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Cairo Update

Date Written:
  30 May 2000
Subject:
  Potty, Food and Lice
  Return to Cairo Update Index

Greetings,

Another eventful couple of weeks. At the moment our children are keeping us busy for a number of reasons. First, Esther is starting to use the potty, and is making very good progress. The Egyptians are astounded by the age which we start them. As normal in Britain, we have started potty training at the age of two years, actually a bit later for Esther because we wanted to get over the move back to Egypt and finish off a conference before proceeding.

Typically in Egypt they start potty training as soon as the children begin to walk, around about 1 year old. Obviously the Egyptians think that we are a bit backward. It has to be said though that the Egyptians go through months and months of wet beds and changes of clothes as the children learn to control the right muscles . . . we have heard that it is only about 18 months when children can reliably control their bladders. I think the main reason for the Egyptians to do this is to save on the expense of buying nappies, which are very expensive here when you consider the average salary.

It has been a couple of weeks now and Esther has been dry at night almost since beginning, and has only had a few little "accidents"- she still has the occasional trouble predicting when the "number twos" are coming but essentially we are almost at the end of the training. Hannah is keen to help in getting the potty because she knows that she will get a sweetie too if Esther has a successful sitting.

Lydia is now on solids and is developing fast. As with the other two, we have taken a video of the first solids going in. She has a particular fancy for carrots, potato and banana (but not mixed together). We haven't let Hannah and Esther help out with feeding her yet because Lydia seems to make quite a mess by herself, and it seems it will be compounded by the other two. Lydia hasn't taken to the bottle, and in fact seems to be allergic to the formula milk, so Alison still has to get up to feed her during the night.

Since returning in March we have had lots of unwelcome guests . . . the small kind that live in one's head and body. Yes, lice and fleas are really common here, especially in the kinds of areas I do ministry. It has been surprising that in the last couple of months I have only had fleas and Alison and the girls have only had lice, there seems to be some kind of sex discrimination with our little friends. To those who do not know the difference, let me explain. Fleas are the creatures that live on one's body. They usually bite where the edge of the clothes are on the body, e.g. the top of the socks or around the belt area of the trousers. The bite marks look quite vicious and are very itchy. If they leave the host they wait around until a shadow passes then they jump and sometimes land on a new host.

I have found that the most effective way of getting rid of them is to change my clothes once or twice a day and have regular showers. There is a pan-scrubber in the shower for this reason, I need to give my body a hard scrub all over a few times and eventually the fleas will get the hint that they are not welcome.

Lice are not as easy to get rid of. These beasties live in the hair of the host and don't mind a regular shampoo and blow-dry. In fact it seems that Egyptian lice are quite resilient and resistant to most treatments. We know a couple from Ireland whose children used to go to an Egyptian school which was a breeding ground for lice- the mother is quite an authority on the subject and she advised us that shampoo, conditioner AND a fine-tooth comb are the only effective means of getting rid of lice here. We have been doing this for weeks but still they seem to be returning. Hannah likes to play a game where we comb her hair over the bathroom sink and she counts the lice as they drop out. As a bonus at the end, if she gets the right number she gets to wash the lice down the plug-hole. The lice always come out alive and kicking so we have to wash them down quick before they get too close to the top of the sink.

A friend here had a visitor from the UK recently, so we asked the visitor to go to Boots the chemist in the UK and bring the most effective lice shampoo they could get. All the treatments we bought here in Egypt have been useless, the lice *still* come out alive. Last Sunday we tried this treatment from the UK and we were quite impressed with the results. After applying the treatment and combing through the girls' hair with a fine tooth comb we found that the lice were coming out dead . . . impressive. Esther had about 20 dead lice in her head, and Hannah had about 80 (yes, we *did* count them). We hope that this is the end of them for the time being. I think I know the reason why I don't have lice- they are quite intelligent creatures and they probably know that going into my head is a lost cause, a receding hairline tells them their days are numbered- a bit like rats leaving a sinking ship.

Within the next couple of weeks I hope to finish the main bulk of the work I am doing for the web-page development company. As I've mentioned in previous E-mails I've taken on the role of acting general manager while my friend is in the U.S. It hasn't been an easy time, this is the first time I've run a business and it has proved to be quite a challenge. After the end of each busy day I enjoy spending time with the family. After tea we have a Bible story which Hannah and Esther always remind us about. We have a big container of sweets and we share them out according to what we can remember about previous stories in the Children's Bible. Since returning a couple of months ago we have almost finished all of the well-know stories in the Bible and Hannah remembers all that we have done. We hope to do it without sweets one day once the children learn that knowledge has its own rewards, but until then we enjoy sharing in with the earthly treasures which last only a moment after the Bible story is finished and we have prayed.

While Hannah and Esther are quietly eating their sweets, Alison and I have recently been memorising Psalm 27 together. With this Psalm still fresh in my mind each day, and coupled with the problems I have had running the business I have re-written the Psalm to fit my situation. I'll share this now:

The REAL Psalm 27:

Psalm 27 {Of David.}
The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Saviour.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.



Re-written for May 2000

Psalm 27 {of Jason}
The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When angry customers phone me up and demand the work, when creditors ask for money, they will go bankrupt.

3 Though requests for meetings surround me, my heart will not fear, though I can’t fit everything into my schedule, even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may have a regular quiet time every day of the week, to play my guitar and praise His name.

5 For on pay-day he will put money in the business account, he will clear the necessary cheques and make it look like nothing was wrong in the first place.

6 Then my status will be lifted above the non-invoice payers who surround me; and in Church I will testify that there was nothing to fear. I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Saviour.

10 Though my Landlord and freelance-worker forsake me, the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my lazy employees.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my competitors, for hard-to-satisfy customers rise up against me, breathing out accusations

13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD and not be bankrupt.

14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.


My best wishes to you all at this time- the weather is getting much hotter now, we have to go to bed with the fans on at night in order to sleep comfortably. Even now it is 1am and I'm still sweating- and the real summer hasn't started yet!

Toodle Pip,

Jason, Alison, Hannah, Esther and Lydia

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It's a Fact!

Facts about Egypt:

  • Egypt's population is 66 Million

  • Egypt is four times the size of the UK

  • Only 3% of the land can be used for arable crops

  • Cairo has 18 million people and is growing by 1 millon each year.

  • Cairo is the Largest city in Africa and the Middle East

  • Official literacy rate is only 45%

  • A total of 11 languages are spoken in Egypt

  • Public Debt per person is $790

  • Average annual income is $630

  • Unemployment is estimated to be 17%

  • Religion: Approx. 85% Muslim and 15% Christian

  • Most Christians are affiliated to the Orthodox Church, less than 1% of the population are Protestant

  • There are an estimated 100,000 street children in Egypt

 

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