Saturday, February 26, 2011

Last Official Day of Teaching

Last Wednesday was my last official day of teaching. I was supposed to be able to quit about 3 weeks ago, but the lady that was supposed to take over for me left, due to the unrest Egypt experienced during the protests and demonstrations.

On my last day, I surprised the kids with McDonalds Happy Meals. I had called all of the parents the night before and told them I wanted to surprise the kids and not to send them any lunch. Well, it was quite funny at snack time when the kids discovered their Moms hadn't sent them any lunch. I told them I would share my pretzels with them for lunch, and they seemed quite pleased with that. As you can see above, they enjoyed their Happy Meals.

Also, one of the little girls and her Mom surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Aren't they beautiful?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's Going On Now

Well, most of the excitement has died down now. There are still lots of young people very excited about the possibilities of the future of Egypt. Everywhere you go, people are still talking about "the revolution" and what took place between January 25th and February 11th. We still have a military presence around, but it isn't as heavy, and still, there is not much of a police presence. Even when there are police around, the people do not trust them or like them. Because of this, violence is up a little. For such a huge city, we used to feel like it was ok to let our kids run around with their friends pretty freely, but some of that is more limited now.

Very few schools and universities have started back. Because of this, it seems like summer vacation, and people are everywhere. Restaurants, malls, food courts, etc. are filled to capacity with kids and young people. And the worst thing is that young kids are out very late playing outside. They are so noisy at night it is hard to get to sleep and have a good night's rest. I have heard though, that schools will reopen tomorrow (Saturday), and hopefully that will give everyone more of a symblance of normalcy.

Young people are still out in droves cleaning the streets and even painting the curbing of the streets. This is a good thing. I truly hope and pray that the young people will gain such a pride for their country that this type of attitude and enthusiasm continue, and that they will rise up and make Egypt as great a nation as it used to be.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

On a Lighter Note

The boys playing.
The girls playing dress-up: two princesses and their cook.
The group that went to the fruit and vegetable market with their fruits and veggies.
With all that has been going on here in Egypt, there hasn't been time to think about much else. Our school is one of the only schools now back in session. I have heard the government schools have cancelled again for this next week, and alot of the private schools are following their example. There are a few, scattered here and there, that are open though.

Our school, even though we are still missing a few teachers, started back last Sunday (Feb. 13th). The week that the demonstrations started, the KG1 and KG2 classes were scheduled to take a field trip to the fruit and vegetable market. We had several "lessons" in our agenda. KG1 had been studying "community" and "money" while KG2 had been studying measurements. We also took the Arabic teacher along so they could practice their Arabic, since this is a yearly trip for the Arabic classes. As you can see above, there were only 6 out of the 8 students here, so we all piled into a car and drove to the market. It was such a beautiful day that we had debated on walking, but at the last minute decided to take the car. I'm so glad we did. The kids bought a lot of fruits and vegetables, and one little girl even bought a watermelon, so that would have been a lot to carry back to the school.

When we got back, we decided to let the students have some play time because it was less than an hour before school was over. I snapped a picture or two, as you can see above. They look like they are having fun, don't they?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Breath of Fresh Air (Literally)

Just thought I'd post a picture of my favorite cup of coffee on Valentine's Day.
A group of kids cleaning the streets of Egypt.
Since last Thursday, February 11th, things have seemed a little different here in Egypt. For the most part, Egyptians are walking with their heads held a little higher and with more of a smile on their faces. When walking the streets of Cairo, you normally see the sadness in their faces. Sometimes they are very angry and hateful in traffic, but we always keep in mind that alot of these people do not have a reason to smile.

As you know though, that pride and happiness they are feeling is coming from their victory in their demonstrations in Tahrir (Liberation) Square last week.

One thing that has resulted from this is that the people feel a little more proud of being Egyptian. Because of this pride, people have decided to try to "clean" up Egypt, literally. You see, normaly the streets of Egypt are filled with trash. There are people who are hired to clean the streets, and because of that, people are very used to just throwing their trash in the streets.

I just happened to be walking down the street with my family last Saturday, and we saw a young group of people cleaning some trash off the street, so I asked them if I could take their picture and they said yes.

Also, people are in better moods because all of the normal shops and restaurants are open again. Just thought I'd post a picture of what my husband's mocha from Costa looked like on Valentine's Day. I know that I am much more cheerful now that my favorite coffee shop is open again.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What Now?

Well, like I said in my last post, "Who knows what tomorrow will bring?" When I wrote that post, the farthest thing from my mind that I expected to happen, was what happened. I expected the demonstrations to go on alot longer. People in Egypt were saying they could go on for months.

Yes, I'm glad it is over, but I can't help but think, "What will happen now?" The world saw the masses that demonstrated, the hundreds of thousands of people across Egypt that wanted Mubarak out, but I would be interested to know just how many people did not want him out. Egypt is a country with 80 million people, and I have already heard from people that are sad and anxious about what has happened and what will happen next.

While I am hopeful, and remain optimistic, we have to face the fact that Egypt's future has never been so uncertain, and regardless of what the media is showing, there are people here who are worried.

We saw what looked like the whole of Egypt united. Now that the demonstrators got what they wanted, the true color of the Egyptian people will come out. I am proud of what they did, especially that they did it peacefully. If you know anyone from this part of the world, you know that they are very passionate people. I hope and pray they stay united; that they do not break into the factions that exist, such as secular/fundamental, Christian/Muslim, rich/poor and even factions within these factions.

We have lived here for 9 years, and during that time we have made friends that span all of these factions. We have come to know some of them very well. We have been there for their celebrations and their hardships. We have been there through weddings, new births, business openings, deaths in the families, and they have been there with us when we have needed them. We have come to love these people and feel as close to some of them as family.

Yes, we do not know what is next for Egypt, but we can only hope and pray that its future will be bright and all of its people will stand united and be proud of what they accomplished together.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Just a Quick Update

Don't remember if I posted these pictures on here before, but this is me and my KG 2 class. The little Sudanese boy is not here anymore, so I am down to four, but, aren't they cute?

Well, somethings are back to normal. McDonalds and other restaurants are now open. A couple of days ago I got to enjoy my favorite cup of coffee from Costa Coffee; my first in two weeks.

But, some things are not back to normal. There are still tanks on the streets and lots and lots of people still demonstrating. I do not believe, at this point, things will every be back to the "normal" we experienced before.

As I write this, rumors are circulating that Mubarak is stepping down. Who knows if it's true. Only time will tell. Also, at this point, I don't think Mubarak stepping down is going to please the demonstrators. They have so many demands. I just hope and pray that his stepping down, if that happens, will please the majority. Mubarak is supposed to address the people tonight, so, hopefully we'll know more tomorrow.

Another thing that seems like it is not changing for the time being is my status as a teacher. I will be continuing as a Kindergarten teacher, at least for a while. We have had several of our teachers and their families leave, so we are scrambling to get substitutes and fill the positions so we can get back to school. I was so looking forward to being a full-time housewife again, but hey, life doesn't always go the way we want it, does it?

In times like these, who knows what tomorrow will bring, but as a popular song says "I know who holds tomorrow....", and that always makes tomorrow a little easier to face.

Monday, February 7, 2011


The McDonalds and our favorite coffee shop in our suburb. Still closed the last time we checked.

During the past two weeks we have been living our lives with a few changes. Some would say these changes would make life more difficult, and in a way, they are right, but some of these changes have been blessings in disguise. Up until now, I have been teaching kindergarten at the school our son attends, and while I love being around these precious little ones, it has been difficult at home. With my husband teaching in the high-school, our daughter teaching in the middle-school and me teaching in the elementary, our home has not been receiving the attention it deserves. So, starting the 2nd semester, I will no longer be teaching. I will become a full-time housewife again. I am greatly looking forward to it.

Little did I know that I would be spending much more time at home and getting to much more of those housewife chores than I had bargained for. Most businesses shut down during this time, and that means restaurants and fast food chains. If you have been reading my blog for long, you probably read the one about how restaurants and fast food chains deliver. Well, that was one change our family had to adjust to. All of our meals had to be cooked at home. Now that has not been a bad thing because we are home and not going to work/school. This has been one of those "blessings in disguise", except I think my son may be having McDonalds withdrawals. ;o) I am also missing our favorite coffee shop.

Another thing that happened was that our cleaner was not able to come this past week. Ok, I can hear alot of you saying "You have a cleaner come to your home?" Well, what you have to understand is that we do have someone come once a week. He gets paid somewhere between $11.00 - $12.00 for about 6 hours of work. He is a Sudanese man named Deng, and this is how he makes his living. Also, it is very helpful for him to come since we live where the sand and dust can build up in homes very fast. So, there is more of those "housewife chores" that had to be done, but fortunately, the whole family has been home so everyone has chipped in and helped out a little, plus, Deng should be back tomorrow. :oD

It has been nice being home with my family, but I can't wait till things get back to "normal". I just wonder when that will be, and if it will get back to the "normal" we were used to before, or if there will be more changes.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Focus on the Good

A widely circulated photo of Christians surrounding Muslims during their prayer time to keep them safe.
Egyptians are using whatever they can find to make barriers into neighborhoods to protect the people and their belongings.

These next 2 photos are of the men who have come together and are protecting the streets, literally around the clock.

The whole world is watching what is going on in Egypt. It is kind of surreal being here at this time. As my younger son said "It's kind of cool being here right now." For those of you who know him, you understand. Our family has received so many emails, phone calls, and posts on Facebook to tell us they are praying for us. There is nothing like being in a country going through a revolution to help you get thrown to the forefront of peoples' minds. We are so thankful for all of the prayers.

The sad thing is, in lots of cases, people who have reached us have told us of things they have heard on the news that is not true or are over exaggerated.

For one, someone told us they heard on the news that the US was recommending all US citizens should get out of Egypt. A dear friend of mine called Washington, and my husband called the US Embassy here. They both told us the same thing. They said they are advising Americans, if they have enough food, to stay put. They did not know why people were getting the idea the US was promoting the idea of "getting out". There are reportedly somewhere between 50,000 and 90,000 Americans in Egypt, and the last I heard, there had been only around 2,000 that have left.

Another thing that had been reported was that the violence had turned towards foreigners living here and that foreigners were being hunted down, kidnapped, etc. This is very untrue. The Egyptians are very focused on the revolution. They are very focused on coming together, Christian and Muslim, young and old, rich and poor, for one reason: their freedom. They are not even thinking about the foreigners living here right now.

One of the things that can really hurt is the way the media goes about reporting the news. Usually they focus on the bad things that are happening. They fail to focus on the good things. There are so many good things happening here. Neighbors are helping each other. We have met neighbors we may have never met before. They are asking if we are doing ok and if we need anything. We had neighbors bring us water one day when the water had been turned off. This has never happened before. Neighborhoods all over Egypt have formed "Neighborhood watch" groups, to protect their homes, families, and friends.

As a Christian, I read from the Bible that we go through trials. Those trials come into our lives to make us stronger. This is our prayer for Egypt right now. We are praying that what they are going through right now will make them a better and stronger nation. There have been inspiring pictures of people helping each other and putting their differences aside, such as the picture above of the Christians surrounding the Muslims to keep them safe as they pray. This mirrors what happened a few weeks ago when Muslims surrounded churches to keep them safe after a bombing of a church in Alexandria.

How ironic as I am sitting here writing this that CNN is doing a report on how people are helping each other with food and drinks down in Tahrir Square. It is showing how everyone is bringing food and drinks and sharing it with each other. They even offered the reporter and the camera man some. I hope that many across the world see this report of acts of kindness amid all of the reports of violence and anger.

So, even though there have been very rough times during the last week and a half, there is a lot of good coming out of the situation as well. As we say in Egypt, elhumdulallah (sp?), which means "the praise goes to God". This is our prayer.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Bi-Polar Week

This post is a little longer than my usual posts, and I have posted no pictures because frankly, I'm tired of the images of the demonstrations, and there are plenty of other places to find pictures if you want to see them.)

Wow! I don't think I have ever experienced a week filled with such a range of emotions. It all started more than a week ago really. We started hearing about a "calling" for Egyptians to gather in Tahrir square on Tuesday, January 25th to hold a peaceful demonstration calling for the resignation of Egypt's president.

Tuesday, January 25th: We decided we should cancel school, after all, it was a national holiday called "Police Day", and all other schools would be out and even most businesses would be closed. So, my first emotion of the week was "happiness" at the thought of having a day off from school, after all, we don't get snow days.

Wednesday, January 26th: Wednesday started out pretty typically. Awoke early, got ready, and went to school. Everyone figured it would be a normal day, but around noon to 1 PM our principal got a call saying the demonstrations were starting up again, and it was rumored some would take place in the suburb where our school is. So, again, a little happiness, but this time with some dread at the thought of what might be starting to take place.

Thursday, January 27th: Nothing extra-ordinary happened this day. The demonstrations grew, but they were still peaceful. I was again happy and content to have a full day off from school. Plus, Thursdays are the last day of our school week here due to Fridays being the Islamic holy day, so this meant a long weekend.

Friday, January 28th: This day also started pretty typically, but we had heard that a lot more people were planning on joining the demonstrations after the Friday prayers. So some concern began to creep in. We were all advised to be in our homes starting around 1 PM. The demonstrations still started off pretty peaceful, but this was the night things started changing. As most of the world knows, there was quite a fight between the police and the protesters. I have to say it was at this point my emotions were starting to take a nose dive.

Saturday, January 29th: I awoke with anticipation to find out what had happened the night before. I'm an early-to-bed kind of person, and I could not stay awake long enough to hear President Mubarak address the nation. We had to drive across town to pick up our kids that morning. They had gone to a different part of town to watch a friend in a school play, which was cancelled because of the 6 o'clock curfew which had been instituted. They ended up having to spend the night with friends because of this curfew. It was eerily quiet that morning. There were people out, but one thing was missing: the police. That was a strange feeling. Usually there was police officers everywhere. On our way home, after picking up our kids, we actually passed a department store that was being looted by what looked like hundreds of looters. Later that evening, we were called and told to beware of looters that were now breaking into homes. My emotion then went to being terrified. Even though I was still scared, I later was relieved to hear that most of the men were taking to the streets to form a kind of "neighborhood watch". At that moment, I was very "proud" of the Egyptian people that were taking a stand to do what was right. A lot of these so-called looters were caught by these normal men of Egypt and turned over to the military.

Sunday-Tuesday, Jan.30-Feb. 1: Things grew more peaceful on these days. People were still panicking though. There had been a run on the grocery stores and shelves were clearing fast. We were doing ok though. We had stocked up on groceries and gas earlier in the week, so we just stayed home and enjoyed a few quiet days.

Wednesday, February 2: And that brings us to today (our first day with internet in several days). It started off as a beautiful day. For the first time in about a week, Tim and I headed into the area where our school is. Imagine our surprise when we saw lots of traffic and what looked almost like "business as usual". So different from the little suburb we live in. Store shelves were stocked and people were out everywhere. One thing we noticed was how happy the Egyptian people seemed. Once again, my emotions were heading for the mountain tops. But, things, and sometimes emotions, change quickly. If you have seen today's news, you know the tragedy that has taken over this once peaceful demonstration. The so-called Mubarak supporters have changed the whole atmosphere here. In just this one day my emotions have gone from the mountain tops down to the low-low valley. I am so sad and sickened at what is going on.

I don't know what is in store for the people of Egypt for tomorrow, for the next week, months or even years, but there is one thing I do know, and that is that God is still in control. Our God is bigger than any situation, and I would like to ask my readers all to pray for the situation here. There are many, many lovely people here who we have come to love. Please pray that God will take this situation and turn it around and use it to glorify Him.