Thursday, June 30, 2011

Greetings from The Other Side

Just wanted to pop in and say hello. I have not been able to post in several days. The reason is that we have recently returned to the States. The flight, even though it was long, was pretty uneventful. We had an 11 hour layover in Jordan, but we were given a hotel room to spend most of the night in. I think that helped us stay more rested up than spending the night in the airport.

This is our 4th day in the States, and it seems like we hit the ground running, and have not slowed down since. We are staying with my in-laws, but we are trying to decide what to do about a place to live, since we are back for a year this time. We looked at a lovely apartment which is within walking distance from the school Levi might be attending. We have also been looking for a house (it has to be fairly cheap) to buy. Please keep us in your prayers on this matter.

It has been great to be able to see family, especially our son, who lives here in the States with his grandparents.

Hopefully when things settle down a bit I will be able to get back into blogging mode and keep you all up to date about what we miss from Egypt and about our re integrating back to this culture.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

McArabias and Mango Sundaes

We all know that different cultures of the world have different foods, but I think one fast food place is becoming very common among most cultures, and that is McDonalds. When we first moved here, I know there were McDonalds restaurants here, but I was really surprised to see how many there were. They are everywhere. Just in the suburb we now live in, I can think of 5.

One of the nice things about living in Egypt is that we can order McDonalds. We can call on the phone, or we can even order on-line. We have just started using the on-line site lately, and it is something I am going to miss. Actually, you can order from any restaurant by phone, and the on-line site has a large variety of restaurants to order from.

Another thing that is neat about McDonalds here is that sometimes they have choices of food that are culturally adapted. By that, I mean that they have items on the menu that you might not see in other parts of the world. Above are some pictures of some of the different foods that are offered here in Egypt. I have tried the McArabia (grilled Kofta) and I have recently discovered the Mango Sundae. The McArabia was very good, but it is a huge sandwich; almost too much for me to eat. And the Mango Sundae: I think I am addicted. I love them. It is too bad we are getting ready to leave Egypt for a while. I will really miss them.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Parking Frustrations

Two different views of the tight parking space we found in front of our apartment. Some of you may say you have parked in tighter places, but for me, this was an accomplishment.

I have posted this picture before, but this is a picture of our very narrow street.

One thing that can be very frustrating here in Cairo is finding a parking spot for your car. When we lived in El Rehab this wasn't as much of a problem because we actually had wide, open parking areas in front of the building, and the area was not as populated. But in most places in Cairo, you only have the streets in front of your apartment. Most areas are very populated and as time goes by,there are more and more cars on the streets.

If you are lucky, you can find a parking spot fairly close to your apartment, but more than half the time, we have to park a fair walking distance from ours. Then, when you do find one, sometimes it is very hard to get into. Either the space is very small, or the streets are so narrow it is almost impossible to parallel park.

I believe I have gotten better at parallel parking. In the States, it is not a skill you have to use that often, at least not where I am from. Almost every where we go has wide open parking lots, and all you have to do is pull straight into a space.

Yesterday my skills were put to the test as we rounded the corner to our apartment and there was a small space directly in front. Now to make things worse, it was on the right side of the road. (You can parallel park on either side of the road here.) I am much better at parking on the left side because I can see the curb and judge it better. Also, my husband was in the car with me, which makes me even more nervous when parking. (Don't really know why.) But anyway, I was surprised when I didn't have too much trouble getting our car into the small space that we found.

Later in the day we weren't as lucky. We left and came back, and to our frustration had to park a fairly good walking distance from our apartment. But a little walking never hurts anyone I guess.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cleaning Up Egypt

My son Levi out helping to clean the streets.

A picture of Levi and some of his friends that spent the day cleaning the streets. Does it look like Levi is cleaning to you?

A picture I posted before of some youth, cleaning up the streets of Cairo.

A man, that is employed by the government to clean the streets of Egypt. This particular man was cleaning the street I live on.

Ever since the revolution, there have been people who have been trying to "clean up" Egypt. There is not a "no littering" law here, and people are used to just throwing their trash on the ground. The youth of Egypt have especially taken an interest in trying to change this. It was not uncommon, right after the revolution, to see large groups of teens and children out cleaning and painting. (The "painting" is a topic for a future blog.)

But, before the revolution and now, it has always been the job of men, like the one above, to "clean up". It isn't easy to keep the streets here clean, especially in Cairo, where there are so many people. While I still have a hard time dealing with seeing people litter, I have to admit, at least it gives some people here the opportunity to work.

I just happened to be walking down our street the other day and saw the man above cleaning up our street. I asked if I could take a picture, and he was happy to oblige.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another View of Egypt

It was such a blessing to be able to look out our window and see "The Nile River of Egypt" any time we wanted to.

This is a park, and the view of the street below.

This was the view out of our boys' room. The city just seems to go on forever.

The beautiful window. We had these curtains custom made.

When I changed my header photo, it brought back lots of good memories, and I thought I would share.

This was actually a picture taken from one of the apartments we have lived in here in Egypt. After being here for a year and a half, we decided to move to an area called Shubra. We have many friends in this area, and the Baptist church we attend here is also in this area. When we decided to move there, we had friends that did not want us to because this is an area where there are not very many foreigners, but a good friend found us an apartment that was on the Nile, and it just happened to be in the same building as his parents (so he and they could keep an eye on us).

This apartment was on the 18th floor. Now, I have to admit, I was not crazy about that. Egypt is known to have earthquakes, and I was a little nervous about that. But, we rented the flat anyway, and it ended up being a very good experience.

I loved the view out of our beautiful, huge living room window. It was wonderful to be able to look out our window and see the Nile River of Egypt. I have to admit it blew my mind more than once. And some of the sunsets God allowed us to enjoy are still imprinted in my mind.

We only stayed in this apartment for a year because after a while we decided it would probably be better for our kids to move back to an area of Cairo where the people were used to seeing foreigners. Our kids were getting to an age where they could get out a little more on their own, and this was not a good idea in this area.

I am very thankful for the year we spent so close to the Nile though, but better yet was the year spent so close to the wonderful friends God has given us in that area.

Hope you enjoy the pics.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Praying for a Very Dear Friend

I don't know all of the specifics, but I have a very dear friend here in Egypt who needs a lot of prayers right now. All of us here know her as Miss Mary. Miss Mary has been with our school since it began 17 years ago.

Miss Mary is from Sudan. She is one of the nicest and sweetest ladies you could ever know. She is kind of an assistant to the teachers, helping us out in various ways, and she also helps to run the library at our school. Not too long ago, it looked like things were settling down in Sudan, and it looked like South Sudan was going to be able to separate from the North and become independent. Because of this, Miss Mary was thinking about returning to Sudan to be with her family.

Miss Mary accompanied the Arabic teacher and me on a field trip to the vegetable and fruit market with the Kindergarteners.

Not a lot has been in the news about the situation there lately, but the violence has once again escalated, and it seems this times things are even worse than before. This is the exact message I got from a colleague from our school last night.

"Mrs. Mary's home area in Nuba Mountains, the border of Abyei, has erupted in extreme fighting and violence. The news from home is very bad. Her cousin, who is in the army, fighting against Northern Sudan died today. Her family and friends are no longer living in their homes. They are in the mountains, hiding in caves. People are very afraid that the North will use their air-force to destroy their area. She is on Skype with people giving her the latest news. Please pray for Mary and her family."

If you have been reading my blog long enough, you may remember that my husband used to be the head of a Sudanese school board here. The people on this school board help to keep this school running for the kids that otherwise would not be able to receive an education. I know that there are many of these Sudanese kids and families that probably have family in the area where the violence is taking place. In fact, the man who started this particular Sudanese school went back to Sudan a couple of years ago to start a school in his village, which just happens to be in the Nuba Mountains. His wife and kids have been here in Cairo, and had been planning on joining him this summer, but now, due to the violence, their plans have changed.

This is my husband with the man that started the Sudanese school here 11 years ago.

Another teacher at our school told me today that she had been upset and angry about some things that had been going on in her life lately. Then, she received the email about Miss Mary's situation. She said it really put things in perspective for her. She said it was very hard to imagine what it would be like, thinking that your family was having to hide out in caves for fear of their lives.

So, tonight, before you go to bed. Please say a prayer for Miss Mary and the other Sudanese people who are suffering and going through so much. Then take time to thank God, for the many blessings in your own life. I know I will.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blooms of a Different Color

Just happened to be driving around today and saw this tree with some blooms of a different color. I don't quite know what you would call this color, but it is one of the colors that is more prominent in early spring. During that time, this tree was probably filled with blooms of this color. Just thought you might enjoy imagining what that might have looked like.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Colors of Egypt

Normally, there is not a lot of color here in Egypt. Because of all of the sand, and the buildings, most everything here is different variations of the color beige. I have been surprised though at how much "green" there is. Egyptians take pride in their park areas, and they are always watering, tending, and sculpting them.

In the States, my favorite season is Fall. I love the way the weather starts to cool, after a hot, humid summer. I love the smells associated with Fall, such as cinnamon, apple cider, and warm pumpkin pies. But my favorite thing about the Fall is the lovely colors the trees turn this time of the year. Well, in Egypt, we don't have much of any of these things in the Fall. It does not cool down much from the summer, if we have the smells, it is only because I, or other foreigners are baking (around Thanksgiving), and the trees do not turn different colors, at least in the fall.

When in Egypt, my favorite season is spring. There are many beautiful colors that come out in the spring, and believe it or not, many of these colors are in the trees. Now, the leaves do not turn colors, or anything like that, but the trees have many different colors of flowers that bloom in them. Now I have to admit, at this point, that I am a little late on catching some of the colors. We have some trees that bloom with lavender and a deep reddish maroon color that I missed getting a picture of, but I did happen to catch a couple of trees with blooms of a bright orange, and one with yellow.

Hope you like the pictures above. I will try to get some more pictures of the colorful trees and bushes and post them soon.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Saying Good-Bye is Never Easy

This is a Brazilian couple whom we have gotten to be very close to. They are leaving today, to go back to Brazil for the summer.

This is an Iraqi family who came here 4-5 years ago. I have gotten very close to the ladies of this family. (In particular the little one I am holding.) They are relocating and will not be returning to Egypt.

This young man has been a friend of both of my sons and my husband's student for the last 6 years. He is graduating and going on to University in the States.

This is one of my very special KG-2 students. She is Brazilian (the daughter of the Brazilian couple above).

This time of the year is always a time of many emotions. The end of the school year is quickly approaching, so there is excitement, joy, and happiness. Also, though, there is sadness, because the end of the school year, and the approach of summer, means having to say good-bye.

As a person living on a foreign field, there are always people coming in and out of your life. This is something that can be particularly hard on your kids. I know my kids have personally experienced this way more than they would have liked. Every end of the school year means there are probably friends who are leaving for the summer, for a year, or maybe even forever.

Our kids are not the only ones who have experienced this though. We have been very fortunate to have our kids in a wonderful American school. Through this experience, we have met some wonderful people from all over the world, and as I said before, each year we have to say good-bye to some.

Yesterday, we saw some of our friends that are leaving Egypt: some for just a short time, but some forever. Yes, this can be a very hard thing to do, year after year, but then again, I thank God for bringing all of these people into my life, even if it is for just a short time. I have been so richly blessed with friendships that will last forever.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Change of Scenery

The previous view from our balcony.

The narrow street on which we now live.

This is the view of our new apartment from the outside.

Sorry it has been a while since I last posted. There are so many things going on here and it is hard to get the time to post. We just recently moved, and we are still living out of boxes, and it is the end of the school year. So many things go on at this time, and it is very easy to get a little overwhelmed. Also, I like to supply my readers with pictures, and it has been hard to find the time to just get out and take pictures.

In about a month, we will be heading to the States to stay for a year. We have some issues going on that we feel would be better taken care of by doing that at this time. Some of my immediate family is experiencing health problems, our youngest son will be going back to complete his final two years of high-school, etc. So, I want to do a few blogs before we leave. It should be easy to get in several. The area we live in now is much more accessible to different aspects of daily life in Egypt.

This is the first blog pertaining to those things. I wanted to post some pictures just to give you an idea of the difference in scenery. In our last apartment, we were in an area where there were a lot of wide, open spaces. The view out of our window was of large, grassy places where kids gathered to play, but the area we now live in is nothing like that. As you can see from the pictures above, the street we now live on is very narrow, and the apartment buildings are very close to one another. Because of this, there is more noise. It is very usual here to hear people in building next door to you, just having a normal conversation. It gets very interesting though, when the neighbors have an argument. I have heard one or two since moving to the new place, but last night we heard a good one. People were yelling, screaming, slamming doors, etc. For the most part, we just go on with our lives and stay out of their business. In the States, we would have been calling the police because of a domestic disturbance. The people here are a very passionate and expressive people, and we know there is nothing we can do anyway.

Another noise that is heard here more than at our old apartment is the cats that live on the streets. This is even made louder by the fact that we now live on the ground floor. We have one cat that pretty much "lives" on our balcony. I think she has been tamed by someone before because she is always trying to come in the house, and one day while I was out on the balcony, she was rubbing up against my legs. Now this can be a problem in several ways. First of all, we do not want her to come in because that might draw more cats into the house who are not so tamed. And, second of all, our daughter Kaily is allergic to cats. (I'll try to post some pictures of some of the cats at a later date.)

One more noise I'll mention in this post, is the sound of the street vendors who walk up and down the street trying to sell things. The most common one we hear is the man who sells the local bread. He walks down the street yelling "aieeeeesh" (pronounced with a long "i" sound at the beginning). We have many other types of vendors that do this, and one day, I will post a blog about them too.

It is very different, after being in Elrehab for 3 years, but it is like being with a long lost friend who you haven't seen in a while. I did not realize how much I had missed being away from the things I had gotten used to in our first few years here.