Day 1: Cairo
Today…. Well, I don’t even know if I can call it today. It really was two days, but we went ahead on the clock. I’m so confused, because we left St. Louis for our trip around 2:00PM, May 31 and arrived at Cairo on June 1 at about 3:30PM, but we only traveled for about 18 hours…. So… can it be a day? Or two since we kinda slept on the plane?
Anyway, it doesn’t matter. The point is, we are in Cairo now and you can watch what we are doing here. We had a great time tonight as we went out on a Nile River Cruise, ate fancy-people food, and danced. Apparently, I am a good belly-dancer. You learn something new every day. You should just watch the video on Bellydancing. It was a blast!
But besides all the fun, I really am learning something. This is the first time I have ever Studied Abroad. Shoot, this is the first time I have ever been to a foreign country. I can’t say I was sheltered growing up because I was exposed to a wide variety of people groups (with my high school around 48% minorities). I know about diversity and LOVE IT! I am simply fascinated by the vast differences in people.
So when I came to Cairo, I was expecting a different culture. For the most part I was not too shocked…. until we started driving around. It wasn’t so much different architecture or the clothing that really got me. It wasn’t the language and constant honking on the roads as people tried to run each other over (because there are virtually no stop signs or any type of sign on the roads for that matter). It wasn’t the different (although good tasting) food or the tour guide who had a different sense of humor.
As we were driving along, we passed a new housing development they were starting to try to get people out of the main city of Great Cairo and more into the desert region so the city can grow. The city bought the land and then sold it for VERY cheap so the poor could easily afford it. However, their plan backfired as the rich upper-class started buying the land and building houses on it to start selling the houses to the lower class at inflated prices. The lower class couldn’t afford them, so there are masses of very nice and beautiful houses just sitting half finished and almost abandoned out in the neighborhoods.
Consequently, since the people could not move out of the city, they just built upward. With no practically no building codes present, the people just built onto their current house when they needed it and discarded their trash in the streets. We drove by THOUSANDS of trash bags just lying in the street or in the side of the road, some of them burning the trash to keep it down. The houses we passed were crumbling, half-finished, and littered with junk. These were the conditions that the poor in Cairo lived in.
But surprisingly my heart didn’t go out to them. I did not want to rush in and save them or give them money to fix it. I didn’t want to put on my big American Super-Cape and fly in there and save those poor, innocent, ignorant people who are just suffering so much.
“Adam! You are so heartless and cruel! Don’t you care about these people!” Yes, absolutely I do. But let me tell you what I did see. In the midst of the rubble in the houses and trash piles were children. No, they were not dead; they were quite happy and healthy. They may have been ratty and dirty, and they probably smelled (although I didn’t get close enough to smell them because we were driving), but they were having fun! They were laughing and chasing each other, and throwing rocks into the river. They played on bikes, flew kites they made themselves, and sword fought with sticks. They were having a blast! These kids were happier than many American’s I know.
What these people taught me is that joy and fun are not found in the fanciness of life. It is not about getting the best phone, or buying the newest computer. Life is not about working so hard and doing good things to try to help other people. While these are very admirable qualities, they can get in the way of what is Greater.
I have heard it said (and I don’t know who said it, and I will probably misquote it, so don’t ask me about it) that, “Good things can be the enemy of great things.” God has a GREAT life for you! He has so much in store for you and such a great plan, but so many times we get in the way and fill our lives up with so many busy things that, while they are good, really don’t measure up to the greatness God has for us. They are just distractions that lure us away from our real calling.
These kids seemed to get that. They knew what it meant to have fun and be kids. They didn’t care that they didn’t have the newest DS game, or that their friend had a PS3 while they didn’t. These kids didn’t care about cell phones, action figures, or the best bicycle: they just relaxed and had fun.
I wanted to join these kids, because even though they were having a ball, I know that the majority of them (actually 90% of them) are being raised in a Muslim upbringing. I wanted to go down there with these kids to have fun, to play with them, to get to know them, so I could tell them about the Greatest Gift of all: Jesus Christ. I wanted these kids to know the God of True Joy and Peace. I still want these for the kids.
Sadly, I can’t save them all. But Jesus can. I can only reach out to those God has placed in front of me, so I will do that to the best of my ability. At home, in the States, where I work with my kiddies: that is where I am called to be. These kids here still hold my heart, but this is not my mission field. Yet that doesn’t stop me for praying for them. And who knows? One day, God may call me back here; this time not as a student, but as a missionary.
Following His Call,