Monday, February 22nd, 2010
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.
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.
One meeting hall is completely inside a cave. It seats 2000 people.
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.
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 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.
These thoughts are scattered, but I need to fly–home! Can’t wait to see Talitha.
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