Archive for February, 2010

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Egypt photos

Egypt-where it all begins

Our Egypt videos and photos are posted now to my photo site. They’re sorted by day. I hope you enjoy them.

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Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Update on Haiti

“We have two choices–to die fast or to die slow.”

Please take the time to watch this TV program. It’s a haunting, heart-wrenching look at the past 6 weeks, with difficult questions about how the future can be different than the past for Haiti.

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Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Words for the wise

word wise

When I looked through Word Wise, by Alison Brown, I could have wished Talitha were a couple of years younger. I think she would have loved the games in this workbook. And I would have loved the information she was picking up as she played.

The back cover explains Word Wise like this:

Many children have heard the stories of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Daniel etc. but are still unaware of the chronology of the Bible, or the important part each character played in God’s big plan for mankind. Using word searches, jumbled sentences, number codes, and crosswords, these pages provide a journey through the Bible to help children see the “big picture.”

This is labeled “Volume 1.”  I think these 31 pages will leave you wishing for volume 2, 3, and more.

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Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010


We were welcomed home by hugs from Talitha, who had cleaned the house, baked banana bread, and put bouquets on the kitchen table and in our bedroom.

We went out to lunch to celebrate. Now we’re just enjoying being here.

If you’ve read any of my chaos posts, you’ll appreciate my resolve that I won’t go to bed tonight until my suitcase is unpacked (and the stuff put where it belongs!). That’s my least favorite part of traveling.

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Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Last post from Cairo

UPDATE: Pictures included now.

This will be quick, because I still need to pack before we check out and go to dinner and then to the airport for a midnight flight. But I need to show you where we were today.

Muqqatam Hills is commonly called Garbage Village. It’s more like a small city. About 50,0o0 people who live in what might be called the city garbage dump. But it doesn’t fit any images I had of a mountain of trash and garbage with people scattered around looking for anything of value. Here there are apartment buildings and shops. The main industry is sorting garbage and trash for recycle, resale, reuse.

Muqqatan street

The most unusual thing is the presence of the church. There are 7 church buildings, all part of the same large community, with Father Simon at the head. This is a Coptic community with an unusually evangelical voice. Muqqatam is primarily Christian, making it the largest concentration of Christians in the nation.

Father Simon

One meeting hall is completely inside a cave. It seats 2000 people.

cave church inside cave

The main meeting place for the church is Saint Simeon’s, commonly called the Cave Church, even though it is only partly cave and there is another hall that is completely inside a cave. Still, there aren’t many church structures this size in the world. It seats about 20,000 people.

cave church

The ministry that grabbed my attention grows out of the decades-long work of one of our friends. An 8-story disability center is under construction. Among other things, this  will provide day care, therapy, and residential care for people as it is needed.

Muqqatam disability center

Muqqatam is seeing some hard times right now. Until now, this was one of the few places in a Muslim country where you could find pigs, since the community is primarily Christian. The pigs were the “disposers” for the edible garbage. At the height of the “swine” flu, the government killed all the pigs. No one knows yet what will happen with food refuse.


Another blow is that there are precarious boulders that threaten houses and more than 100 families below. Father Simon resisted the government’s demand that all be evacuated and the buildings razed. So the responsibility for their safety has been placed officially on the church. Removal of the boulders is underway and is a tremendous expense.

boulders threatening houses

These thoughts are scattered, but I need to fly–home! Can’t wait to see Talitha.

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Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The Word in Cairo

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were the heart and reason for our coming to Cairo. Johnny met with the others who will be preaching from Ephesians at Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, coming in October. Here they were studying through Ephesians together, and getting to know each other so they will be more able to minister as a team.

Lausanne expositors

Sunday evening, Johnny preached at Heliopolis Presbyterian Church. It was fun for me to meet in person several blog friends. Some were Egyptian, like Jaz and Fayek. Others were American, like Nancy and Grace.

Johnny preaching in Cairo

Heliopolis Pres

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Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Hump rhymes with bump

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Saturday, February 20th, 2010

How much do we know about ancient Egypt?

According to our guide yesterday, here’s how much the modern world has discovered about how the ancient Egyptians accomplished 4 great innovations:

1. How they made paper from papyrus: 100%

2. How they embalmed: 75-80%

3. How they mummified a body: a small percentage

4. How they built the pyramids: 0%

Well, at least one mystery was solved for me. I always wondered how they unpacked a scroll of paper from inside a papyrus reed. Yesterday I found out.

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Friday, February 19th, 2010

The sad truth

I’m not young and I’m not beautiful. No. No. Don’t try to flatter me. I’ve already gotten the flattery and now I see what’s happening.

1. The coffee shop girl says I don’t need a Sprite Light because I’m already so beautiful.

2. When I come out of toilet stall at a restaurant, there stands a prepubescent boy in restaurant uniform. He pushes the soap button for me and hands me a paper towel. And he talks. And he talks, ending with, “How old are you?” “Sixty-two.” “NO! You are in the 20s or 30s.”

I’m laughing so hard, I neglect to wonder at the obsequious flattery.

3. At another toilet later in the day, a woman squirts the soap, hands me a paper towel, and leans back against the wall so I have to step awkwardly over her feet to get out of the rest room. As I stand outside to wait for a friend, the woman opens the door and stands there glaring at me.

Now, I’m starting to realize what’s happening.

4. An Egyptian friend assured us earlier that you pay a taxi just what’s on the meter, no tip. So when we arrive, Johnny rounds up to the next Egyptian Pound and we start to walk away. The driver looks pained and holds the cash toward Johnny as if we dumb foreigners have counted wrong. Johnny checks. It’s correct. We walk away.

5. Four of us foreigners wait to cross a busy street. There are only busy streets here. You take your life in your hands. A policeman hurries to us, and weaves through the traffic ahead of us, stopping cars as he goes. On the other side, he hovers alongside us as we walk away, “Baksheesh! Teep! Teep! Baksheesh!”

Okay. I’m dense. But I get it now.

If a stranger offers unexpectedly kind service, it probably isn’t a gift. If you accept the service, be prepared to tip.

And now I know how much to believe any more beautiful, young compliments.

I am what I am, thank God.

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Friday, February 19th, 2010

What we’ve all been waiting for!

Johnny on camel

johnny and noel on camels

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Thursday, February 18th, 2010

For all my fellow mystery lovers

noel in shepheard's hotel

Before arriving here, one of my closest connections with Cairo was through reading mysteries.

At first it was Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.

Later, I got a tip from J.I. Packer, a fellow mystery reader. He got me started with Elizabeth Peters’ books featuring Amelia Peabody, like Crocodile in the Sandbank and  The Curse of the Pharoahs. There are a bunch and I recommend reading them in order.

Anyway, from the Victorian era of the non-Victorian-type Amelia Peabody through 1952 (when the original building burned down), Shepheard’s Hotel was the place to see and be seen when you visited Cairo.

old shepheard's hotel building

So, when we were within steps of  Shepheard’s my husband catered to my strange touristy request to step inside for a few moments. I wanted a photo in an elegant chair, but they were all taken.

noel in shepheard's hotel

Just as in those old fictional days, the hotel overlooks the Nile.

pilot of felucca

A few steps from the front door the feluccas are docked.

noel on felucca

You can sail for only about $10 an hour. . .

noel & John on felluca

. . .and imagine yourself sailing up the Nile with Hercule Poirot or Amelia Peabody, except your journey ends again all too soon at Shepheard’s Hotel. And actually for a longer voyage, they would have been on a dahabeeyah, with living quarters.

shepheards hotel

(Note to self–Add to Dream Journey list: Sailing by dahabeeyah to Luxor and Aswan)

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Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Pyramids–life and afterlife

First off, I want to recommend our guide. If you’re ever in Cairo, call Hanan Kamal (mobile 0101696000). Even the Egyptian university student who was driving us was impressed with her knowledge.

Hanan Kamal

Step Pyramid in Saqqara–first pyramid ever built, about 2800 BC.

step pyramid

We saw the first “pyramid”-shaped pyramid, which is at Dahshur, built in about 2780 BC.

Pyramid at Dahshur

But here’s where things get intrepid. See this sand pile? It’s really a pyramid. . . .


. . . and we went inside, even though the electricity was out.

inside teti pyramid

For me, who used to dream of being an archeologist, the chamber was beautiful. There was the sarcophagus, empty now. . .

sarcophagus in teti pyramid

and most phenomenal, that apparently blank wall behind the sarcophagus is covered with fine writing, which eventually through history was recorded in the Book of the Dead, a very important record of ancient Egyptian beliefs, centering around the afterlife.

heiroglyphs teti pyramid

I leave feeling thankful that eternal life doesn’t wait to begin sometime in the afterlife after we’ve atoned for all the evil we’ve done, and that Jesus has prepared a mansion for us so that we don’t have to hope to be rich enough here on earth to have all our necessities of life buried with us so we can be comfortable in the afterlife.

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