Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Walk like an Egyptian

My Trip to Egypt

Here is a daily journal of my trip to Egypt. Some entries are excerpts taken from my friend, Tracy, who was more diligent that I was in writing things down daily.

Monday, March 8th, 2010:

James drove me to Grand Mound, (to the freeway on ramp) to meet up with David and Nathan Jaber, and Pastor Tracy Durham, from Vader, at 9:15 a.m., to head to the airport at Sea-Tac, arrived there at 11:30 a.m. Met up with the rest of the team – “King’s Heirs” (Ernie and Carolyn, Pinky and Patricia, Pat, Bill, and Bob, from Lewiston, Dr. Schwartzman and wife, from Lewiston, and Randy Smith, from Everett. Boarded the plane for Frankfurt at 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Arrived in Cairo 6:30 p.m., local time. Passed through customs & immigration. While waiting for the vans we were directed back into the airport by the police. David was told that he was a wanted man and the Police wanted money from him ( baak-sheese). He asked to see his name on the list- He told them the Koran says not to ask for a bribe, and asked them if they were Muslim, they said yes and they let him go.

We were welcomed by Pastor Selah, Wahbeh, and Zaki, along with two drivers – both Muslims, Muhammed and Sheriff. Each of these men were extremely helpful, and refused to let us lift or load a bag. They appeared simply thrilled to have us there. They loaded us up into two touring 15 passenger vans, and drove to “Bellevue House”, a small hotel in Cairo, ran by a Christian lady, named Nancy, who is also a lawyer.

Zaki became a great blessing, as he was one of only 2 with us, (including David) that could speak English…very broken, and not fluent, but it was a blessing! I enjoyed conversing with him and asking questions about Egypt. I learned there was basically a mosque on every corner! Very few people have licenses to drive, and only the wealthy have a vehicle. When I told him I drove, and had a car, he was in awe, and said “you very rich!”

After we arrived and settled in at the hotel, we had “kushari” for dinner, (fast food for Egypt), which is basically a mixture of spaghetti, elbow macaroni, lentils, rice, and a spiced red sauce, all mixed together. It came with a vinegary sauce or a hot red sauce to mix in. The dinner also included flat bread, and falafel (very good!) I enjoyed it!

I slept in my room, which was nice and modern. Very careful not to use tap water for drinking, or brushing teeth. We were continually provided with bottles of water.

Wednesday, March 10th

Woke up at 4:45 a.m., with the Muslim “call to prayer”, which sounded like a man using a huge megaphone, praying, and accompanied by many voices in response, it felt very dark and demonic. Seemed to me, it was “heard throughout all of Egypt”. I tried to use my video camera to record the sound. I was so moved to prayer, that I laid on my bed, praying in tongues during the duration of their prayers. I became very aware of the fact that they are so desperate for a relationship with Jesus. Oh, Jesus, use me somehow, I prayed.

Met with the group downstairs for breakfast, served by Nancy and “Edwie”. Flat bread, some sort of cheese, beans (looked like refried beans), and boiled eggs. Hmmm… ok, for this first breakfast. Was soon very tired of this same menu, everywhere we went. Dr. Lonnie shared a devotion, and we prayed together before starting our day.

We left for Minya, a 4 or 5 hour drive south of Cairo. The drive was another experience all it’s own! There were many “check points”, and border stops as we passed through a dozen villages. We stopped at a large restaurant, somewhere in the middle, and were treated like royalty. The restaurant was huge, had many rooms, and outside seating, besides many attractions outside… seemed kind of like a small theme park. Had lunch, which was a “sandwich” of flat bread with “kabob” (either chunks of pork, or formed ground meats cooked on a stick}, served inside the flatbread. They also made French fries for us…. I believe there may be been 6 fries on each plate. And a “salad” of grated carrot.

At the border of Minya, we had to stop at a check point and pick up our police escorts, which were assigned to us our entire stay in El Minya. This included Colonel Yassar. A large decorated officer, with obvious superior authority, along with about a dozen armed police. Six in a pickup in front of our two vans, and six in a pickup behind us. This “caravan” of four was never separated on any of the streets as we traveled throughout Minya.

GAS STATION FIASCO- When we stopped for gas, the station was very busy, with many trucks in front of us. Because we had police escorts, all the locals were driven back by police, to let us be served first. As we went to front of the line, it caused quite a bit of a stir from those that had to move! Boy, if looks could kill!

We got back on the road, and raced through towns and villages, (there doesn't seem to be any speed limits), police were yelling, and we were honking our horns, to instruct everyone getting out of our way.

We FINALLY arrive at the Horus resort, where we would stay for the next 9 days. We had dinner, and we are joined by several other Pastors that David and Pastor Salah had invited. We were able to bless them with gifts and pray over them.

Thursday, March 11th

We finally arrived in the village of Shousha, which was the home of the A/G church pastured by Selah, this was also Zaki’s home, church – which he was SO excited to have us attend! Upon arrival, I thought we were driving down some back alleys, as we were literally squeezing through buildings, people, donkey’s and trucks. I soon found out this was the main streets of Shousha.

We arrived in front of the church, and were escorted past local, armed police, into the church building. We were taken in to the church and told by Police to stay inside (which I missed.. oops!). It felt like we went back in time to the streets of Jerusalem in the Bible… all except for the presence of the AK-47s!

Dr. Lonnie (Chiropractor) saw patients. We were supposed to set up water system, but had no tools or barrels, or battery. We are hanging out at the church 98 degrees and humid.

The men in our group finally got the water system set up (on the roof), after getting all needed supplies.

First Service: Youth service at Shousha.

Arrived in Shousha at early in the day, a village in the province of El Minya, within the “city” of Samalout. The people of the church, on onlookers from the village were excited to have us there. As we came in to relax in the sanctuary, and wait until the evening service time, many onlookers came in just to look at us. They were enthralled with our picture taking, and kept wanting to pose for more pictures, then look at the results on the camera. Some of us lounged on the wooden benches, and took naps, under the fans hanging from the ceilings. The “Kings Heirs” singers sang several songs to entertain the onlookers. I tried to converse with as many as possible, including our police escorts, Yassar and another Muhammed. Between a few English words of theirs, a few Arabic words of mine, and a lot of charades, I was able to find out a lot of information about these people and the area: The province of Minya is about 4 million in population, as Cairo is about 18 million. Shousha is just one of many small villages with a mere population of around 20,000! They were shocked when I told them I came from a town of about 700!

I didn’t want to let one second of this experience slip by. I was grateful for each moment, and wanted to learn all I could… see all I could, and meet everyone I could.

I was invited, by Hadiah, to visit her house. So I followed her to her home. We passed the police, and donkeys, and many people, until we entered gates to a courtyard/ walkway leading to her house. On this walkway was their water pump, which she was so proud to show me, a small cage of a dozen baby banta chickens, and I had to step over a duck to enter their living room. Upon entering the living room, there were four ladies seated along a wall, preparing fresh vegetables for our lunch, two other older ladies came out of the kitchen just to get their pictures taken. A few feet away from the seated ladies was another lady on the floor, cooking a pot of about a dozen small chickens –also for our lunch. Then she very proudly led me over to a bedroom door, and opened it showing me their family’s donkey! The room was dark, and covered with grass and dung, but the donkey was only a couple feet from the living room. She explained that her entire family lived there: her grandmother and grandfather, her uncles and aunts, her siblings and her donkey, and also two cows, in the next bedroom!

The Pastor’s wife, “Emen” and the church ladies made us lunch- a meal fit for a king-4 kinds of stuffed peppers, 2 kinds of chicken and beef, 2 soups, flat bread, baked noodle lasgna, rice, grape leaf roll, coconut cake.

Service was to start at 6:30 but no one came till 7:30 p.m. The "Kings Heirs" sang several songs, I spoke a simple message about the power of Jesus to bring change to your life or situation, Nathan followed me with a challenge to the group to stand strong in their faith in the midst of the Muslim religion.

Police were angry because we went 1 hour past our scheduled time had to leave in a hurry. No chance for altar or prayer time. :(

Friday, March 12th

Ladies service at “AlBayadia”.

There was apparently an argument over departure time- David said 8am the Police said 10:30. They showed up at 9am David made them wait till 10:30. We traveled to Al Bayadia for womens ministry service. There was about 300 women and children there, who had been waiting a couple hours for us, in the heat.

Nothing was set up for the service yet. Dr. Lonny and Shug set up to see patients. KH sang for 30 minutes. Patty shared the "wordless book", and the KH's passed out bracelets for wordless book - they basically got mobbed - as they all wanted this "gift"!

This was an interesting group. A mix of Christian and Orthodox / Coptic Christians. Most women were dressed all in black, including a black head covering. It felt "weird" there. This place didn't give me a sweet sense in my spirit, as I had had in Shousha. I spoke with difficulty, as the fill-in interpreter did not speak or understand English real well.

After I preached, I told the ladies that we would like to pray for them. They came up to the front, and into the isles in droves! I was having a hard time standing in the midst of so many, they were all reaching to touch me, and place my hand on their head, asking for "blessings". It was very humbling to me. After praying for countless people, I was growing weary, and just began to pray in tongues over each of them. Knowing God could understand me, even if they couldn't!

Unbeknown to me, there was a troubling situation happening upstairs, while I and a few others from our team were praying for these ladies downstairs. Dr. Lonnie had set up his Chiropractic adjustment table, to offer adjustments to any who had been having any kind of back trouble. While we were praying for people, David found out that some of the "soldiers" were charging money for admission for the chiropractor! David instructed the soldiers and the Pastor to refund all the money they had received! It seemed to become a near riot! The police were called to escort us out of the building, as the women had all gone upstairs - like a mob, and we couldn't get out. A man, apparently the "Sergent at Arms", with hog whip was yelling for the women to get out the room. The church and surrounding alleys were cleared we were escorted to the vans and left in a hurry..Didnt return for evening service.

Saturday, March 13th

While most of the men from the group went back to Shousha to finish setting up the water purification system, and to test it, I had a wonderful "poolside chat" with Nathan. This was a highlight of my trip.

In Shousha, Dr Lonnie saw patients, and we had made arrangements for an eye doctor to come. After checking about 300 people, he distributed the many pairs of eyeglasses we had brought with us. Pastor Salah was very happy because many Muslims came to his church for help today. We were able to leave over 100 pairs of glasses. Many police and army wanted back adjustments.

In the afternoon, I went back to my room to take a nap. I woke up when Nathan knocked on my door to bring me dinner. We I got up, my room was covered in a thick gray haze! I though I had just slept hard, and couldn't get my eyes to focus. But it got worse and worse. So I stepped outside, and the haze was worse out there! I looked out my patio window, and saw that workers were spraying a thick bug spray around the perimeter of the rooms. My room was somehow filled with this poison, and so was outside! I had no where to go - so I lay down on my bed, and covered my face with the sheets, until it was time to meet up with the group to travel to the next village for that evening's service.

Service was at 8pm at Abu Hennes. We arrived late- as we had gotten a little lost. When we arrived, we heard loud singing and praises! Heavy anointing- interpreter was awesome Lots of prayer and rejoicing- Awesome service! Tracy spoke.

We left there, and arrived back at Horus resort 11:15 pm

Sunday, March 14th

Morning service at Shousha. Very warm still in the 90’s Again we hear singing as we approach the church. Pastor’s wife is leading worship- Singing about the Lord’s return!!

We were ushered up to the platform. KH sang, Emen led a few songs. We prayed a blessing and release of power over the church and pastor.

As I sat up on the platform, watching this congregation worship God, with glad and sincere hearts, I felt God speak to me to let them know that He was "proud of them, and pleased - as a father is with his children." I was so moved in watching them worship - I also felt God tell me, "Angi, this is just a little glimpse of what heaven will be like."

There was such a good spirit among the people-Tracy preached, and I followed with a simple message of salvation and led in the sinners prayer. When I gave the invitation for whoever would like to repent of their sins and be saved, several stood up, but I'll never forget the one man, in a long blue robe, and headdress, who leapt to his feet, in the foyer of the church! So excited to be saved! It went well and the team prayed for everyone.

After the service, we moved up to the rooftop, again, for lunch. This consisted of giant slab of bread, and some sort of sweet pasta that looked like spaghetti, with a sauce called “asala”, made from sugar cane…tasted like thin molasses. It was good!

Evening service at Saft ElLaban: Left for Sunday night service- when we arrived, the power had gone off. Police were nervous, wouldn’t let us out of the van. Wouldn’t let David out of the van. People peering in the windows. After 20 minutes of sitting in a narrow alley surrounded by police, David was brought the Pastor and he explained the situation. They tried to negotitate. It was of no use. The police explained that he was responsible for us, and since it was so dark in the church, he had no way of knowing what could happen, or if there was someone hiding in there, etc. KH opened the van door sand a song- we left. The Pastor and the people of the church stood in the alley, waving, with saddened hearts.

We left for Cairo- A long, horrible drive back to Cairo…. I got sick and threw up out the van window on the freeway. Stopped to used a “rest stop”, (which was a hole in a tiled, filthy stall), had a horrible migraine. I think that was the response to the bug spray poisoning. Everyone was being so thoughtful and helpful toward me, but I was just terribly sick!

Arrived Cairo at the Bellevue House at 1 am.

Monday, March 15th

Leisurely morning, then onto the pyramids! Rode a camel!

7th meal of kabobs and chicken- arrived at Bellevue house 8pm

Evening shopping in Cairo! Street venders… what an experience!

Tuesday, March 16th

Group sharing time at breakfast- Left 2 pm for antiquities museum. Pack up, load up for trip home. Went to Museum- King Tut’s tomb, etc. More shopping in the market place, and driving in Cairo. Ate at Pizza Hut! Dessert at the “Sweet Palace” at 10 p.m. Killed time, until had to go to airport. Left for airport around midnight.

Wednesday, March 17th

Boarded plane for Frankfurt, at 4:20 a.m.

Got to Frankfurt at about 9:30 a.m., boarded for Seattle. Long, horribly uncomfortable flight! Arrived home at 1:00 p.m., Seattle time… 11:00 p.m. Cairo time!