I'm Back!

Hi again! I've had a roller coaster ride of a time since my last blog post. It's gonna be hard to remember what all happened, but I'll give it a try.

My sister Ali visited me over Christmas and it was awesome. She got to help me in the preschool and I got to show her around Cairo. We went to the Pyramids, the Cairo Opera House to watch The Nutcracker with some friends, a major souvenir shopping district called Khan El Khalili, and the city of Alexandria for Christmas Eve. That was the city where there was a bombing of an Orthodox church on Christmas Eve, but luckily we left earlier that day and weren't in the city when the disaster struck. We went all over the city and took pictures, and also toured a real castle. We went with one of my Egyptian friends and had a great time. We also had an interesting experience getting to Alexandria. We missed our train and ran so long and so fast to try to catch it. We didn't catch it and I was so out of breath I thought I was going to vomit. Luckily we caught a public train but it was very packed and smokey with a bunch of guys staring at us the whole time. But we got there after a couple hours and when we came back we caught the regular train that we had paid for thankfully. Ali got to meet all my preschool students and also helped me out with our preschool Christmas party. She was Santa and the kids loved it!

After western Christmas we had a vacation because Christmas in Egypt is in January. We took off a week from preschool. I stayed in Cairo to have some time alone to relax and also to get some work done. It was a pretty relaxing and nice week. Once school started up again I was ready to get back into work again. We took our first field trip with the preschool kids. The parents of one of our preschool students offered to take us to the zoo. They were able to borrow their church's microbus to transport us. We had a great time and the kids were really excited to go to the zoo. It was a really fun day for us.

The big event in January was the demonstrations that took place in Egypt. As you probably know, the demonstrations impacted me greatly. Not that anything happened to me or anyone I knew, but because of it forced me to leave Egypt. I'll try to recount my experiences of the demonstrations in another post though, so this one isn't too long.

Thankfully I was able to return to Egypt at the end of February. My first day back in preschool was amazing. There was a surprise welcome back party for me, and it was so endearing. The kids sang me a welcome back song and they were each holding a sign with a different message on it for me. Then we had pizza that the Healthy Life Center made, and people from the office came over to say hi to me. There were signs all over saying Welcome Back and We Missed You. It was a really special day.

Life went back to normal after that. I brought a lot of stuff from home for preschool and it was fun to unpack and organize it all, and also see how excited the kids were for the new things. I had to work really hard after I got back. Nobody had looked after the preschool money while I was gone so I had to finish collecting the January money, figure out how much everybody owed for February based on when they started coming back to preschool (Manal and Ranya opened the preschool a couple week before I came back and worked on their own, with the help of Karin sometimes), and then take the money for the current month, March. I decorated the room for the theme of the month for March was is spring. I organized things that had gotten disorganized while I was gone, and I did a lot of cleaning. Finally things seemed like they were the way I wanted it. Then I still had a lot of planning to do for the day to day activities.

All in all I'm so happy to be back. I've had a couple interesting experiences throughout March. The first Friday after I got back I spent the afternoon at Anita's house. They had met Egypt's U.S.A. Ambassador a couple months earlier, and he wanted to spend some time with their family. He came over to their house for lunch, and Anita invited me to come as well. It was very interesting spending lunch with an ambassador, and it was a pretty cool opportunity. He was really friendly and pretty easy to talk to.

Last week on Friday Karin invited me to go to her friends' home. I had met this couple at the Christmas party Karin and Pastor Llew had. They are a British couple who know Pastor Llew and Karin from Britain, and they both ended up being missionaries in Cairo. They are Anglican and work at the All Saints Anglican Cathedral in Cairo. They had invited Karin and Pastor Llew over for lunch and a movie, but Pastor Llew was away that weekend and Karin didn't want to travel there by herself because it was a ways away. So she asked me to come along. We took the metro and met her friend Helen at the other end when we got off the metro, and she took us to their apartment. There were a lot of people there, and they were all so friendly. I think most or all of them were Anglicans who were either working for their church, the British Council, or doing internships. Almost all of them were British. It was so nice to meet so many fellow Christian missionaries. I was struck by how many genuinely good people there are in the world. They were really kind and friendly people. There were also a lot of families with children there, which made it even more interesting. We ate falafel sandwiches for lunch and then watched the movie Invictus which was about Nelson Mandela and the South African rugby team the Springboks. It was really good and inspiring to see how a leader of a country could make such a difference.

Last Sabbath I went to Bert Chang's house for Sabbath lunch. Bert is an Asian man who married an Egyptian lady. They live here for a few months out of the year I believe, and I think the rest of the time they live in US. I'm not completely sure though. They asked a bunch of people over and we had a good time. They have a nice apartment in Heliopolis, only about 15 minutes away from my apartment if you walk.

This Sabbath has been nice and quiet. I played piano for church last Sabbath and also today. Tonight I'll probably do some preparation for school tomorrow and the week ahead. It's so good to be back in the swing of things. I love preschool, I love Egypt, and I love being busy and 100% invested in a job that I enjoy.

Approaching Christmas...Although Not Egyptian Christmas

Here I am...once again a very absentee blogger. I do believe that this is the busiest year of my life. I'm constantly going going going...I'm putting everything I am into the preschool this year. When I'm not preschooling or preparing for the upcoming day or week, usually there's another engagement that I'm invited to, or someone asks me to accompany them somewhere. It makes for a very interesting year, but also one that doesn't have a lot of extra time. That's ok, it just sometimes makes it hard to get everything done that I need to.

I'm so excited that Christmas is approaching! But in Egypt, they celebrate Christmas in January, during the Muslim New Year (I believe). So January 7 is Christmas here, but I'll still be celebrating December Christmas. We're going to have a preschool party too. I can't wait, it's gonna be really fun!

I'll fill you in on some of the things that have been happening lately. In the middle of November I went to visit my sister Ali in Tanzania during a holiday I had. It was so amazing and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go! We were able to go to a national park and see some wildlife, as well as visit a game park, a pool at a hotel lodge, and the site where 2 fellow Southerners are working as student missionaries. It was a really great trip and I will never forget it. It was also awesome to see my amazing sister again!

After I arrived back in Cairo, I was invited by some of the conference office missionaries to go to a Thanksgiving meal in Maadi, a rich area of town where a lot of foreigners live. It was so nice to go and eat a North American Thanksgiving meal with fellow Westerners! The lady who hosted the dinner is American but her job has taken her to Cairo. It was actually quite interesting...she knew my high school teacher Mr. Brock and sent him a message that I was at her house for Thanksgiving. The meal was so tasty and extravagant and we just had a really nice time. She also had a really nice apartment with an entire glass wall that looked out over the Nile River. It was a beautiful night view.

In December we celebrated the 4th birthday of my preschool student Kimo. His mom went all out and brought McDonald's Happy Meals for all the kids, pizza for us teachers, and a really nice and tasty Mickey Mouse birthday cake. We had a really great time and took lots of pictures.

Last week I got to babysit my preschool student Cindy and her older brother Abdiel, who live in the apartment below me. Their parents were out at a meeting so Manal and I got to spend some quality time with 2 of our favorite kids in Cairo. We took them out for fool and taomaya sandwiches (fava beans and falafel...they are so incredibly good here in Egypt)! Anyways, we had a lot of fun with them, as usual.

Last week I also made sugar cookies with my students. I made the dough the night before, and then in the morning the kids cut the dough into shapes with cookie cutters that Karin (a fellow missionary) loaned to us. They had the time of their lives! During lunchtime I came upstairs and baked the cookies in the oven. Then in the afternoon we decorated the cookies with green and pink icing (the red food coloring turned out more pink than red, but they were as Christmassy as we could make them). It was one of the funnest things I've ever done with the kids, and they enjoyed it immensely!

On Thursday I was invited to go to a Christmas party with my friend Anita (Cindy and Abdiel's mom) and her family. It was a party for the foreigners who take Arabic classes with the company that she studies with. It was really cool to go. I brought my violin and Anita brought her guitar and we played Christmas songs while the people sang and clapped along. It was really nice to be in the company of some fellow Westerners, as well as people from other parts of the world too. Then we played some fun games, ate, and visited before heading on home.

On Sabbath night I went to a movie night at the house of a missionary couple. It was a really fun time fellowshipping with some church people, and the movie was pretty great too.

This week I'm going to be preparing for Ali's arrival. She's coming to visit me during her Christmas break! I'm really excited to see her again and to show her around Cairo and let her experience some of the awesome Egyptian food that I love so much! I can't wait to see her. I'm really glad that I'll be able to spend my first Christmas away from home with one of my family members.

All in all I'm doing good and the preschool is full to the brim with lots of students! Recently we accepted 3 more children to bring our limit to 15, so needless to say, we're pretty busy. But I'm having the time of my life.

Anyways, thanks for reading, and have a great holiday season. I wish you the best Christmas ever!

A Positive Note

Hello one and all!

As usual I'm so very bad at keeping up with blogs, but if it's any consolation, at least I'm really good at keeping up with pictures! I have tons and tons of pics put up on facebook, so if you haven't checked them out, feel free to do so.

Things have been going quite well lately. We have a full preschool now, with 12 kids. They're really happy lately, and behaving quite well for the most part. We got some new things for the preschool too, so it helps to entertain the kids and keep them happy. We got a portable basketball hoop so the kids have fun throwing balls around with that, and then just last night we got a rocker toy that can fit 3 kids at one time. They absolutely loved it today! Slowly we're trying to expand the preschool and fulfill some of the needs that it has, and improving the outside play area is a definite need since there's the only things for the kids to play with outside have been 1 wooden swing and 1 swing toy, until we got these other toys. Next we want to get a couple slides and another rocker toy so we have enough toys to keep all of the kids happy and occupied. But our new additions are working quite nicely! We also got some duplos that came with a train and tracks, so the kids are enjoying that a lot too.

The biggest problem I've been having in the preschool lately is that there's so many people that are coming to ask about their children attending the preschool, but right now we don't have space. We have a growing waiting list. If we get another teacher, which there's a possibility of, then maybe we can up our limit of children a little bit and take some kids from the waiting list, but for now it's just me and Manal and the 12 kids.

As for what I've been up to outside of preschool, there's been some interesting things that have happened lately. A few weeks ago I finally went on a Nile cruise with a group of people and with the student missionaries from NUA. It was a really fun night and a great experience. Then the next week a group of us went to a really nice mall here in Cairo called City Stars. It's very huge and ritzy and expensive. I've come to realize that Cairo has very nice places that make you feel as though you're in North America, then places that are very poor and low-scale, and also places in between. It's interesting to see the differences though. I also attended an Evangelical church service which had such beautiful music. It was amazing because the musical talent in Egypt is very low, but this church really had a dynamic worship service. It was really cool. Oh, we also went to go visit Saif's family last week, the family that was in the bad car accident. They're doing much better now and his dad is back home from the hospital and improving. It was nice to go spend some time with their family and see that they're getting back to normal.

This Sabbath I was asked to play special music as well as be the pianist for Sabbath school and church. It's the first time for me to be the pianist here, so I hope all goes well! Thanks for all your continuous love and support!


I know it's been awhile, as usual, but sometimes I just can't make myself sit down and write a blog post after a day of work, which lately has been giving me a run for its money. But before I get into the work aspect I'll start off by outlining a vacation I took at the beginning of September.

I went to a city called Marsa Matrouh, which is such a beautiful place! Not because of the city, but because it's on the Mediterranean Sea. The sea is absolutely gorgeous and has so many different colors of blue depending on how deep the sea is in different areas. I went with Mervat, a lady who works in the Healthy Life Center below the Egypt Field Office. She was vacationing with her mom and her 3 brothers. They go to Marsa Matrouh every summer. On the way there I went on the train, alone I might add, because Mervat had already been there with her family since the previous weekend, but I couldn't be gone from work for more than about 3 days. So Manal and her sister Rahil dropped me off at the train station, helped me find the correct train and board, and I proceeded to sleep during the night while the train chugged on closer and closer to Libya. I was somewhat scared of traveling for the first time by myself in Egypt, but it wasn't a problem and everything was ok. I did find out later that Manal and Rahil had directed me to the 2nd class seating but my ticket was for 1st class, so I missed out on that and Mervat was sad about that. Anyways, I arrived in the morning, got off the train, and found Mervat waiting for me to pick me up. I was also greeted by a delightfully welcome sea breeze. The weather was much more pleasant than my last trip to Sharm el-Sheikh. The next 3 days were rather interesting. I saw a couple famous beaches, Cleopatra Beach and Ageeba Beach. Ageeba was one of the beaches that we swam at too, and it was amazingly beautiful! The beaches in Marsa Matrouh are awesome because the water is so blue and gorgeous and the sand is really white. I got a decent tan with a little bit of burn, but not nearly as bad as my burn in Sharm el-Sheikh. It was a little interesting spending 3 days with Mervat's family because she has 2 deaf brothers and her mom doesn't know English, so I could only talk to Mervat and her brother who isn't deaf. Anyways, all in all it was a good trip.

I came back to a hard couple of weeks at work. Actually, I guess the first week back wasn't bad because there were still not too many children because summer was still in full swing. School starts rather late here because after Ramadan the Muslims have a feast, and then school begins after that, which is this coming week. Anyways, this week has been so hard in so many ways. More kids are coming back now that they're finished traveling for the summer, and some new kids are starting to come. One of them screams whenever their mother leaves and won't stop unless she comes back, one of them only likes Manal and cries whenever she leaves, which makes it difficult if she's helping a child in the bathroom or if she's on break, because then this child won't stop crying and disrupts the atmosphere of the room. I also found out that one of the preschool families was in a bad car accident on their way back from vacationing...incidentally in Marsa Matrouh, the same place I went to. The grandma died and the dad is still in the hospital with a problem in his lungs and is having many operations currently. The mom has a big gash on her forehead and I believe has a hard time walking because of something happening to her feet. Saif, the little boy from preschool, hurt the back of his head and his younger brother had some glass on him from the windshield. Saif finally came back to preschool this week after being gone for quite some time, and his younger brother came with him one day. His mom wants his brother to start in the preschool now, but he's not even 2 years old and we're making a new age rule. So we'll have to figure out how to handle that situation, but for now we'll let him come to the preschool while she's having a hard time going back and forth between her home and the hospital all the time. Anyways, next week all the children will be back because school is starting and some of their parents are teachers and will have to bring them back to preschool because they're starting to work again. It's going to be another crazy week next week!

Oh, last week we had 2 days of vacation in the preschool because of the Muslim feast, and on one of the days I went to 3 Coptic Orthodox monasteries with one of the preschool families (Miro and Youssef's family). It was really interesting and a great day. It was nice to get to know their family better, especially because they're such nice people. On the way back we stopped at a place with a grocery store, a restaurant, and a park, and we all ate together. I picked up some groceries too. It was just a really good day, and I really appreciate their family. I also went to a birthday party this week which was pretty fun. It was on the roof at the Sudanese refugee Adventist school at night. It was a really fun time and we had some good food. Also, my violin lessons to Youssef are going really well. He's practicing at home, he's enjoying it, he's doing a great job and learning and improving, and I'm also remembering things I used to do when I taught in high school. It's a good feeling. Next week I'm going to start teaching piano lessons to Kimo, a 3 year old boy in the preschool, and I'm also going to start teaching one of the preschool parents (Bibo's mom) some English next week too. Since Saif went on vacation and had the car accident I haven't started teaching him piano lessons again, but after things settle down we'll probably pick up where we left off. I think that's about all the lessons I can handle right now, especially since working all day with all these children takes so much effort.

Now I'm going to just focus on relaxing and spending time with friends and with God over the weekend. Tonight Manal and I are going to NUA (the academy) to spend the night and also Sabbath morning at the school. I need to start getting to know the student missionaries. I haven't been to NUA since campmeeting I think. Then on Sabbath evening someone is having a birthday party here behind the preschool so we'll come back for that. So I hope this weekend will be fun.

Warning: Gruesome Topic-Read At Your Own Risk

Well one of the main things that have happened since my last post was that my former roommate and fellow teacher Eriny got married in her village in Upper Egypt, so I went to the wedding and what an experience it was! The night before the wedding there was a big party at both the bride and the groom's houses, which is the custom in Upper Egypt. Loud Arabic music was playing well into the night and tons of people were gathered in the small dirt roads to celebrate with the families of the wedding couple. The most significant part of the night for me occurred when they killed a cow in the street right outside of Eriny's home. This is what happens at weddings in Upper Egypt and it was quite horrifying for me to witness the murder of a cow. Everyone there is so used to it and meat is such a vital part of their diet that they aren't even phased by the tortuous death that the animal goes through...they're just watching eagerly, ready to eat the meat that the cow will eventually provide them with. They tied the cow's hooves together and laid it on its side the ground, and the proceeded to slit its throat. The cow just laid there as its blood filled the street. Some people got blood on their shirts from when the cow moved around trying to get loose. The whole process was so agonizingly long too. The poor cow was suffering for so long while everyone just swarmed around it to watch. The men who were carrying out the cruel task then started hacking away at its throat and cutting through its mouth and tongue and everything so that its head would be cut off completely, but it took quite a long time so they kept stopping for breaks along the way, while the cow just kept suffering through it. Sometimes they stuffed their hands in the cow along with the knife, to help rip the head off faster and more effectively. After what seemed like forever and ever the head was finally off and the cow was out of its misery. I think it was pretty much alive until the head was right off, cuz it moved sometimes throughout almost the whole process. Anyways then they stripped its skin off and hung it from these poles in the middle of the street and proceeded to hack off pieces of meat well into the night. Oh and I also saw all the stomachs of the cow after they were placed into a bucket. Then they took them away to sell. Anyways that's the story of probably the worst thing I've ever seen happen.

So the next day was the wedding. Manal and I went to this beauty salon to get our hair done, and they started doing this fancy thing in my hair and then topped everything off by putting all this makeup on my face. I asked them to keep it simple and natural but when I opened my eyes it was definitely not natural. But it was ok for one evening, and I really liked my hair even though it seemed too fancy for someone who wasn't in the wedding party. So the wedding was scheduled to start at 7:30 on Monday night which I thought was an odd time for a wedding. Anyways we finished at the beauty salon and headed to the church, arriving at 7:15. I was supposed to play my violin while the wedding party walked to the front. But when we went inside the church we discovered that the wedding was already in progress! I was expecting it to start pretty late cuz Egyptians usually start everything like 1 or 2 hours late, but we found out that they started the wedding at 6:30! I was so shocked that they had started an hour early, and not even waited for Eriny's own sister to get there before they started. I guess they played some random music for the part where they walked to the front, but I felt so strange cuz I had my violin and I didn't even use it, and I was all dressed up for nothing, cuz the wedding was almost finished. Manal and I went up to the front of the church in this side hallway thing and when they saw we were there they told me they still wanted me to play my violin. So I quickly got it out and played Ashokan Farewell, the piece I had prepared to play at the beginning of the wedding. But this time it was more like a special music. After I finished they said the closing prayer and the wedding was over. I felt sooo weird for being all dolled up and then only being there for a few minutes before it ended. Anyways I went back with the group that came from NUA and I met the SM's that had just arrived in Egypt the week before that. We finally got back at about midnight or something. And that's the story of the wedding that I attended in Upper Egypt!

My First Preschool Party

So this week was a rather interesting one. There were some unfortunate events that happened in the preschool and I am quickly becoming aware of all the difficult situations that can arise when you teach preschool to a group of 2-4 year olds (and sometimes 1 and 5 year olds) in a foreign country. There were lots of good parts too though. I just am learning that it's not all fun and games, especially when there are children who have behavioral and/or aggressive issues,not to mention having to worry about potty training a couple children too. But all in all I'm loving my job and Sunshine Preschool and the children and their families. I don't think there's any other place I would rather be, or any other student missions job I would rather be doing. I feel as though God lead me to this place and wants me here, and that He knew where I was needed and where I would be happiest. There's so many people here I have met and therefore I don't have homesickness or problems with loneliness, so I praise God for that! My roommates have been amazing and we have become to be good friends. The sad part is that one of my roommates spent her last day here yesterday, as she is getting married in a couple weeks. So for awhile it will be just two of us in the apartment. I'm not sure yet if someone new will come to help out in the preschool, but I hope so because the way that the preschool is operated really calls for more than 2 teachers, and especially more than 1. I find it hard that they accept children as young as 2 years old, and that they actually want us to accept children who are 1 year old also. It's also hard that the preschool runs 5 days a week and its hours are from 7:30 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon, and that some children stay 1-2 hours after the time the preschool ends. We accept children who are not yet potty trained, and also the parents are free to drop off and pick up their children at any hour in the day, so sometimes when all the children are being very well behaved and listening or working or playing quietly, then a parent comes to pick up their child and then all the children become distracted and we have to pick up where we left off after the child leaves. These are all issues I don't have much control over since I can't make the rules of the preschool, but I have learned to work around these little bumps in the road and try to just find the best way to handle them.

One interesting tidbit is that within maybe 1 month's time I will (apparently) be having a roommate. She will work at the Adventist elementary school here in Cairo, but I don't know really anything about her at the moment. I hope we can become good friends though. It will be nice to have another girl around to hang out with too.

So the big news this week is that we had a party in the preschool which is the first one that I've had since I've been here. I was here for the party that the previous SM had before she left, but this is the first one that I've planned and been in charge of. It was fun and went pretty well. Some parts were not as organized as I would have liked, but I'm just going to do my best at everything and learn from every situation that I experience, and then the next time will maybe be even a little bit more successful. I hope that I'll be a pro by the end of the year.

So the party was a mix of a birthday party for 2 children who have birthdays this week and next week and are both turning 3, and also a goodbye party for Eriny who was my roommate and fellow teacher. Yesterday was her last day in the preschool before she gets married and then starts her new life at NUA (Nile Union Academy). We had cake and another type of sweet thing to eat called something like konafa. It was pretty good! The parents of the birthday kids brought the cake and konafa, and we provided mango juice. After we ate we gave the kids some little gifts from the preschool and then we sang the song Who's the King of the Jungle for the parents. I've taught the song to the kids and they really like singing it. Then we watched a video I made for the birthday kids Bibo and Dodo, and also for Eriny since it was a party for her too. The video had given me some issues because first my computer completely stopped working as I was making it into a video file, and then later when my computer finally started working again (thankfully!) then it wouldn't work when I tried to make the video into a file. So we ended up just watching in the window of my movie making program. I hope it'll make it into a video file when I try to later because the parents want to get it on their flash drive. Anyways after that we had the kids go outside to search for some eggs that had candy inside. Hehe, I guess it was kinda Easter-ish but we didn't have anything else really besides eggs to put the candy in, and the kids loved it cuz it was easy enough for all of them, even the little ones, to understand and they got to go outside which they all wanted to do anyways, and have fun searching for the eggs. I wanted to have another game for them to play but every game I've taught them so far has been hard for them to understand so we need to try it multiple times before they will be able to get it, plus the party was winding down by that time anyways so I think it was good to have it end there instead of keeping a good thing going for too long and turning into a not-so-good thing. I think the parents of the birthday kids were really happy because we had something nice and special just for them, and because there were a lot of ppl there to celebrate with them. Some people from the office came and some of the kids' families came, and also Anita, the wife of the missionary pastor from the Dominican Republic, and her daughter Cindy who turned 3 last week. We celebrated her birthday too since she came to the party.

The other thing that happened this week is that I started teaching piano lessons to Saif, a 3 year old boy who is one of my students. I've never taught piano lessons before so this week has been a new experience. I'm struggling a little bit because I'm not sure yet how to teach piano effectively and also interestingly, but I hope I can make it fun for him and also help him learn how to play well. He's pretty little but he understands English pretty well since he's been coming to the preschool for about 2 years I think. He'll be 4 in October so he's an older 3 year old instead of a just-turned-3 year old. His parents want him to have 2 lessons a week so every Sunday and Wednesday after preschool we'll be having a piano lesson in the church since it's right close by (attached to the preschool). It's also hard because his parents aren't going to be attending the lessons because his dad works till he picks him up after the lesson, and his mom is looking after Saif's younger brother at home, but I hope I can help him learn and understand.

Well that's about all for now. I'm ready for Sabbath, and then hopefully after that I'll be ready to forge into next week. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers! Bye until next time!

It's Been Too Long!

I originally intended to write a blog post every day of my year here...trying to keep each one short and sweet, but write one daily so I could look back on my time here and see an overview of each day. I quickly fell behind though, and now it's been weeks since I've last written. But from now on I will really try to write more often.

So much has happened since I last wrote a blog! I went to a couple days of campmeeting at Nile Union Academy, and I also went to Manal and Eriny's village (Ashruba) in Upper Egypt over one weekend. It was quite an experience. It was even more hot than it is in Cairo, so my sweat glands got a really good workout while I was there. The trip to Ashruba was probably the hottest trip of my life. We were crammed in a microbus (like a large van) without air conditioning, and I wasn't beside a window. I was so boiling I could barely stand it. But we finally made it to their house, where the heat continued since they didn't have any air conditioning, and the fans did little to help. My roommates' family gave me a galabeya which was so nice of them. A galabeya is a long dress type thing that goes down to your ankles and also has long sleeves. Both men and women wear these in Upper Egypt. The galabeya their family gave me is a kind of turquoise/teal blue which is my favorite color! Manal asked me my favorite color and then told her family so they could find a galabeya that was that color. It was a really nice surprise. Anyways, we spent Friday night and Sabbath morning there and attending the Adventist Church in Ashruba which was a very interesting experience. They had no piano or anything so all the songs were sung a capella. Anyways since Sunday is a workday here in Egypt we had to leave that same day to get back for work in the preschool the next day. The trip back was much more pleasant because we were on a big bus and it was air conditioned. The whole trip was a great experience though and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to visit their home!

Since then I have also been to Sharm el-Sheikh which is a famous tourist city in Egypt on the Red Sea. I went on the annual Heliopolis church trip and it was quite an experience. I got so burnt that I couldn't sleep one night because any way I laid hurt my skin. We also went on a boat ride on the Red Sea, and I swam in the sea twice.

The preschool is running pretty good lately. We have 11 kids now so it's doing quite well. It's a challenging job but also very rewarding. The kids are so great and I love all of them so much! I can't imagine how much I'll miss them after I return at the end of my year here.

My roommate and fellow worker Eriny is spending her last week at the preschool this week. Thursday will be her last day because she is getting married in a couple weeks and then living at Nile Union Academy after her wedding. On Thursday we're going to have a party in the preschool at the end of the day because she will be leaving us, and we're going to celebrate 2 of the kids' birthdays as well because 2 kids have birthdays coming up very soon. It should be fun. Then in a couple weeks I'll be going back to Upper Egypt for Eriny's wedding. It will be so great to experience an Egyptian wedding! Oh I also started teaching piano lessons yesterday to Saif. He's 3 years old and is the first piano student I've ever had! I hope I can help him learn to play piano well this year. Well that's a brief overview of some of the things I've been up to. I'll try to write again soon!

July 9 and 10

Friday was quite relaxing. I finally got a chance to sleep in but I woke up at about 9 or 9:30 and couldn't fall back asleep. But it's ok because I wasn't that tired anymore. I had a lot of time to just lounge around in the afternoon, and then later Manal and I went to the market and then to Royal House (a local grocery store) to get some food. Eriny is gone to her village in Upper Egypt to prepare for her wedding in August, so for the next week Manal and I will be holding down the fort in the preschool. But 2 other girls will be coming to help and will probably be with us for most of the summer. Anyways then at 7:30 Manal and I went to the evangelistic meeting in the church and then had some skype partyness and introduced each other to some of our skype contacts. It was a pretty fun night.

On Sabbath after church I went to another potluck outside in the preschool yard again. It was going to be at a park but for some reason it got moved to the yard. It was another nice time. After visiting for awhile when the potluck was done I came back to my room and had a very nice and lengthy nap which was quite appreciated. Then Manal and I made some food and watched The Blind Side. It was really motivating and I liked the message. I hope I can always have the same type of spirit that the mom did. Now I'm off to bed and ready for another week of work ahead of me. Goodnight!

Teaching, Instrument Shop, and a Cathedral

Thursday was pretty cool. In the preschool we studied articles of clothing and then we made hats (actually I guess they were crowns). The kids loved them and some didn't want to take them off all day. In the afternoon we turned on the sprinkler and got all wet which was very welcome in the hot weather. Girgis, Eriny's finance, came with some other people from NUA to the preschool and he cooked for us. It was very much appreciated, and very yummy! After work I helped Manal make some signs for a missionary couple that were coming back from furlough. Then later on I went with one of the preschool families to an instrument shop to help them find a violin for their son Youssef, who I will be teaching violin lessons to. They are the nicest people and are such a gracious and kind family. After that we went to their Coptic church. The cathedral was very huge...I believe they said it's the biggest Coptic cathedral in Egypt. While the dad was at a meeting we went to the club area. I met some people and talked with the mom while we waited. It was a very interesting experience. They have large areas for children and youth to play and there's also a food shop. They bought me some food and a couple pops. I sang the ABC song with Mirey, their 2 year old daughter who comes to the preschool, and went over some colors. She's getting pretty good at knowing her colors and she especially likes the color orange. Whenever I ask her at preschool which color of paper she wants (for a craft or something) she always picks orange. We stayed at the church for over an hour and then headed home. Mirey fell asleep on me in the was very cute. I think Youssef is excited to learn to play the violin, but I just hope I can teach effectively to an Arabic child. So my day was quite interesting and I'm loving each new experience that I am having.

July 7

Today was a rather regular day. In the preschool we made fans out of folded paper and colored them. I thought the kids could use them well in this heat! Oh, I also took some of the dress-up items that I brought with me to Egypt down to the preschool today. The kids loved putting them on, so I hope they can continue to have fun with them this year. The afternoons get really long and hot because the air conditioning in the preschool stopped working this week so we get pretty warm. After work I basically just relaxed all evening, which was very welcome because I didn't have to go out anywhere. I guess I'm getting a cold because my throat has been pretty scratchy and I've been coughing a lot, especially after I wake up. But I hope this will pass quickly. Ok well that's about all I have to report for this day...