Sunday, November 19, 2017

Trip of a Life Time - My final thoughts on Egypt, what I learned and how I'm better for it - Chapter 6

We spent the last night on the ship and in the morning, we caught a flight to Taba,  Rode on the bus through the Judean Wilderness and spent the night at the Taba Sofitel Hotel on the Red Sea

Some of the Judean Wilderness.  Moses and the Israelites wandered here for 40 years

The resort was amazing, but after we got checked in, I was feeling so crappy with my shoulder and ribs that mom and I went to our room and laid down.  Next thing I knew, I woke up as it was starting to get dark.  We didn't want an opportunity to miss the Red Sea, so we ran down before we lost the sun

Yup.  Got our feet in so at least we can say we were IN the Red Sea

It was beautiful, but I noticed all the other resorts we passed were empty, barren and some unfinished.  It was explained that tourism is their largest industry.  Achmed kept reminding me that they "had no oil"  and that as a third world country, they depend on the dollars of tourists.  Because of all the unrest in Egypt, tourism is considerably low. Understandably, but sad to see the real people suffer.  Before we parted way's Achmed begged us to tell our friends and family that Egypt was safe and to come visit.  They need our help.

Some have asked me if I felt scared.  Honestly, no.  But remember we had police in the front of our buses and police in the back of our buses and armed guards on each bus.  BECAUSE, we were with a tour group that goes there several times a year, and have built relationships with their tourism industry with guides etc, we WERE safe.  Is it a place I would venture solo or with a small, informal, unorganized group?  Not on your life.  It is dangerous there but in the same breath, I know that the Egyptian people are suffering.  I am not going to go into any politics because I don't have the answers but I know that my heart hurts for my Egyptian friends.  They are trying hard for their families.  I didn't feel one bit bad about spending money on souvenirs and outrageously priced beverages because I knew that the dollars were going right to those people.  The cost of the trip also included all our tips and I know they took care of them generously.

The Egyptians are proud of their ancient history and all the artifacts they have preserved.  And they love to show others and garner their appreciation as well.  As I read passages in the Old Testament now, it comes a little more alive when they discuss Egypt. I can now visualize it.  I can say, "Holy crap!  I was there!" 

It was nice to have Achmed explain things about the Hieroglyphics.  For example, they portrayed people with their left foots forward, which is esoteric in nature.  The Ancient Egyptians believed that because you heart was on your left side, you stepped forward with your left to remove all evil so your heart could follow.

Their temples had so much symbolism.  Much like temples in every religion in modern day.  And all hieroglyphics tell a story.

Most Gods are portrayed being bald and a fake beard.  This is because they believed that once your hair turned gray, you were no longer divine.  So they kept them selves clean shaven

The Egyptian people are kind and loving ( unless they are trying to sell you something)

The majority of people in Egypt are Muslim's   I enjoyed hearing the call to prayer four times a day.  I'm sure if I lived there and I wasn't Muslim, it might get old, but I enjoyed it.  Achmed shared his insights on his religion:

Allah - God
Muhammed  = the last prophet.  They believe Jesus Christ was a true person but not divine or the Savior of the world, just like another prophet. 
They have immense love and peace for family, particular the mother.  Father's preside as patriarchs for the family for the children, grandchildren, everyone in the family until he dies.  You visit your parents several times during the week and you stay close with your siblings.  Huge emphasis on the family in the Muslim faith.

When discussing Jihad, Achmed used the word responsibility in describing it.  However, after much research, I found THIS website that does a great job of explaining jihad according to the Quran and also how fundamentalists have twisted the scriptures and the term holy way.  Truly interesting.  I can see how Achmed would use the responsiblity since it's required of them in the Quran just not in the way we westerners have been led to believe.

When asked about the hijab and the full burka's that women wear, especially in the context of repressing women, Achmed explained that it is a show of respect for women and to protect them.  He put it into the context of a Heavenly Mother who is rarely discussed in the effort to keep her sacred.  He talked about his own wife who purchased a full burka and realized that she didn't care for it so she simply wears a hijab.  Also, covering one's head is a sign of respect.

I grew to love Achmed and the Muslim faith.  Leaning more, understanding more and seeing how closely they mirror my own religion of Christianity, I felt more connected to them.  I loved Achmed's thoughts:
Every religion is okay.  Just be the best at your religion.  If you are a Muslim, be the best Muslim you can be. If you are a Jew, be the best Jew you can be.  If you are a Christian, then be the best Christian you can be.  In the end, God will sort it all out.  Our part is to be the best person we can be. 

I loved those thoughts.  Too many times people are convinced that THEIR religion is the only true and living religion.  And that's okay for them to believe it, but we must leave our hearts open and respectful to each other to allow individual belief's.  If you want to truly share your love for your religion and gospel, you can do much more effective proselyting by your actions and not your speech.

This was the end for Egypt but the beginning of my heart opening so wide with love for my fellow man that at times, I felt it would burst.
Hard to say goodbye to our new friend, but thank you Achmed for all that you taught me.  You're forever in my prayers for your safety, your health and your family.

I am truly blessed that God would allow me to experience this.  Truly mind/heart/life changing.

Trip of a Life Time - Finishing up Egypt - Chapter 5

 Day 6 and 7

Just a  heads up, this a long post with a lot of pictures and commentary.  Here's the thing, we saw so many temples and ancient sites in Egypt that it's hard to keep them strait as I go back and look at pictures.

Some are distinct but are kind of mixed together.  I'll try to make sense of them.

The second morning on the cruise ship, we got up really early and got on some smaller boats and headed to the Philae Islands with it's temple dedicated to the Goddess Isis.  We viewed all of this from a hot air balloon which was so much fun!  Another first for me and mom.  And better, the poor guy that lost his footing and took me down with him felt so bad that he offered to pay for my balloon ride.  I first said no, but then let him to help him feel better.

The sun rise was stunning

Viewing the archeaological dig

Our first balloon ride


I couldn't help but notice the stark contrast of desert and rock on one side and green, flourishing crops on the other


There was a German staying here working as the lead archeologist - It was like a real Indiana Jones

Rooftops of their homes

While the flames are off

Loving the personalized certificate!

We got back on the cruise ship and sailed to the Kom Ombo Temple. 

Seriously the funniest picture!  I didn't even realize that the dude on the left (my right) was making such a funny face!  Of course, since everything is a hustle here, they wanted money for posing in my picture.  And I think I probably made them uncomfortable why touching them on the back.  I forgot my culture rules for a sec

I always loved seeing the women in their hijabs

An altar in the temple

This says secret lake and that's the next picture but just beyond this sign was a concession stand with Coke Zero and I snagged a couple for my and drinking buddy Kerry at great price of 2.00 bucks each!

The secret lake where the elders would come to cleanse themselves before entering the temple

Of course, no pictures allowed inside, but the crocodile mummies were pretty darn cool.

We took a carriage ride through Edfu to the Edfu temple and enjoyed it's night time light and sound show.  It ended up being quite a long day, but I was getting adapted the rigorous schedule we kept,  10 - 12 hour days, but there really is no way to do it any different.  You have to maximize the time you are given there.
Our tour BFF's.  Kerry and Tamera Chipman with mom and me.

Kerry's outgoing personality of love of everyone made for some fun times and I don't think he even realized what an example he was to me.

The picture is blurry but I was trying to get a pic of our dirty their streets are. Garbage is pretty much everwhere

These tiny cars were driving alongside the carriages

That night we sailed into Luxor and THAT was pretty fantastic.   We visited the Valley of the Kings and King Tut's tomb.  The real king Tut's tomb with his mummy inside!!  Of course, no pictures allowed in there, but let me assure you, it's as cooler than you might think it would.  Absolutely fascinating!  Also visited the best ruins in all of Egypt - Karnack.  So many interesting things!

Achmed explaining some of the hieroglyphics 

Our Achmed

Me and my beloved old mormon folk

One of the days we stopped for a what was called the perfect example of how fast food should be done.  It was run by Druins (similar to Muslims but I'm told they believe in reincarnation)
and it was the best falafel I've ever had!
Taken outside the establishment

I loved this most unusual flower

One of the days we stopped at an Alabaster store. Where we watched them work with it as well as listen to Michael explain the importance of alabaster and the place it took in Jesus Christ's life.  He also noted that box in the bible can be interpreted as vase.

You can find  the same account in both Matthew and Mark of the New Testament.  Luke also documents an account, but it is believed to be two different women.
I found a great quote from President Uchtdorf on this:

"Not surprisingly, the Savior is our perfect example not only of generous giving but also of gracious receiving. When He was in Bethany, near the end of His mortal ministry, a woman approached Him with an alabaster box of rare and expensive oil. She was allowed to anoint His head with this precious gift.Some who witnessed this event became angry. “What a waste of money,” they said. The oil was extremely expensive. It could have been sold and the money given to the poor. They saw only the temporal value of the gift and entirely missed its much greater spiritual significance.But the Savior understood the symbolism and the expression of love in that gift, and He received it graciously.  Let her alone,” He said to those who murmured. “Why trouble ye her? … She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.”4My brothers and sisters, my dear friends, what kind of receivers are we? Do we, like the Savior, recognize gifts as expressions of love?"
Something to think about as we enter this Christmas season.  And of course I needed to purchase one for my home.  It sits on my mantle reminding me that, "She hath done what she could"

I worried every time my bags were moved that this would still be intact.  Kudo's to the man who wrapped mine.  It was in perfect condition.  I love what I feel and remind myself every
time I see this.

and in my Savior's eyes, that is enough for now.

We spent the last night on the ship and were looking forward to getting into Israel!