Sunday, November 8, 2015 – Monday, November 9, 2015

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My Trip to Egypt (part 10) – Pyramids, Camels, and Planes

After visiting missionaries to encourage them, after adjusting to a new time zone 7 hours ahead, after traveling through flooded roads, after teaching 15 workshops with Tim in the western desert of Egypt, and after a long drive home on the treacherous roads of Cairo, we made it to the hotel. Sunday was a day for us to be tourists so we went to Giza to see the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid, one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.

By now, surely you’ve seen my camel pic where I am pointing down to touch the top of the pyramid. Well, the back story is that I thought I might fall off of that beast and die. Camels are cool from a distance but I prefer never to ride one again. That has been checked off of my bucket list, if I even have a bucket list, and I never plan to ride a camel again. But I am glad I did and glad you like the pic. Someone told me the pic is a “classic.” Well, I hope so since I nearly died! Here it is again:

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Classic camel pic

We rode a carriage up and around Sphinx and the pyramids. There are 3 big ones and 6 small ones. Tim and I went down inside one of the small ones. It was cool to see the mummy’s tomb area carved out in the stone but a weird feeling to be down in the tomb. I wasn’t scared but I didn’t want to be down there very long.

We went to see a boat that was excavated from a pyramid that had its original wood but newly replaced ropes. It looked just as it did a few thousand years ago when the pharaoh used it as a burial boat that sailed one time – at his funeral. The boat sailed up the Nile with his family and his dead body and then was buried in one of the great pyramids. Very awesome display of preservation!

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Burial boat

We walked around the pyramids and Sphinx enjoying the culture. The only negative is how many people try to con you out of money. One guy offered a souvenir to us for $50 and then when Yasser said something to him, he said, “One dollar.” He knew he couldn’t con Yasser.

You have to pay for public restrooms. You pay to ride a camel. You pay to go into the museum. You pay, you pay, you pay.

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Papyrus demonstration

We went into a house of perfume and I purchased an Egyptian tea set for my wife. I also purchased a small bottle of perfume for my daughters. And I purchased a poster-sized, real papyrus sheet that had our family names written on it in hieroglyphics by the lady selling it. With Yasser, we spent HALF of what an American would spend alone. One lady said, “Next time you come, do not bring your friend,” referring to Yasser as she joked that he cost her a lot of money.

It was a great time for Tim and I to experience the culture in a new way, though somewhat tourist-y, and to see incredible sights we might never see again.

One funny story was that the horse pulling our carriage got scared from all of the talking around him and began kicking the carriage. Well, Tim and I had to get back on so Tim went first. The tour guide had me go to the other side of the carriage so the horse wouldn’t kick me and he warned me to be careful. So as I climbed the horse kicked and I jumped up into the carriage, falling on Tim who was holding a Pepsi which spilled out on us, and the tour guides laughed incredibly hard. I’m not sure if the sight was just funny or that they thought I couldn’t move that fast or a combination of that and other things, but we all laughed for the 20 minutes about it.

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On Monday morning, November 9th, we left at 5 am having slept from 11-4 am. It was a 26 hour journey home. We flew 5 hours to Paris and had a 2 hour layover there. Just 5 days later there would be a horrific terrorist shooting in downtown Paris killing hundreds of people. I also heard a rumor that one of the gunmen had planned to go to the airport next before he was apprehended. I thank the Lord that I was not there when that pandemonium broke out.

When we boarded the plane in Paris, I was blessed to find out that the man and his wife who ended up sitting next to me were missionaries in Croatia from Tim’s church. Coincidence? I think not. God’s sovereignty – I think so! God placed 2 wonderful Christian servants next to me on a plane ride that was 10 hours long. They were so kind and helpful. I cannot say “thank you” enough to God and to them for placing us together on the plane.

We arrived in Atlanta and Customs wanted to ask me more questions. I guess it was due to Egypt and the recent terror attack on a Russian airplane. At any rate, I am grateful that Customs takes such precautions and cares for its citizens. I was glad to be back in the States even though I had to run to my flight, missed time with Tim and another friend we made who is a pastor in North Carolina, and figure out what happened to one of my suitcases that was missing! It was a packed 2 hour layover that had me board the plane next to last trying to figure out where to put my carry on bag.

Everything ended up just fine. I landed at 9 pm and got out by 9:30 pm. We stopped once and arrived home at 11 pm. It was a 26 hour trip on 5 hours of sleep. I tried to sleep on the planes but failed to get more than 15 minutes here and there. I just can’t do it.

I showered as soon as I got home and climbed in bed. My wife says that I talked to her non-stop on the ride home but sometimes did not make sense – switching my words and phrases in reverse order. She probably wishes she had a camera on me! Glad she did not.

A productive trip overall because the mission was accomplished: equip and assist Egyptians church leaders/pastors in their ministry of the Gospel in local churches across their beautiful nation. While I like to think I taught them and did to some extent, they taught me just as well. It was humbling and a great privilege I will never forget.

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Wayne Vanderweir and OIC Module 4 Students

Thank you to those of you who have supported me to go on these trips over the years and especially for your prayers! I am glad God did not have me die from a fall from a camel’s back…

-Mark (in His grip always)

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