Wednesday, November 4, 2015
My Trip to Egypt (part 2) – Deserted Road
On Wednesday, we met with a different team of missionaries and a team of theology instructors from North Carolina. We had breakfast together at the hotel and shared many stories of fears, hope, and the like. It was refreshing to meet these brothers for the first time and to know that their work in Egypt is going on. It was an immediate connection with like-minded brothers! What I loved hearing about their ministry is the fact that they are a teaching/missions organization that operates out of the local church. Imagine that! A church saw the need and met it in the 1990’s and now they are teaching in 3 Middle Eastern countries. Praise the Lord for His church!
At noon it was time to travel to our teaching destination away from Cairo to the Western desert adjacent to Libya. The 4 of us (Wayne and Susie, Tim, and I) packed into a tiny car with our suitcases strapped to the top of it and the little bags in the tiny trunk (next to a tank of some sort but I didn’t want to know what was in the tank!). It was cramped and I can’t believe we all fit into it.Wow. Talk about clowns at the circus: when we piled (rather, pealed) out of it, it brought significant stare and attention. Wayne and I are not little guys. Tim is not a medium guy but he’s not as big as Wayne and I. And there’s little Susie squished in between her husband and Tim for an hour ride out to Desert Road.
Note: the pic above only shows my arm on the front left, the driver, and Tim, Susie, and Wayne in the backseat.
We met Yasser and his family at Burger King right there at the start of Desert Road. And yes, we ate at Burger King. Yes, I got a burger. Not going to lie to you (though I may have been tempted to do so). It was delicious. Tastes about the same as in the States. No Egyptian special sauce or anything like olives or something like that on there. Just an American burger in the middle of a desert. (Pretty nice actually)
I got in the car with Yasser and we were on our way. Only there was one not-so-slight problem. And Americans would probably NEVER guess what it was. In fact, Americans would think it a slight problem but as we later found out, it was a gigantic problem. Are you ready? Here it is: rain. Yes, that 4 letter word probably led to some other 4 letter words by many Egyptians who say they never see rain but only in little drizzles and then, only a couple of times per year. It rained heavily at least once every day while we were in the desert.
As we drive Desert Road to our destination, there are very few cars on the road. Every once in a while a car would pass. It is so wise that they put the large trucks and 16-wheelers on a separate road not accessible to us or to them except at rare exits. That way, the accidents are decreased 90% Yasser said. I loved it. You could see them driving on the side on their own road during the trip.
We drove for two hours away from Cairo halfway to Alexandria, the home of allegorical interpretation of the Bible (thanks, Origen), and a big city on the Mediterranean Sea. On the way to our destination, we drove through water that was up to the bottom of the car, over half of the tires, and looked like the Red Sea. It was treacherous many, many times. Yasser and his wife said that they “don’t know how to deal with rain and the roads flood very easily because they are not made with rain in mind.” So it rained on the one day I am in Egypt and it had not rained in a very long time. Maybe I was the reason one student from our addiction module teased me. That’s kind of what I was thinking, too, in a prideful moment but then remembered God is sovereign. And He is teaching us through this. Driving on a deserted road through the Red Sea (it seemed) was only the beginning.
With all of the danger and threat of terrorism, driving in a car through several flash flood spots and washed out roads was not where I thought the danger would be! We were stuck in the mud/water once and I thought we wouldn’t make it out. Yasser revved and moved the steering wheel to get the car out but I thought this is where I get out and push. Thankfully, that was avoided.
When we got to the gate of the conference center, we walked in the rest of the way. Our suitcases strapped in the back of a pickup trip in a stack that looked like at least 3 times as high as the truck. But we made it to the conference center which had no power, flooded rooms with water an inch high, and other challenges…but I was grateful. Grateful to be there, safe and sound, fairly dry and free to stretch out after long rides in the car.
-Mark (thankful to the Lord for His protection during the flooding in the desert)