Sunday, November 1, 2015 through Tuesday, November 3, 2015
My Trip to Egypt (part 1) – A Flight to Egypt
In the Bible, there were times when the biblical characters would make a flight to Egypt for the purposes of refuge and escape. For example, Joseph and Mary were instructed to flee to Egypt because of the danger surrounding them which fulfilled the prophecy that God had made many years earlier. According to Matthew 2:13-15, it states:
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
For me, it was just the opposite. I was flying to Egypt in the midst of danger there and the threat of terrorism to teach the truth in love to ministry leaders. Two days before my flight to Cairo, a Russian airplane mysteriously crashed over the desert in Egypt rumored to have been a terrorist attack (they were not sure at the time but now are more certain it was). It created quite a stir in those who love me and were concerned about safety on this short-term missions trip. It was an opportunity to pray even more than ever because the danger was even more apparent. But we must always remember that our lives are in the Lord’s Hands wherever we are. It’s really not “safe” to be anywhere at any time in a fallen world. Since earthquakes can swallow up homes, hurricanes blast through coastal areas, snow blizzards create havoc, and tornadoes bring intense fear and destruction, no one is really “safe” – even at home. While I don’t try to put myself in harm’s way, I recognize the significant sacrifice Jesus Christ made for me to live and it is my duty to live selflessly for Him and His glory. Besides, 90% of Egyptians fail to recognize the One True God and it is my duty to tell them of Him to equip them for the work of ministry. Ephesians 4:11-16 reminds me of that calling that I know to be true deep within my spirit.
So I hopped onto the first plane that flew from Indianapolis to Detroit. I had been kind to the flight attendant when I first boarded and she returned kindness by offering me a new seat by myself further up the plane in the economy comfort section. More leg room and an empty seat beside me made for a wonderful flight. Thankful to the Lord for traveling mercies already!
I then arrived in Detroit with not much time to spare and took an 8 hour flight to Paris, France. Although I couldn’t sleep much on the plane (maybe 15 minutes here and there during a 3 hour attempt to sleep), God was merciful in placing me next to a kind man. We got along well and the trip went without a problem.
Arriving in Paris for the first time in my life, I then walked to meet my friend, Tim Brown, who leads a men’s program called His Steps Ministries in Woodstock, Georgia. We found each other within 5 minutes of each of our landings at our next gate in Paris and were able to spend time together in the airport. It was nice to catch up and have fellowship with my brother in Christ. He doesn’t sleep on planes either so we were both sleep-deprived, laughing, and already out of our minds a bit (maybe it was me more than Tim).
We boarded the plane 45 minutes late and had an hour delay sitting on the runway so we arrived in Cairo 1.5 hours later than scheduled. Thankfully, the delay did not thwart our team as they sent a very kind young man to meet us at the airport, help us through customs, and exchange our money for Egyptian money. We went through that area quicker than I ever have in any country…by the grace of God. It was 8:30 p.m. when we arrived in Cairo on Monday, November 2, 2015.
We drove to a 5 star hotel, Le Passage, and checked into a wonderful room. We went to dinner at the hotel with Yasser Farah, our translator who is the coordinator for the program and a medical doctor. We met his lovely wife and daughter. Wayne and Susie Vanderweir joined us and we enjoyed an incredibly good meal. I was impressed with Egyptian food. Needless to say, we slept like babies that night and for about 10 hours.
The hardest part of the trip is always the time change (7 hours ahead) and resting from the trip. I was able to go to sleep and slept until Tim knocked on my door at 9 a.m. When he knocked, I was startled to have slept the entire night without waking. It was glorious and helped me to get started to being adjusted to the new time.
On Tuesday, November 3, 2015, we ate breakfast together at the hotel. Again, fabulous food for breakfast and even a fried egg mixed with mushrooms and peppers. After that, Tim and I had time to compare our notes and work on our presentations together. Living 8 hours apart, we only had 1 opportunity to do so prior to the trip so this time was precious. We reviewed everything one more time and he had really put a lot of work into his portion of it. I was so pleased!
At noon, Beth B. picked us up at the hotel to take us to her family’s home in Cairo. We met her husband, Greg, their 2 children, and her parents. It was a delightful meal and wonderful fellowship for 4 hours. I hope we didn’t wear out our welcome! We came away very encouraged hearing what the Lord is doing through them and what they expect Him to accomplish through their mission. Please pray for this fine, devoted family because they need protection, open doors, and tons of grace in a hard land. They do some medical mission work there and it is a blessing to the Egyptians. We hope that we encouraged them. It is always good to get a better understanding of the culture of the people you are planning to teach and Greg and Beth gave us plenty of insight from the American perspective. Good timing for a visit with them.
Back at the hotel, there was time for a one hour nap and then up again to eat dinner with Yasser at an exquisite restaurant out in the city of Cairo where we ate lots of meat including pigeon. It was delicious again. Yasser knows where to go to eat! It was fun to try so many things and we learned that there is not much pork in Egypt. No bacon. How sad. Oh, well, more for us in the States! I’m over it! This restaurant is where I first tried stuffed pigeon, a delicacy in Egypt. I recommend you try it sometime because it was very good.
We were overwhelmed by Cairo. Tons of people, lots of activity especially late in evening when the city comes alive, and crazy driving. So overwhelmed that we visited a McDonald’s after the restaurant since Wayne and Susie had to do some shopping for a ministry-related item. Tim and I ordered ice cream by ourselves with no translator and that was an adventure, but we did it. Tim even made a friend or two as he ordered. The young teens serving us were very precious and laughed a lot at Tim’s attempts to communicate that he was from Georgia. I guess they liked his Southern American accent! 😉
-Mark (grateful for a good start to this Egyptian mission trip)