I've been told that a pair of shoes will wear out within one year in Cairo. I didn't believe it until I looked down on the airplane and saw this. Guess my first shopping trip is for shoes!
Culture Shock is a funny thing. You go into a culture that isn't your home culture and you experience all kinds of things that make you think, "um...what?! why do you do it that way? how is that okay?" and you compare everything to back home.
You know what's even funnier than that? Reverse culture shock. You go back into your home culture after being gone for a while and experience all of the things that used to be normal and suddenly find them really weird. You never know what those moments are going to be either. So what have mine been in the last 15 hours?
Considering I slept for about 10 of those 15 hours, I'd say I'm doing pretty well on reverse culture shock moments. Oh I can only imagine what the next ones will be. Bring it on
We have been hearing the news of the shooting in CT today and I am sick. Violence in the midst of innocence. Violence against the defenseless. Violence that will forever change the lives of many. The parents who no longer have a child to hug. The siblings who no longer have a playmate and best friend. The classmates who watched their friends die. The schoolmates who listened to gunshots and were rushed out of the building. The teachers who had to be strong for a classroom full of kids when I can only imagine how fearful they really were. The family of the shooter who not only lost their loved one, but are now wrestling with the effect it has had on hundreds of people. And all having to return home tonight and figure out what's next.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
- Psalm 34:18
Oh Lord, hold them close tonight! Show your face to them. Wrap them in your arms. Speak your Word into their hearts. And don't let them go! Only you can get each of them through this tragedy. Nothing in this world will satisfy. Nothing in this world will fill the void. You alone can mend the brokenness. Jesus...be their everything tonight!
Do you ever have those weeks that absolutely nothing seems to go right? I mean absolutely nothing. You just want to sit down, throw up your hands and say "I give up!" Yep...this has been one of those weeks.
We're in crunch time for getting mailings out to all of our sponsors. I leave for home in 4 days and was expecting we'd have it all done and ready to go by now. Instead, we have over 100 letters to translate, over 400 sponsor cards to print, over 400 child photos to print, and then need to stuff the remaining 250+ envelopes. To say I'm overwhelmed is an understatement.
What has been the #1 problem this week? Printers!
Every day we have been at church, we have sent the office boy to buy anywhere from 2-4 ink cartridges for the printer. Sometimes we just need B&W or just color, but very often we have them get both while they are out. No, we shouldn't go through ink that fast, but we seem to be sending the office boy to the wrong person for ink because:
We have purchased two new printers so that I could get work done at home. The first one didn't come with the cord we needed to connect to a computer (seriously?!) and a previous purchase of this printer had proven a failure, so we decided to go and buy a second (different) printer, as well as a cord (just in case). To continue with the theme of the week, neither printer wanted to connect to my computer.
We tried to purchase a color copier for the office so we could print faster and for less money as those ink cartridges are meant to last for thousands of copies. (Not so) fun fact...color copier purchases must be approved by the government. What a good use of government, huh? One point for America!
It is fairly safe to say that the three things I'm most looking forward to in the next week are:
T minus 4 days. Minnesota...I'M COMING!!!!
Snowflakes. Hot Chocolate. Fire in the fireplace. Twinkling Lights. The blue haze of winter. Warm (non-ugly) sweaters. Caroling.
These are the signs of Christmas, right? I mean, how can you sing "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" or "Winter Wonderland" in anything but below freezing weather? You at least need to be able to see your breath while you sing.
As we've drawn closer and closer to Christmas here, I find myself thinking, "BUT THIS ISN'T CHRISTMAS!" We're in the desert. It's above 50 degrees. I'm still wearing 3/4 length sleeves. And donkeys are walking down my street on a daily basis.
And then it hits me. This is probably more like Christmas than any other I've ever celebrated. Take out the commercialism. Take out Santa. Take out the traditional Christmas songs that have nothing to do with Jesus. What does it leave you with? REALITY! Christmas is about Jesus coming to earth as a baby to save us from our sins over 2,000 years ago. He didn't come in a Minnesota blizzard. He didn't come "over the river and through the woods." Mary & Joseph didn't pour themselves a cup of hot chocolate and huddle around the fire with just the twinkling glow of the Christmas tree. He came in the middle of a night in a stable (or cave or animal stall) to a teenage girl and her fiancé.
"Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give
birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus....The Holy Spirit will come upon
you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born
will be called the Son of God...For nothing is impossible with God."
- Luke 1:30-31, 35, 37
They had no idea what was ahead for them. They knew this baby was special. They knew he was of God and was the One they had been waiting for for over 400 years, but they didn't know what tomorrow would bring. They were simply being obedient to the call God had put on their lives.
"And Mary said: 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he
has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will
call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name.'"
- Luke 1:46-49
Do you think Mary & Joseph knew there would be an angel choir? Do you think they knew about the Star? How surprised were they when the Shepherds and Magi showed up? Did they expect that much pomp and circumstance? Did they welcome it as we dramatize every year? Or did Joseph initially try to protect his family and send them away? What did they neighbors think? Did they even notice the Star? Were they annoyed at the unkept, bottom-of-the-totem-pole visitors? Were they overly hospitable to the visitors from afar?
This morning I sat down to have my quiet time. My life group is doing a 4-week advent study and every week I think "Ugh...it doesn't feel like Christmas!" My prayer through this study has been for the Lord to open my eyes and draw my heart back to the reality of Christmas. I felt like I was fighting it. "This isn't what Christmas feels like!" And ever so quietly, I felt God whisper to me.
"He wasn't born in the snow."
Have you experienced that little whisper from God that literally makes you stop everything you're doing? You catch your breath a little, all words escape from your mind, and all you can do is be in awe of the God of all creation.
Did I think Jesus had been born in snow? No. Did I know that Christmas is about more than commercialism? Yes. Had it completely sunk in, though? I don't think so. Not until this year when I'm a couple hundred miles from His birthplace, surrounded by a culture very similar to His, and away from all that I would normally consider the "real Christmas atmosphere." It didn't sink in until today.
Tonight is the Christmas Pageant at church complete with live donkeys, sheep, and camels. They'll be sharing the Christmas story in the setting, temperature, and culture that it originally was set in. I think I'm more excited for Christmas than I ever have been before.
My prayer for the Lord to open my eyes and draw my heart back to the reality of Christmas? Yeah. He answered it. :)
Did you know there is no "to be" verb in Arabic? Now, I know we overdo it with our "to be" verbs in English, but there are times they are necessary.
Ok...here's my challenge to you. Try to go one hour without using any of the "to be" verbs. Just in case you can't remember all of them (I'll admit...I looked them up), here's the list:
a simple girl on a