Archive - January, 2009

THANK YOU for helping me pay off my immunization debt!

I have officially raised the money to pay off my immunization debt!  I want to thank each person who donated to help me!

Thank you!
Robert

Here is a testimonial that I received that made me chuckle so I wanted to share it with you all:

Are you considering giving to Robert’s immunization fund, but haven’t yet clicked on that “Paypal” icon?
Please consider our case.  My wife and I made a gift to Robert’s immunization fund several months ago and ever since then, Robert has not caught a single disease for which he was immunized, AND NEITHER HAVE WE!  In fact, we have both been amazingly healthy the past few months as all the stingy folks around us have caught the winter crud.
So, go ahead and click on that Paypal icon.  It’s good for you!

 

Week 18: Memphis, Pyramids, Camels, Copticness, & Such

Hello from the Sea of Galilee in Israel! I will write more about my experience in Israel later, but for now I want to tell you all about my time in Egypt.

Wednesday

The other 31 people in our group arrived very early in the morning after experiencing a nice unexpected 12-hour layover in Germany. Yep, that’s no fun. So, they spent the morning trying to sleep. When they had rested, I got to see everyone which was really nice. When Andy (our Professor) introduced me to the group everyone cheered and I felt all warm and fuzzy inside and missed seminary and the community there. Furthermore, my seminary neighbor, Mary-Elizabeth, brought me some things I wanted from the States and asked everyone else on the trip to bring me essentials from the States (M&Ms, Reeses, and Head & Shoulders). So, it was good to see everyone on multiple levels. We then met our tour guide, Heba, and traveled to the city of Memphis.   Memphis has mostly been covered by another city being built on top of it repeatedly, but they do have an open air museum with a sphinx and a Statue of Ramses II (questionably) which was used in the 10 Commandments movie.

Statue of Ramses II at Memphis:
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Afterwards, we went and visited the Step Pyramid (Pyramid of Djoser) and another Pyramid (Tomb of King Titi) which looks just like a sand hill, but we all went inside of it and it had incredibly beautiful hieroglyphics everywhere.  Who’d a thunk it?

Tomb of King Titi:
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Step Pyramid and I:
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Thursday

Thursday morning we headed to the Giza pyramids bright and early which are right by our hotel. The Pyramids are different than I thought they would be because the Great Pyramid is not in the middle, but is the bigger one on a side.

A short video standing on the Great Pyramid:

Isaac and I standing on the Great Pyramid:
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The Pyramid in the middle was just built on higher ground and still has its shell at the tip top. It’s actually amusing because the middle Pyramid was built by the Great Pyramid builder’s son.  So, rather than build a bigger pyramid than his dad he just built it on higher ground.  The Giza Pyramids were very impressive and something I have wanted to see since the 6th grade and thought I would have to wait until I was retired to see, but the opportunity arose at 25.  Take that world!

The group drove to get a good view of all 3 which was also where we all had a camel ride which was amazing.

A view of the 3: (the Great is on the left)
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A view of the 3 with me:
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When a camel stands up it is very awkward and unusual. My camel’s name was Bartholomew or that was what I called him. It was very surreal to see all 32 of us riding along on camels with the Giza Pyramids in the background.

A video of the camel ride:

A picture of me and Bartholomew:
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Then we all went to see a boat that was buried with the Pharaoh of the Great Pyramid (Great idea!). My seminary neighbor, Mary-Elizabeth, and I left early because we were the only ones that wanted to go inside the Giza Pyramids. So, we got to go inside the middle Pyramid. I found that walking backwards down the very short passage was easier and less strenuous on my back so that ‘s what I did. We went down for a while then level for a while and then up for a while. Then we arrived in the tomb which was unreal.

Video of inside Pyramid:

It was very humid. On our way out I was walking down the short passage and once we came to a place where I could stand up, so I did and there was a very long line of Asians who laughed at me each one in turn as I passed them because I am too tall to be walking around in Pyramids.

We then drove to the other side of town to see a Mosque, called the Citadel.

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Afterward, we had lunch at a boat on the Nile and the meal was very nice. We finally made our way to the Egyptian Museum. I was very excited about this because I distinctly remember in 6th grade learning about Egyptian History.  Even more precisely I remember how captivated I was with the discovery of King Tut’s Tomb. I remember staring at the large picture of King Tut’s face in our textbooks.

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So, when I actually got to see the 28 pound solid gold mask of King Tut and saw my reflection in the protective glass I could visualize the 6th grade me staring at the picture of it at my desk in Broken Arrow, OK. It was a surreal moment.

While at the museum, we also went to see the Mummies. The coolest was Ramses II. It was really crazy to see this 5,000 year old Pharaoh with hair, finger nails, and skin. He was very well preserved, lived to be possibly 100, and had 80 or so children or so the legend goes. Thursday was a very full day.

Pic of Ramses mummy.

Friday

Friday, we drove north halfway to Alexandria to visit a Coptic monastery in Wadi Natrun. We had a very interesting monk show us around who had a wizard beard. He was very knowledgeable and shared his views with us about the Coptic church and theology. It was a good visit.

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Saturday

Saturday, we journeyed to Coptic Cairo, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, which is tradition ridden with Biblical history. The tradition is that this location is one of the possibilities of where Moses was found by Pharaoh’s daughter on River Nile, also where Jeremiah came when he was exiled, and where the exiled Holy Family came when Joseph and Mary had to flee to Egypt with Jesus because Herod was killing everyone 2 and under. So, it is traditionally a very historic place. When I say “traditionally” it means that there is no archaeological proof, but it is believed/this is an option where it might have happened.

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We then visited the Presbterian seminary in Cairo, the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo (ETSC).  An APTS graduate is working at the seminary and we were invited over to meet with other seminarians.  It was a good last night in Cairo and it was nice to interact with other seminary students from another country.

Goodbye Egypt!
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Israel/Palestine & Egypt Trip

Week 17: Hello from Cairo

Good morning from Cairo, Egypt!  I am in Cairo for the week with a group from my seminary and we will eventually be going to Israel.  It is a seminary class called “Places of the Bible” where our Old Testament Professor takes us to a Biblical place reads the Biblical story and then points and says, “there it is” and then the group says “ooo…”  I believe our goal is to repeat this as many times as possible.  However, this is just my vision of the future from Robert world (population one) and so we will have to see if this is how the class actually operates.

The flight from Nairobi to Cairo was 5 hours almost directly north.  It’s interesting having to listen to everything that is announced in Arabic first and then English.  The preflight instruction video was quite amusing with the role of the passenger being played by a Nintendo Wii Mii (a device where you create a person and choose all of their physical features) of an Arab man with an amazing mustache (it put Tom Sellick to shame, I was impressed).  I slept most of the way cramped between two men in the emergency exit row.  My legs were happy, my arms weren’t.  Once I got off the plane I was met by a man with a sign which said “Mr. Robert ———” which is a bit different from my usual matatu ride.  His name was Ahmad and he got me through customs by just saying a few words in Arabic, he then looked at me and I said, “that was easy” to which be replied, “my dad’s vice president of (something) for Egypt Air.”  That’s how I role.  Our ride to the hotel yesterday was interesting.  Traffic was crazy, but not as crazy as Nairobi.  They don’t have cable here so every roof top is covered in satellite dishes.  At first I thought that they were bushes and everyone just grew bushes on their roofs.  Nope.  We crossed over the Nile twice which was beautiful.  Then as we approached the hotel, Ahmad said if you turn left here you’ll be at the pyramids in 10 minutes.  I coolly and literally said, “oh cool” and then turned my head to see the 3 largest pyramids filling the window to which I uncoolly started saying, “oh wow, that’s amazing!”  We then arrived at the hotel from which you can also see the pyramids.  I arrived Tuesday morning and the seminary group was supposed to arrive in the afternoon, but the afternoon came and went without them.  I finally went to the front desk and was informed that their flight wouldn’t get in until 5 AM the next morning.  So, I went to bed and woke up to Egyptian men pounding on the door delivering Isaac’s (my roommates) luggage.  I was quite startled and unaware of where I was when they woke me so I went to the door and opened it and looked grumpily out at 2 short Egyptian men as I stood there in my boxers.  I wonder what they thought seeing a 6 foot 5 white man in his boxers.  I guess everyone was confused…  The best part of my time in Egypt so far was the shower.  I turned on the water which was instantly hot and although I warily touched the water nob the shower didn’t shock me once!  I hadn’t taken a shower in 2 weeks because the water at AEE has been out for 2 weeks and when I did take my Egyptian shower I couldn’t get my right hand wet because of the stitches I had put in it Sunday.  Let me break that last statement down for you.

The day after Christmas the water at AEE stopped working and still wasn’t working when I left yesterday which isn’t a big deal I have learned.  Running water is amazing, but not a necessity.  I guess I would now put it under the want column rather than the need.  We have 2 300 Liter Containers that keep water that I boil from which to drink at AEE.  Well, I’ve been using it for basin bathing since our running water went out.  I have gotten quite good at basin bathing, but don’t think that 6’5 is the best basin bathing height.  The running water being out meant that we had to fill our toilet to flush it as well.  Did you know it takes 10 Liters of water to flush a toilet?  That’s more water than I drink in 2 days and I drink a lot of water.  The first time I flushed the toilet in Egypt I walked away with a dumb founded look on my face.  It was so easy and amazing.  Any who, I like running water is what I’ve determined.

Now to the fun story.  Sunday night I was making a special dinner, Velveeta Shells and Cheese!  And this is where irony steps in because I have been chopping vegetables regularly in the past few months and had no problems.  Well, while putting the finishing touches on my Shells, the cheese, I needed something to open the cheese pouch with.  So, I grabbed a knife and stuck it through and somehow cut my left index finger really thoroughly.  Before my mind realized I had cut myself my finger was in my mouth.  There was nothing clean there I could use to put pressure on it with so I had to walk down to my place and get something all the while using my tongue to keep pressure on my finger.  When I finally got pressure on my finger and spat out a lot more blood than I expected I realized there was a problem.  So, I went back to the kitchen sat down and ate my shells with one hand.  I wasn’t going to waste 1 of 4 boxes of shells I have here.  So after eating I called Rodgers and told him I thought I needed to go to the ER.  We went and I got 3 stitches and the doc told me not to get my hand wet for 3 days.  So, Monday when I tried to basin bathe things didn’t go so great.  One hand in the air and one hand down for washing.  I felt funny and definitely looked funny!  So, I went and got my first hair cut since being here, free hair washing!  Woot Woot.  Now in Cairo in the shower I just stick my left arm straight out and it goes right over the curtain so 6’5 is good for some bathing techniques.  So, that’s the story of the finger.  If everyone who is reading this will give their left index finger a kiss I would appreciate it.  It’s a great finger and without it I am having a fun time trying to type right now.

Well, I think that’s it for now.  I will update you all from Cairo soon!

Remembering Ron Heck

My Sunday school teacher while I was in elementary school, fishing buddy, and friend, Ron Heck, died this past Thursday.  As I walked the mile between matatu stops journeying back from Westlands to Karen I reflected on Ron and 3 distinct memories came to mind:

  1.  My family started attending the First Presbyterian Church of Broken Arrow when I was in the third grade and Ron and his wife, Mary Ann, were my Sunday School teachers from then until I finished fifth grade.  I distinctly remember the first time I heard Ron read scripture to us and the first time I heard many Bible stories was from Ron’s voice.  I don’t think I realized what a big impact Sunday School teachers for elementary age kids can have on someones life until I reflected upon this during the week.
  2. When my best friend Brad and I were Confirmed in the 8th grade, Ron took us both aside, sat us down, and gave us both a self help book that was a major part of his business success he told us.  He also gave us both a pack of highlighters.  Ron wanted to pass on his success to us, 2 8th grade teenagers.  He didn’t want to keep it to himself.  I love that he took interest in two 8th graders and treated us with respect and like adults.  I believe this speaks volumes about his character.
  3. When I was in high school, Ron and our friend Thompson would take me fishing.  They both taught me how to fish and I cherish the memories of the 3 of us sitting out in the middle of the lake in silence for hours and then talking for hours because we hadn’t caught anything.

I have always envisioned Ron and Mary Ann at my Ordination Service because they were my first Sunday School teachers and they are good friends.  They are at the top of my list of people I want to be there.  Now Ron won’t be there in the way that I had envisioned, but he will be there.  May you rest in peace Ron.

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