One week to go, before I fly out to Cairo. The suitcases are lying empty, almost accusingly, in the spare bedroom, but I hesitate to pack. What to put in and what to leave behind? Do I need to take bed linen and towels or will I find them there (You would think there would be lots of Egyptian cotton in Cairo!)? How many books will I take (I am going to a College, after all, with a good library, so maybe not so many. They are heavy to carry, anyway!)? I should be used to all this by now. After all, it has been over 20 years since I have been a mission partner, and I have had to pack up and move houses so many times in the past. But I know that it will all happen and everything will be packed (usually late the night before). The important thing is to take something to remind me of my 15 years in Zambia and something to remind me of my 5+ years in the Holy Land.
I am of course thinking of the wider picture, beyond the mundanities of packing, and feel so excited at the prospect of my posting in Cairo, although in many ways it is going into the unknown. I will be the International Relations Co-ordinator at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC), and I have already spoken to Atef, the President of the College, who has been incredibly welcoming and affirming. Also, I visited the College a year or so ago for its 150th Anniversary celebrations, so I have a rough idea of where I am going to. It will be good to be part of a College community again (The time I spent at the UCZ Theological College was so special).
Needless to say, Cairo will be very different from Tiberias. There will be no view over the Sea of Galilee from my veranda every morning, though no doubt I will occasionally see the Nile, though it may be a metro ride away. Cairo is also gigantic and noisy (though admittedly the music from the evening disco boats in Tiberias could be very intrusive), but no doubt I will soon get used to it.
I am delighted to be staying in the Middle East. I find the mix of religions and ethnicities fascinating, and I feel very committed to the Church in the Middle East, especially at this time when it is under considerable pressure. It is important to stand alongside our sisters and brothers in Christ at present time, though saying that, the church in Egypt seems very active and forward-looking. It will also be good to discover the various dynamics in Egyptian society, and that will take time.
I will be posting my impressions and experiences and may even manage a few photos, so I look forward to you accompanying me in my sojourn in Egypt through this blog. But meanwhile it is back to the packing…!