Reflections on Egypt

The grandeur of yesterday amid the poverty of today is the best way to begin to summarize what we experienced in Egypt. A visit in this eclectic land is hard to forget. The slums of Cairo sit in the shadow of the mighty pyramids. Once again, a study in contrasts.

Between the incredible smog (Cairo swells to many times the size of New York each day as people drive in to work), the nasty habit of smoking that so many seem to do and the blowing dirt and sand, this place is not conducive to long life. The average age span of the poor population here is around 45-50.

A typical storefront in Cairo.
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Cheryl and I at the Memphis Sphinx
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A view that is recognizable worldwide.
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Interesting Fact: At one time the Nile River flowed close to the pyramids. In fact the builders are said to have used the river in flood season to transport some of the heavy stones used in the building of the structures. This arid land was once lush and green. There are pictures of lions that used to roam this land, farmers who harvested grain and all was green in the past. Hard to picture that in contrast to the sandstorm we experienced. Now the population of this country inhabits only 5% of its total land mass. The mighty Sahara Desert has a large appetite.

This is almost everyone in our group of 17. One stayed behind on the bus.
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This little girl was one of the dirtiest children I have ever seen. Pictures don’t do it justice. She was trying to sell postcards (pseudo begging) in front of the pyramids. She was the only one I gave money to without buying something. I just couldn’t pass her up. I took the chance that her proceeds were being given to an adult. I handed her a $1 dollar bill. She kissed it three times, held it to her chest and ran off. A short time later I felt something tugging on my arm. She was back, slipping a dirty postcard into my hand. With a slight smile, she was gone, never to be seen by me again.

Lest we forget . . . “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red & yellow, black & white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Sharing the road . . .
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The dung donkey cleaning up after horses, camels, other donkeys and who knows what else–delivering the stuff to farmers as fertilizer. It must do the trick because they grow some gigantic fruit and vegetables. How would you like to have this guy’s job?

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Archeological digs in the Valley of the Kings. Digging and sifting continues to yield treasures as the earth yields its secrets. The day we shot this picture, these hired workers were seen tossing one of their own up in the air, accompanied by hooping and hollering. He had uncovered an important piece of intact pottery. These workers are paid a few dollars/day and then receive a bonus if they uncover something good. It was exciting to witness them finding something new; can’t imagine what it must be like to be the ones uncovering it.

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Decorations in a pagan temple still beautiful after all these years. They painted with plant dyes and sealed all of their work with beeswax.
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Stone “guards” in a temple.
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Walk like an Egyptian . . .
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The following picture is of Cheryl, “Micky” and I. It was a hoot! Notice how close the next camel behind us was to Cheryl’s leg on the other side. I tried to entice him to bite her but no luck. We laughed until we cried. Our entire group (16 of us in Egypt) rode in a camel caravan. It was the most fun we all had on our entire trip! Notice, too, that the crazy camel “herder” left the singular reign in my hand while he backed up a bit and took our pictures. I didn’t know what I would do if Mickey decided to take off at that point. Falling off my horse, Indy, would be nothing compared with falling off the back of this big boy. When they bend down to let you off and on you feel like you will fly right off their back. It was a bit scarey but I would do it again in a heartbeat!
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On a serious note, please pray for the Christians in this Muslim country. Our tour guide, Gigi, identified herself as a pureblood Egyptian and a “Coptic Christian.” Those of us on this tour were understandably interested in religious practices and beliefs in her country but she was reluctant to openly answer our questions. We found out the primary reason for that–the bus driver was Muslim. As she grew to trust us she asked us quietly to pray for her church and for Christians in this country who are being persecuted. The threat has increased, she believes, with Obama’s election. The Muslim majority in her country is encouraged and the persecution of other faiths is believed to be increasing. I want you to know that she volunteered this information without any solicitation from those of us who are less than excited about our new president. It was interesting to note how intricately we are all linked together.

I am reminded that our God is El Roi–The One who sees. Just as He saw Hagar, turned away and forsaken so many years ago, thus beginning the Arab race, He now sees the persecution and comes to the aid of all those who trust in Him.

We have no reason to fear but we have much reason to pray in these threatening times in which we live.

Feeling Blessed to Live in America,
Diane