Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Passing Out in Eilat

I'm in Israel, I'm sick, and I passed out at the bus station at the border town Eilat. This is supposed to be a life changing experience and so far I've been mostly sick. What is it about Egypt that has made me so ill? I didn't drink the water!

I'm going back to bed.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Letting it all sink in

Yesterday...Thursday, July 12th was by far the best day I have had in Egypt. First things first, I slept in.
I finally made it to the Egypt museum yesterday. I don't know why it took me so long as it is very near by, but I went and the place is ENORMOUS and overwhelming, but in a good way. The first thing we saw was all of King Tut's treasures. The thing about King Tut is that he only ruled for a max of 2 years and was about 19 or 20 when he died and his tomb is one of the smallest in the Valley of the Kings. But seeing all the treasure made me wonder what Ramses II tomb must have had it in because Tut's collection was massive for a person who ruled for so little time.
And I saw mummies! WOW! I saw Ramses II with his gray hair still attached to his scalp. We've been going to see all these tombs and monuments, but seeing these men and women for which these things were made brought everything together. I was staring down into Ramses eyes and thinking....Oh my goodness, I'm looking at a man that lived 4000 years ago. Here is a man, a KING, that lived when civilization was a relatively new thing. I was awestruck. Men that prepared their whole lives for an afterlife to be with their god. It's awesome because we as humans still do it. My life is just a preparation for the afterlife with God. It's amazing how the human spirit remains steadfast and dedicated to the love of God. I know that the ancient Egyptians were polytheistic, but they believed in a God (Ra) that created the earth. The sun god which sustains life and makes it possible for life at all. Don't we as Muslims, Jews and Christians still look for God in the heavens. I don't think we are that much different. We have faith in a God that is omnipotent, just like the Egyptians. I think Ra is very much the same God that we worship today. It's plausible.
Okay, and then after that Annie, Blanca and I took a camel ride out near the pyramids to watch the sunset over the Sahara. It was even better than watching the sunset at the beach. So awesome and I don't mean awesome as in wow cool, but AWE inspiring. The sun still sets in the west as it did billions of years ago. But the best part was this, riding back to the camel stables! Right after the sun set, the entire city of Cairo was called to prayer by thousands of mosques. Allllllaaaahhhhuuu-Akbaru. (Allah Al-Kbar) God is the greatest! I felt God yesterday like I've never felt Him before. God is the Greatest. Like I said before, He is present, it is undeniable. As I sat atop my camel I thanked God for the life that he has given me and for the opportunity he has given me to make a difference in this world. In my life I may never achieve HUGE great things, but every thing I do will benefit the world I live in. That's what is most important I think.
And then later, we went out dancing with some guys that we met here at the hotel and had a blast. Sometimes I just like to break it down.
But that's it for today. I'll write again when I feel inspired.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Walk Like an Egyptian

Salaam from balmy Cairo!

I've been thinking that I haven't really kept my end of the bargain with this whole blog thing, so now I will. I've been in Cairo for nearly two weeks and I've had an interesting ride.
The first night that I arrived, my baggage was lost and I didn't get it for 5 days. I was seriously at my wit's end and had a breakdown in my room about it. Luckily God works in small ways and has lent me a helping hand in more than one way. First of all, He sent me Robert Berg. I don't know what I would have done without him. He stopped me at customs at the Cairo airport and we got to talking and come to find out he went to UMKC and knows Dr. Klausner. If you don't know who she is, she is the professor that introduced me to the Middle lectures anyway. On my third day, Atef (the hostel manager) told me that two American girls had just arrived from Israel to study at the same language center. I was so worried about taking a taxi the next morning that their arrival softened the nervous anticipation. On the second day of school my luggage arrived and I had excellent clothes to wear! I went thrift store shopping by golly!!! (old man slang today...yup)

And now the way exciting stuff. Last thursday, me and the girls from class went on a tour to the pyramids. The day was excruciatingly hot and I saw them mostly from the viewfinder of a camera. When we were in the Temple of Mummification that leads to Kefren's sphinx and pyramid I put my hand on granite that had been worked and moved by ancient peoples. How amazing. It didn't really hit me until last night. As I lay in bed I kept God, I am in Egypt. I went to the pyramids, I touched these things. How awesome. They are so majestic and what is bewildering is that they are SO old and yet still standing. I can't believe how great it is to feel this close to the beginnings of civilization. Wow!
This weekend will probably prove to be just as exciting. We are going to Luxor and Thebes. We will see the Valley of the Kings where King Ramses and King Tut were buried. We will also be visiting the Valley of the Queens where Queen Hatseptshut was buried. By the way, did everybody hear that they just discovered which mummy she is. Fantastic!!!
An my Arabic class is going great as well and I've met so many interesting people from all over the world. I may not become fluent on this trip, but I sure as heck have learned a great deal. I feel enriched.
I'll end on this note...and I'll update again soon. Oh, I apologize for the lack of pictures. The internet connection here is super slow and uploading pictures is time consuming.
Love to all!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day 5 in Cairo

Okay so my last blog was a little bit on the negative side, but I was feeling very blue as I didn't have any luggage and everything was so new. I didn't have much culture shock, but was pretty much just down and not knowing what to do.

So anyway, I've been kind of sick. Yesterday was my second day of class and I had a horrible stomach ache. I took some nausea medicine before class not realizing that it was drowsy so staying awake was a real task. Once I got back to my hotel, I slept about 4 hours and then was able to get back to sleep around 11pm.

The third day that I was here two girls from Tel Aviv University showed up and they are both enrolled in my class at the Fajr Center. I've been thanking God everyday for these companions. We may not always know that God is present in our lives, but sometimes he shows up and presents us with the smallest things that make life easier. He knew that I was having a hard time and I honestly think that He put these girls in my path to help me out. As they say in Arabic "al-hamdu-llilah" thanks be to God. And one of the girls is going to pick me up at the airport in Tel Aviv when I get there and show me how to get to Bethlehem. God is definitely watching out for me.

Another small blessing...or should I say HUGE blessing is that my bag got here today. I walked out of the hotel today and the van with my bag pulled up. I knew immediately that it was in that van. I tell you, we often take our "things" for granted, but when you are without for even a few days, you realize how grateful you should be for everything that God has given you. If I ever had any doubts about the greatness of God, I am forever sure of it now.

I am much more sure that my stay here in Cairo is going to be great. As soon as I take some pictures I will put them on-line for everyone to see. And this Thursday, I am going to the see the Pyramids and the Sphinx and a cruise on the Nile. How exciting.

Love to all!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Parental Advisory

Okay so last night I was ripped a new asshole by some stupid french woman. So, I ran out of small bills and couldn't help pay for a taxi. Why in the world did this woman not have change either? She looked at me and said, "okay, it's your second day in Cairo, you should know you need small change." And of course it was said in this really thick french accent. And she kept going on and on about it. Finally I looked at her and said "I have a mother, and you're not her, so lay off." I'm not about to be berated like that by anybody.

Other than that, everything is good. I met a very cool guy yesterday who owns a perfume shop. None of the perfume has any alcohol in it, it's just pure extract. Of course he got me to buy some, so now I smell like papyrus. It's strong and covers up my B.O. which I think is stronger because of all the caffeinated (I can't spell) beverages I've been drinking. I brought my deoderant, just in case...but it's in the suitcase that has never arrived! If it's not here by tomorrow, I'll have to go buy more stuff!

But anyway, about this guy. He was super nice and he introduced me to this girl, Hannah, from Sweden and we sat around and drank tea and smoked sheesha. What a good life! It was an easy day to do those things as it was Friday and everybody was praying most of the day.
So far so good. When I got back to the hotel last night, Atef (the hotel owner) told me that two girls showed up from America who will be studying at the same place as me. al-hamdu-lillah! I've been throwing that around a lot lately.

But anyway, this is a big enough note...I should mention that I walked across the Nile last night. HOLY BIG RIVER!!! I was so excited about this...and I kept saying, this is the same river the great Pharoahs sailed down, the same river that flooded every year to provide rich silt for the Egyptian crops. It's too bad that Cairo/Egypt is way too overpopulated. I think the place has probably lost some of its magic. Oh well, it's still pretty amazing!

Photos soon, I promise!!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Day 2 in Cairo

Hello everyone!
Day 2 in Cairo, so far so good. I met some really cool people last night and ended up at the Citadell of Salaadin for a FREE "fete du musique." It featured an act from Algeria and a group from northern Egypt who performed typical wedding music. Very cool, with belly dancers and lots of different instruments. And in the background was this enormous mosque...I cannot remember the name! It was such a random thing to do, but so worth it.
So, I've taken Arabic for a year, but I tell you what; it didn't help me at all. I cannot understand a WORD of Arabic. Okay, that's not true...but still.
Things I've learned so far: 1. always carry small bills, people don't like to make change. 2. Never look a taxi driver in the eyes, and you determine the price BEFORE you get in the cab.
Well, that's all I have for now. Hopefully my bag will show up because I want a variety of clothes to wear rather than the few t-shirts I have in my other bag.
Talk to you all soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The day is HERE

Oh my goodness is the thought that keeps running through my head. Oh, and "WHAT AM I THINKING?" I'm all packed, have a heavy backpack, and I'm ready to go. I'm so nervous right now, but that's okay. Only 24 hours til I'm in Cairo.
I'll update my blog then.
Thanks to everyone again for your support!