tooth fairies in Egypt!
I forgot to mention that on a visit to Luxor a few weeks back
Hannah's first baby tooth came out. Unfortunately Hannah didn't
notice, and neither did anyone else until she was eating an ice
cream in Macdonald's shortly afterwards. We asked the obvious
question: "Hannah, did you notice something hard in the ice
cream you are eating?"
you noticed you have a tooth missing?" Hannah felt the gap
in the front of her mouth, on the bottom jaw.
felt something in my mouth earlier, but I didn't know what it
was so I spat it out"
did you spit it out Hannah?"
in the perfume shop..." (A place we had visited prior to
Macdonald's). We hotfooted our way back to the perfume shop and
made extensive inquiries and a thorough search of the area, but
to no avail. The shop keepers in the area were helping too. They
asked me why I wanted the tooth. I told them it was for the tooth
fairies- they gave me a blank look. Tooth fairies obviously don't
come to Egypt. They explained that their tradition is to let the
child throw the tooth in the Nile. The belief is that the power
of the Nile will bring forth a tooth to replace the missing one.
I've also heard that children in Cairo throw the tooth up to the
sun and say a prayer for the sun to replace the missing tooth.
Apparently both traditions date back thousands of years to pharaonic
is a great time for ministry. I always have many meetings over
the Easter season, this year was particularly busy because both
Eastern and Western Easters coincided on the same day, this only
happens about once every five years, as a result every church
wanted me at the same time! A few days either side of Easter I
spoke to about 700 children in about 12 different meetings. To
be honest, I do not usually try to pack the meetings so close
together; to do so would invite burn-out which I have been in
danger of doing more than once now.
Easter I visited upper Egypt and spoke at some Egyptian Orthodox
churches. I was surprised that they actually invited me, but they
apparently heard about "An Englishman who painted Bible stories
and did magic tricks". The priests didn't quite know how
to react to me, and actually, I didn't quite know how to react
to them. The members of the congregation hold the orthodox priests
in high regard and above the status of the normal members of the
church- of course I'm used to relating to pastors as equals and
I wasn't so sure about stooping down and kissing the hand of the
speaking at several different churches I noticed that their reactions
to me were different. They started to accept me. I decided that
it would be wise to adapt to this sub-culture and bow down and
kiss the hand of the priest too. In doing so I was showing respect
for the people with me as well as the priest. The messages that
I gave in the churches had a very obvious gospel theme, but this
didn't seem to be a problem since I had won their acceptance.
The Orthodox church uphold tradition on a par with the Bible-
they say that a person can be saved through having faith and following
the traditions of the church.
The reaction from the members of the congregation was far beyond
what I expected. In many of the meetings adults and children were
present. The adults' reaction was suggesting that no one has opened
up the Bible in this way before. They already knew the stories
I told them, but never with the real-life application I put to
to do next is an issue for me. It was never my intention to do
ministry with the Orthodox Church, but they have invited me back
to do a lot more meetings and next time they want me to do a tour
of ten villages. According to the reaction I received I'm willing
to consider it.
trip to upper Egypt left its mark on me. As usual for such places
the food was not suitable for Western standards. OK, so I've learnt
how to control the automatic gag mechanism when I put something
foul in my mouth, but I haven't learnt how to control my stomach's
reaction to it. In hindsight I shouldn't have finished that stuff
that they called chicken soup. I should have noticed that the
thin layer of grease on top wasn't a good sign, and the strange
taste it had should have sounded the alarm bells too, the taste
reminded me of the smell of rotting flesh . . .
in polite company in Egypt it is more desireable to eat your food
and be sick than to offend your hosts by leaving it, so I did
the former. Fortunately I managed to get back to the privacy of
my own house before the reaction started in full. I stopped being
sick after the first day, but for the next three days I had to
be within running distance of a toilet.
time I will pass on the chicken soup . . .
A photo of me hob-nobbing with the priests from the Orthodox Church.
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