Peace be with you, Deir Abu Hennis. Today, Sunday, we finished our third day of ministry in the village. I have gotten accustomed to our daily routine. We wake up fairly early in the morning in Malawy and are fed a breakfast of foul and falafel. After eating, Basem, a man from the village meets us to drive us to Deir Abu Hennis. The drive to the village is about 30-40 minutes away. The team from Anwaar ministry, Pastor Farouk and Ezabelle, were excited that this trip is the first time they have been able to use a bridge to travel over the Nile River. The last time I was here (November) the only way to cross was by ferry. Although the bridge is not yet finished – only parts of the road are paved and there are deep crevices throughout the paved areas – it is still luxurious to not have to wait for the fairy to cross the waterway. During our first morning trip, I didn’t think much of how rough the roads were. However, on our first evening drive back from the village I was a bit overcome by how “dicey” the roads are… Many cars that travel on Egyptian roads have poor lights (if any). It is also common to have donkeys, carts, bicycles, and other modes of transportation traveling along the roadways (day or night). When traveling at nighttime, it is important that drivers flash their lights regularly, otherwise on-coming traffic won’t see that they are coming. In addition, the roads are unmarked (there are no lanes) and there are bumps and deep holes on the unfinished bridge and travel-ways… all that to say – driving at night can be quite an adventure!
However, in the daylight, the road to the villages is beautiful. The fields are luscious and green with palm trees providing shade and covering along the road.
The last few days have been very full and rewarding… we have been in church services, meetings, and many home visits.
I have been blessed by the hospitality of the villagers in Deir Abu Hennis and have shared more than one meal with gracious families. I have met young people and old who are very poor. I met one young woman who has a newborn baby (I think around 2 months old). For some reason, the mother is unable to produce breast milk. Since her family is so poor she does not have an alternative to feed the baby. She has done her best to compensate by feeding the baby warm water with herbs… However the little boy cries regularly because he is hungry. Anwaar graciously comes alongside of women like this one and helps provide their basic needs. When we returned to Mallawy, one of the church members owns a pharmacy and donated formula for us to take to the young woman. After the services this morning, Ezabelle took the mother aside and taught her how to use a bottle and the formula. This is just one example of many of the types of poverty we have seen.
As we walked through the village today, I was attempting to pay attention to many of the details during our visits. There are flies everywhere and often the streets smell like manure. Many of the families in the village live side by side with the animals. There were moments went I felt depressed about the great needs of the people I met. I have once again fallen in love with the children of Deir Abu Hennis and spending time with them continues to bring me great joy. There were also moments of laughter and true fellowship. One night, I was asked to preach at a revival meeting at the First Evangelical Church in Deir Abu Hennis. A few minutes before we were going to walk from someone’s home to the church, the lights in that part of the village (where we were staying and the church is located) all went out. We waited a bit (hoping they would come back on) but then decided we should walk to the church in the dark. It was a bit challenging to walk the few blocks to the church so we used our cell phones to provide lighting along the way. When we crossed the threshold of the church – immediately – all of the lights all came back on. We got quite a kick out of that. We took Jesus’ words “I am the light of the world” to heart! Also, Anwaar means “lights” in Arabic and we have been praying that we have been a light and encouragement in the places we have visited. The church building was full with many people from the village. We worshiped together, prayed, and I preached about the love of Jesus. When the service was over, I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with the children. Then, just a moment after we crossed the threshold of the church and were on our way… all of the lights in that part of town went off again! When we came – the lights were shining – and when we left, everything again went dark. How we have laughed about that!
This morning I preached at the 2nd Evangelical Church in Deir Abu Hennis. I shared from John 21 when Peter encountered Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. I have loved telling stories about places where I have been in the Holy Land… Being able to describe a little bit about what things look like seems to make the stories come to life. We are now back in Mallawy and I will be preaching here tonight.
I have been incredibly blessed by Pastor Francis and his family. He has two little boys – Matthew and Calvin – who stop by every evening for a visit. They laugh and make fun of my Arabic and it is a wonderful (and humbling!) experience. Tomorrow morning, we are leaving on the 5 a.m. train, which I will be taking to Cairo. The last couple of days there have been further protests in Tahrir Square… so it will be good to see firsthand some of the things that are happening where the heart of the revolution took place. In speaking with youth here in Mallawy and Deir Abu Hennis, I am hopeful for the future of Egypt!