Monday, March 13, 2006

Meanwhile, in Egypt…

In the last couple of posts I have gotten caught up in describing our recent trip to Rome, Italy, and while I would still like to write about Florence, I feel the need to do a bit of catching up on what has been happening since then.

As many of you know my 92 year old grandmother passed away rather suddenly in February shortly after I returned to Egypt from Italy. Even though Grandmother was 92 years old, she was in relatively good health. So it was quite a surprise to learn that she had a stroke and the doctors had given her one to three weeks to live. In the following days her health rapidly declined and the doctors changed their estimate to one to three DAYS.

When my parents told me this I immediately booked a flight, hoping that I could get home in time to talk to her. Unfortunately she passed a mere eight hours before I arrived. But I did get to grieve with my family, attend the graveside service, and recall fond memories of her. I also got to catch up with a few friends and visit my home church for Sunday morning worship. I am deeply saddened that I was unable to speak with Grandmother before she passed, but perhaps it is good that I will always remember her the way she was when I left for Egypt.

When I returned to Egypt from the U.S., I began work at Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo where I am working on updating the content of their web site. My technical know-how is being put to good use there. While I will continue my work at the Synod of the Nile on Mondays and Tuesdays, I will work at the Seminary on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I am also continuing to teach English to seven and eight year olds at the Coptic Cathedral.

My work at the Synod of the Nile is steadily progressing. Last week I helped to put together a summary of the recent World Council of Churches convention that took place in Brazil. The Presbyterian Church in Egypt sent a delegation to the convention and is now putting together a report for the upcoming yearly Synod meeting. I am also continuing to develop a method for digitizing many old volumes of minutes from the early days of the Synod. There is currently a push to preserve these deteriorating volumes before they are lost forever to the ravages of time. I am currently testing a method that involves photographing each page and then compiling the pages in a PDF document.

My English lessons have been a delight recently. The coordinator of the program gave me some tips on how I could improve my lessons. Criticism is uncommon in Egypt. Normally it is assumed that foreigners know what is best and no criticism is offered. Given that I have never really taught a class of seven and eight year olds, and didn’t really have any experience, it was actually a relief to get some tips. I am glad the program coordinator, Halla, decided to break out of the standard Egyptian M.O.

I have been coming up with short skits for the kids to read. The students have really enjoyed reading out loud, and some have even come out of their shells and are speaking loudeer and with more confidence.

All in all the work seems to be going well and I am thankful that I have the chance to serve the people of Egypt in all these different ways.

If you have any questions about the work I am doing here, please feel free to email me at Others may be able to benefit from your questions. I am interested what you think about my volunteer work, so feel free to contact me with comments and suggestions. It’s also fun to know what is going on in your lives, so “catch up” emails are always fun to read.


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