I recently posted a short blurb about my trip to Egypt with my good friend Gavin. I was the tag along since this was his fourth trip attempting to connect with locals who have been forgotten, as well as those of great stature. Being a minister Gavin had a vision for connecting with people of the Egyptian “Coptic” Church (Coptic just mean Egyptian), but we connected with Christians and non-Christians alike. Meeting people who have little to no notoriety was honestly just as exciting to me as meeting the Coptic Pope. I don’t say that to diminish how exciting it was to meet someone like Pope Tawadros, I was just that excited to connect with all of these people with amazing stories. We did accomplish the goal of connecting with people of many different stripes, much more than I’d have ever guessed we might. This website is mostly intended to provide knowledge about Real Estate, more specifically about Real Estate in central Oklahoma. However, whether it is a perceived to be good business decision or not to insert more human stories on this site I can’t help myself. I decided to start working in Real Estate because it excites me to get to engage and help people with where they will raise their children, or live their golden years. This job is very personal for me, and so I have decided that from time to time I will share personal stories of my own, or of others.
In an attempt not to ramble I’ll tell you about a few of the high points on our adventure. Gavin had patience with me in letting me go do a few touristy things at the beginning of the trip. With all of the attention from protests over the last few years I had to go see Tahrir Square. I just wanted to people watch as long as possible. There was a lot of graffiti / “street art” which I’m very excited to show to my cousin Stephen. You’re going to love it buddy!
Oh, and of course I had to make the signature visit to the pyramids!
I had the chance to do almost everything that I set out to do, but I left a few things that were high on my list incomplete, which will make a return visit all the more exciting! We did of course go see the markets, churches and mosques.
In one of our first few days we had the chance to meet the Coptic Pope! I knew that Gavin had done this before after visiting some of the churches that had been burned about a year and a half ago during protests by the Muslim Brotherhood, but I didn’t expect that we’d be so lucky again. We were, but the Pope didn’t have as much time for us as he had last time. He was meeting with some officials and dignitaries from other countries, so instead of going into his office and talking for 15 minutes we were given a chance to speak outside of his office for a few minutes, and given a handful of candy, and I managed to drop a piece on his foot and when I bent down to pick it up there was an audible gasp… Hey, I don’t waste candy you guys. While we were there we noticed that when people attempted to enter the compound containing the office of the Coptic Pope they had to show the guards their cross tattoo that they were probably given as a young child, or as a baby.
One of the most surprising things about the whole trip was the number of Christians in the area, and the general feeling of warmth between most people despite their faiths. Of course we know that not everyone feels so chummy – we visited churches that had been burned in Suez that were still waiting to be repaired. The churches in the more touristy areas had already been repaired, but some of them are still left in ruins but protected by members of the military.
Here is a short segment that 60 Minutes produced last year about the Coptic Church:
So other than visiting the Coptic Church’s Headquarters we also visited some of the churches in Suez (of the Suez Canal fame) that had been burned about a year and a half ago. Trying to describe this experience feels a little bit more difficult than I thought it might be… Seeing an organization full of love survive such ferocious hatred is genuinely transformative on the inside – I don’t know how seeing this could not change someone.
BURNED CHURCHES OF SUEZ
You’ve probably heard of the Suez Canal, but you probably don’t actually know anything about it. That’s how I was before visiting Suez, and I find that to be the case for most things until you visit them. There is a lot that I could say about this trip, but meeting the people of the garbage village of “Zabbaleen”, and seeing the burned churches in Suez are probably the 2 most impressionable moments for me. A lot of churches were burned in early 2013 in Egypt by a small extremist minority, mostly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. I think these pictures will speak for themselves…
GARBAGE VILLAGE OF “ZABBALEEN”
The 60 Minutes report includes the cave churches at Mokattam (Which is supposed to be the site of a miracle performed by Jesus, that seems to be somewhat specific to the Coptic faith), which are located right next to Zabbaleen. Zabbaleen is a “garbage village”, where somewhere between 50 and 80 thousand people live and work in trash all day, every day… This part of our trip is the main storyline I intend to share, so I’ll actually be writing about that and posting it in the next few days. We spent 2 days connecting with people who have little more than family and faith in their lives, and yet most of them seemed to often be enormously happy. That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t appreciate some improvements in their communities, or have the taking over of their industry by multinational companies halted somehow, but they did seem to enjoy their day to day lives, maybe even more than I often enjoy my own…
We had the chance to meet a few characters who I wouldn’t have imagined would’ve been a part of my life even a few weeks ago. One of these people is Adham, who lived and went to school in Manhattan, New York for 2 years, but was forced to leave and return to the garbage village after he had trouble getting his visa (not a credit card) renewed to continue his studies… So, I’ll leave you with the following thought and the following video. I have had the chance to meet people from around the world, and I’ve often been very quick to make assumptions about others and their ways of life. I can’t stop thinking however, that the only way to better understand others is to show up. If someone is in a minority of the greater population it might be wise to ask them what it’s like, at least from my experience it has proven to be enormously rewarding. If it wouldn’t have been for taking a chance to walk into Zabbaleen without a translator, because my friend Gavin is a crazy person, I would’ve never met Adham, Tutu, or any of the other people who I’ve newly found a crazy love for. There are things that my new friends surely would love to change about their lives if they could, but one amazing thing about my trip was seeing much of their contentment. Until we realize that our lives will never be perfect we’ll probably never be able to actually enjoy the blessings of life that we do have.
Buying a new home, or fixing your current home won’t fix all of your problems, but maybe it can be a great reset button to live differently. I don’t say this because I have it all figured out, but merely because I’ve been shown that there can be a better way for me to live my own life. With all of that now on the table, I encourage you to find and watch the movie “Garbage Dreams”, about my friend Adham and his community.
Oh, and people have been asking me how I took the jumping over the pyramids picture, and I’m happy to share. I had my taxi driver do a slow motion video, and I paused and screenshot my phone when the timing was right 😉