If you are letting your little ones read what I write, I’d recommend reading this by yourself before letting them read it. I am going to be honest and in this case honesty is brutal and heart wrenching.
I’ve procrastinated writing about what I’m going to tell you for two days now. Thinking about it hurts and talking about it puts a lump in my throat.
On Sundays and Wednesdays Mrs. Lantz opens up her home to the FOUND students for tutoring. They may come for two or three hours, and we tutor them in a subject of their choosing. Most of the time it’s “English” so we read out loud, converse, learn new words, and ensure comprehension - not just memorization.
This past Wednesday a group of four boys, Chole, Abdella, Allison, and David, showed up at 10 a.m. We cooked breakfast together and while Mrs. Lantz wrapped up a project, I sat and ate with them. We laughed, I yelled at them to speak in English - not Arabic- and conversation easily flowed as best it could with the language barrier. As we talked, Allison mentioned “last night”. I jumped on this tid bit of information and asked what he was talking about. It took a while, but I eventually got the full story.
On Tuesday night an Egyptian gang of seven or eight boys and men attacked 15 year old Allison. They demanded he give them his phone and upon his refusal and the slap to the face he gave with it, they clonked him on the back of the head with a baseball bat. He collapsed, and they tazed him with 3800 volts twice on each shoulder. After whacking his calf with the bat, they left.
No police report will be made because there IS no police due to the revolution. Plus, Allison is Sudanese. So technically, he’s dispensable.
The worst part of the whole thing is the lack of shock among the boys sitting at the table. ”This happens all the time.” They stated. Chole, who stands at 6’ 7”, stated he had been attacked “too many times to count”. I almost lost it right then and there.
It doesn’t matter if the boys walk in groups because the Egyptians will just go call their friends and make it a 14:2 battle. Brave and manly, right? The Sudanese don’t retaliate or fight back due to fear of the repercussions.
After hearing all of this, Julia walked in and told us she had been attacked just the day before. Egyptian men hang around her apartment building and call the girls over to demand that they become prostitutes for them. She refused to come to them so they grabbed her hair and stuffed their hands in her pocket - searching for money. They didn’t find any so they shoved her down on the stairs. She lives with this everyday.
As you can imagine, I felt extremely emotionally drained and sad after the kids left. I cried and Skyped with one of my best friends.
That night Zach, the Sudanese boy who lives with the Lantzes, came home and told us that when he and his classmates left their refugee high school, two or three Egyptian men pulled knives on them and screamed they were going to kill them. Zach and the other 50 kids picked up rocks and started throwing them at the Egyptians. I think only one or two Sudanese boys were hurt.
The next day we went to FOUND to do a special lesson and talked to the kids about thearmor of God from Ephesians 6.
We left the kids with these verses:
"The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD.” ~ Psalm 146:9-10
Satan is definitely alive and well because he really did try to make it nearly impossible for us to speak or hear the kids due to the noise level on the streets and in the surrounding classrooms.
Thankfully, our God is stronger and makes us promises like this:
"so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I
sent it.” ~ Isaiah 55:11
Please join me in praying protection over the Sudanese living in Cairo. The boys, especially, that they would possess self-control and not retaliate in a way that will bring them more harm. Pray that they will trust the power of God’s word and truly utilize it as a sword of the Spirit.
If you knew me the fall of my Junior year, I am sorry. I took the SAT & PSAT that fall and I was an emotional wreck from August-October 2010. My friends and family can testify. It was pathetic. I hate standardized tests with a burning passion and literally saw them as E-V-I-L. They are, but unfortunately I still had to take them.
Once I finished taking the SAT, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it again. EVER. However, God had different plans! Shocking, I know. :)
There’s a school here in Cairo called African Hope. The school’s super intendent desires for the high schoolers to attend college in The States. This requires a conglomeration of working parts, but a big part of this is that the students take the SAT. And this is where God turned evil into good.
Since I felt so worried about the SAT, I studied a bunch for it and paid attention in my prep courses. I also know what it’s like to feel totally and completely FREAKED OUT about the test. So, when Mrs. Lantz told me I would be teaching an SAT prep class for seven students at African Hope and making a plan she could continue, I realized God really does have a sense of humor.
All of those months of worrying and studying of information I thought would never be of any use to me ever again, Christ redeemed.
I taught the first class today. Only two students showed up on time, so only those two got to participate. The school emphasizes taking responsibility for your education and a huge way to exhibit that is being on time. I had a great time. I got to explain and calm their fears. I assigned homework and saw them get excited. Teaching is addicting.
Well, Mrs. Lantz got back from the doctor visit about an hour ago. Unfortunately, the mother has Tuberculosis. Some doctor removed her lymph nodes a few months ago. This is tragic because lymph nodes are what fight off infection. According to Julia, the daughter, her mom has been “sick” since 2003. So, Julia’s mom has had TB for 9 years. Talk about a fighter.
On Saturday the chest x-ray and blood sample will come back and the doctor can determine if the TB is drug-resistant. Prayerfully, it’s not. If the TB will respond to drugs, Julia’s mom can take medication for 9 months and hopefully be cured.
The other devastating factor to this diagnosis is that Julia and her two siblings most likely have TB as well.
Please, please be praying. And thank you for your prayers over the past few hours.
Hey y’all. (I get such weird looks when I use that word here. It’s awesome.)
I have an urgent prayer request for you. A girl who’s in 8th grade at FOUND (the Sudanese refugee school) is in the midst of crisis. Her family, which consists of her mom and two younger siblings, is behind on rent by three months. This girl’s mom is ill and unable to work. Therefore, the girl wants to quit school and go to work for an Egyptian family. Her safety will be compromised and her education will be interrupted, yet again. The rent is due in the next couple of days, so please pray God would provide the money before the young girl is forced to leave school.
Mrs. Lantz is with the girl and her mother at the doctor right now to attempt to discover what is wrong with the mother. Please pray over the diagnosis and that the doctor’s would be fair and honest even though they are treating a Sudanese accompanied by a “rich white patron”. The church the family goes to will cover medical bills so thankfully the doctor visit will not be another monetary burden to the family.
Mrs. Lantz has asked me to write a re-producible math curriculum for the 7th graders at FOUND. I felt pretty intimidated/inadequate when she first asked me, but after lots of prayer, thinking, and encouragement I’m feeling ready to take on the task. We’re going to start with the basics: a hundreds multiplication chart. I know. ”Didn’t they do that in second or third grade?!” No. They didn’t. And if they did, they can’t remember. Having your education interrupted will do that to ya. So, we’ll work on multiplication today and see how it goes!
Prayers are definitely appreciated and here are specific things you can pray for:
That the kids will not feel discouraged or stupid.
That the other volunteers and I clearly and creatively teach the material in a way the children can grasp.
For me as I continue to brainstorm and create curriculum.
Also, Mrs. Lantz, Daniel, and I have a sore throat and stuffy nose from all of the pollution here. So if you could pray that we all feel better, that would be great!
Well, I lied. Before I came to Egypt, I promised everyone (especially my concerned little brother) that I would NOT go to Tahrir Square. But, the Egyptian museum is there. And Mrs. Lantz is the definition of adventurous. So, on Thursday, we went to Tahrir Square! Needless to say, downtown Cairo was very safe and peaceful on Thursday. All rioting happens on Friday and Saturday. If we hadn’t gone that day, I would not have been able to go because the one-year anniversary of the Revolution is this Wednesday, the 25th, and it will be unsafe after that date. Zach, the Lantzes “adopted” South Sudanese refugee son, arrived on Wednesday so he accompanied us on our excursion!
The most direct way to get to downtown Cairo is by taking the metro. Men and women ride on separate cars, as women are viewed as inferior in the Islamic culture. The stench in the cars made us all want to puke, but we held it together. People pack themselves into these moving pieces of steel. You think the New York subways are crowded…You have no idea.
So, after eight stops we reached our desired station called: Saddat where we pushed and shoved our way out of the door. ”Fresh” air never tasted so good!
Upon exiting the subway, the staring began. Not only am I white, I’m a YOUNG white girl. Zach is clearly a black African boy, and Mrs. Lantz is a white and over-protective momma bear. We made quite the picture! So, the men would stop and check me out as I walked, they came up to me and tried to talk to me, and if they passed me, I could feel their eyes on me. Mrs. Lantz prepared me for all of this, so it didn’t rattle me too much. And, if any of them so much as let a peep escape their lips, Mrs. Lantz screamed “LA!!!” (which means, “no” in Arabic) at them. Zach also went into “big brother mode” on our adventure. It rocked. He speaks and understands Arabic so he was getting really frustrated about the comments men were making about he and I. He never hesitated to reply and make them shut up. I always had Mrs. Lantz and Zach on either side of me. I felt like the President of the United States. Body guards and everything! :)
Standing in Tahrir Square felt so incredible. The spirit of revolution filled the air, even if no visible action was taking place at the moment. As I walked around, I saw buildings I had been seeing pictures of for the past year. I knew I tread where men had died, women raped, and freedom fought for. This knowledge instilled in me a deep thankfulness for the freedom I am able rest in back in the good ol’ US of A.
Tharir constantly teams of action and entrepreneurship. Check out this hot tea stand! The vendor will lug this container around once it’s done steeping and sell it to people by the cup:
We walked to the Egyptian Museum, wandered around the courtyard, and took pictures of the outside of the museum. We ended up not going into the museum because we ran out of time, but here’s a picture of Zach and I in the courtyard! Behind us is an obelisk, the museum, and the Institute of Egypt which mysteriously caught fire back in December.
We took a taxi home so Zach didn’t have to deal with being treated horribly by the Egyptian men for twenty minutes twice in one day.
Here’s one last picture of Tahrir Square I captured as we left:
Achmed is Egyptian and knows where to find the freshest produce and meat. He also knows where to find American things. He's the greatest and does almost all of the Lantzes grocery shopping. You have to understand the volume of people here to understand why this is such a huge help/stress reliever. Needless to say, Achmed speaks pretty good English, but sometimes....
Amelia:IF I buy mince, does it have camel or donkey in it?
Achmed:You want mince?
Amelia:NO. IF I buy mince, does it have camel or donkey in it, or just beef?
Amelia:IF I buy mince, DOES it have CAMEL or DONKEY or just BEEF?
Went back to FOUND today. My four girls saw me, shouted my name, and hugged me. Such joy. Warmed my heart.
Taught multiplication and mourned the learning gaps and lack of foundational knowledge. Must press on! Baby steps!
Pictures will come soon. Promise!
For the Lantzes, generosity is a lifestyle. It’s become so ingrained into their being that their kids don’t even realize that how their parents have chosen to give of their time and money is radically unusual. Naturally, the parents have included their children in their acts of giving so the kids feel ownership in what Mr. & Mrs. Lantz are doing as well.
About six months after the Lantzes moved to Cairo, Mrs. Lantz and their oldest daughter, Ariel, stumbled upon FOUND, a school in Cairo for Sudanese refugee children. The story of how the connection happened is full of divine prompting and humble listening and obedience.
As a trained Montessori teacher in teaching young children to read, Mrs. Lantz knew she could bring her skills and expertise to the school. However, this is when the battle started. The Lantzes knew they did not want to run the school, simply come along side it. Because in reality, domination holds no hope for future generations and leaves no room for independent stability. So, Mrs. Lantz began praying fervently about which grade she was supposed to teach and what material they should learn. God faithfully and clearly answered her prayers.
Obviously, a school, just like any other organization, requires funding. If funding is not provided, the children don’t get to eat lunch. The sad reality is, for some of the children, lunch is the only meal they get to eat all day. Hunger, as you can imagine, is not conducive to learning and thinking. It leads to weak immune systems and low energy levels.
Yesterday, I went to FOUND for the first time. I loved it. Because there were five of us native English speakers, we got to split the 7th graders up into groups of four and work with them on English. I worked with a group of beautiful girls who were 14, 15, 16, 17. the 14 & 15 year old spoke English relatively well, and the the other two did not. So we kind of scrapped the lesson I was supposed to teach (me going against the grain, shocking, I know!) and just talked to each other. I asked them about their stories, and they asked me about mine. It’s funny how stories provide instant common ground. Everyone has a beginning. Everyone’s on a journey. The hurt in some of the girls’ eyes was heart breaking. But the desire to fight and learn definitely tried to prevail. Light & darkness. Prayerfully, light wins, Christ is revealed, and the darkness is not ignored, but spoken of so healing may begin.
I am going to start with this statement: you are not a brave driver. I don’t care what you say. I don’t care how long you’ve been driving for. I don’t care if you live in L.A. If you live in the US, you are a woos on the road. I honestly don’t even care if you’re a NASCAR driver.
I can say this because yesterday, a BP driver drove me to Maadi from the Cairo Airport.
The highways here have four lanes painted on them. But they’re really just to make the roads look cool. So we’re driving along and I look out the window at one point. ”There’s no way.” I think to myself. So I begin counting. I got to eight. Eight cars were driving next to each other. Two were metro size buses and one was a dump truck. I could have shaken the hand of the guy in the car next to me. However, he probably wouldn’t have seen my hand because they seriously never look before switching positions on the road. Notice I said “positions” not “lanes”. I am convinced everyone here who drives has about eight pairs of eyes. Freaking insane.
Then, there are round abouts. Twelve cars across, persistent honking, pedestrians walking through the traffic, motorbikes weaving in and out, and dump trucks cutting across traffic at 60 degree angles. PURE MADNESS.
Honking=car speak. As you approach any area where a car could potentially hit you/not see you, you honk. If you’re mad, you honk. If you’re frustrated and want to squeeze your car into the inch of pavement that is showing, you honk. It’s awesome. When I go home, I’m going to honk. ALL THE TIME. Just kidding. I’d probably get arrested or something…
Stop signs are few and far between, and if there is a stop sign, it’s ignored. But everybody does it so it doesn’t mess up the traffic “flow”. Yes, quotes. Because “flow” is a stretch for how the traffic works here.
But honestly, if we lived here, we’d do the same thing. We’d make it work. We’re all human. We just happen to live somewhere where people decided roads should be organized and rules should be followed/enforced.
So, walking like an Egyptian is fun and harmless. Driving like an Egyptian is a whole ‘nother thing. I only recommend it if you just robbed a bank and need to make a quick getaway.
14 days. In 14 days, I’ll be passing through airport security in Cairo, Egypt. Before you freak out and condemn my parents for letting me go, give me a chance to explain…
I’ll be living with our dear family friends, the Lantzes, who work for BP. They’ve made their home in Maadi, which is 20 minutes from Tahrir Square (where all of the violence and rioting is happening). BP closely monitors the political situation and as soon as it becomes too dangerous for their workers to live in a country, BP charters planes and gets them (including house guests) out of there. This happened to the Lantzes last January during the revolution.
Now, onto more exciting things! While I’m there, I’ll be continuing school through dual-credit online community college classes. However, a majority of my time will be spent volunteering at FOUND school and a local orphanage. FOUND is a school for Sudanese refugees. The Lantzes are very involved at this school and I can’t wait to join their involvement.
Needless to say, words cannot begin to express how excited I am to leave. As much as I will miss home and everything that comes with it, I feel beyond blessed to have this opportunity. I can’t begin to imagine how God will use the trip to influence and mold me.
Nevertheless, I don’t want the “influencing” to begin and end with me. Enter - this blog. I’ll be posting here at least once or twice a week, sometimes more - if time allows. I will write about my experiences and voice my thoughts. Partly for my sake, so I have some way of remembering the details, in case my memory fails to. But partly these posts will be for you. My prayer is that by reading about my adventures, you’ll be inspired to take adventures of your own. Whether it be across the world or in your community. Regardless of the location or your age, I know God can use you in might ways.
Thanks for reading & much love!
P.S. I know I will witness a lot of hurt while I’m there, so I will also post prayer requests.