Recently our entire Young Adult Volunteer group went to Hurghada, a beautiful beach town on the Red Sea with clean beaches and azure water, to relax a little and reflect on our year here in Egypt. After that several volunteers left for home. Even though the year isn’t quite over, several of our volunteers have had to leave early, from sheer exhaustion from being in Egypt, to previous commitments to the next phase of medical school. Of our eight original Young Adult Volunteers, there are three of us left. Stephen is still in a village called Minya, while Teri and I are left in Cairo. Everyone else has cleared out. Fortunately we did get to have some good closure in Hurghada.
I also got to patch some things up with my site coordinator whom I have had a rough time with since she came on in December. I think it started by her saying, “I’ve learned a lot from you this year.” I believe she meant it in a sincere way. Over the last few months I felt that she wasn’t doing her job very well… and I let her know exactly how I felt about that. Sadly, my frustrations of living in Egypt caused me to take out my frustrations too hard on her. I was quite harsh several of the times I spoke with her. I could have handled the situation better. While she seemed thankful for my overly harsh criticisms, I told her that I was sorry for the way I went about it. After that, things seem to be much better between us. Ever since then I have felt a lot better about the situation. I am still frustrated with her from time to time, but mostly now I just let it roll off my back.
Not only have most of our fellow volunteers left Egypt, but many of our other ex-pat friends will be leaving for the States to do interpretation work. Also, most of the Egyptians will be taking a substantial amount of time to escape from the Cairo heat to the cooler coastal areas. That would certainly make it harder to get any work done. So, since we are quickly losing our support network and our reason for working here, we have found it is ideal for us to leave Egypt a little early. In fact Teri and I will be leaving on July 17th for Atlanta.
Last week I helped the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo put together their big summer newsletter. Like many of the layout jobs I have done in my short career as a graphic designer, this one came down to the last minute of the deadline. I haven’t seen the final, printed product yet, but here’s hoping that it came out okay. Click HERE to see the digital version.
Here’s an uplifting story: Today Teri and I took a taxi to work together. I dropped her off at the seminary before heading to The Synod of the Nile (I swap jobs every week now, so I am working at the Synod this week). I couldn’t give the driver exact directions in Arabic to the Synod from the direction went, so I told him to drop me by a park. Once I got to that specific park I could easily walk the rest of the way. I paid the driver, stepped out of the car and walked five steps before I realized I left my wallet in the taxi.
I turned around and saw about 15 identical black and white taxis just like the one I had been in. I had no idea which one was mine, and it didn’t really matter because they were all speeding away much faster than I could run. My heart sank and my mind started racing. I did what any American would have done in that situation. I knew I had to cancel all my credit cards, so I told the folks at the Synod that I was going home to place some calls to America.
I used my cell phone to call Teri and told her what had happened. Then once I got home I called my Dad to get some info (sorry for that 5am wake up call Dad). Then I called Capital One and then American Express to at least put my accounts on hold. I was just using the internet to transfer all the money out of my checking account when Teri sent me a text message from the seminary that said, “I’ve got it!”
The taxi driver had driven all the way back to the seminary, the one place he knew he could find someone, and gave my wallet to Teri. All of my cards were there. Even the 21 Egyptian Pounds in cash were there. The driver hadn’t touched a thing. Of course he wanted a little compensation for his honesty and for driving around in order to deliver the wallet. Teri told me he asked for fifty pounds (about $8.50USD) to which I said, “That’s fine.” That man saved me a lot of headaches by doing the honest thing. I suppose the least I could do is compensate him for his lost time, even if he was directly asking for the money. Thank GOD I got my wallet back.