I will try to send out newsletters about once a month.  If you have
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June-July 2005

Farewell to Egypt  The fish was staring at me and I was staring back.  Fortunately, my fork gave me the upper hand.  The venue was Balbaa, one of Alexandria’s many seafood restaurants.  The occasion was something of a farewell dinner as Karen, Aaron, and I joined two Egyptian pastors for one last round of seafood before we head out of Egypt.  That meal was not my last farewell and certainly not the only one.  Two days later, Karen and I were invited to the home of Sanaa, one of our English students, so we could share a meal and say goodbye.  When I return to Cairo I’m sure there will be at least one more such meal to mark the end of a year in Egypt.  However, friends, coworkers, and fresh fish aren’t the only things I am bidding farewell.  There are many more things (both good and bad) that I will be leaving behind as I return to Virginia...read more

May 2005

Ministry of Presence  Since arriving in Egypt, I have often struggled trying to measure the value of my work here.  I know that being present with those I am called to serve is a valuable ministry, but I often wish that I could serve in a more tangible way.  This month I got my wish…sort of.  In early May I joined a small group of volunteers from Cairo for a two day trip to work on a Habitat for Humanity project.  I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to use my muscles and very limited construction experience to really help a group of needy people in a  tangible way.  Imagine my surprise when I instead found myself engaging in my now familiar ministry of presence while perched on a 4”x4” beam, hammer in hand, twelve feet off the ground...read more

April 2005

Culture shock  Last week I ventured out of Egypt to visit one of our Arab neighbors – Jordan.  Although I didn’t see any cartoon monkeys, magic lamps, or flying carpets in Aqaba and my search for the holy grail in Petra was fruitless, I did have the opportunity to explore a new culture.  In addition to spending 32 hours on eight buses and 17 taxis in the course of five days, I had a lot of new experiences...read more

February 2005

Simple living and simply living  When I was preparing to come to Egypt, I knew that one part of my experience would be “simple living” for a year.  Of course, I didn’t really know what that would entail, but I assumed simple living would mean giving up some of the conveniences I enjoy in the U.S.  I imagined these sacrifices would include things like hot showers, meat, high-speed internet access, and Friends reruns, and I was prepared to live without these things for a year.  As it turns out, I didn’t have to sacrifice any of those things, but I have had to develop a new understanding of simple living and I have had to sacrifice some things I didn’t expect...read more

January 2005

Adventures in train travel  January has been a month of reflection and regrouping as the schools are on break and I have had quite a bit of time off.  During this last week of break, I am traveling to Luxor with two other volunteers, Karen and Rachel.  In order for you to get a glimpse of Upper Egypt, which is actually in the south, I'll be writing this newsletter live, on location!  So, get comfortable in your computer chair, buckle your seatbelt (just kidding, there are no seatbelts in Egypt!) ~ we're going to Luxor...read more

December 2004

Bethlehem  This year I heard portions of the Christmas story in five different languages – English, Arabic, Latin, French, and German.  A theme common throughout the familiar narrative in any language is people making a journey to Bethlehem and returning changed.  Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem as ordinary folks and returned earthly parents of the son of God.  The wise men traveled to Bethlehem seeking a king and returned having worshiped the infant Jesus.  The shepherds traveled to Bethlehem not sure what to expect and returned sharing the good news of Christ with everyone they encountered.  Like all of these stories, my journey to Bethlehem changed me and allowed me to encounter God in unexpected ways...read more

November 2004

Thanksgiving  When you think about the month of November, what images come to mind?  Colorful leaves falling from the trees?  Turkey and pumpkin pie?  Football?  Here in Egypt, November brought relief from the suffocating heat, the end of Ramadan, swarms of giant locusts, and the first rainfall in over 10 months.  All of those things were great, except maybe the locusts, but for me it didn’t feel like November until Thanksgiving day.  Since it is November, even in Cairo, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to share with you some of the things for which I am thankful...read more

October 2004

Why am I here?  During my first two months in Cairo, I have asked a lot of questions.  Most of them have been part of my effort to learn about the city and the culture that will be my home this year.  How much should a kilo of cucumbers cost?  How do I tell the taxi driver where I live?  How much do I have to tip the woman in the bathroom in order for her to give me toilet paper?  Why install traffic lights if the cars aren’t going to stop anyhow?  I could fill pages with all the questions I have asked in these two months... read more

September 2004

Holy Ground  This weekend, I had the privilege not only to stand on holy ground, but also to hike, sleep, eat, and swim on holy ground.  The eight other volunteers and I joined our classmates and teachers on a trip to the Sinai Peninsula.  We left early Friday morning in a bus bound for the Red Sea.  A couple hours into the trip, the bus broke down.  Being stranded in the desert for an indefinite period of time is never a good way to start out a road trip, but the situation did lend itself to a lot of jokes about wandering in the desert for 40 years...  read more