International Ministries

Xtending a Hand in Cairo

June 28, 2010 Journal
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Whew, it seems like so much has happened!  The day started with Church at St. George’s - Coptic Orthodox- with our host sisters.  Next it was off to a traditional Egyptian breakfast with possibly the best taameya yet, it was fresh out of the oven and oh so delicious.  The boys (including Scott) tried different pickled fruits and vegetables (please ask for the pictures when we get home).  Before heading to our main destination, a stop at St. Mark’s – the Church where our hosts were both baptized and married -was in order.  We arrived to look at the simplistic beauty of this important place to the family taking us in.  I was unprepared for the love and sense of community and worship experienced through the mass; even if you don’t know the language or are unfamiliar with the rituals it is wonderful to know people all over the world are worshiping the Lord!   
An eventful van ride through Cairo (Walt is so thankful our mode of transportation isn’t a bus) we arrived at Bethel-Emmanuel.  This is an interfaith organization- Coptic, Evangelical, and Catholic- working to provide opportunities to Christian students.  Some of the ministries include sports, music, drama, and leadership development.  Currently, Bethel-Emmanuel is working to obtain building permits for a much needed upgrade to the facility.  In the meantime, the meeting room needs repainting- good thing the Xtreme team just happened to be there!  In partnership with several of the children and volunteers we painted the room a pretty peach.  After a few hours the paint ran out, coincidently lunch was ready.  Our lunch ended with what our team affectionately nicknamed "sweet honey hay," and then it was back to work finishing the second coat of paint.         
At first it was a challenge not only to work alongside someone, but to have a supervisor who doesn’t speak your language.  Through body language and guessing games, instructions were given and questions were asked and answered.  Different techniques were utilized to complete this project – no need to use a stick to mix paint when you have a perfectly good arm- but everything was done efficiently.  Today was an important reminder that I don’t have to be in control to have a completed end result.
What a difference in grassroots organizations between what I’ve seen in America and Egypt!  Everyone was so happy to see us; I couldn’t believe how excited they were for us to visit with them and how grateful they were to have us work alongside them.  Many of the board members came down after work (a few even tried to take the day off to be with us) to help paint and get to know the Xtreme Team.  I had several long conversations with the board members about their commitment to Bethel-Emmanuel.  I heard the passion in their voice, and saw the excitement bursting from within as they talked about their volunteer work and serving the Lord.  The organization didn’t appear bogged down by administration.  Instead, every hand was spending time with the children, bringing the joy so evident on the little ones' faces.  A certain ebb and flow existed leaving all of us with a deep contentment.