OK, AGAIN I've been busy which is why I haven't written for a
was my original intention to send these updates once every couple
of weeks, but they're almost becoming monthly. There's been many
great things happening here and I find it difficult to decide
what to exclude.
occasionally do computer work here to top up the support that
we need for living expenses. Most of the work comes via E-mail
from a company in London. I do the work here and send it back
again when it's finished. This is a good arrangement because it
means that it doesn't matter where I live and it gives me flexibility
on which hours to work during the week. Recently I've had a deadline
to meet so I had little time to do children's work
the midst of this I had a phone call from a guy who has translated
for me in the past. He is a fairly well-off business man but he
also has a great ministry with children. On the phone he said
"Jason, I went to an orphanage with about 30 boys a couple
of days ago and these kids are really 'hungry'. They have loads
of questions and I really want you to go and do a presentation
to them". In typical Egyptian style he made it difficult
for me to refuse, (not that I wanted to of course). I explained
that I was really busy but I'd create a gap in my schedule to
fit him in- but it couldn't be long. We agreed to meet at 6pm
on Thursday the following week outside McDonalds in the centre
of the city. He wasn't sure how to get back to the orphanage so
he arranged for one of the boys to meet us there and take us to
the day came Alison and I were planning a nice quiet evening in
the flat, with a take-away meal and a good rental video. Then
my friend called at 5pm - "You haven't forgotten have you!"
Aaaaaaaaahhhhgg! was my response- I didn't write it on my schedule
so I DID forget it completely, being so busy with other things
completely pushed it out of my mind. I explained that I DID forget
but I would still come. To get to McDonalds would take about an
hour, so that left me with 0 minutes to do preparation. Hmmm.
I quickly packed the sketchboard along with some blank sheets
of paper, and some tricks- then drove off to meet him. To say
that I felt unprepared would be a major under-statement.
managed to arrive at McDonalds at 6pm precisely, but because of
lack of parking space I had to stay in the car, double parked
in a busy street. By 6.20 neither my friend nor the boy from the
orphanage had appeared and a policeman was giving me hassle about
blocking up the road so I had to move on. I drove round the block
several times, slowing down outside McDonalds each time I went
round until 7pm. I thought "Great! I won't have to do it
after all! " I don't like being unprepared and there was
still time to have that quiet evening in the flat with a takeaway
and video . . .
decided to drive round one more time, then if he still wasn't
there I'd go back home again. Unfortunately my plans were dashed
again! I saw the back of his head in a crowd outside McDonalds
. . . and because he didn't see me I had the thought to pretend
that I didn't see him and drive on! Of course I didn't, but I
came pretty close to doing it I must admit!
friend gave his apologies for being late, but went on to explain
that because the boy didn't come to show how to get to the place
he didn't know exactly where to go to. While he was telling me
this I saw him looking out of the window to some street children
outside McDonalds. He asked me to wait a while longer while he
went out to speak to them. Apparently he already knew these boys
from a near-by shelter. They were hard-core street children with
literally no place to call home and lived on the streets either
begging or stealing for a living. He chatted to them then went
in McDonalds and bought them each a burger then came back to the
car. This guy has his priorities right, and I guess that the reason
why he was late was because he was doing a similar errand earlier.
asked me what I wanted to do about the orphanage, whether to postpone
it to another day or try and find our way there. My thoughts immediately
went back to the quiet night in the flat with a takeaway meal
and video . . . etc. A second time I relented and explained that
I'd be happy to try and find the place by ourselves (OK, I admit
that it wasn't easy to say it) . . . all we had to go on was a
street name (one that no-one seemed to know) and an area of the
city. By 9.30pm we finally arrived at the orphanage. The boys
were just finishing off there supper which is fairly typical at
that time. We had a couple of hours before they went to bed. My
friend assembled them and spoke to them while I set up the sketchboard
and started the painting. There was quite a age spread between
them- from about 7 to 15. The orphanage is managed by the Orthodox
church and all the children are Christian (nominally). For them
the next day was Good Friday so I spoke to them about Barabbas.
I explained that he was going to die for all of the bad things
that he had done, but when given the choice the crowd choose Jesus
instead. Jesus died in his place. Barabbas was possibly the first
person to look at the cross and see his "redeemer" someone
who died for him, although we don't know if Barabbas ever understood
the spiritual significance.
the same way Jesus died for all of us, he took our place on the
cross to die for the sin that separated us from God. All of the
boys had had bible teaching as part of their time in the orphanage
but to all of them this was the first time they really understood
the gospel. Unlike other orphanages that I've been to, these kids
were perfectly quiet throughout, listening intently to every word
I said. Afterwards I gave them the opportunity to respond and
half of them immediately put their hands in the air. My friend
was right, these kids were 'hungry'.
he explained to me that he has a vision to reach out to the hard-core
street children around Cairo. I was surprised by the numbers that
he quoted from semi-official estimates, about 100,000 of them
living on the streets here, WOW. When we left and went our separate
ways I asked him to keep me informed about his plans.
arrived home about 1am. I missed out on the quiet evening with
a takeaway and video but I'd like to think that maybe the time
was better spent . . .
have much more to say . . . but it will have to wait!
Alison, Hannah and Esther
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