Monday, December 26, 2011

Reverse Culture Shock

While I've been living in Cairo, someone there introduced me to the website First World Problems. It's this website that showcases problems only people in Western, developed coutries have. It cracks me up. I also call it the website of brats. Since being back for a visit, I've been so aware of what a brat I sound like and often find myself thinking #firstworldproblem (yes, I think in hashtags sometimes - don't judge). So here are a few things that have stopped me in my tracks:

- I'm up early on the 26th and want to go hit the day after Christmas sales but my money is in the bedroom my parents are sleeping in. Guess I'll have to put off that shopping list and just hang out in my pjs.

- My skin is itchy and dried out from the heater and I don't have any lotion.

- I think in hashtags.

- Well, I can't use Kahula in that recipe and I don't drink coffee. Wait! I can run to Starbucks for a cup! Or McDonalds, or any other place within a two second drive.

- Frustrated at HEB, I couldn't find the exact ingredient I needed while standing with about 15 other options right in front of me.

- I want to make a new cookie recipe but we still have leftovers of two pies and a sheetcake in the kichen.

- All I've done since getting home is eat.

- So which church are we going to go to on Christmas Day?

Yep - I feel like such a brat!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cairo Christmas Dreams

For as long as I can remember, I've had very vivid dreams. Thankfully, the majority of them are good ones. I've woken myself up laughing from time to time. The best part is that I remember them too. I had one about Johnny Rosenauer when I was in college that still makes me laugh when I think about it. So it's no surprise that when Christmas time comes around, I have fun Christmas dreams. I really do love it. However, last night's Christmas dream beats them all, hands down....

I dreamed that we were lighting the advent wreath and talking about the symbolism of each candle. It was so beautiful and my grandmother was lighting each one. As we lit the last one, the candle burst into the loudest song I had ever heard. And it wasn't a sweet Christmas Carol either. It was loud and intrusive. No matter what we did, it kept singing. Since we couldn't get the candle to stop, I roused myself awake. It was the first call of prayer for the day. Basically, I dreamed we were celebrating the incarnation of Jesus to the sound of the call of prayer. And when I heard the call when I got home, all I could think was Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus.

Merry Christmas, Cairo Style......

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

My First Expat Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approached, it was so bizarre. It almost seemed a non-event because, well, all around us, it was. With the elections and the fact that we aren't in America, it wasn't a big deal. So a few of us got together and decided to make our very first Thanksgiving meal. One of the best decisions I've made in the past three months!

We started Wednesday afternoon by taking our list to our neighborhood market for shopping. Yes my American friends - we shopped the night before. And it was beautiful. And easy. And we found everything we needed. And it was all delivered to us. Don't worry, it's OK to be jealous.

Thursday morning came early but it met us with warm kitchens, delicious foods, and lots of talking/laughter. Everyone spent the day in the kitchen whipping up amazing dishes. I learned how much you can make without the canned foods we take for granted in America. Can you say only two cans used? (chicken broth and cranberry jelly) Oh my goodness, yum! Our table was the picture of gluttony. I learned that I actually do like sweet potato casserole!

As we sat around the table enjoying our hard work, we spent time looking ahead. We all enjoyed it so much we decided to do it again in seven years. We spent time talking and teasing about what life will be like in 2018. There was a serious amount of laughing involved and I feel secure to say that I good time was had by all.

As we ate and laughed, I couldn't help but feel truly thankful. If you would have asked me a year ago, I never would have thought I would be celebrating Thanksgiving in Cairo, Egypt. Yet, here I was surrounded by some pretty amazing girls. I knew Jen was fabulous before coming over but the past few months have confirmed it! Not only is she funny and a great cook but knows how to love people well. I didn't know Emily at all before coming and now I'm so thankful I do! Definitely one of my new favorite people and I'm so glad she stayed one more year. Tessa is my buddy in trying to figure out KGII in Cairo. She has a tender heart and is quick to help out anyone who needs her.

I did miss my family on Thanksgiving but I was reminded of a very important fact. You can have family wherever you are. These girls share life with me here and I'm better for it. But the family isn't limited to them. I've been so blessed to know several different people here in Egypt. They are making me better for knowing them. So for Thanksgiving 2011, I'm thankful for my little Cairo family!

Excuses, Excuses, We Use Them Every Day....

When I accepted the position in Cairo, one of the things that I was most excited about was the fact that I had an established blog. It was to be one of the strongest ways to keep in touch with those around the world and a way to keep track of this part of my journey. As you can very obviously tell, that hasn't happened - at all. I've been trying to think about why and here's what I've come up with:

1. Time. Yes, this can be said for all of us not matter where we are and what we are doing. However, it's gotten pretty busy here. Thankfully, not all of it is work. In fact, most of it isn't. Building a community is time consuming and worth every exhausting moment. Birthday parties, working out, hanging out, going out, girls' nights, shopping, exploring, softball games, cooking together, and so much more. I wouldn't trade a moment of it but by the time I sit down to share about it, my body is exhausted.

2. Learning a new culture. If the act of building a community weren't exhausting enough, the sheer magnitude of learning your surroundings would be enough to wear you out. When you live somewhere so different, you have to relearn everything from how to walk down the street to how to navigate streets/taxis. You learn that you really could kick some butt in charades because it is your best means of communication while you try to learn bits of the language around you. Plus trying to sleep through the new speakers the mosque got a month ago to further amplify the 5:00 a.m. prayer. It can overload your senses and leave you brain dead.

3. Relearning myself. Moving somewhere so different than all you have ever known will change you. I was warned but not prepared. Everything you know, think, feel, believe, and hope for are filtered through entirely new eyes. Every filter you thought through before is replaced and you start all over again. You feel more confident and sure of yourself. However, you also find yourself different. You know that if you really said what you thought about that facebook status update, it could start a fire of debate so you don't. You know that sometimes, it's better to talk about things rather than write them out because you can't discuss your new thoughts on a blog like you can face to face. You can't share because lots of people will not understand from lack of experiences.

So yes, life is full and good. There are good and bad days - many more good. So I'll try to share more but in the meantime, thank you for understanding!