Monday, August 19, 2013

One Night in Cairo

As I write it is 5:34am August 18th 2013 in Cairo…well I should say at the Cairo airport in the food village better known as food court to most Americans. The food village is slowly coming to life and transformed from bedrooms to restaurants as the morning dawns.
Cairo Airport, Egypt
I and more than 100 other passengers are on transit through Cairo, and arriving here last night at around 6:30pm, we were all told that due to the current insecurity in the city, no one can go into Cairo. The city is on a compulsory 7pm curfew. Being very American I tried to argue my way through this law…I was like "…but my hotel is less than 5 minutes from the airport”, but the airport official raised his voice at me and said, “are you not understanding what I am saying, NO HUMAN BEING can be found in the streets of Cairo after 7pm. You get your boarding pass and go to your gate now.” “Yes sir”, I said and felt bad for making his job even harder than it was in the current situation. After all, I was just 15 hours early for my departure, I could wait...the price for security was worth it.

The Pharaoh, Egypt's history at Cairo Airport
I was not the only one, the airport was full of passengers eating, roaming, buying and burning the midnight oil. Speaking to strangers, sharing pictures of different locations visited…I was really trying to see the bright side of the prospect of spending my whole night at the Cairo airport with no internet.
After I had a Burger King dinner, I was beginning to reason better. I think it was safer for us all to stay at the airport; it was not such a bad idea to meet new friends who we would have passed by without a second glance. I actually had a unique opportunity of meeting a new friend called Martin from Zimbabwe, a PHD fellow at a university in the UK. He studied Peace and development and was doing statistically research on program evaluations in this area. We shared some common interests, which will help us in our current projects, for this it can only be the hand of God.

So as life is very unpredictable, I have learnt one good lesson being in South Sudan the last six weeks, which is, “relax, and be flexible”. It was harder for me to do in Cairo, because I was sooo looking forward to eating a good dinner at “Hotel le Passage”, and getting online to assure friends and family I was ok being in Cairo for the night. I also wanted to sleep on a bed and be fresh for my 12 hour flight from Cairo to New York in the morning. However I had to, “relax, and be flexible”…taking everything with as much grace as I could. It could have been worse. On hind sight this one night in Cairo, was the safest night anyone could have in Cairo at this time.

Let us bank on Egypt by praying for them. Taken @ the Cairo Airport
My dear friends pray for the people here in Egypt, especially Cairo. The pictures we have all seen on T.V are live and unexaggerated. Egypt, also known in history to be the beginning of the cradle of civilization, is facing serious instability which is leading to the death of many lives. Join me as we pray over Egypt, that our good Lord will cause peace to return to this country and good governance for the goodwill of all of the people of Egypt.

Lord of all wisdom, Father of all comfort, may your providence reign, may your will prevail, may your mercy be experienced and may this country not know prolong conflict like many African countries have known. May you intervene on behalf of our pride and arrogance, may you set justice and peace in the hearts of the people, may you provide solutions from heaven that will reign on earth. Only to you do we pray, because only you are the way, the Truth and the Life. Only you, is the author of true peace. We pray all this in the powerful name of our savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

As I write this, I am on my way back home to Dallas via a pit stop in New York. It has been a very rewarding six weeks in South Sudan, and as usual our God has been faithful all the way. Stay tune for two more post about South Sudan (Stories from South Sudan and Reflections about South Sudan), after which we will return to our normal chronicle Bible devotional. Until next time, I leave you with this Psalm as you continue to pray for Egypt, blessings.

Psalm 33:13-22

New Living Translation (NLT)
13 The Lord looks down from heaven
    and sees the whole human race.
14 From his throne he observes
    all who live on the earth.
15 He made their hearts,
    so he understands everything they do.
16 The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
    nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
17 Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—
    for all its strength, it cannot save you.
18 But the Lord watches over those who fear him,
    those who rely on his unfailing love.
19 He rescues them from death
    and keeps them alive in times of famine.
20 We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The city of Yei, South Sudan

CLIS (Christian Leadership Institute of South Sudan) a ministry of ALARM, in Yei, South Sudan

Oh the city of Yei South Sudan, where the dragon flies locally known as “glow” cascade the dark evening grass. The Teak trees weave through every compound, the mango trees freely grow,  the cool of the morning, evening and the perfect weather of the afternoon, makes Yei a city to come to.
The natural beauty of this town cannot be compared with the people you meet. What first grabs your attention are the many schools in the city. The school uniforms make up  a rainbow of color, from the orange to the blues, to purples and brown. It is obvious that education is important over here. I had to ask why so many schools in a land that has been deprived of education for so many years. Apparently Yei, even during the war was a place where the Christian ministries called home, many NGOs also found Yei to be relatively safer than most of the country during the war. So they came with the faith of the most High God and in the process created schools which are a hallmark in Yei in this young country. To put it in perspective, a teacher training school today was recognized to have graduated the best batch of students this year compared to over 35 schools in South Sudan and Uganda.

The children in Yei, South Sudan play soccer despite not having shoes

Another love in Yei is the love for soccer which they call "football". Today is Friday and the primary school is having a competition game, the stadium is full and the atmosphere is loud with cheers from the crowd and cheerleaders on the sidelines. These cheerleaders are different, their songs are gospel songs, songs praising God as they cheer their teams on. This of course made me smile.

Women helped by ALARM thru' Microfinance
The market are lined with vegetables, tomatoes, onions and spices which are beyond me. The dried fish gets your attention and the butchers line up in their own section with unrefrigerated stalls. The bakery section has women selling fresh bread made from their homes, with a local kind of thin dough which I have come to like so much called “kisira”. It reminds me of the delicious Ethiopian meal called “ngiyra” minus all the sauce and herbs. The lemons are large and the pineapples are ripe on the tables. Then there were the avocadoes…never seen avocadoes so big in my life and that is saying a lot. They taste better than they look, they would be perfect in a blender with ice to make that perfect shake. One thing that took me by surprise in the market was how relatively civil everyone was, I am used to hearing in our local market in Cameroon the jingles of the over enthusiastic vendor, “Fresh fish fresh! Fresh fish, come here madame for your fresh fish!”, while another person with a tray of dried fish comes unsolicited, standing too close for comfort to show you their pan of dried fish. The Cameroon market is a melody of noises which to the “newbee” might be scary…I hear china markets are much the same way. Well none of that was found in this Yei market.

The people of Yei have another love which is the radio…well I might say it is common to most of south Sudan. However the station that heralds the airwaves is the Christian radio station 99.9 Spirit FM. The ALARM administrator lives on the lovely compounds which is also home to an amazing preschool, I call them, “the blue checkered kids”, too adorable I wish you could see them…well I managed to sneak a shot of three of them as they climbed unto a motor bike, which is called here “border Border”…why? that is another story.

The nursery School "Blue checkered kids"
As we visited the compound we were met by the operations manager Robert Bosco and another journalist trainer called Anna from Holland. Our conversation was filled with talks about South Sudan from a Hollandais perspective, which was full of laughter, then we shared her church horror stories and then explored the power of journalism, media and her commitment to train others in radio stations across this country…not too sure how many there are. Bosco took me to their small trailer which they have used since during the war. It was a smaller container box, which he says could withstand bullet shots and any adverse weather. I believed him, they have been there even when the country was in war.
Levi, ALARM Director of Christian Institute of South Sudan (CLIS), preaching at Anglican church in Yei.
Yei also is predominantly Christian and on Sunday morning, I realized that the popular service is the 7:30am...who would have thought. It has just rained this Sunday, the sky is overcast, yet there is still a praise in my soul. Praise to our God who is perfect and beautiful to make nature so amazingly beautiful and people unique from one place to the next. Oh who is like you our God, who can truly compare to you. As the Psalmist says in Ps 19:1-2
The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak, Night after night, they make Him known.
They speak without a sound and word. Their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth and their words to all the world.
May the delight of your goodness comfort our souls today, our God and redeemer, Amen. Until next time...Read, share and be comforted.





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