And so we made it home! The (attempt) at sleeping like normal has been interesting. Three days in and I have been up at 3Am, 2am, and then 1am. I don't know why I'm going the wrong direction but I know I'm still not used to Nort' Dakota time.
The trip was in a word: Enlightening. Enlightening to see the beautiful Holy Land of Israel in (and out) of it's biblical context. Enlightening to see Egypt in all of it's populated, nothing like the books glory. Enlightening to have the opportunity to meet with persecuted brothers and sisters in the 20 million plus populated city of Cairo and to once again realize that fellowship, that sweet Koinonia shared by those in the body of Christ, that it goes much farther, much deeper than the ability to share in a conversation, as we did not speak the same language.
To shed light on "once again", my husband and I went on a mission trip to Xochimilco, Mexico (suburb of Tijuana) in January of 2008. Our Spanish is, as is our Arabic, someone less than fluent and so there was a constant struggle to find the rights words. One particular moment in Mexico solidified my belief that the love of Christ, the fellowship of His Body, is unmatched and unparalled in all of His creation.
There was a man in Mexico names Jose, who was a wonderful person, spoke very little English, but you could see his love for the Lord all over his face. Kirk and Jose had spent considerable time serving together and Kirk wanted to tell Jose that he could see his faith by the way he lived it out. Kirk speaks less than zero Spanish and so he couldn't find a way to do it. Until, he picked up his English Bible, Jose picked up his Spanish Bible, and Kirk took him to the passage in James that (paraphrased) says "Show me your faith by your works". Jose must have understood what he was saying and so the two of them proceeded to have a conversation using Bible verses back and forth for a good half an hour. We left Mexico with a bond to brothers and sisters we didn't even know we had, that is absolutely unbreakable. All without what we would call conversation.
The same was true in Cairo. We showed up to this aparment building in the middle of one of the poorest places I have seen in my life, surrounded by garbage with a very heavy spiritual atmosphere. They had a special service, just because we were visiting. There was only about 12 of us who were allowed to go to the service and my husband and I were beyond blessed to be two of them. We pull up and there are kids EVERYWHERE. They are all lined up, with their hands out saying, "Nice to meet you", "Nice to meet you". I think they learned it just before we got there. :) They were so beautiful and their little faces shone so bright. I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin as soon as I saw them. I shook their hands and then kissed each one of the girls twice on each cheek. (I learned that right before we got there). We shared the service with our Egyptians brothers and sisters, which was absolutely packed. After the service, we had cake to celebrate one of the brothers, Elisha (a wonderful, bright light for the Lord). Before we left we were able to spend alot of time with the children. They were very respectful and very curious about us Americans. There were a couple of teenage girls whose English was choppy but far beyond my Arabic. I got to hug them and love them and my heart broke to leave them. As we left the kids waved and blew kisses and said "I love you, I miss you", "I love you, I miss you".
For me, the crowning moment of the 18 days was not snorkling in the Red Sea or hiking in Petra, but sharing 2 hours with brothers and sisters whose light shines unfailing, unwavering amidst heavy persecution and constant unrest.
Who, I pray, I can learn from and let my 'light so shine before men'..
"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6