me. I laid in bed with my money belt on and my heart pounding out of my chest. I was in total culture shock! Yes, culture shock is real.

We stayed in a cheap hotel right in the middle of the Medina. The hotel was dazzling array of colorful tile, amazing multi paneled light fixtures, but to be honest with you, I did not feel safe. I was blonde haired 21 year old bopping around the Medina in Marrakesh, Morocco with two girlfriends. I did not realize that the cultural differences were really real - Men grabbing my arms and pulling me into their shops, offering money to be a wife, promising riches such as gold and silver. We kind of laughed it off until later read of kidnappings and white women slavery in Morocco. Women were not treated the same as they were in the United States, and I was not invincible because I was an American. Even the children were not exempt from the realities of life in the streets. As cute as they were, some were instucted to steal money from tourists.

I remember getting in the shower and being in tears; wanting to clean myself of the poverty of stricken children I saw. Snakes in baskets, men looking at me as if I was dinner. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw and experienced. I remember thinking, "God could have placed me here, how different I would be!" And how different those children would have been if they had been born in the U.S. I had a change of heart. I started to change my perspective. God gave me compassion and love for those children and their parents.

Its funny. I look back now and want to go back as a seasoned adult. I  can appreciate those cultural differences. I know what safety precautions to take , such as staying at a 5 star hotel ! It is an amazing place and I'm sure different now.  I  know you can't believe it, but I think it is a place everyone should visit! It's like being on a movie set , but the actors are playing themselves! People are people regardless of where they live. God Loves all of them, and so should I.  

About the author:

Julie Regan is sales stylist for Stella & Dot. She resides in East Grand Rapids with her husband, RJ, and their four children.

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