When I first announced my plan to travel to Egypt, many responded with apprehension and concern for my well being. Of course, I had heard stories and reports of instability and hostility on that side of the world. But despite even my own fears, I took a journey of faith and boarded a plane. I am continually grateful for every person who supported the decision.
I am also grateful for the lessons that found me through my two-week experience in Cairo and among the people there. There were three lessons that stood out most in this season of my life:
- Sometimes in allowing us to grow hungry, thirsty and dry God directs us to go deeper or higher.
Take care of this moment
Take on a heart that is child-like, in that it is always open to give and receive love.
Traveling into Egypt, it was my hope to be so full to the point of pouring out love and hope into the communities there and everywhere my feet went. Yet in this desert land, I discovered myself dry and thirsty. I found myself empty. In honesty, I have been empty for some time and this trip brought to the forefront a truth that I have been avoiding. But in acknowledging this small truth, an even greater truth came to be understood.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled Mark 5:6
In reflection, being brought to this state contributed to the richness of my experience. I am made to seek out and acknowledge the beauty and hope that already existed in this place. It was not about me or the change that I felt I wanted to witness. Just as any encounter we have, it is about allowing a beautiful exchange to occur. It is about recognition and loving our neighbors.
I am also made to seek God and only Him to fill the empty spaces and reveal in me a greater passion.
“Hunger creates passion…God let’s you become hungry so that He can show you bigger things.”
This experience blessed me with riches that carry no monetary value. I touched ancient history with my very fingertips, tracing the ancient hieroglyphs at the Egyptian museum. I climbed the Great Pyramid.
I sailed along the river Nile and washed my feet in its waters. I looked into the beautiful eyes of Egyptians, many welcoming me to the land they claimed as home. I carried food to the homes of Sudanese refugees and traded smiles with the mothers and children accepting the gifts.
There were so many moments in which I was given the gift of beholding a small part of God’s beautiful creation.
A moment only passes once.
A lesson I take away is this: we can choose to give in to the moment, and trust God through all that passes. Or we can close off and let the time pass along with opportunities to love, to inspire and be inspired, to learn, grow and to give. A moment only passes once, therefore it is important to keep an open heart and take care of every moment given. Inside of every moment is the chance share love and truly see the person standing before you, or take in the visual beauty of a new place, or give thanks to God for daily mercies.
….Take care of this moment
I visited an area in Cairo known as “garbage village”. Just as the name suggests, this village is filled with all of the rubbish from Cairo. The residents of the community spend their days working to sort through the waste to collect items that may be recycled and sold. I walked through the dusty streets of dirt. I distinctly recall the feel of garbage and slime squishing beneath each step. The smell of waste rotting and the smell of sweet bread baking mingling in the air.
This was different. Immediately, my mind ran wild searching for an answer to the question “what can I do?”…
Now, I understand the answer to that question is simple: be present and love.
A major highlight for me was being given the challenge of leading a large group of refugee youth at the Sudanese Church of Christians in Cairo. My team and I used creative arts to re-enact the story of Peter walking on water with Jesus to illustrate trust. It was incredible to watch as the children unfolded before my eyes and embraced us in that moment. I discovered a passion for children. Their hearts easily open to receive love, which acts as a catalyst to open other hearts. As I interacted with the children, I noticed the way one child’s smile was transferred to another and eventually to the adults. An open heart allows life and love to flow into others.
Take on a heart that is child-like, in that it is always open to give and receive love
There is beauty in Egypt, just as there is in every place on this Earth. I was eager to take this physical journey, but I am most grateful for the inner journey that was initiated. The change that has the greatest impact in this world will always be the change that we allow within ourselves. Because it is with this change that we alter our encounters with others and the relationships we form for the better.