Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dotty's Christmas

So, my friend Dottie, who helped to get me into blogging, because Chelsie introduced me to her blog, and I spent two hours reading all her posts about living as a single young woman in Cairo and laughing and crying (on the inside - I don't show my tears - much), and who played and sang in my worship band and who led worship when I wasn't there, and taught in my kids' school is now living as a single young woman in the USA and has very courageously given up her home and family and a great job in Georgia to move to North Carolina with some friends to plant a new church.

So here's her account of their Christmas service. They truly are pioneer church planters. I think God is very proud of Dottie...

"Also, tonight was our Christmas service at Greenleaf. In some ways, our first Christmas service was something akin to the first Christmas itself. Now don't get me wrong, Jesus' birth was way more monumental than our little service. But Jesus' birth was humble and things didn't go the way I'm sure Mary and Joseph wanted or planned for. Similarly, our service was humble with only a small number of us meeting together. And things didn't go the way Rodger and Angela and I planned. Angela accidentally left her sermonette at home on the desk. Rodger forgot the communion bread, so we had to make a stop at the grocery store before church and that made us quite rushed to get to church on time. I had a special song in the service that was supposed to be me and the two kids singing, but one of the two kids got stage fright so it was just me and the other child. And the room that was supposed to be left unlocked for us to meet in was locked and we couldn't get in. So we met in the lobby of the building. In the end, it all came together and was just fine. Nothing big and fancy, nothing that gave the appearence of being monumental or important, but hopefully God was honored through it all. Hopefully, God looked lovingly down on our humble little service and smiled."

HT: Life in Slow Motion

Friday, December 14, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Pageant is coming

Hooray! Tomorrow is our annual Christmas Pageant. Now if you've been reading this blog since the beginning, then you'll know that we did one of these last year, and the year before that, and, actually, the year before that too. I suppose that's why we call it the ANNUAL Christmas Pageant.

Anyway, it's tomorrow night, which means that today was our big rehearsal day - the day when we put it all together. For at least a couple of weeks now, actors have been rehearsing, learning lines and doing hilarious improv stuff, but each group of actors (shepherds, wise men, holy family, Herod and bodyguards etc) has been rehearsing on their own. Today they all actually met. and it well.

It was good. We got through the whole thing twice, and nothing went wrong. Costumes=good, props=good, balcony made from straw bales=good, choir=good, lights we do tomorrow morning, visuals=good, sound=good.

So what makes it different from last year? It's sold out, right? There are kings, shepherds, Joseph. Mary and a real baby, right? a choir of angels, right? Yup, and of course, live animals. Well, I suppose you'll have to come along (if you can persuade anyone to part with their tickets) and see.

Please pray for us.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

My friend Dave

Here's Dave from my home church, Frontline, in Liverpool, giving a rousing and impassioned speech (without notes) about the need to invest resources and time and effort into the chidren and families of Britain's inner cities. He's the man. We've known each other since we got married in the same year, and he is one of the most inspiring people I know.

He is speaking to the annual Conservative Party conference in Blackpool. He is not a Conservative, but was invited to speak by one of the Conservative Shadow Cabinet after they met in Liverpool some months ago.

For the benefit of my American friends, this is an unheard of event. Politics and Christianity do not readily mix in the UK, unlike in the USA, and there is no general affiliation between Christians and the Conservative party. In fact, the vast majority of my Christian friends are Labour supporters.

This amazing speech was broadcast on the BBC's Parliament Live channel. Even more amazing is the standing ovation he recieves.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Worst book title ever

Found this on Carlos's blog...

HT:Ragamuffin Soul

Monday, November 26, 2007

Advent readings

So we're trying to pick families to do Advent readings at the moment...


Sunday, November 11, 2007

A belated blog birthday

Actually, it's been a year and a month since I started this blog, and although I've taken a rest from blogging recently, it's been a wonderful experience, and I know that some of you who don't live in Egypt have really appreciated seeing little clips of life here.

According to my stats page, there have been 7,585 unique visitors to this blog and according to Technorati, the blog stats site, I'm ranked 137,774 in the blog world. Is that good? I've no idea!

Anyway, it's not about stats, it's about sharing life and I'm going to get back to business as of now.

Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Brianfest - the concert - at last

We spent the hour before the concert at a nearby apartment, eating pizza, drinking coke and praying about the event. We walked over to the field at about 7:45, arranged for the groundsmen to turn off the pitch floodlights as soon as I had finished making the introductions, and then we went up on to the stage. I said a few thankyous to all the people who had made the event possible, all the volunteers and the crew, and then handed over to Brian and the band.

Here's the set list...

Come now is the time to worship
I lift my eyes up
Your love will find me
Triune God
Creation calls
Psalm 13 (How long O Lord)
Go on loving you
Your faithfulness
You are my home
Light the fire again


Lifted (instrumental by Brian T)
Come and fill me up
Our Father in Heaven
Holy God
You surround me
When you shepherd me
The river
Hope of the nations

You shine
Hallelujah (Your love is amazing)
Stay (Orphans Song)

It was just amazing. I still can't believe we pulled it off. Not one single thing went wrong. There were no equipment malfunctions, no power problems, no injuries, no complaints from the police - nothing! Brian and the band were absolutely outstanding - they played brilliantly, and there was definitely an extra edge in their playing that night. It seemed that Peter had more of a groove going on the bass, Eran on the drums was playing so fluidly, Brian T pulled off some fantastic jazz/fusion solos and was conjuring up shimmering textures and rhythms, Philip on keys held the whole thing together and sang some great falsetto harmonies, and Brian D's voice and acoustic guitar were the icing on the cake. James spent more time playing the Duduk than he anticipated, and he told me afterwards that rather than playing to the crowd, he felt that he was playing for all the people watching from the balconies of the apartment buildings surrounding the field. He wanted to give the music a more eastern flavour and provide a point of contact between the eastern and and western cultures - to allow the Egyptians watching to find a thread of familiarity in the music.

The sound was outstanding, the lights were magnificent and the crowd loved every minute of it. Gordon had put together a whole sequence of visuals with lyrics for every song on a mixture of still and video backgrounds, and it really helped us understand the significance of the music. It was an amazing concert, but because Brian's material is all worship songs, the spiritual dimension of the event was really well defined. It was unmistakably all about God and not about the band or the crowd.

There were many non-church people in the crowd, and the feedback we got from them was overwhelmingly good - it rocked!

Cat poo coffee

A friend of ours has just returned from Vietnam and brought back with him a very special blend of coffee - the legendary "ca phe cut chon", meaning Fox Dung Coffee, also known as Weasel Coffee, which is derived (literally) from the civet cat (cat, fox, weasel, whatever). This cat is actually a relative of the mongoose and it eats the local Robusta coffee beans from the lower branches of the coffee tree and poos out the best (or most sturdy) beans that manage to remain intact after their journey through the cat's digestive tract. Then lucky people inspect the ground and collect the poo. The beans are cleaned and roasted and sold. Not cheap stuff!

So how was this cat poo coffee? Absolutely delicious!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Amazing guitar duet!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Brianfest setup pictures

It's happening...


Backline (the drums sounded better than they looked).

The view from the stage.

The EV line arrays! And Martin side fills, which we didn't use in the end.


Magdy - couldn't have done it without him.

And all without a safety net!

The band!

Lights, sound, tent, carpets, screens, musicians.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Brianfest Day 4 concert set-up

The workshops went down a treat. I sat in on the last one that Brian did where we spent an hour with three local worship leaders who talked about their prayers for this nation, what they feel God is doing here and their dreams for the future.

After the workshops were finished I took Terry the sound engineer up to the field where we found a much more encouraging picture taking place. The sound and light engineers were on site, the sound system was all set up, and so it was time for Terry to start doing his thing. All afternoon he tweaked and tuned. One magic moment for me was standing at the sound desk and hearing "I did it" by the Dave Matthews Band come pouring out of the line arrays and subs as clean and clear as it is through my own desktop monitor speakers, only about four hundred times the volume. It made me smile.

Through the afternoon we worked, setting up the field. The chairs arrived, the drinks arrived, the stewards came to help with the fetching and carrying. Merchandise (CDs and t-shirts), ticket tables, the hot dog guy, the popcorn machine, power cables, projectors, screens, a better kick drum pedal, better drum stool, guitar stands, music stands and finally, some musicians at about 4:30pm.

By this time the lighting rig was nearly up and being tested, the tenting had been adjusted so the backdrop was straight, the intercessors had been round several times preparing the ground spiritually, and the whole system had been EQ'd, including the monitors. Terry was saying things like "Take a little bit of the 33.1K out of the BV wedges", with a couple of our sound guys watching and taking notes - what a great opportunity for them.

Once the band arrived and set up their instruments then the sound check was under way. The sun was beginning to get low, and we were starting to have some idea of how things would look for the concert. The lights were spooled up again and put through their paces, and I was finally beginning to relax and think "It's all going to be ok!"

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Legit for another year!

Brianfest Day 4

I was up and about at seven o clock, collecting a pick-up truck from a friend and then we headed over to the church to collect a load of stuff. This morning Brian and co were offering workshops for worshipers at the school. We tented over the playground to shade it from the sun, set out a hundred plush red chairs. We also set up a small sound system with mics and monitors, and all the instruments for the band. The workshops went really well. Brian started of by giving a session about the Biblical view of worship, then he offered a session on songwriting while the rest of the band did a "band dynamics" workshop. For the third session, all the band members went off to individual rooms and gave clinics for their instruments, except for Philip who led a great workshop on vocal technique.

Meantime I was nipping up to the field every now and then to check progress. This is what I found the first time...

Yup, kids playing football and not an engineer to be found.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Brianfest day 3 - into the night...

Nice comfy carpets for our picnic/concert - 145 of them to be precise.

This is how the stage arrived!

The frame is coming together.

After much nailing of wood, the stage takes shape.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Brianfest Day 3

Eran was back from the dead, which was great! James made this comment on his blog about my drumming, "Mark did a perfect job by playing well while making us miss our regular drummer." Is that actually a compliment? Not sure!! The services were great this morning, and Asha absolutely nailed the female vocal lead on "Come now is the time to worship". It was just as if Kathryn Scott was in the room.

Brian shared some thoughts from the 23rd Psalm, and really got me thinking about change and transition. He was speaking about how a shepherd moves the sheep on to new pastures. It's the shepherd's job to discern when a field is about to become over-grazed, and then he must find a new place for the sheep to eat. The problem is that sheep don't like change - they'd much rather stay put, and risk dying of starvation than moving on, and the journey to the new pasture can be through some dangerous territory.

The band stuck around for the first half of our Africa Live service and then we went up to Murray's house for some food. I had to run over to the park a couple of times to meet people and show them where to put things for the concert, such as the stage :-) and then we packed Terry and James and Peter into the metro for a trip to the Khan el Khalili (the biggest souq/bazaar in the Middle East) while the other guys chilled out at home.

Felicity and I went to the farewell party for some good friends, Don and Mary Butler. Don was the chair of our church council, and has a great tenor voice - we'll really miss him on the worship teams, and we'll really miss them as friends too. He was the CEO of General Motors here and has been whisked back to Detroit to fix something important.

At about 9:30 I went over to the field again and stuff was beginning to arrive. No stage yet though. We kept waiting, and by 10:30 it still hadn't turned up. We got a call to say it was held up at the police checkpoint on the edge of Maadi because the driver didn't have the correct permit. We had some people working on it, liaising with the police and the national security. In the end, I had to go down to the police station in person and smile at and shake hands with an officer before any wheels were set in motion. It did the trick though, and ten minutes later the stage had arrived. Well, actually, a huge pile of wood arrived.

Within an hour they had most of it nailed together, and when I left at 1:20am most of the sound and light equipment had also arrived and was unloaded.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Brianfest Day 2

So there's Brian Doerksen (he sings and plays acoustic guitar and writes all the songs), Brian T (electric guitar), Phil (keys and vocals and programming), Peter (bass), Eran (drums), James (oboe, duduk, whistles etc.) and the sound guy, Terry. He's a genius.

And special guest on vocals, Asha Groves, our worship intern!

Terry totally rewired our sound system this afternoon, and made it sound absolutely phenomenal for this evening's service. Some kind of aural metaphysics I think. We don't have any subs in our system, and so he boosted some of the harmonic frequencies that could be heard at certain points on the sound waves, and the brain fills in the blanks, so you think you're hearing bass that isn't actually there! Amazing.

Eran, the drummer, got really ill at sound check time. Probably a combination of heatstroke (from this morning's obligatory trip to the pyramids) and stomach bug. He's really not doing well, and certainly was in no fit state to play tonight, so we had to find a stand in to play drums. And we couldn't find a decent drummer, so I played.

Not having touched a drum kit for several months, I found it a challenge! First of all I couldn't get to grips with their in-ear monitoring system, so ended up playing with a huge pair of studio headphones clamped over my ears. Then the kit wasn't set up right for me, so I didn't feel comfortable, and then I had to learn to play with a click track, which was an extra layer of concentration. I dropped a stick in the second song, and all the band members kept giving me encouraging smiles, but I wasn't really enjoying it. I found it especially tricky to play two songs I'd never even heard before, and we didn't rehearse them before the service.

Still, by the last two songs I'd found my groove and I started to enjoy it. It was an immense privilege, but I'm probably the worst drummer Brian's ever worked with, and I'm really praying that Eran is better in the morning. I'm secretly hoping for another chance though :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Life expectancy

I'm really only 21 and a half years of age.

I have a life expectancy of 90 years.

According to this bit of fun anyway!

Give it a try, but be honest ok?

HT: Two Blond Boys

He's here. Brianfest Day 1.

Well, Chelsie (my assistant) and I went to the airport today to collect Brian and his band. They're a jolly nice bunch of people. The traffic was awful because it's Ramadan and everyone wants to get home early in time for iftar, and everyone is bad tempered because they are hungry and thirsty and haven't had any coffee or cigarettes all day. And it was about 35 degrees and the air conditioning on the car isn't working, so all in all it was an epic journey. Especially when we came around a corner on a motorway slip road to find a car reversing back down it very fast, swerving from side to side. I just hugged the wall and blew my horn and luckily he saw me.

We had problems with our rendezvous with the minibus driver, and so in typical Egyptian fashion it was a bit of a muddle leaving the airport as we had to distribute seven people and luggage between two vehicles that were a mile apart. We made it in the end though.

This evening we took them all on a felucca ride on the Nile as the sun went down. It was so beautiful tonight and the air was cooling off. It's peaceful on the Nile and it was really nice chatting to the guys and beginning to get to know them a little. Then it was off to an Italian restaurant for a meal (I don't know where else in the world you can eat a hearty Italian meal in and excellent restaurant with hearty portions for $10 a head). Then I did lots of running around preparing for tomorrow, and we got home at about 10pm.

Night night.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Brian Doerksen is coming

I feel terrible that I haven't been blogging, but things have been a bit busy round here. We're setting up for BrianFest :-) on the weekend of 21st & 22nd September, and there is just an unbelievable amount to do.

Brian and his band are going to lead the worship in our weekend services, they will teach some seminars and workshops on the Saturday morning and then , on the Saturday evening, we are putting on a big open-air concert on the local softball field, which is just five minutes walk up the road from the church. It's going to be amazing!

So I've been drowning in project plans, to-do lists and emails, trying to hire equipment and get publicity out and sell tickets, and organise the whole thing. The church is rising to the challenge wonderfully, and all kinds of people are helping out, for which I am massively grateful, but please remember to pray for us.

Has anyone got a decent Yamaha stage piano we can borrow?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Suddenly, as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared

I'm back!

Sorry about that, I had to go dark for a couple of weeks. Well, actually, I went to Italy. With my family, for a holiday, and it was fantastic. One of the best things about it was that we were totally out of touch - staying in a castle up a remote track in a wooded valley in the middle of nowhere, no phone, no tv, no internet; bliss! We only left the castle to go shopping, and we made two trips, one to a lakeside town for dinner, and the other to Assisi to a-see-see St Francis's old stomping grounds. Which was nice.

This is the castle

and this was our part of it.

So, anyway, I thought I'd better let you know that we're ok, not eaten by wolves, or drowned in the bath or anything.

Bonus points for anyone who can identify the quote in the title.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


We're staying with our friends Chris & Rosie, and life has suddenly gone bananas. There is so much to take care of and so many people to see that an entire week has gone by without blogging. We have had appointments morning, afternoon and evening most days this week, and there are still some key things to take care of before we leave on Tuesday.

Today I managed to get some exercise in. My friend Simon took me cycling in the Cheshire countryside. I borrowed a bike from his neighbour, Michael (everyone in his street seems to be a cyclist) and we rode a forty mile round trip from his house in South Liverpool, down to the Runcorn bridge, through Frodsham, up a category four hill (which I walked most of), round some beautiful country lanes, back up that hill from the other side, and then back to Runcorn and home again.

I hadn't realised that forty miles was so far, and the last ten miles killed me, particularly as we were cycling mostly up hill and into the wind, which was pretty strong today. Still, the countryside was fantastic, the views from the hills were stunning, and I spent three hours and twenty minutes with a friend who I only really get to see once a year. That's going to change though as his daughter, Asha is going to come and work for me as an intern this year, starting in late August. Hooray!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's all gone soggy

We had a delightful time at my parents' house in Worcestershire, relaxing, being well fed and well watered. We went for a great walk along the river one day, and on Thursday we went out to Hampton Court in Herefordshire with my aunt and my cousin. We worked our way through the maze to the tower in the centre, found the secret underground passageway that comes out in a hidden garden, and had tea in the Orangery. So, still very pastoral and idyllic. Not for long.

On Friday we drove up to Liverpool, and it seems that we escaped with minutes to spare as the whole country was submerged under a torrential deluge. My Dad couldn't get back home after work as all the roads were flooded. It took him two hours this morning to get home! There are pictures in the newpapers of people trapped in their cars and with their houses under several feet of water, and even though my parents live half way up a steep hill, the water running off the fields has come in to the house and flooded them for the second time this month.

All is quiet in Liverpool though.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Our English pastoral idyll continues

It is so bizarre being back in England. Yesterday in a spare hour I took the girls down to the village to see a traction engine rally(!) and on the way up to London to see Felicity's brother and his family we drove past three village green cricket matches. Anything more, and our weekend would turn into some English pastoral cliché.

Today I played in the worship team at Felicity's parents' church and then we went to a pig roast lunch on the lawn of a large house and then to visit Felicity's splendid granny where we had a proper English high tea. She had even made a Victoria sponge cake, and we sat on the edge of our seats and held our bone china tea cups ever so delicately.

Come to think of it, maybe we are living that cliché after all!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A land flowing with beer and money

Wow, you need a lot of money to live in England. I mean, I haven't even been to the shops yet, but just looking around, reading the newspaper, watching tv, wow - stuff is really expensive here.

But, and I am so thankful to my creator for this, the beer is really good. England is the land of Real Ale, and if I didn't have more important places to give my money to, I would be tempted to join CAMRA - well, maybe!

It's nice to be back in a place where the weather is soft and gentle, the colour green is dominant (not yellow/brown, like Cairo) there is ham in my sandwiches and you can step outside the door and plunge in to woods, fields and streams - magic!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The 40 Day Fast - pray for a nation

There are many many needs all around me. I live in a city of between 20 and 25 million people, one quarter of whom live in total poverty. It's a city of massive contrasts.

Porsches and BMWs and Mercedes sweep past the city of the dead - this is the city's cemetery, also home to between 30,000 and one million people who are still alive.

Glittering skyscrapers and five star hotels (Four Seasons, Marriott, Grand Hyatt) are jostling for space with decrepit and crumbling buildings and homes, gradually returning to the dust of the Nile valley from which they were built.

One of the seven wonders of the world (the original ones!) dominates the skyline to the west of the city, and yet some of the most awful stories of suffering and pain originate here.

I work for Maadi Community Church, an international congregation in a suburb in the south of Cairo. Apart from gathering worshippers from fifty different nations and over fifty different denominations every week to meet and worship together in unity, we are trying to do something to bring a redemptive ending to some of those stories.

Cairo is the home to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Sudan, mostly from the Christian/Animist south. They fled from civil war and injustice, from terrible stories of brutalisation and trauma. They came to Cairo seeing it as a gateway to refuge and safety and prosperity in the west, but got trapped here by a mixture of neglect, racism, broken promises and a UN office overwhelmed and demoralised by sheer numbers.

Having planted five churches in these Sudanese communties in the last year, our vision is to raise up Sudanese leaders who love God, and train them up to one day return to South Sudan and become the leaders who rebuild their nation with God at the centre. We think we have a five year window to accomplish this. So we are running vocational programmes to train teachers, nurses, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and pastors in their crafts and callings so that they can be the next generation of leaders in South Sudan.

So on today's 40 Day Fast we are praying and fasting for the nation of South Sudan.

Please pray for us to find a new property that is large enough to house all of this activity on the same campus as our church and the school that we are partners with.

Please pray for a release of funding from the West to enable these programmes to take off and reach the people that God is highlighting.

Please pray for hope and light to dawn in the lives of these broken and damaged people, and that their Saviour will lead them back to rebuild their nation as part of His story of redemption.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One day to go

This time tomorrow I will be back in Hampshire, it won't be raining, and I will be reunited once more with the people I love the most. Wow, it's been a long twenty four days. In fact, I didn't realise quite how long twenty four days really is. Still, it's nearly over, and I'm almost packed, and I've made it through twenty four days of daily blogging. Sorry about this rubbish entry - I'm really tired!

Tomorrow is also my post for the 40 day fast. Stay tuned to this blog for more information.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Two days left - and a cat's tale

We have two cats. They are five months old, and they are lovely. Ratty and Mole. Yes, I know, naming a cat after a lesser animal in the hierarchy of the mammal kingdom is a bit weird, but they're not named after animals, they are named after characters in one of the greatest books ever written; Wind In The Willows, by Kenneth Grahame.

Their mother, Nadia, came with the house when we moved in four years ago. She was lovely too. She lived in the garden, and as is the way with most Cairo cats, had a litter of kittens almost every six months. We could never get to her in time to fix her up. Anyway, when Ratty and Mole and their brother and sister were three weeks old, Nadia disappeared and never came back. We think she must have been killed by a car, and so we had to become cat parents.

We hand reared them on made up kitten replacement milk formula, feeding them with syringes, giving them baths because they couldn't clean themselves, and giving them plenty of love. We found homes for two, and kept two for ourselves.

About a month ago, Ratty had a swelling on his shoulder so I took him to the vet who told me that another cat had bitten him, that this was a common reaction, and so he ahd a treatment of antibiotics, and within a few days the swelling went down. A couple of days ago I discovered something sharp sticking out of his shoulder so I took him to the vet's this evening. After a minor piece of surgery, the vet removed a sewing needle from Ratty's shoulder, which must have been lying under his skin for about four or five weeks. It had broken into three pieces, and I have it in a little bag to show the kids. So it wasn't a cat bite after all, it was a self inflicted stabbing!

My cat is well hard. You try walking round with a steel rod under the skin of your shoulder for a month and not complaining once. I'm impressed.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Three - don't forget the fast!

So the countdown continues.

I don't know if you've noticed, but my countdown to reunion with my beloved wife and two gorgeous little girls is exactly the same as the countdown to my 40 day fast day. This means, of course, that I won't be able to eat any of the airline food.


Please keep following the fast - we're only asking you to take about five minutes a day to read the blog post for the day and to pray for the cause highlighted. Go on then...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Four and Facebook

So, Facebook. Wow, what an amazing site. So much better than MySpace. I really don't like MySpace - I never really understood it. It just seemed like a race to sign up thousands of random people as your friends - who has room for thousands of random people in their lives anyway? I also didn't like the really crude and ugly look and feel of MySpace, and the way your thousands of random and insincere new friends fill up your page with "Hi, thanks for the add" or "Just stopping by to say you're hot" etc.

Facebook seems so much more natural somehow. For instance, my thousands (not really!) of Facebook friends are actual real people who I have actually met in real life, and have an actual real relationship with, or people who I may not have actually met, but with whom I have been in real actual corespondace via email and blogs.

The site feels nice and relaxed, with logical layout for the pages, and a simple refreshing colour scheme. It allows communication and tasteful customisation, you can share photos and other media, you can set privacy levels, and you can set up groups for people to join. I am a member of several, including "I go out of my way to step on a particularly crunchy leaf", but do you know the most useful feature to me so far? The birthday reminders. I have wished so many people a Happy Birthday because Facebook reminds me - it's great!

So if you're on Facebook, and we haven't made contact yet, look me up. I'm the only Mark Jaffrey there.

Here's a cartoon from Dave about a possible downside of Facebook, but this has been the criticism of the internet since the beginning...

Cartoon by Dave Walker

Saturday, July 07, 2007


For sale, on the streets of Maadi...

The Presidential 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood.

This is the car that transported President Gamal Abdel Nasser around Cairo, and now it can be yours for only 200,000 Egyptian Pounds - about £20,000, or about $35,000.

Wouldn't it be so cool, cruising around Cairo in this beast? It's in perfect condition, with only 31,000 kilometers on the clock - so who's going to take it?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Six - and a story.

Randy's latest post over at Ethos has reminded me of an incident that is worth recording.

On our first wedding anniversary, Steve & Kerry lent us their Austin Metro Vanden Plas (it was the posh one with central locking and bits of wood on the doors - I remember important details like that about cars) and we thrashed it up to the Lake District for a long weekend. Of course it was raining, but it didn't dampen any aspects of the weekend. We stayed in a bed and breakfast on Conniston Water, and it was lovely.

On the Saturday, we decided to climb the Langdales, despite poor weather (it was the end of November) so we did, braving the driving rain and sleet, knowing that a warm fire and some real ale was waiting on our return at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

We entered the Hiker's Bar to find a ruddy faced guy holding forth in the middle of the floor. After we'd grabbed a pint and some crisps we realised he was reasonably well past it on a very rough cider, but he was reading aloud from a book, and trying to engage the others in the bar in debate and conversation.

Somehow he caught our eye, and he persuaded Felicity to come and stand up with him in the middle of the room, and read aloud from this book. The book was "Style" by Walter Raleigh, and it goes without saying that Felicity was magnificent.

After the performance we sat down to talk to this guy and discovered that he was a sculptor. Ex-Navy, he was now working as an apprentice to Josephine Banner, also known as Josefina de Vasconcellos, a world famous sculptor. We agreed to meet up the next day and he would show us around the gardens at Rydal Hall where we would have a look at the project he was working on.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

a week to go

If all goes according to plan, this time next week I will be blasting off from Cairo airport in an Alitalia jet bound for Milan, where I will change planes for London Heathrow and reunion with my family - hooray! It actually looks as though the rain will stop in England this weekend, until Monday at least, so they might not be in such a bad way when I get there next Thursday.

Tonight is the first of our weekend services, and here's the setlist. It's a communion weekend, and Larry is finishing off our series on the book of Romans with a grand finale.

Holy is the Lord (Chris Tomlin)
I've come to wash my soul (Graham Kendrick)
Your Name (Paul Baloche, Glenn Packiam)
On the Third Day (Matt Maher, Marc Byrd)
The Power of the Cross (Stuart Townend, Keith Getty)
The Potter's Hand (Darlene Zschech)

Then I'm heading over to Dom's house to play Settlers for the rest of the night.

PS that's a Caterham Seven in the picture, but then you knew that, right?


Another cracking good post on the 40 Day Fast. Please have a look at Steven's post. Now don't forget the idea of this 40 Day Fast is to read each blogger's post every day, and pray for the cause that they outline. It will only take you five minutes or so, and we all need to stop every now and then and look around us at what is going on. You can treat it as a spiritual discipline - I know the internet isn't mentioned in the Bible, but I think it still counts.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

this one's late

Sorry. Late night last night, and I didn't get to post this before sleep overcame me. Well, I was at yet another leaving party, feasting on hamburgers and hot dogs, and sampling an impressive supply of different German beers. The thing is, this leaving party was for the people whose leaving party I went to on Sunday. I think that's playing the system, myself, but I did enjoy the beer.

I will really miss Richard and Rachel and our lives will be much poorer without them, but they weren't the only people this party was for. Doug and Evelyn are heading back to Canadia, and they too will leave an unfillable hole in our church community.

Doug played guitar and bass in my worship teams, and is one of the most encouraging people I know. Sometimes people have the gift of encouragement, and they make you feel good by complimenting you, but you know that they don't fully understand exactly what has been achieved, but they appreciate it, and let you know. That is a good thing. Doug though is a talented and experienced musician, and he fully understands everything that goes in to the worship ministry here, so when he encourages or complements, it's because he genuinely appreciates what has been accomplished, and it's from a complete understanding of what it took to get there. And when you recieve that kind of pat on the back, it sinks deep.

I'm going to miss them.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Ok, a cryptic one today, but easy for those who know their grunge rock history. Ten days to go! Felicity tells me it's rained non-stop for the last two weeks, and the forecast is rain till Wednesday, one clear day on Thursday, and then the rain starts again. Maybe the Egyptian summer isn't so bad after all. It seems like all of England is under flood warnings and dire threats of more rain, and that the whole country is going to drown. Or be blown up. My parents' house got flooded and they're hundreds of feet up on a hillside! What is going on?