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.