Monday, June 26, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my magic birthday (so I'm told). I turn 26 on the 26th. Already it's a good one. I love birthdays.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Mogamma and Friends Cafe

Friends Cafe
So now I have time to post about my experience at the Friends Cafe. Let me start by saying that I do know by now that everything in Egpyt can turn into some sort of adventure. Expect the unexpected is the way to go. So I knew before I left that the Friends Cafe might not exactly be what I was envisioning. My friends and I left Maadi at around 6:45 last night to go find the Friends Cafe. I knew the area it was in, but not the precise location or address. It took a little wandering around, but not too long before we found it. It was probably 7:30 before we were all there, seated and getting comfortable. I walked in to find the setup not what I was expecting. It looked nothing like the coffee shop in Freinds, but oh well. That's not a big deal. The place looked clean and it had comfy sofas, a large projector screen outside and a nice sized tv inside. However, there was no Friends showing on the TV. It was World Cup. Completely understandable except for the fact that there were no actual matches going on at the moment, just replays of other games. So we asked the wait staff if we could watch Friends, but they didn't really speak English so we didn't get too far with them. Then the owner came out, who spoke perfect English (Hooray!). We explained to him that we had come all the way from Maadi (at least a 30 minute drive) to watch Friends at the Friends Cafe. . . and could he make that happen. He said sure no problem, it's was just that he didn't have the dvds right there in the cafe he would have to get them and it would be 15 minutes. So fine, we look at our menus which were entirely in arabic. We must have spent a half an hour working together to read our menus and looking like retards. So finally we order. Then ten minutes later the waiter comes back and says that they don't have half of the things we ordered. So then we are stumped because it took us half an hour to decode and decide on the first order. The owner comes back with a brand new dvd set of the final season of Friends, that he had obviously just bought at the mall right down the road (it still had a price tag on it and it was like 330 L.E. which is about $57!). At that point I felt really guilty and I couldn't believe the guy had gone to all that trouble for us. Anyways, the waiters start getting that set up and the owner helps us with our order. He explained to us that they are in the process of changing the menu, so they no longer served some things. Ok fine, what do you serve? He starts listing off some things and I ask if there were any vegetarian meals and there were. So we all make another order, at which point we see the people at the next table getting the exact thing we ordered in the first place. So we then we ended up reordering what we ordered to begin with. Then in a reasonable amount of time two or three of the people in our group got their dinner and we all got our drinks, but the pizzas were taking forever. We weren't in a rush and no one wanted to complain because the guy had gone through so much trouble for us, so we said nothing. We watched Friends and waited. Eventually, the waiter comes with complementary fresh orange juices and strawberry juices as an apology for the food taking so long. We didn't ask why it was taking so long, but he said that it would be done in 15 minutes. !5 minutes came, 15 minutes went. We waited and waited. Eventually half of our group needed to go. So the remaining 4 of us watched Friends and waited some more. To make a long story slightly less long, we did eventually get our food. It was good food. But I was so ready to leave by the time it came. All in all, I would go back. The owner was so damn nice and he had problems with his ovens not functioning and I really felt for the guy. To top the night off, three of us got into a taxi to go back to Maadi. Little did we know that our driver would be a lunatic and we were lucky to get back alive.
The Mogamma
I got to the Mogamma at about 9:10 this morning to renew my visa. It was pretty much as I expected to start with. Go to this window, go to that window, get a photocopy, get a picture, pay a fine, buy some stamps, go back to this window, go back to the other window, buy some more stamps, until finally the woman said come back in two hours and it should be ready. So then I go shopping with a friend for two hours and return to the Mogamma. I go to the pick up window and the lady says I need to get more stamps. I get the stamps and she says wait. So I wait. My mistake was in not asking her how long I needed to wait. So I wait for like 20 minutes and it's still not ready. So then I decide to go and get lunch and come back. So I do that and kill like 45 minutes to an hour. Then it's back to the Mogamma to find that it is still not ready. I wait ten more minutes. Then I go home and decide to come back at 4:00 or 4:30. I show up at 4:20 to find them closed for the day. So now I have to sqeeze it somehow into my schedule this week. I hate the Mogamma.

Sometimes I Am Ready To Go Home

Today I am doing something that is dreaded by all foriegners staying in Cairo. . . going to the Mogamma. I have to get my visa renewed and it is always a pain in the ass in many ways. For starters it means leaving Maadi. The distance isn't too big of a deal, it's more the atmosphere change. Maadi is like this little foriegn bubble. The Egyptians here are used to foriegners, so you don't get hassled as much. You don't get as many eyes staring at you, watching your every move. So with this in mind, this morning I spent the last 50 MINUTES trying to find an outfit that fit the following criteria:
A. Clean.
B. Matching.
C. Cool enough for the Cairo heat.
D. Modest enough that I don't draw anymore attention to myself than is absolutely unavoidable.

The final results of this search are jeans and an old college t-shirt. I admit that jeans aren't exactly cool, breathing clothing, but it was the best I could do.
The next reason it is a pain is my own fault. I am late getting it done, so it is going to cost a rediculous sum of money.
The third reason it is a pain is that the process takes all freakin' day. You give it them in the morning and then the earliest I've been able to get it back was 2 in the afternoon. Oh well, if I must, I must.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I Always Did Relate to Rowlf

You Are Rowlf the Dog
Mellow and serious, you enjoy time alone cultivating your talents.You're a cool dog, and you always present a relaxed vibe.A talented pianist, you can play almost anything - especially songs by Beethoven."My bark is worse than my bite, and my piano playing beats 'em both."
The Muppet Personality Test

Rubber Ducky You're The One. . .

You Are Ernie
Playful and childlike, you are everyone's favorite friend - even if your goofy antics get annoying at times.
You are usually feeling: Amused - you are very easily entertained
You are famous for: Always making people smile. From your silly songs to your wild pranks, you keep things fun.
How you live your life: With ease. Life is only difficult when your friends won't play with you!
The Sesame Street Personality Quiz

I May Actually Have a Social Life

Yesterday was officially the last day of school. The whole school went on a field trip to a water park. It was so much fun. I played and played and played with the kids all day long. I said my good byes to all of them at the end of the day. I am now left with lots of happy memories and a sunburn that I pray will turn into a tan and not just peel off.

Last night I watched the World Cup games. The US lost, which sucks but really I guess no one expected us to do very well. Still, it was disappointing. I also watched most of the Brazil/Japan match, but I had to leave before it was over due to the fact that I was exhausted from all the sun I had got yesterday.

Tonight I am going out with some friends to a place I have been dying to go to for ages. The "Friends Cafe" here in Cairo is supposed to be this coffee shop set up just like in the TV show. They show friends episodes on the multiple TVs they have set up around in the cafe. It should be interesting.

Wednesday night I am going out to a resaurant/bar called After Eight to hear the Riff Band with some friends. So I think this week is going to be pretty fun. There are definite advantages to being done with school.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

On My Own

Well my other roommate left today. She is gone for a week, then back for a day and then gone till after I've already moved back to the US. So really I'm on my own for the next three weeks when Esther comes back. There are pros and cons to having an apartment all to yourself.
1. You never have to worry if someone else will be using the shower when you need to use the bathroom for any reason.
2. You can walk around naked.
3. You can play guitar in the middle of the night and not worry about bothering anyone.

1. You are lonely.
2. You don't have anyone to come home to and share your day's events with.
3. You eat alone.
4. Suddenly the fact that you don't have a functioning tv really, really bothers you.
5. If you are kidnapped or eaten by wild dogs, no one will know.

I'm not used to living alone. For the majority of my life I haven't even had my own room. I'm used to people just always being around. These next three weeks will be strange I think. So Cairo friends, if you think of it have me over for dinner so I'm not so lonely. . . please.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Making the Most of Failure

My roommate passed on to me something that she had read and it really made me think about things a little differently. So I'm passing it on to you all. It is a little write up entitled "Making the Most of Failure" by Graham Cooke. If you want to read the whole thing go to

Cooke starts by pointing out that God loves us failures and all. He even choses those who seem to be the biggest failures to represent Himself (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-31). I'll quote some of what he wrote.
He did not want the beauty of His nature and the glory of His kingdom solely to be represented by by the great, the good and the clever. He did not want the Who's Who of humanity to portray His own magnificence. He does not need to be seen in the right places with the right people. Jesus was criticized viciously for hanging out with the very people society detested. He chose to become despised and rejected. God does not have an image problem. God chooses people people who were despised as being stupid, by people who should have known better. He accepted people who would require lots of training just to be normal, let alone successful. (I really like that last bit.)

Then Cooke goes on to say that God allows us to fail (obviously). God intends for us to use these failures to learn. It is a given that we all will fail. The question is will we fail "successfully" or not. I'll quote some of Cooke's ideas on what it means to fail successfully.
We fail successfully when we discover that God wants us to love the learning that exists in every situation. . . That learning produces the fruit of self control which in turn guarantees lasting change.
We fail successfully when we realize that God is not even remotely embarrassed by our weaknesses. . . The One who loves us best, knows us best. God does not get disillusioned with us, because He had no illusions in the first place!

He sets some criteria for failing unsuccessfully too.
We fail badly when we imagine that failure should not be part of our inheritance. . . Does He use our failure to improve out relationship with Him? Everything God does is relational. Every circumstance can be turned around so that we discover the height, depth, length and breadth of God's love.

Those are just a few of his points. He makes some other really good ones. Here is one more I really liked.

God's glory is not enhanced by our success nor can it be tarnished by our failure.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Almost There

The school year is almost over. Two more days of regular classes, a half day of cleaning out the classroom, a half day of awards and recognition, and one day of field trip. . . then it's bye-bye kids. In a way, I am ready. In a way, I know that if you give me two weeks I'm gonna be missing them. . . well at least most of them. And the thought that we have worked together all year long, but now I won't be seeing them (probably) ever again. It's sad. :O(

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Some Top Fives

Top Five Things I do to Avoid Reality (in no particular order)
1. Listen to music
2. Read a book
3. Blog
4. Obsessively check my email
5. Watch a movie

Top Five Ways I Cope With Stress
1. Food
2. Avoiding Reality (see the above list)
3. Make a to do list and put things on it that I have already done so I feel like I am getting somewhere.
4. Rant and rave to a close friend.
5. Stay busy so I don't have to think about whatever is stressing me out.

Top Five Things I Need to Be Better At
1. Being a good, supportive friend
2. Working out consistently
3. Managing my money
4. Cleaning my house
5. Having a consistent quiet time

Top five cds that make me want to be a better person
1. Lauryn Hill, Live Mtv Unplugged
2. David Gray, White Ladder
3. Sixpence None the Richer, Divine Discontent
4. Over The Rhine, Changes Come
5. U2, The Best of 1980-1990
ok, I have to have six for this one
6. Tracy Chapman, Greatest Hits

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Love and Dead Rats

I first have to say the I stole my title for this blog from a chapter in a kids book. It was just such a good title that I couldn't resist.

So let's take a look at love, a word that I think is misused more than any other. Perhaps it is only me and I misuse it by holding it in too high of a regard. The dictionary says. . .

To have a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward (a person): We love our parents. I love my friends.
To have a feeling of intense desire and attraction toward (a person).
And the Bible says. . .
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
So this is the standard I set for love. Now let me be the first to say that love is not easy. And being imperfect and human, not I nor any other man or woman who ever lived (except for Jesus himself) was ever able to meet this standard for love. I myself cannot even fully work out the implications of living out this love on a day to day basis. But even I, inspite of all my blindness and stupidity, can usually look in hindsight at my actions and can distinguish between actions that can be classified as love and those that can be classified as no better than stinking, dead, decaying rats. It is really quite simple.
Love never gives up. When I refuse to give up on someone, that shows I love them. But when I lose patience and disregard someone because they don't fit into my standards and expectations. . . that is not love.
Love cares more for others than for self. When we sacrifice what we want and our plans because we know it would be better for someone else if we did. . . that is love. When we are considerate in our words and actions, we are loving. However, when we don't bother to think about how a situation may affect others, that is something other than love. When our words cut down and belittle others, when our actions say "You, what you think, the things you do are all unimportant," we cannot call that love!
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. If I claim to love someone, I will not look at him/her and meditate on all his/her short comings. I will not worry about all of the things that cannot be changed. If I love a person, I accept him/her just as he/she is. . . warts and all.
Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," . . . This goes back to caring for others more than you care for yourself. You are acting in love when you take the time to think before you speak or act. But when you push your way around in life like a bull in a china cabinet, you are showing disrespect for others. When you continually force your way, your ideas, your opinions on others, that is not love.
(Love) Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, . . . If we want to know how to show love to our husbands, wives, children, neighbors, co-workers, etc. don't lose your temper when they make mistakes. In addition to that, don't keep a tally of how many times they have screwed it up, allowing for only a certain number of mishaps before we retract our profession of love or use the score sheet as a way to manipulate or bargain with them.
(Love) Doesn't revel when others grovel,. . . If I love someone, I will not find any pleasure in watching him/her do things that destroy or belittle his/her own body or his/her relationships with others. I certainly would not demonstrate my love by leading or encouraging him/her to do such things. To do so would make my so-called love far worse than rubbish, which is smelly and no good but is thrown away and forgotten. If I am a friend who takes part in the destruction of another friend, I cause true damage which is not easily forgotten.
(Love) Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth. . . Love does not create false illusions. Love resides in reality, not in any fantasy. Love is not found in deception, but in honesty and integrity.
(Love) Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, . . . I think this one goes back to never giving up on people. We all have our rough edges. Love is when someone cuts you with a rough edge, but you suck it up and keep going. Love is when you trust that God is going to heal your own wounds and smooth out the rough edges so that the same mistakes aren't made over and over again. It means that you stop disregarding others saying things like "he'll never change," "she's just hopeless," or "I gave up on them a long time ago."
(Love) Always looks for the best, . . . Love looks past the mess-ups and the mishaps. Love looks deeper. Love looks at the heart of the person and tries to find out the true motivations behind people's actions. Often people have good intentions, but the follow through on those intentions may be flawed.
(Love) Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies. . . enough said.
So when we are wondering how to show love, the answers are simple but not easy. When we are wondering if this flutter in our stomach is true love or just infatuation, we should perhaps let our actions be the indication between love and a selfish whim. When someone claims to love you, but you wonder if they really do. . . look at the way they treat you and speak to you. An apple tree will not produce oranges. Likewise, love will not produce selfishness and destruction. Nor can a self-centered motivation truly produce love.
None of us are perfect, and in this lifetime none of us will be capable of completely pure love. But this is the goal. This is the mark we need to try and reach. Love is not just a feeling. Love is a skill, and like any skill it can always improve. It can always be sharpened a bit more. It can always be taken to the next level. Love must be practiced day in and day out. With regular practice, we become more easy with loving others but we still practice to improve upon what has become easy. And so it should go until the day we die.
God, help me be disciplined in learning and practicing the skill of love.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ticket Home

I bought my one way ticket home today. It was a bitter-sweet feeling. I am always excited about traveling anywhere. I am definitely always excited to go home. I am excited about school. I am sad to leave Cairo, my friends here, my church here, and my job here. Sigh. OK, enough sentimentality. The plane ticket was rediculously priced. For my ONE WAY ticket I spent aproximately the equivalent of what a guy would spend on an engagement ring for the woman he loves. . . two months salary!!!! Granted my salary is very, very low, but still the price was a robbery. What do ya do? Oh well, it's done and over now. I am officially flying back to the U.S. on August 7.

A Few Reasons Why I Couldn't Sleep Last Night

1. I am a workaholic and I woke up worrying about the end of term reports.
2. My flight home is going to cost me about $250 more than I expected (that's 1/3 of my monthly salary)!
3. I don't have a job lined up yet for the fall.
4. I am afraid one of my roommates will be kidnapped and taken to Cameroon (it's a loooong story).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Few Reasons Why I Love Cairo

1. It is so freaking cheap to live here.
2. The sunshine.
3. Maadi Community Church
4. The people I work with.
5. People watching.
6. Living with the Kauffmans.
7. The kids I teach.
8. Boat rides on the Nile.
9. Fresh fruit juices.
10. The relaxed pace that Egyptians take life at.

A Few Reasons Why I Love Diving