I will try to send out newsletters about
once a month. If you have
missed one or have trouble with the email
version, check it out here:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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