Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Beware of what you say!

With moving in less than a week... I have been attempting to write a "christmas" letter and a note detailing what is and is not acceptable communication while I am overseas.  Due to all the changes in my schedule and jetlag and wanting to spend time with people... my brain has not been all here to do much detailed writing... so with that said... here is an attempt...

First and foremost... don't be afraid to keep in touch.  I want to hear from you!  I am working for a well known secular company so I am going to teach English and build friendships.

Be careful of certain code words in emails, snail mail, fb posts, and messages that may be picked up with the censors.  Everyday terms like FATHER or SON or THINKING OF YOU are fine... others more specific may cause issues. 

Sending verses (or portions) are fine just don't include the reference or the specific name of where it is coming from.  Also it can be referred as the BOOK. 

As for facebook... no tagging me in group messages or posting things to my page.  Private message me. 

Will still have my email so feel free to use that just with the above coding. 

If you post something and I untag myself ... I still love you and want to know what is going on... just want to fly under the radar. 

I will be open and honest but know that I can't be super specific.  Read between the lines!

Once I get an apartment and settled... I will let my family and friends know of my address.  Feel free to send notes or packages just watch what you write and no religious type of stickers or lingo on the outside of the envelope or package!

With all that said... I am not foreseeing any issues but just want to give everyone a heads up.  I am super excited about this new chapter in my life and would love to have visitors!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cultural differences

"So, you'd have  me turn into one of those girls parading down the street in tight jeans with their hair exposed for everyone to see? Do yo you realize that each time a man looks at them, a sin is counted on both their slates? How many sins would that make per minute, good sir? Or per hour? How many sins would add up in a whole day, or a month, or a year? What about a lifetime?"  ~Candygirl by M M Tawfik

While at the American University of Cairo with Lori a week or so ago... Justin and I were exploring the campus and the bookstore and ran across their freshman required reading...Candygirl.  After reading the back cover, it looked intriguing so we got it and during the time at the Red Sea I read it.  It is a novel based in Giza Egypt and Charlotte NC of trying to capture this Egyptian man.  All the while their is a love story running through the storyline.  Overall not the best book I have ever read but culturally interesting.

I ran across the above mentioned quote while reading and it made think of the reasons why women in this culture cover themselves.  Wearing tight clothes that expose parts of their body as well as having their hair uncovered is a big no no in the Islamic culture because it causes others to stumble.  I am not sure I could have put it any clearer than this quote.

So as I sit in a lounge chair in a very conservative one piece American style swimsuit feeling very uncovered.. all around me are women in brukini's (spelling?)... covered from head to toe because that is what is appropriate for what they believe.  I have looked at some of these ladies in full garb while their husband is walking side by side with them in a speedo... wondering how fair that is.  Then I realize that it is also a way that the husband protects his wives and daughters from the undesired attention of others.  We as Americans could learn something from dressing a little more conservatively.

Being real

"We feel it's our Christian duty to look our best.  We can't afford to show our flaws.  Let's give the world (and each other) the airbrushed version of ourselves as proof that the Christian life really works." ~The gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Curtis James

While enjoying a restful weekend at the Red sea I was catching up on a couple of books and ran across this quote.  At the moment I didn't want to use the brain power to blog my thoughts but now that I am held captive and awake for the remaining 4 and a half hours of an 11 hour flight from Amsterdam to Los Angeles... I thought I would share my thoughts!

This particular quote hit me with quite force as I do consider myself a follower of Christ.  How many times do I act a certain way because of what I think others expectations of me are? Most of the time these expectations are put on us by ourselves...  you know what I mean...

....putting on a happy face and claiming that everything is fine when your world is falling apart...

...saying something because you know it is what the person wants to hear versus what is really the truth...

...acting a certain way because it's 'normal' and what is expected only to hide your own personality...

...setting rules that limit what you can or can't do because of what people may say...

Do you see where I am going with this? We live in an airbrushed culture where normal or being real is not good enough and I want to challenge that mindset.  Anyone who knows me ... knows I don't do the normal thing well.  I am tired of being put on a pedestal of others expectations where I can't be the real me.  Christ did not come to set up a museum of all these perfect creations on display...  he came to set the captives free.  I, for one, am a captive of living in rules and regulations and others expectations that have kept me from living to my greatest potential.

Recently I met a dear person that helped me understand the freeing concept of being loved for me... in who God made me to be... including all my flaws... and craziness.  We have gotten so good as a society at putting a front on of 'perfection' that we have forgotten what real looks like.  I don't want to be an airbrushed model on a pedestal for display but a real friend that comes alongside to model what it looks like to live this thing called life the way Christ intended.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Off my meds

Random thought of the day...

Sometimes you don't realize how toxic or painful something is in your life until it is gone. 

After almost a year of being on malaria pills to prevent malaria while living in Uganda... I have been off of them for almost a week and can't believe how much better I feel. 

No more headaches!

No dizziness!

No throwing up!

No nauseous stomach!

And lots more energy!

I am thankful that they have things on the market to prevent serious illnesses like malaria but I have to say that I am not a big fan of the side effects. 

As we were walking around AUC's campus today... I couldn't help but think ofnhow nice it was to be in my right mind and off my meds!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Million camel smile

Coming into Cairo my bride price was 1,000 camels ... however after a week in Luxor the running joke is that my bride price has gone up to 1,000,000 camels.

Even though I am dressing appropriately within this culture... long sleeves and long pants or skirts... I can't seem to go anywhere without attracting attention... stares, comments, and offerings of camels.  The guys in our group won't let me go anywhere by myself so I feel very protective.  Most of the time I am oblivious.

We went hot air ballooning on Sunday morning... the videographer would pan quickly past everyone else then stop in front of me and wait for me to wave for a few seconds and then move on only to come back to me a few minutes later.  Hence the running joke started of the million camel smile!

When we went to the Giza pyramids one of the security guards asked Justin if I was his wife and he protectively said yes.... then the guard tried to trade his two wives for me! Really? I have gotten really good at pretending to be deaf, blind, and mute in this culture as it assists in me not getting trapped in a situation that I would need to be rescued out of.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wishes to my little brown eyed cuties...

Every mamma has wishes for her children.  Even though I have technically not produced any children of my own I feel like my heart has carried hundreds. 

Last Friday at chapel when I made the announcement that I was leaving the village for a while... I saw numerous little brown eyes fighting back the tears. 

In my 'see ya later' message I challenged them to grow in wisdom... to follow the Lord... to stand up of what is right... and to study hard in school.  I told them that I would be checking in on each one making sure that they were doing well and I would be back to visit. 

Later Victoria told me that she was fighting back tears as I shared with the little ones.  These little ones have become so close to my heart over the past year and I truly think that it would only take a phone call or message from the village saying that one of my little ones was left orphaned to get me  to drop everything and head back to the village. 

I have watched these children grow both physically and spiritually... I have walked with them as they have lost parents... I have held them as they have undergone medical treatment in the clinic... I have doctored skinned knees, fungal infections, and panga cuts... I have given kisses and wiped away tears...I have paid school fees for families where the father has left the mamma struggling to take care of their little children...and I have given food when I knew resources were limited .  They have stolen my heart and I am forever changed by their smiles, hugs, and handshakes! 

The joys of traveling within Africa

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love to travel... I enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories...learning new languages... experiencing differing cultures... and taking time to enjoy the scenery. 

On today's trip through Ethiopia to Egypt... I was reminded of a couple of other joys that I have only  found in  Africa... Ebola checks and Security agents that are players...

Ebola check...  as we deplaned in Addis Ababa we were met in the corridor by men is white hazmat suits...looking like something from a Stephen King movie...  as we walked past... a gun looking thing was held to our forehead and our temperature was taken.  If the temperature was found out of what they were looking for you were sent behind a white sheet.  Since my temp was normal... I did not get to experience what went on behind the white curtain.  Guess I don't have Ebola!

Players... in Uganda I have had numerous run ins with players... men trying to use their charm to sweep me off my feet.  Today as I was going through security to board the flight to Cairo, one of the security agents started asking where I was going... and why was I going to Egypt if I wasn't Egyptian... and why was I not spending time in Addis to visit him? Everything in me wanted to respond how I normally would in Luganda to this guy... but I knew it wouldn't work due  to the language difference.  So I just gathered my belongings and laughed as I left the last question hanging ....rescued by the passenger behind me!

Well I am sure as this journey continues... there will be more funny stories along the way... but at this moment my tablet is running on low battery.

Until we meet again!