Thursday, May 28, 2009

Egypt in the Bible

One of the most fascinating things about Egypt is it's history, and you can not discount the fact, that Egypt is one of the most frequently named places in the Bible. Two of the most famous Bible characters associated with Egypt are Moses and Joseph, but the mentioning of Egypt spans from Genesis to the Gospels, starting with Abraham and going to Jesus.

One of the earliest mentionings of Egypt was in Genesis 12:10 which says "And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land." This probably meant that Egypt was prosperous and had plenty of food. Egypt was a very rich nation. All one has to do is go to the Cairo Museum and see all of the artifacts that were made of pure gold to know that.

The second significant thing that took place was the incident of Joseph. Joseph was the favorite son of his father, and because of this, his brothers were jealous and sold him to a caravan on their way to Egypt. If you know the story, you know that Joseph worked for a very important man in Egypt. Later he was falsely accused of attacking that man's wife and put in prison. But the interesting thing is, is that all of this was in God's plan. Later in the story, Joseph helped the Pharoah out, and because of this, he was promoted to 2nd in the kingdom.

The third, and probably most famous happenings in Egypt that were mentioned in the Bible was the mentioning of Moses and his life. There are so many things that happened to Moses it would take too long to retell his whole story here, but it is fascinating that there are certain spots one can visit here that is associated with Moses. There is Mt. Sinai, where God gave Moses the 10 commandments. This Mt. is a popular tourist attraction. People go there, climb the mountain and spend the night there. The point is to wake up and watch the sunset. I have yet to do this, but it is definately on my "to do" list. Another thing associated with Moses and the Bible is the Nile River. As a baby, Moses was put in a basket and floated down the Nile, and then there was the later instance where Moses turned the Nile into blood. I could go on and on about Moses, but maybe I'll save that for a later date.

Then, there was the instance Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus fled to Egypt. God told Joseph to take his family and "flee to Egypt" because the king at that time wanted to have baby Jesus killed. In this situation, Egypt was seen as a place of safety, but Joseph, Mary and Jesus were not relying on the Egyptians for their safety, they were relying on God. There is a tourist spot here called "The Virgin Mary's tree". I have not been there, but I do plan on visiting there some day and will post a blog about it. It is "supposedly" a place where Jesus and his family stopped for rest and shade. Who really knows if this is true or not, but it is possible.

Some of you know this about me, but for those of you who don't, I am a born-again Christian. I believe God guided us to this special place, and He has specific purposes for us being here. He has blessed us so much to have given us this opportunity and I hope and pray that his purposes will be fulfilled in our lives.

Like I said before, there is so much more that can be mentioned on this subject, and probably in the future I will do more posts on these individual characters and events, but for now I will just let you sit back and dream with me of those fascinating events that took place here, in Egypt, the place that I am so blessed to live.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Levi and his Friends

My son Levi is 14 years old, soon to be 15. One of the nice things about living in another country is having friends that are in the same situation as you are. There is a term used to describe these kids that were born in one country, left that country, and are living in another country. That term is "Third Culture Kids". This term refers to someone who [as a child] has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture". Because of living in a foreign country, sometimes these kids do not feel like they totally fit into the culture they were born in, or into the one the are now living in. So, it really helps when you are surrounded with friends that understand this.

Levi is involved in a youth group from a church here in Egypt where there are lots of TCKs. He has friends from all over the world that are involved in this group. There are of course Egyptians in this group too, but most of them have lived abroad in places such as America, Australia, and Europe, so they are considered TCKs as well. Other nationalities from Levi's circle of friends include Brazilians, Koreans, Germans, and Canadians, just to mention a few. These kids go through all kinds of struggles, but I think in the end, they realize they are very blessed to have been able to meet people they ordinarily would never have met and experience things that most people in the world do not get the chance to experience.

Today, Levi's youth group had a scavenger hunt out in the area we live in. For those of you who do not know what that is, I will explain what they had to do. They divided into 3 groups. Each group was given a list of things they had to accomplish, then they set about on their "hunt" to accomplish them. They had to go to different areas of our small suburb to do these things. One of the things they had to do was come by our apartment and one of them had to volunteer to do an assigned "task". The task was that this person had to put 12 pieces of bubblegum in their mouth and chew it till it was ready to blow a bubble, and then blow a bubble. I don't know what their other assigned tasks were, but I do know that this group of teenagers were having a great time together. It makes me feel good to know that Levi has so many friends, and that all of these friends are in the same predicament as Levi. When he grows up, what wonderful memories he will have of his childhood, growing up in a foreign land, and he will probably have friends all over the world.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Naguib Mahfouz: Probably the most famous Egyptian author

Naguib Mahfouz: Ever heard that name? I hadn't until I moved to Egypt. I haven't read very many of his novels, but the ones I have read, I have thoroughly enjoyed.

What I enjoy about his books is that he writes about the common, everyday life, of the Egyptian people. This helps me to see and understand some of the things I have seen here. He was born in 1911, so of course, the settings for his books were in the past, but for lots of the underprivileged people here in Egypt, life hasn't changed all that much.

Mahfouz studied at what is now the University of Cairo and graduated with a degree in Philosophy. Later, while working on his M.A. he decided to become a professional writer. He did not marry until he was 43. He had the conviction that the numerous restrictions and limitations of marriage would hamper his writings. He and his wife had 2 daughters.

He was very controversial, and that sometimes leaked over into his writing, but Mahfouz did not run away from controversy. His support of Sadat's Camp David peace treaty, caused his books to be banned in many Arab countries. But this ban was lifted in 1988 when he won the Nobel Prize for literature. Mahfouz was criticized for this and for his outspokenness for freedom of expression. One of the books he is most famous for is called "Children of Gebelawi". The book is an allegory with Gebelawi representing God, and several other characters representing some of the prophets. This was considered blasphemy so the book is banned in Arab countries. He received death threats and there was even a "fatwa" (a strong opinion by a qualified Islamic scholar or sheik) issued against Mahfouz calling for him to be killed. Even though he was given police protection, Islamic fundamentalists succeeded in stabbing him in the neck in 1994. He survived, but sustained permanent injury to the nerves in his right hand.

In July of 2006, Mahfouz injured his head in a fall. He never fully recovered from this and died near the end of August.

Even though Mahfouz was not famous throughout the world, he definately made an impact on the Arab world. I greatly reccommend you pick up a Naguib Mahfouz book today and give it a try.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Lovely Story

If you have been following my blog, you have probably read my posts on Garbage Village, and before that, the one on the extreme measures the Egyptian govt. took to supposedly keep a handle on the Swine flu. Both of these posts have a very sad side to them, but recently, my husband was looking through the news articles on the internet and found this story and sent it to me. I just thought I'd share it with you so that you too might have your faith restored that there are still good people out there, and despite what news stories we USUALLY hear, there are still good things happening in the world. Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Garbage Village

There is a place in Cairo that is very interesting to visit. It is called "Garabe Village". At the sound of that you might ask, "Why in the world would I want to visit a place called 'Garbage Village'"? Some, might choose not to visit because it can be a very depressing place, and it can have a very depressing odor as well, especially when the weather is hot. But imagine if you were one of the estimated 50,000 people who lived there, and you really had no choice in the matter.
This area is called Garbage Village because the people who live there are the garbage collectors of Cairo. Some of them drive garbage trucks, and some of them have small carts drawn by donkeys or horses. These people wake up early in the morning, go into Cairo and collect the garbage, then literally take it back home with them. They then proceed to go through it and recycle what they can. Today, there is even a small industry of women who have become something of a cultural phenomenon because of some of their handicrafts using discarded material. The most popular items include paper, greeting cards (especially Christmas), and items such as purses and very beautiful quilts from fabric.

I have been to Garbage Village several times, and the people are always friendly, and usually have smiles on their faces. These are people who have chosen to make the most of their circumstances. The population here is mostly Christian, and there are several churches. These churches are Coptic churches, in other words, the Orthodox Church. The churches there are very impressive. One of the churches "Church Of Virgin Mary & St-Samaan" was built to hold 20,000 people.

Garbage Village and these churches are situated on The Mokattam Mountain. It is considered the only real mountain in Cairo, although to foreigners who visit, it is probably only seen as a hill. Because it is on a mountain, some of the churches are literally carved into and from the mountain. There are also many beautiful Biblical carvings in these churches and in this area. One pictured above is a carving of Lazarus as he came out of the grave after being resurrected by Christ, and the other is of Christ's resurrection.

The people of Garbage Village have recently gone through some very bad situations. The first was several months ago when part of the mountain collapsed on some of the housing. The second has happened recently. I posted on this situation just a few days ago, and that situation is the measures that were taken because of fear of the swine flu. Because most of the people in this area are Christian, there were lots of them who raised pigs, and as far as I know, all of the pigs in this area have been killed.

As you look at these pictures, please pray for these people who have very little and literally live amongst the garbage.

As I said before, some of us may not desire or choose to see a place called "Garbage Village", but if you are ever in Cairo, it is well worth the visit.

If you would like to know or read more about this fascinating place, here's a good place to start:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Not Just Your Ordinary Boat Ride

One of the most beautiful things a person can experience in Egypt is a faluka ride on the Nile. A faluka is a special kind of sail boat the Egyptians use to give tourists a ride down the Nile. One of the nice things about a faluka is, you can go on a ride as a small group or on a ride for a very large group. The most recent faluka ride I took was with my husband and two of my kids. If you know anything about Cairo, Egypt, you know there are lots and lots of people. Traffic is bad, there is lots of noise, and lots of pollution. But, when you get out on the Nile in a faluka you forget all of that. It is nice and peaceful, the air usually smells a lot better, and you are able just to sit back in the sun and appreciate you are on one of the most famous rivers in the world. You can also take a faluka ride at sunset or at night, but any time of day or night on the Nile is beautiful. Another nice thing about falukas is that the experience is fairly cheap. I think we paid about $7.00 for a half-hour to an hour. Usually the drivers of these boats are very friendly and funny. Above, you can see a picture of our youngest son Levi helping steer the boat. There is also a picture of some of the students and teachers from my kids' school. I wanted to include this picture to show you just how much room there is in a faluka.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


So I have been tagged by Dedene and here are my answers:

1. What are your current obsessions? Blogging, coffee, and Jesus.

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? A denim shirt.

3. Last dream you had? I dreamed some of my friends here in Egypt opened a restaraunt in my hometown, which probably has a population of around 300, and I went to work for them as a waitress. :o)

4. Last thing you bought? Coffee

5. What are you listening to? TV, DH is flipping through the channels trying to find something good to watch.

6. If you were a god/goddess who would you be? Isis. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife, matron of nature and magic; friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, the downtrodden, as well as listening to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers. (I took this description of Isis off of Wickepedia.)

7. Favourite holiday spots? On the Mediteranean or the Red Sea.

8. Reading right now? "Palace Walk" author: Naguib Mahfouz who is one of Egypt's most famous authors.

9. Four words to describe yourself. Loving, caring, indecisive, (I can't decide on a 4th).

10. Guilty pleasure? Anything Chocolate (Lately it has been Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Muffins from Starbucks or Costa.)

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak? DH and kids, especially Levi.

12. Favourite spring thing to do? When I'm in the States, I love to curl up with a book when it is raining outside, somewhere where I can hear the rain.

13. Planning to travel to next? To the States to see family and friends, especially my two oldest kids.

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately? Same as #10.

15. When did you last get tipsy? I don't drink.

16. Favorite ever film? Wizard of Oz.

17. Care to share some wisdom? Keep your priorities straight.

18. Song you can't get out of your head? "I Told You So", by Carrie Underwood.

19. Thing you are looking forward to? Family and Friends this summer.

20. If money were no object, where would you choose to live? In a log cabin somewhere on the shore of a lake.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Swine Flu?

By now, everyone has heard about the so-called "Swine Flu". But here in Egypt, it has taken a whole different turn than in other parts of the world. The government decided to slaughter 300,000 pigs over fear of the spread of this "Swine Flu".

The decision to kill the pigs led the World Health Organization (WHO) to announce last Thursday that they would no longer refer to the new influenza strain as ‘swine flu,’ fearing that it had been misleading on the nature of the disease. Rather than calling it the 'swine flu', they decided to stick to the technical, scientific name H1N1 influenza A.

The World Organization for Animal Health indicated that “there is no evidence of infection in pigs, nor of humans acquiring infection directly from pigs.” So, this decision to slaughter so many pigs has had devastating effects across Egypt.There have been clashes and riots breaking out across Egypt because pig farmers are angry about this decision. The farmers feel their pigs should have at least been tested for the flu before they were slaughtered. For most of these farmers and workers on these farms, pig rearing was the only thing they had ever done. They are worried how they are going to make a living now.

The way I see it, this is just an excuse to get rid of the pigs in Egypt. Egypt is 95% Muslim, and Muslims do not eat pork. They believe pigs are disgusting, dirty animals. I definately feel sorry for the people that are going to be hurting for a long time because of this unnecessary decision.
If you would like to read more about this horrific situation here in Egypt, you can go to this link: This is an article that I took some of the above information from.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

St. Antony's Monestary

In January of 2008, Tim, Levi and I took a vacation in an area called Ain Sukhna, on the Red Sea. One thing we had to do while we were there was visit St. Antony's Monestary. It is a pretty good drive to the Monestery from where we were staying, but as it is out in the middle of nowhere, we were probably closer than we would ever get to it.

I remember when we drove up to the monestary thinking how beautiful of a place it was, as you can see from the pictures. When we got inside, we were introduced to a man called "Abuna Ruwais". (Abuna means "our father".) This is the man you see in the pictures above. He is one of the monks that live here in this beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert.

St. Antony's Monastery (Deir Mar Antonios), and its neighbor St. Paul's, are both Coptic Christian and are the oldest inhabited monasteries in Egypt. Hidden deep in the Red Sea Mountains and relying on springs for their water supply, both still observe rituals that have hardly changed in 16 centuries.

Today it is a self-contained village with gardens, a mill, a bakery and five churches, the best of which is St. Antony's Church. Egypt monasteries are experiencing a revival, and the monk population of St. Antony's has grown considerably in recent years.

St. Antony's Cave , where he lived as a hermit, is a 2 km hike from the monastery and 680 m. above the Red Sea. It offers stunning views of the mountains and the sea, and the chance to see a wide range of bird life. There is a stair case that leads up to this cave, and if you want, you can climb this and see the cave. The thing is, there are 1,200 stairs. It is quite a climb, but is well worth it. It took our son Levi 20 minutes, Tim 30 minutes, and me 40 minutes to climb. I am glad I did it, but don't know if I would do it again.

The Monastery has exceptional wall paintings of holy knights in bright colors and the hermit founders of the monastery in subdued colors and icons. The oldest paintings date to the seventh and eighth centuries, while the newest are from the thirteenth century.

Visiting a monestery was not really my idea of fun, but I did find it very interesting, and I would definately visit it again, given the chance.