1.29.11 & 1.30.11
I decided to combine the last two days of the Egypt trip because the first of these two days was mostly travel time and I didn’t think it deserved a whole post. We got to sleep in until 8, which felt amazing. I never thought that 8 a.m. was sleeping in but here it is treat. As we drove out of Cairo I was sad thinking that this was most likely the last time I would see the view of the Great Pyramids. As we were leaving we saw the remains from the riots the night before. The burnt cars on the freeway were the closest I got to see any riots in Cairo. They had us close the blinds on the bus for about a min just to be extra safe, which was kind of a bummer because we wanted to look out the windows, but hey I guess I’d rather be safe.
Spence making faces from the Judd bus
We drove all day and made a couple stops to see some biblical sites. We got to re-enact the story of the priests holding up Moses’ arms in the spot it happened and we also stopped at small well. They warned us before we got off the bus that there would be a lot of cute kids asking for money and small items, and they weren’t kidding. I gave a cute little girl my favorite sparkly purple pen and other people were emptying their pockets to give anything they had, it made me grateful for the small things that I don’t think much about like a hair tie and a pen.
How could you ever resist Barbie Band Aid boys
We were all very relieved to reach the Morgan Land Hotel. We were greeted my local men playing soccer and inviting us to join. We all went and dropped our stuff off and a bunch of us went to go play! I was a bystander, considering how terribly I play just at the center let alone a group of local men, and it was really amazing to watch my friends mix so easily with these men over a game of soccer. I watched them make friends as the sun set over the scenic Mount Sinai. After dinner we had an amazing lesson with Brother Muhlestein where we all gathered outside to look at the stars and study Moses chapter 1. It was one of my favorite lessons thus far, we learned about the glory of God and his worlds without number. It made me feel so grateful to know that such a powerful being could love such a simple girl so fully. After our lesson we all headed to bed right away since our wakeup call was for 2:30 the next day.
Playing Soccer Before Sunset
Waking up wasn’t as hard as I expected. I was eager to get started with the hike so I hopped out of bed and started putting on as many layers as I could fit. We had a quick breakfast and then headed on the bus to start our hike. I heard the hike was pretty hard and I was kind of nervous about it until I thought to myself “If Moses can do this hike with 2 stone tablets in his hands, I better be able to make it up there”. It was really fun because it was pitch black outside so we had to bring our flashlights in order to see 3 feet in front of us. I decided to take it slow and enjoy the hike rather then rushing the whole way and getting out of breath. I was really grateful because at each stop we made I would turn off my flashlight and just look up at the stars. The view was beyond anything I have ever seen. There were so many stars and as I looked into them I felt that I could see the outline of the earth and the Incubus lyrics came to me mind “Just like a backlit canopy with holes punched in it”. It made me think about how small the earth is compared to the universe, it really starts to put things into perspective. I loved the feeling of standing in the middle of nowhere and contemplating things that are far beyond my mortal understanding.
As we made our way up the mountain we came across a lot of sleeping, snoring camels. The hike wasn’t as bad as I had been expecting it to be, but it was still a challenge. As we made our way up the last steps the wind started to really start blowing and we were trying our best in order to make it up before the sun started to rise and all we had to light the way was the $2 flashlight that I bought in the hotel gift store. It was quite the adventure.
We got to the top just as the sky was starting to light up. We found a great spot and took lots of pictures. The view was awe-inspiring. All you could see was smoking rising from mountains on end and the sun just barely peaking over the top. We were all freezing cold and the wind was blowing pretty hard so we did our best to try and keep each other warm. As the sun became visible we gathered together as a class and started to sing Hymns. It was such a beautiful occasion, the amalgamation of the people that I was coming to know and love and the strengthening of my testimony of my God and his splendor.
My adorable beanie that makes me look like an asparagus(:
After we all decided that our fingers would fall off if we spent one more minuet there, we decided to find a warmer spot where we could have our devotional. We traveled down a ways and I got a chance to talk to our Bedouin guide. He told me that he has made that hike every day for the last 8 years, and sometimes 2 times a day! I was more than impressed. Once we found a great spot, we had another amazing devotional from Brother Muhlestein where we read about some of the accounts of events from Mount Sinai. I loved when he said, “You will always remember the time you read the 10 commandments on Mount Sinai”. It really was my favorite part of the trip, I don’t think I will ever forget it. The red granite mountain was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and I feel I have grown so much from the experience.
The hike on the way down was a totally different experience because we could actually see where we were going and what was around us. We were bright and chipper and I was dancing the whole way down. We got back to the hotel again and got all our stuff ready to leave. The rest of the trip home was great, we all just took it easy on the bus. Going through customs wasn’t bad at all. There was no line at all! I can’t wait to go back over to that area for our trip snorkeling in the red sea; the coral reefs looked so inviting especially after a long day of traveling.
I love every second of Egypt. It was one of the most exciting and memorable weeks of my life. I feel silly trying to describe it to you all because its one of those things where I continually want to say, “You just had to be there”, because its true. But as much as I loved Egypt, I was so happy to be home. Jerusalem feels like home now. As we came up the hill to the center I felt an tremendous love for the city and my home here. We all got off the bus and walked down into the garage where we saw Sister Muhlestein and the kids in their pajamas, when I saw Sabrina I yelled her name and she came running towards me and I dropped my suitcase to lift her up and give/get the best and biggest hug ever. There were signs up that the kids made saying things like “we love you” and “welcome to the land of clean water and vegetables”.
So, in summary, Egypt was filled with mummies, tombs, deserts, camels, the Nile, pyramids, mountains, deserts, temples, carriage rides, great friends, and unforgettable experiences.