Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

Just wanted to pop in and wish all of my followers and readers a very Happy and Blessed New Year!

It's been fun for me, and I hope you have enjoyed it too.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day after Christmas

This year, we actually did not get around to opening our Christmas presents till the morning after Christmas. We were really busy Christmas Eve Day and Christmas Day. Just wanted to post a few of the pictures we took. You can see our pretty tree and some of our bedouin furniture. Notice the beautiful light fixture. It is one of my favorite things we have purchased here.

You might ask, who is the other boy in the pictures? Well, one of Levi's friends has been staying with us. He is staying for 10 days while his parents are in South Africa for his brother's graduation from University.

All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas holiday. I just wanted to put a quote down that I borrowed from a friend on Facebook. Hope he doesn't mind, but it is the message I would like to send out this and every Christmas.

"The older I get, the less I look for presents for me under a tree -- the more I look for the Presence of the One who died for me on a tree."

Here's wishing all of you out there a wonderful holiday season and a blessed New Year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Egypt

(Sorry this is a day late. I was so busy yesterday, I forgot to actually post it.)

I recently did a post on our traditions for Christmas. Well, today is Christmas, right? Well, right and wrong. While it is Christmas in the West, Eastern Christmas is celebrated on a different date.

The Coptic Church is an Orthodox Church, and in the Coptic Church, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January. Every year, according to the Coptic calendar, our Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates "Christmas" in the 29th of "Kiahk"-a Coptic month-which is simultaneous to the 7th of January.

Advent is observed for forty days and during this period people are expected to fast eating no meat, poultry or dairy products. Some people only do this during the last week of Advent.

On the Eve of Christmas everyone goes to church wearing a completely new outfit. The Christmas service ends at midnight with the ringing of church bells, then people go home to eat a special Christmas meal known as fata, which consists of bread, rice, garlic and boiled meat.

On Christmas morning people in Egypt visit friends and neighbors. They take with them kahk (the "h" is pronounced) which is a type of shortbread, which they take with them to give to the people they visit and eaten with a drink known as shortbat. Christmas Day is a public holiday for Christians.

So, this is only good news for us, being that we are Westerners who live in the East, we get to celebrate Christmas twice.

Here's wishing all of my friends out there a very Merry Christmas, and a Blessed New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I bet not many of you knew that there are other pyramids in Egypt besides the 3 very famous ones. The pyramid pictured above is the "Step Pyramid" of Saqqara (Sakara).
According to tradition, it was built for Horus Netjerikhet, better known as Djoser, a major ruler of Egypt's 3rd Dynasty, by Imhotep, Egypt's most famous architect who was subsequently deified during the New Kingdom. Djoser is actually the name given to this king by visitors to the site one thousand years after its construction, but actually the only name found on its walls is that of Netjerykhet.

Built during the 27th century BC, it is the first Egyptian pyramid. It consists of six "mastabas" or layers, built in decreasing size. The pyramid is the main feature of a huge mortuary complex in an enormous courtyard surrounded by ceremonial structures and decoration. The pyramid was not simply a grave in ancient Egypt. Its purpose was to facilitate a successful afterlife for the king so that he could be eternally reborn. It really is quite a fascinating site for visitors. Off to one side is the burial chamber, where the ruler's household items and everything he needed for the afterlife would have been buried with him. The walls of this chamber have beautiful paintings on them, probably depicting his life.

If you ever get a chance to visit Egypt, the Step Pyramid should be on your list of things to see. There are other pyramids too, such as the "bent pyramid" and the "red pyramid" which I will post about sometime in the future.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Still Going Strong

The outside of the daycare. It is called "Cairo Kids' Campus".
This was our first 3 students.

Some of the present students, staff, and parents at the Christmas party.

The director of the daycare now.

Some of my followers know that several years ago, my hubby and I started a daycare here in Cairo with some Egyptian friends of ours. I love little kids, and I would be around them all of the time if that were possible.

Well, the daycare started out really well. We started it in the summer, and hubby was available to administrate, but once it was time for school to start, he had to go back to teaching and wasn't around. Also, we hired several young ladies who spoke English very well, and they were young enough they were "teachable". After a while, one of the young ladies got married and moved to the States. Then one of them had to quit because of health reasons, and we eventually lost the third one also. We had to start hiring older women who were more "set in their ways", and things started slowly going down hill for us.

Eventually, the stress of dealing with cultural differences and the responsibility of being administrator (which is not my gift at all) got to me. In the beginning, we had made an agreement with our friends that if anything started affecting our friendship during this endeavor, one of us would buy the other out, or we would just sell the daycare. Well, the time came, and it seemed like our friendship was being strained, so, our friends bought our share of the daycare.

They held on to it for a while and soon they found a woman to come and be the director of the daycare. This woman was just the right person for the job. She had always dreamed of owning her own daycare and soon came to our friends and asked about buying the daycare herself, and that is just what happened.

Today, the daycare is still up and running, and in fact, I was just invited to attend their annual Christmas party. I was overjoyed when I heard the message she had for all of the parents who were there. She talked about the "5 Love Languages" of children. In the States, this is a very popular book, but I think in this part of the world these concepts are not so familiar.

So, to make a long story short, I am very happy and proud to have been a part of bringing something so beneficial and so needed to this areal. Also, I am happy to have been a part of making this woman's dream come true. It may not have been God's will for us to have started the daycare for ourselves, but I do believe it was part of His will for us to help this woman fulfill her dream.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cross on Church

Just thought this was a neat picture. It is the cross on the Baptist Church that we attend here in Egypt.

Friday, December 18, 2009

An Awesome Sight

We took this picture when we were in Luxor, Egypt. We took a Nile Cruise that went from Luxor to Aswan. This is one of the ancient Egyptian temples. If you look carefully at the bottom of the picture you can see my husband. These statues are so amazingly big.

If you travel to Luxor (ancient Thebes) then it will be hard to miss the spectacular Luxor Temple situated in the center of Luxor city. The Temple of Luxor was built largely by Amenhotep III and Ramesses II around 1400BC. Many rulers built on to the temple yet it always remained a place of worship for Christians and later Muslims. A mosque built inside the temple still exists and is one of the highlights of the site.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Christmas Tradition

Sometimes, it just doesn't feel quite like Christmas time to me here in Egypt. First of all, the weather isn't quite what I was used to at Christmas time growing up. We are still getting up into the upper 70s here during the day. Also, there is never really the chance of a "white" Christmas. Yesterday, instead of snow flying around in the air, there was sand.

Second, the commercialism of the States during Christmas time is not here. That is not a bad thing, and that is not something I miss, but, because it is not here, it just does not feel like that magical time of the year.

The third thing, is that we are so far away from family. It is especially hard to be so far away from family during the holidays, especially our two oldest kids. When in the States, we have our traditions with our families. We always go to my in-law's house on Christmas Eve for lunch and the evening tradition of opening gifts. Then, we go to my parents' house for a Christmas breakfast (usually biscuits and gravy) and opening gifts there.

One last thing that I have to mention that I miss from the States is the bright, shiny, Christmas decorations. One of my favorite things about Christmas time in the States is driving around at night and seeing how people have decorated their homes with lights and the beautiful nativity scenes. Here in Egypt, you might see three or four homes decorated with lights and probably only a half-dozen Christmas trees.

But, no matter how far away from home we are, there are always several traditions that are always practiced this time of year. One of the first is the Christmas cookies you see above. This is a double batch, which made over 100 cookies. The first picture is before the icing, and the second one is after I had iced some of them. This is a tradition that Tim's family has had since he was very small.

Another tradition we have is decorating the apartment and putting up the tree. When we first moved to Egypt 8 years ago, it was very difficult to find Christmas items and decorations. Now, you can find almost anything you want.

The final and most important tradition that we hold to every year is celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. After all, without Jesus, there really wouldn't be a Christmas. He gave up his life and home in Heaven to be born in a lowly manger. He chose to come into the world, knowing that He was giving up everything. He came into the world to die on the cross, for sinners. If you do not have this tradition in your family, give it a try. He is not to be celebrated only at Christmas time though. With Jesus in your life you can celebrate every day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Camels in the Roads

Just driving along the roads that go up to Alexandria or the North Coast of Egypt, one can run into herds of camels. These usually are not wild camels. They are usually camels owned by the bedouin. The man or family that owned all of these camels is probably considered pretty rich. Camels are of great value. We were often offered very many camels in exchange for our daughter, but usually, this was their way of kidding around with us. I can't help but think sometimes though, that there were probably some of them that were serious. ;O)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Citadel Mosque in Cairo

The Citadel Mosque is a really neat place to visit when one comes to Cairo. It is beautiful from the inside out.

One of Cairo's most popular tourist attractions is the Citadel which houses a number of museums, ancient mosques and other sites, located on a spur of limestone that had been detached from its parent Moqattam Hills by quarrying. The Citadel is one of the world's greatest monuments to medieval warfare, as well as a highly visible landmark on Cairo's eastern skyline.

Monday, December 14, 2009

St. Anthony's Monestary

I have decided to start trying to at least post a picture a day. I may not always write about it, but if you have any questions about the picture, just let me know.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dahab (Gold)

Levi on a camel.

Me, with a couple of local bedouin girls.

The beautiful hotel we stayed in.

The beautiful morning view from our hotel room.

One of our first Christmases in Egypt was spent in the little town of Dahab.
According to Wickepedia, Dahab is a small town situated on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Formerly a Bedouin fishing village, located approximately 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab is still considered to be one of the Sinai's most treasured diving destinations. Following the Six Day War, the town was occupied by Israel and known in Hebrew as Di-Zahav, a place mentioned in the Bible as one of the stations for the Israelites during the Exodus from Egypt. The Sinai Peninsula was restored to Egyptian rule in 1982. The arrival of international hotel chains and the establishment of other ancillary facilities has now made this a popular destination with tourists. The nearest international airport is located at Sharm el-Sheikh.

Dahab enjoys large numbers of tourists. It is a very famous place to go for windsurfing. Reliable winds provide superb flat-water conditions inside Dahab's sand spit. Further away from shore, wavy conditions couple with strong winds to provide formidable conditions for keen windsurfers. SCUBA diving and snorkelling are also popular activities with many reefs immediately adjacent to waterfront hotels. The nearby Blue Hole and Canyon are internationally famous dive spots. Land based activities include camel, horse, jeep and quad bike trips. Mount Sinai is a two hours drive, with Saint Catherine's Monastery being a popular tourist destination.

We had a wonderful time in Dahab with some great friends. We didn't do any scuba diving, but our kids did go snorkeling, and we did do some camel riding. It has been a while since we went, so hopefully, we will be able to visit Dahab again sometime soon.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Egyptian Santa

Just a picture we took several years ago when we visited the small town of Dahab on the coast of the Red Sea. Will post more later about the town of Dahab.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fresh Vegetables on Almost Every Corner

One thing that is really nice here in Egypt is that there are fresh fruits and vegetables on almost every corner, literally. Egyptians eat alot of fruits and vegetables because they are cheap. Just look how nice these fresh vegetables look. The men that sell these fruits and vegetables always try to display them in a very attractive manner. I didn't really intend on buying anything when I stopped here. I just wanted to take a picture of the of the beautiful way the vegetables were displayed. The vendor just happened to be holding a very nice looking bunch of broccoli though, so I bought some broccoli and some carrots. I'll let you know soon if they are as tasty as they look.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Eid al-Adha - "Festival of Sacrifice"

In Egypt today, and all across the Muslim world, they are beginning a 3-day celebration. Following is a definition of this holiday I found in Wickepedia. On the first morning, each family will sacrifice an animal, usually a goat, sheep or bull, depending on what they can afford. Then the families share the meat with others, especially the poor people who cannot afford their own. One-third of the animal’s meat is consumed by the family, while the other two-thirds are given away to friends and the poor Islamic residents of the community, respectively.

During the weeks before this festival you can see groups of animals everywhere. Large groups of sheep, goats and bulls can be seen in places all along the streets. As a foreigner here, it is sometimes quite a shock. For a week or two prior to the festival, one might have a neighbor that buys one of these animals. You get used to seeing it around. Then all of a sudden, you wake up one morning and the animal is gone. Or worse, you look out your back window and see what is about to happen, or has already happened to the poor thing.

I took all of the pictures above from the internet, as I could not bring myself to take pictures of the actual animals I saw in the streets.

(Definition from Wickepedia)
Eid al-Adha - "Festival of Sacrifice" or "Greater Eid" is a holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. It is also celebrated by the Druze, an esoteric non-Islamic faith, whose origins stem from Shiite Islam.

Eid al-Adha is the latter of two Eid festivals celebrated by Muslims, whose basis comes from the Quran.[1] Like Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha begins with a short prayer followed by a sermon.

Eid al-Adha annually falls on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja of the lunar Islamic calendar. The festivities last for three days or more depending on the country. Eid al-Adha occurs the day after the pilgrims conducting Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide, descend from Mount Arafat. It happens to be approximately 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Our school vs. the Sudanese school in soccer

Our son Levi in action.

This is all of our students that participated with their coaches.

Last Wednesday evening, a huge group of parents, teachers and children from our school loaded up and headed to a very poor area of Cairo. In this area, called "kilo arbau wa nuss" is located the Sudanese school that my husband works with. Because we have such close connections with this school, our son's school plays them in soccer every year. We had four different games: A 1st-3rd grade team, a 4th-6th grade team, a jr. high/high school girls' team, and a jr. high/high school boys' team. It is something both schools look forward to every year. Even though the kids from these two schools come from very different backgrounds and cultures, the love of football, or soccer, as we call it in America, brings them together.

The Sudanese kids won two games, and our school won two games. So, things worked out for the best. The most wonderful thing about these games though, was the good sportsmanship shown on both sides. In a time where the competition of the World-cup is heating up and tempers are flaring, these kids showed more maturity and self-control than I have seen out of full grown men. I am very proud of the kids from our school. People all over the world could learn a great deal from their examples.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just a Lazy Day In Egypt

Last Saturday was just a lazy day for us here. We all enjoy those days where we don't even get out of our pajamas and we are able to just lie around the house. It was just a little cool outside so we had our windows shut, but the sun was shining in making the apartment very cozy. I was sitting in our living room working on lesson plans for school, and Levi and Miss Kitty were lying on the sofa. Next thing I know, I look over and both of them are asleep. I grabbed my camera and took some really sweet pictures of the two of them. I especially like the one where Miss Kitty's foot in on Levi's nose, and it didn't seem to phase him a bit.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Not Your Every Day Egyptian Sky

Ninety-five percent of the time, the skies here in Egypt are cloudless and blue. (That is besides the pollution.) But, a couple of nights ago I shot these pictures from my balcony. The clouds were rolling in and the lightening was beautiful. Unfortunately, there was no thunder. It is very rare to see rain clouds and lightening and hear thunder here. One can actually go a year or more without them. Ever since that night, it has been cloudy off and on, the air is getting cooler, and it has even rained pretty hard a time or two. It is nice to finally have a break from the constant heat. The top picture is what the sky usually looks like, then the bottom two are the rain clouds moving in.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Transportation in Egypt

Sometimes, while driving down the road we see some pretty scary things. This is just one of the things, that unfortunately, we see quite a lot. We just happened to see this on the way in to school one morning and I had hubby snap a quick picture. While we see these kind of things quite often, it is hard to get actual pictures of them because we either do not have the camera with us, or we are moving too fast in traffic and don't have the time to get the camera out and take the picture before the opportunity is gone. We see so many things like this that would be illegal in the States because of safety laws. I will try to keep my camera with me more often so that we can snap some of these type of pictures. It is too bad we couldn't get this on actual video as the mini-van was moving at an alarmingly fast speed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

School is back in Session

Well, as you can see, I have a full class-room again. I know it has been a long time since I posted last, and, we have actually been in school again for a couple of weeks now. When we first returned to school, I took my camera to take some pictures, but a couple of the students were absent. After they returned I kept forgetting to take a picture. The other day we were working on a project for Social Studies and I noticed what a mess the kids were making of the class, so I decided to snap some pictures. The kids had a lot of fun doing this project, and they helped me clean the room as soon as we were finished. Hope you enjoy these pictures of my little cuties!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Curious Kitty

Just thought I'd post this cute picture of Miss Kitty that I took. There is a place on the balcony that she can sit and look at everything going on below, but apparently, something was going on down below, and she just had to take a quick look. I have some more funny pictures that I took of her recently, but they are still on my camera which is at school. So, I'll post them later.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Al Rehab gets a Redo

The area I live in here in Cairo is called Al Rehab. Last summer they started repainting the apartment buildings. This area is pretty much surrounded by desert, at least on 3 sides. The 4th side is the big city. So, the heat and the wind are pretty hard on the appearance of the buildings here. Above is a picture of buildings before, during and after the painting. Everywhere we look, buildings are either finished or in the process of being painted. For some reason our building has not been painted yet. In a way, we are glad they have waited so long to get to our building. Our apartment will have to be closed up during the painting because they are even painting the balcony areas. The weather is finally cooling down so it won't be as hot while they are painting. It is making quite a difference, don't you think?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Lonely Classroom

Just thought I'd post a picture of my classroom. As you know from my previous post our school has been closed now for a couple of weeks. I, as a teacher though, have still been going to work. It was kind of nice because it gave us teachers time to work on long range lesson plans and other things we usually have to work on in our free hours during school. Well, I got lots of work done, but still have more, and on top of that, the students brought in work they had finished on Wednesday of last week. So now I have lots and lots of grading to do.

Most of the schools here in Egypt started as of yesterday. Our school will start again on this next Wednesday. Tuesday, the 6th, is a national holiday here, so we already had a break scheduled during this time. As some of the teachers and students' families use this time to travel, we decided to just keep it as a break.

I will be really happy when I can return to school on Wednesday though and see lots of little smiling faces (I hope they are smiling) instead of the empty desks as you can see above. I will try to remember to take a picture of the students so you can see the classroom when it isn't so lonely.

Friday, September 25, 2009

School's Out

If you didn't know it, I am teaching the 3rd grade in my son's school this year. I have taught part-time before, but this is my first year teaching full-time. So far, it has gone really well. I only have eight students, but that is enough to keep me really busy. We have a very big mix of nationalities at our school. My class includes 4 Korean students, 3 Egyptians, and 1 Swedish student. None of my students are native English speakers which can make it a little difficult at times. Most of them have been in the "English Speaking" school system for a while though and have a good understanding of the language.

I really wanted to have a picture of my class posted before now, but last week something unexpected happened. Most of the schools here in Egypt have been closed due to Ramadan that was going on, but also because of the H1N1 virus. We have not had any cases of H1N1 in our school, but this was just done as a precaution. Our school, which is a private school, started at the normal time along with some other private schools. Well, unexpectedly, the government has been able to demand that all schools shut their doors at least until after the 6th of October, which is a national holiday here.

Now this in no way means a "vacation" for us. We as teachers, hurried around and prepared 1 1/2 weeks worth of school work for the kids. This meant the teachers still had to put in 7 or more hours of work a day. Also, there are other things outside the class that have to be done such as long-range lesson plans, etc. So, this isn't a "vacation", but it is giving us some extra time to do things that have to be done.

It is a little frustrating, probably especially for the parents, as they have to oversee that their child is getting their work done, but....things like this happen, especially living in a foreign land.

Lord willing, here in a couple of weeks the school will open again and I will be able to take a picture of my students and you can see the sweet children (and ornery at times) that I have the responsibility and privilege of teaching this year.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Eid al-Fitr: "Festival of Fast Breaking"

My last post was on the Muslims' holy month of Ramadan, when they fast from sunrise to sunset as a time of spiritual renewal. Well, that month is now over, and Muslims celebrate what is called "Eid al-Fitr" which means "Festival of Fast Breaking". During the last few days of Ramadan, Muslims give to the poor what is usually a donation of food--rice, barley, dates, etc.--to make sure the needy have food and can actually celebrate at this time.

Families usually gather on the first morning of the Eid (festival)outdoors or at mosques to perform the Eid prayer. This consists of a sermon followed by a congregational prayer.

After this, they gather together as families and friends, give gifts, especially to the children, and make phone calls to distant relatives. This Eid lasts three days and in most Muslim countries is an official government holiday.

While things are getting back to normal after Ramadan, they won't be back to normal till after the Eid. Because this is a three day holiday, schools are out and lots of people are on holiday. During this time, people are out everywhere and during all hours of the night. It is celebrated with loud fireworks as well which make for a difficult night of sleeping. While this can be a difficult night for those of us who are not "night-owls" and need our 8 hours of beauty sleep, I know it is a special time for the people here.