Saturday, June 30, 2007

Half way!

To those of you who have been wondering "what's with the number motif?", I'm counting down the days to reunion with Felicity, Holly and Hannah who have been in England for twelve days already, and we're half way there! So it's the home straight, downhill all the way, and the worst is behind us.

Or something like that.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Almost half-way...

The heat is finally getting to me. It got up to 41 Centigrade today, and for those of you still in the dark ages, that's about 105 Farenheit. In church, under the tent, I was wilting. I couldn't wait to get up to my air-conditioned office after the service to cool down. And 41 degrees is nothing compared to the temperatures in the gulf of Arabia countries, and in places like North Sudan.

Don't forget to follow the 40 day fast. Today it's Stephen's turn. And if you missed Stephanie's entry yesterday, please go back and read it. It's really important stuff.

two weeks to go

I've survived ten days without my wife and children. All I can say is I've got some great friends here who are providing stellar support.

After church I attended another leaving party - my friends who don't want to leave. It was held in the garden of a large house here, and the place was packed. It is so sad that they have to go, but we can see God's influence in the timing.

Church was good, with our stripped down three piece band:

Let Everything That Has Breath - Matt Redman

My Redeemer Lives - Reuben Morgan
Lord You Are Good - Israel Houghton
He Knows My Name - Tommy Walker

Agnus Dei - Michael W Smith

Be Thou My Vision - traditional Irish hymn

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

15 days and a new Prime Minister

For me, it was just a normal day at work, but for Tony and Gordon, everything changed. It's been ten years and two months for Tony as no.1 and Gordon as no.2, and now Tony is stepping down to be a Middle East peace envoy, and Gordon is stepping up to be no.1 at no.10

I remember the 1st May 1997 very clearly. We were staying with my sister in Worcester, and Felicity and I were so excited by the prospect of a radical change in the government that we stayed up all night to watch the results come in. We watched the Blairs enter no.10 on the morning of the 2nd May and we heard "Things can only get better" by M People blasting from the speakers at the Labour Party headquarters in London. There was a very real mood of elation and optimism and the whole country, even the true blue Tories, was in agreement that change was long overdue.

But did things get better?

On balance, I think they did. Blair's impromptu speech on my 27th birthday, the day that Princess Diana died, and my first day in Africa, set the tone for a more relaxed and informal style of government, with frank and open discussions contrasted with the Conservative's more stiff upper lip approach. The soundbytes such as "the people's princess" came thick and fast. However, it didn't take long for the spin doctoring excesses to spoil the mood.

Most would agree that Blair's finest hour was the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland, and today's lasting peace there is his legacy, closely followed by winning the Olympic bid for London in 2012 and being a key advocate for the raft of debt relief for third world countries that have been unveiled over the last two years. Most would also agree that the current mess in Iraq, and Britain's part in it, is a legacy of his determination to put American interests at the front of his foreign policy.

Having lived abroad as an ex-patriate for six of those ten years, I would say that Britain is a far better place now than it was on the 1st May 1997. It is in great condition economically (thanks Gordon), and at last it seems that racism is being eradicated from the national psyche. However, it also seems to be groaning under the weight of red tape and needless state interference in the lives of it's citizens, a National Health Service in need of real reform, and an education system where standards have slipped despite more testing of kids than ever before and where teachers are swamped with paperwork and procedure that prevent the best ones from teaching creatively, and obscure the poor performance of the worst ones.

So my whole life has been defined by the politics of two people; Margaret Thatcher, and Tony Blair. The big question is, will Gordon have the same kind of impact?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

16 days and an impending Jaffrey-World-First

Today I'm going to be a real pastor. I am going to a fancy hotel near the airport to take part in an engagement party. They would like me to perform a blessing while they exchange rings. I'm sure it's going to be a very interesting evening, and very enjoyable. I'm sure the food will be nice, and there will be some great people around.


I'm a little worried because I have never performed a blessing before.

And the big problem is, I won't know if I can perform a blessing until I have performed it. At the engagement. In front of hundreds of people. And cameras. And video.

It really is a baptism of fire.

So, how do I perform a blessing? I know how to perform songs, and I know how to perform a RAM upgrade in a computer (it's easier in a Mac), but a blessing? I suppose we'll just have to see how it goes.

I wonder if God will help?

blog makeover

Ok, so I'm not a designer, but I was bored of the colours on this blog, so I thought we'd have a little makeover.

Also, I've added the most recent comments in the sidebar, and I've updated my links list to include everyone whose blogs are in my Google Reader RSS feed.

What do you think?

Monday, June 25, 2007


Had a great worship rehearsal tonight. Really enjoyed playing with the band. Because it's the summer, most of our team members leave for their holidays, so the pool of musicians and singers dwindles dramatically through June, is practically empty in July, and starts to fill up a little through August until it's back to strength again in September. So here we are again at the start of the cycle.

This week's answer to the problem of our annual dip is to have a three piece band plus a couple of singers plus a violin soloist - it's going to be great as we're mainly playing up-tempo stuff, in the key of E, and I can have lots of fun on guitar. Ben and Luke are a great rhythm section and will keep on plugging away no matter what I get up to, so I'm excited to see what might happen.

Eighteen days to reunion

I'm really missing Holly and Hannah.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My desk.

Cartoon by Dave Walker

Here's the real thing at home...

Not far off the mark eh?

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Yes, I went cycling. Because Arie fixed my bike. He's good at that kind of thing. We spent about twenty minutes in the sun, in the desert, or rather the desert's car park, which is also the desert, technically, trying to pump up my tyre, but it wouldn't seal, no matter how many of us pushed it and pulled it. We poured gallons of soapy water around the bead and everything. After about twenty minutes, Arie remembered there is a bus depot about twenty yards away. Bus depots have air lines. Powerful air lines. So he took my wheel up there, and it must have taken about three seconds to get it up to 40 or 50 psi. Job done.

So we rode. Hot and humid, but windy enough so it wasn't too uncomfortable.

Then I had my 24-fest. Jack is saving the world as we speak, they just haven't caught it on film yet.

PS don't forget to check the 40 day fast. You really need to read Brant's entry.

40 day fast

Kat decided to change the world, and so I and thirty eight other bloggers decided to join her. How about you?

Here's a few ways you too can get involved...

1. Follow along each day and read about each of the causes.
2. Place one of the logos on the sidebar of your blog.
3. Post a link each day to the blogger who is fasting.
4. Join us in fasting on the 40th day (July 31st).
5. Get involved in one of the organizations mentioned each day.
6. Start your own 40 day fast from your blog.

Check out some of the blogs in my new 40 day fast sidebar -->

Friday, June 22, 2007


I've had a good day, with moments of sadness in places, but it's ended in frustration.

It started with the news that it looks like some friends of ours are going to have to move back to England. These are some of our closest friends; we have led cell groups together, our children our best friends, we have been on holiday together, and we have been together in the middle of it when things have been really hard, and when God has come through in amazing ways. Please pray with us that they don't have to leave. They don't want to.

Church was great, with Dave's preaching getting better each service. He really majored on the subject of us being afraid of God - afraid that he won't approve of us, afraid that when we sin he rejects us, afraid that he is keeping score on us and waiting for us to trip up so that he can judge us, when in reality it's the opposite, and he wants us to live in freedom. He used clips from the Shawshank Redemption, and, as I said yesterday, based the sermon on the parable of the talents.

I took Tobz, Hez and Grace up to Johnny Carino's for lunch. It's an Italian restaurant on a boat floating on the Nile in downtown Cairo. It was great to sit on the deck and eat great food and unwind and download with friends. I think Tobz got through three double espressos. I then went up to Katameya (A gated community about 20 mins drive from here) for Rik and Lonneke's leaving do. That was a nice party, and I got to chat to some good people but it's really sad having to say goodbye to lots of friends every summer, knowing that we may not see them again. Rik played keys in one of my worship teams, and he and the family will really be missed in church.

I got home at about 9:30, and have spent an hour trying to get my new bike tyre inflated on to my new wheel so I can go riding tomorrow, but no success so far. It's tubeless, and I don't think my punp puts enough air through the valve to seat the tyre on to the rim and seal it properly. It's really frustrating!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Three weeks to go

Just finished our Thursday night service. It went really well, and we had a guest speaker, Dave Phillips from Abbotsford in Canada, who spoke on the the subject of fear using the parable of the talents as an illustration. Wow - great stuff.

It was REALLY hot tonight, and seriously humid, and so now I'm exhausted and I'm going home to eat and blog about something even more important than eating.

Here's our set list - I haven't done this for a while.

Your grace is enough - Chris Tomlin
What can I do - Paul Baloche & Graham Kendrick
That's why we praise him - Tommy Walker
There is a redeemer - Melody Green
Offering - Paul Baloche
Great is Thy faithfulness - traditional hymn

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

2 down, 22 to go. Skype rocks!

Just finished a Skype conversation with my wonderful Felicity. Skype has to be one of the greatest inventions in the world for people that live away from their home country. It's amazing to talk for free to my wife 3,000 miles away in England and to have video conference calls with my sister 2,000 miles away in India. It really does rock.

Anyway, she and Holly and Hannah survived their Alitalia experience to Heathrow via Milan, and spent the night with Felicity's parents, then flew up to Manchester yesterday with British Airways and are now very comfortably and happily holed up with our best friends in Liverpool.

Holly and Hannah went to school today in Liverpool with one of Holly's friends, and were the centre of attention. They did an Egypt slide show and gave a "show and tell" kind of talk, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Holly did the end of year tests in her friend's class, and got 100% in all of them! Maybe after all, at least one of the Jaffreys will succeed academically! Makes me very proud of our little Christian school here in Cairo.

23 days to go

I collected seasons four AND five of 24 last night, but haven't watched any yet.

Here's a list of things I must remember to do while Felicity is away...
1. Feed Cats
2. Feed Birds
3. Feed Tortoises
4. Feed Self

So I think I will be ok, even though there are more than three things on the list. Maybe I should write it down.

Monday, June 18, 2007

New Season of 24

The 24 I'm referring to is a new season in my life. 24 days until I see my wife and kids again. I waved them off in a taxi today at 1pm, and they went to the airport, to be entrusted into the dubious care of Alitalia. They'll land at Heathrow tonight at about 10pm.

So for twenty four days I'm a bachelor again, for the first time in nearly fourteen years.

I'm not sure if I'm going to hate it or if I'm going to enjoy it. I know for sure I'll be getting tons of sleep as I won't need to get up early to make the girl's breakfasts. I can also catch up on season four of the real 24...

I'm counting down the days to reunion.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Google Earth Rocks!

I've just spent fifteen minutes on my cell phone to my wife. She is in the car somewhere in the middle of Cairo, trying to get to the airport to collect her cousin Jenifer from Canada who is coming to stay for a few days.

Felicity "How do I get to the airport"
Mark "Well, where are you now?"
Felicity "I'm coming out of Arba Wi Nuss, and if I turn left it takes me straight to the ring road."
Mark "OK, I'll look it up on Google Earth and find you a quicker route... hang on... ok, don't turn left, turn right instead. Drive half a mile and turn right. There should be a big open space on your left."
Felicity "There's a big water tower on my right."
Mark "Got it - I know exactly where you are - how cool is this? Turn right after the factory."

So this went on for about fifteen minutes, with a running commentary from both of us about what she should be seeing, what she could see,
"Mind the bus."
"There isn't a bus."
"Well there's a bus right there on Google Earth."
"Well, it must have moved cause it's not here now."
until she got to a familiar road, heading to the airport and we signed off.

Who needs sat nav when you've got a hubby with a Mac and Google Earth?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

blog slacker

Oh yeah, the school thing? That's probably the main reason that I'm three weeks out of date with this blog. But then you knew that already.

Prayer Request

Those of you who pray, would you please consider praying for me?

I am on the parent governing board of my children's school, and there have been all sorts of issues this week that have been really hard to work through and make the right decisions. To give you a clue, I have spent eighteen hours in board meetings alone in the last six days, plus emails and phone calls, and that's on top of a more-than-full-time job.

Please pray that we have God's wisdom to make the right decisions to take the school forward.

Thank you so much!