Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just a Smile

A smile can go a long way in this shaded culture. Without even thinking, I often find my lips pressed tightly together beneath my scowled brow as I walk through this city. It's not that I am angry, I guess I am just trying not to look approachable. But when I leave this horrible look at home, and just walk, other opportunities arise that remind me why I love this place, despite the sexual harassment I encounter every 4 seconds.

My moments with local children outside the walls of my classroom are few and far between, and I have found that my heart automatically speeds up with any eye contact with a child. God is using their big, almond shaped brown eyes to draw me in, and soften my heart for these people. Yes Christy, they too are people, with stresses in their own lives, hurts, pains, and passions. They too need a smile to lighten their load. Every soft encounter I have with a child here breaks one more of the barriers I have arrogantly placed between me and the locals who share this city with me. Upon my arrival, I was too quick to put up the walls, too quick to make up my mind about who they are, how they need to change, and what they need to learn about my world. The walls remain. Every time my eyes lock with a little one here, or a woman looks sweetly at me through her veil, I freeze...the Spirit is breaking me down. Tonight my building's guard smiled at me for the first time. What normally is an awkward encounter of language issues and miscommunication ending with a frown and severe frustration was traded in for a moment of grace. For the first time I saw him as a man trying to care for his family, working hard to serve me by protecting my home.

Last week a girl followed me through the street practicing all the English she knew. She told me how she is afraid of birds, lions, and tigers...that she is eleven years old and is learning English at school. As I turned the corner and left her behind I was convicted that I don't talk more with the local children. Why is my heart so guarded? Tonight as I was leaving my flat a girl said "HELLO, are you the teacher that lives here?" Since I never interact with random neighbors I froze, "I most certainly am," I replied, gushing with the 3 seconds of positive interaction I was blessed with. I smiled...thank you Lord, oh how I needed that.

What I can't seem to understand is why I am so hard on even the women I encounter daily? The coldness I automatically feel is sin...but what is the root? Is it because at first glance I assume they are judging me for my western heritage? Or am I angry at them all for a few rude past encounters? I am thanking my Father for the opportunities to reflect, and how a simple smile has done a miracle in my attitude toward these people. A smile really does go a long way...now I await them with great anticipation. For they are part of my personal transformation.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today I'm stuck

So much goin on in this little head of mine right now. Dad asked me when I was going to blog again, and I suddenly found myself stuck. There is so much I want to say, but because of certain things, I can't in a blog. But please know I need to be lifted up to our Father now more than ever. Normal has become the lack of consistency and routine, which at this point in my life, I am enjoying. Please know that is a huge change for me. So much of me is transforming...God is taking over...whew. I have not been bored in the almost 6 months that I have lived here...too much that visually stimulates, mentally strains, emotionally breaks, and spiritually challenges. I never know what i am going to face, and I have found that controlling my emotions and staying even is a more difficult challenge now, than it ever has been. I still wake up each morning and think...wow...this is where I have been called to live life again today. How long? I do not know, I only know this is where I am today. But joy fills me knowing i am right where I am called to be.

Last week I arrived home from an 8 day trip to Kenya. Kenya was beautiful, green, lush, mountainous, wild...and the people were so genuine and sweet. I have to say that the people were the first thing I noticed...and I grasped on to their gentle spirits immediately. One of my co-workers who was with me said she found she could relax in Kenya in a way she never could here in Egypt...BAM...she hit that nail on the head. Yes, it was as if my spirit was jumping in agreeance, why is that? We were never quite able to label why we felt so calm in that country. Nairobi is SIGNIFICANTLY more dangerous than Cairo...Cairo is one of the safest places in the world. But the sense of urgency here always is lurking...it's a spiritual and social stress...the heart knows it.

My purpose for the trip was to attend a teacher conference and of course we went early so we could go to the Masai Mara on a SAFARI. That was another dream that came true this year. :) I can't even begin to explain to you how refreshed I felt sitting amongst the splendor of God's creation of wild beasts and clean air. It was like an emotional week at the spa! aww. But the highlight of my trip was the conference I attended. I can honestly say the challenge I received from my fellow brothers and sisters at the conference have cut to the core of things I never knew were weaknesses I had. God used their stories and their lives to speak to me and rip out parts deep inside I never even thought to touch. I am so thankful to have been apart of people's lives that week who are serving all over Africa.

I wish I could be more open about all that is going on in my head, in my heart, and in my journals. In time, I will be. It's a ride I can't pick words to describe...and I have stopped waiting for it to get smooth. I think this is it from now on...I have accepted that i have no control...only the choice of obedience. "When you come to the edge of all the light you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on....or you will be taught how to fly."