Thursday, November 13, 2008

To England!

Well, later today I will be traveling to England for my study leave this year. It's going to be an action packed week where I will be attending two worship conferences. The first is in Eastbourne and is called Mission:Worship. It has a pretty good line-up of UK worship leaders and speakers, but the main thing I am looking for from this conference is connections. I want to hook up with the people with whom I can make strategic relationships for the future - mutual encouragement, possibly even trips to Cairo - we'll see! So I am praying that God will help me meet the right people when I am there.

The second event is a Songwriter's Consultation that Graham Kendrick has been running for a few years now. He has invited me along as his guest, and the two days will be spent with a bunch of influential songwriters, including Matt Redman, Tim Hughes and Israel Haughton, in discussion with a bunch of theologians about what songs need to be written for the church to sing. Where are the holes in our cannon of modern worship songs? What do we need to be singing about? Are there any major pieces of doctrine or theology that are not represented in worship music at the moment?

So it'll be lots of fun, with meeting new people and making connections. I will also get to see some family and experience cold weather! Oh yes, and eating pork and drinking beer - very important indeed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I thought it best to break my blogging fast with something worthwhile, and if you don't think this is worthwhile, then I don't know what is!

Today was launched the 50k in 50 days campaign. A great charity in Nashville, USA is trying to get money to buy 50,000 pairs of shoes raised in 50 days...

The amazing thing is that only $5 buys 2 pairs of shoes. Two pairs for $5, that's less than £3!

It takes 2 minutes to donate and only three clicks so there really aren't any excuses.

So if you think this is something you can do...five dollars, three clicks, two minutes = two pairs of shoes to someone in need, just visit

So this is another jafferblog world first - I'm asking you to cough up some money to get some shoes to people who need them. Now then, go and donate, and THEN come back and comment here on the blog to let us know, and THEN tell some others.

Oh, and one person who donated will win a trip to Mexico (provided they are a US Citizen) to hand deliver the shoes they bought to someone who has never owned shoes before. Could you imagine giving someone their very first pair of shoes?

Thanks for your support!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blandness Girl

OK, so I'm a terrible blogger, taking three weeks off when I said I'd only be gone for one.

Anyway, hopefully this will redeem things a little. Discovered in our local toy shop...

Friday, October 03, 2008

Life moves fast

So we're going to slow it down for a week. We're taking the kids during this week's school half term holiday to the Sinai mountains for seven days of peace and tranquility. No electricity, no cell phone signal, so no twitter, no blogging, no sms, just absolute pristine unspoilt nature and lots of time to explore one of the most dramatic mountainscapes on the planet.

We'll be staying here, an ecolodge run by local bedouin, miles from the only road in the area. That's why God invented Jeeps.

The GPS is programmed, we've packed lots of books and games, and if we can't make it the full week, we'll just drive down to Dahab or Basata and get some beach time in.

See you in a week.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Random Thoughts

When my life gets busy and I start to feel overwhelmed, it's blogging that seems to get cut first. So when I don't blog for a few days, you can guess exactly what's going on in my life - busyness!

The next thing that happens is that the thought of getting back in to blogging becomes intimidating and trying to think what to write about becomes overwhelming, so new posts get put off until I feel in control again. The problem is that I rarely feel in control.

So here are a few random thoughts that are going through my head at the moment and let's hope they spark some creativity in the near future...

Met up with fellow blogger and Cre:ate alumni Jim Drake at the weekend. He was here on an Egyptology holiday with Sister, Suzy. It was great to hang out in our living room with them and make all kinds of connections, and know that we'll meet up again in February.

I'm loving our creative planning team meetings at the moment - we meet up at CSA, just up the road, where there is a branch of Cafe Greco, and we brainstorm and plan the services for the upcoming weeks. Lots of creative energy, banter and great ideas.

The desert is beginning to cool off in the mornings, and on my weekly mountain bike meeting/ride with Steve (my boss) this morning, my sweat quotient was significantly less than last week.

We're making preparations for a family trip to the Sinai mountains next week - can't wait.

A former worship team member sent me a beautiful postcard of her new home, La Paz in Bolivia - stunning backdrop to the city.

I have my men's life group tonight, so I'd better get home and be a Dad for the next couple of hours before the guys arrive.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Productivity Gospel according to Merlin Mann

I've been hanging around the fringes of the productivity scene for a little while now. You know how it is, us creative types aren't generally too hot on admin and organisation, and we need a little systems education every now and then. Fair enough right? And of course, what better way is there to spend your time when you should be producing some kind of output than to be doing research and reading about systems and techniques for producing that output faster and more efficiently?

Or is that just procrastination?

The issue is that you (or rather, I) can easily waste time checking out geeky productivity websites, forums and blogs when we should just be getting on with doing the stuff. Luckily, I found a book that helps with all this. It's called "Getting Things Done" by David Allen, or "GTD" for short, and it's been really very helpful in encouraging me to cope with everything that comes across my desk in a much more organised way. Sadly, this too has spawned a huge cult of acolytes and consultants all tweaking the GTD methodology and endlessly musing on which piece of software would make their system complete, or which brand of wire paper rack should they use. It's all a bit crazy.

One of the hubs for this kind of communication in the past has been Merlin Mann's blog, 43 Folders. So, imagine how refreshing it was for me to read this on his blog this week;

I want to help you identify and remove any obstacle that keeps you from making things that you love. And then I want to help you figure out how to make those things even better. That’s pretty much it.

Friends, I’m done with “productivity” as a personal fetish or hobby. There are countless sites that are all too happy to vend stroke material for your joyless addiction to puns about procrastination and systems for generating more taxonomically satisfying meta-work.

From now on, I’m going to talk about how people make stuff. Books, art, code, buildings, ballets, companies, furniture, whimsical hats, songs, or what have you.

But, what about all the cool notebooks, links to lists of “GTD resources,” and ponderously detailed tutorials on how to label a file folder? Yeah. From now on, maybe don’t expect a lot of that here. Unless I feel it has a direct link to helping you do things.

Now that's more like it. Actually getting things done as opposed to endlessly dissecting how to get things done.

I'm very much looking forward to the journey.

This is part of Creative Chaos over at Ragamuffin Soul.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beer Tasting Notes

One of the things that I enjoy about going back to England every summer is sampling a variety of fine Real Ales. This year was no exception. Here follow my tasting notes for some of the invigorating and delicious brews that found their way across my path...

Old Speckled Hen
Medium brown colour, smooth, balanced, rich, malty.

Cains F.A.(Formidable Ale)
Golden colour, malty and hoppy. Full, fruity palate with citrus highlights.

Cains Culture Beer
Full bodied Pale Ale. Fruity and sweet. Citrus nose and palate.

Deuchars IPA (Indian Pale Ale)
Supreme Champion Beer of Britain 2002
Golden colour, dry, blend of malt and hop with a hint of citrus.

Thwaites Double Century
Double hopped, bitter orange finish, malty, amber coloured. Powerful.

Premium Kentish Ale
Deep amber colour, generous aromas of tangy malt, spicy hops, with a complex finish.

So what's your favourite beer? And don't give me any of that "Bud Lite" nonsense.

This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday over at Ethos.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Desert Retreat

I had a wonderful time out at Wadi Natrun for two days on a personal retreat. It was time for a spiritual recharge and some peace and quiet so I could clear out all the stuff that so often seems to clog up my prayer times. There have been monasteries in the Wadi since the fourth century, so some people feel that there is an "open heaven" there due to the continued prayer over the last 1600 years.

Here's an excerpt from my journal for one evening:

Sitting on the roof watching the sun set over the lake, reading Mark's gospel. Listening to the mosques all around broadcasting the Koran, until finally there is five minutes of silence before they break out with the call to prayer and Iftar can finally begin. The last few tractors and trucks and tuk-tuks find their way home as the light fades and peace descends on the wadi. There's the magical sound of hooves on the road in the background and a horse and cart comes in to view in the distance, the driver galloping home, late for his meal.

Birds fly low over the lake, Egrets, Curlews, Geese and Senegal Thick-Knees, their cries are amplified by the silence. Down in the prayer room below me, a worship session kicks off, the sound of Arabic praise songs with a tabla back-beat drifts up to my roof top and I am eventually chased indoors by the mosquitoes.

The Road to the Retreat Centre

The door to my balcony

The view from my rooftop prayer spot over the salt lake to the desert

Bible, candles, Moleskines, Uni-ball & Papermate Clearpoint


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Kick Off

Every year at about this time we have a special weekend of services to launch the church's ministry for the coming year. So we pull out all the stops, decorate the place, cover the property in celebration tenting and crank out some top tunes in the worship.

The whole point of the service is to celebrate what God is doing in us and with us and encourage people to think about how God wants them to get involved in ministry, so we'll have some testimonies, some information available about what is going on in the church, and then tables and booths around the place so that people can get information and sign up to participate.

My team, Revo, Gordon, Marianne, George and Abraham have been working really hard to put this together, designing banners, making videos, painting the backdrop, arranging flowers and balloons, setting up tables and creating a party atmosphere in our funny old tent.

Here are some of the set-up pictures.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Guitar Service

So it's been a few weeks since I picked up my strat, and at lunch time today when I took it down from the wall to prepare for tonight's church service I realised that it was dirty. Very dirty indeed. I sweat muchly while playing, especially when it's 37 Centigrade under the tent, and if I don't wipe the guitar down straight after then crud happens.

Anti-crud measures include

remove strings
polish guitar body with Dunlop Formula 65
polish fingerboard with Dr Stringfellow's Lem-oil
restring with Ernie Ball Power Slinky strings gauge 11
lubricate strings with FingerEase guitar string lubricant
tune up
stretch strings
play for a while :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Creative Percussion Solo

This is my friend Gabriel. He's been to visit us here each spring for the last four years as the drummer in Graham Kendrick's band.

Next year I'm going to give him a better drum kit to play.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

uni-ball eye wrecked

My favourite pen, and just about the only pen I ever use is the uni-ball eye. I love the way it writes, and in some weird esoteric/aesthetic way it helps my creativity.

Anyway, every time I travel on an aeroplane, my uni-ball eye gets wrecked by the cabin pressure. The ink flow gets messed up and sometimes they leak. It's very distressing :-)

Well, I'm back in Cairo after a month of travelling in Italy and around the UK. It's been intense and I'm having a hard time re-focussing on my Egypt life, but I'll be posting real blog material pretty soon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Going Dark

The wedding was fabulous. I can't tell you how much I LOVED performing the wedding for two very good friends - possibly the most compatible couple we've ever met. It's going to be a great marriage.

After the ceremony which was a very simple and elegant affair, in the St John's church building, the reception was held on their appartment building rooftop, which has a pool and fantastic views over Cairo. As the sun set we ate and drank and the dancing was just getting going as we left the scene to come home for our final preparations for Italy.

So we've just got maybe another half hour of work to do and then we'll hit the sack for maybe three hours before we get up at 2am to catch our 4:30am flight to Rome. Here's the place we'll call home for the next week. We'll be living in this house...

Which is in this castle...

Pray for us as we suffer.

So jafferblog will be going dark for a week, and I'll see you on the other side when we get to the UK. Pork and Beer are calling me.

A Cairo Wedding

Today, my media guy, Gordon, is getting married to Liz, and I am performing the wedding. It's the first time I've done a wedding and so I am praying it won't be like the Rowan Atkinson character in "four Weddings and a Funeral" who is so nervous he confuses everyone's names and keeps muddling up the order of service.

So today has been full steam ahead with running round (our car is also the wedding car for the day) and chauffeuring the bride, mothers and bridesmaid to and from hair appointments and to the church. Oh yes, and we also had a regular full morning of church services where I led worship on the piano for the first time ever.

We are also packing and preparing for our summer trip as we are leaving for Italy straight after the wedding reception tonight. There are suitcases and piles of clothes everywhere and we're trying to squeeze everything in!

So it's really quite a busy day.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Toma's Bar becomes Toma's Cookhouse

(This is my post for the 40 day fast. Team-blogging with Kat)

We first came across Toma when Julia showed Felicity (my wife) the bite marks all over her shoulder and neck that her own husband had given her one night after he had rolled home incoherently and violently drunk from spending the evening at Toma's bar.

Julia and Toma are both Sudanese. Julia has no upper lip. She fled from Sudan during the civil war where she had been tortured and brutalised along with millions more of her people. Many of the refugees from Sudan who escaped war and came here to Egypt are Christians just like Julia and Toma.

Egypt has been a gracious host to them in many ways for allowing them to stay all these years. However, Egypt itself has a huge challenge in dealing with the poverty of its own people (55 million Egyptians qualify for subsidised food) and cannot offer the African refugees any welfare. In the middle of the daily Egyptian struggle for survival, the Africans always come off worse - they pay higher prices, higher rents, are consistently discriminated against and from time to time they are shockingly abused.

(picture taken from

There is no welfare, no employment and most of them are forced by their lack of status to live in slum housing. This is where we come in. Felicity goes up to one of these areas, Arba Wi Nus, every week, visits some Christian families, sits with them, prays with them and distributes food and clothing. A food sack contains enough lentils, flour, beans, oil and milk to last a family for two weeks. Oh, and a bar of soap too.

Anyway, lets get back to the story. One day Felicity went to see Toma at her bar. Toma had heard that we pray for people and wanted us to pray for the return of her lost six-year-old child. He had been gone a month. Toma's bar is just a single tiny, dark, bare concrete room where she distills dates into alcohol and sells it to support her family. Men come and drink all night in the same room where her small children are sleeping. So Felicity walked into a room full of demons and a haze of alcoholic fumes, feeling utterly useless and not knowing how to pray for this child to be found. If it had been our six-year-old, Hannah, there would have been a huge media story, the whole world would know she was missing and thousands of people would be praying. So Felicity did what she could and asked God to help find the child.

He came back within the week.

Toma has six children and no husband. Four of the children (the baby, the four-year-old twins and the twelve-year-old) live with her in that dark stinking cell. the eight-year-old who was lost and is now found has since been taken as a slave by another family and the fourteen-year-old is running with a gang.

Over the last two years as Felicity has spent time with her, bringing her food and talking and praying, Toma has become more and more interested in wanting to clean up her life and get closer to God. She is embracing the hope and peace that Jesus gives her. The only problem is that her date distillery is the only way that she can earn a living. So we raised the $50 needed to set her up in a new business, cooking food and selling it. She is still in the hospitality business, but instead of Toma's Bar, she now has Toma's Cookhouse.

That $50 purchased a stove, some fuel and the first round of basics and ingredients to kick start her enterprise. Felicity's team are helping her with basic book-keeping and the initial business plan was costed down to the last "piaster", including the "Goat Instincts"!

So how can you help?

Pray. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees living in Egypt that have no way of getting resettled in the West and are scared for their lives of returning home, so they are stuck in Egypt living a destitute life with no way out and no hope. Pray that God will hear their desperate prayers and deliver them.

Our church, Maadi Community Church, has planted six daughter churches in these refugee communities in the last two years, between them serving about 3,500 people. Please pray for these churches, that they will be a light in the darkness of those places and that many would be saved through their ministry.

Give. If you would like to send a donation please send your cheques, payable to MCC, to MCC Association, Box 704, 14781 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77079. Please designate your gift clearly in the 'memo' field of your cheque to "Embrace The Needy". 100% of this money will go directly to providing food or emergency medical care for our refugee community.

If you are interested in supporting individual projects like Toma's then please email me: mark "at" jaffrey "dot" co "dot" uk

Come. Come and see what God is doing in Cairo. We'll find a home you can stay in and take you around to meet the people and see the projects you are most interested in. You can roll up your sleeves and get involved - it's a great place to see God at work, and there's the added bonus of having the Pyramids, Tutankhamun's tomb, Mount Sinai and the coral reefs of the Red Sea on your doorstep.

Oh yes, and Toma is looking forward to serving you some good hearty goat's instincts.

Monday, July 07, 2008

40 Day Fast

My slot on the fast is fast approaching :-)

I hope you are taking the time to check out the fasters, both teams, so that's two fasters for each day of the forty, making eighty fasters fasting total. Confused yet? It's actually very simple.

Read the two posts each day.


That's all. God handles the rest.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Preachin' it

Well, even if I do say so myself, things seemed to go really well this weekend. Dave C. led the worship, overseeing the international debut of our first ever girl drummer from the Arctic Circle, Erika (ha! it's not every church that can claim they have a girl drummer from the Arctic Circle).

I actually quite enjoyed preaching, and using the old mindmap as my preaching notes worked really well. As expected, each of the three services was a bit different, with different parts of the sermon being emphasised for each of the three crowds, and the flexibility of using a mindmap instead of a manuscript really helped in this area.

So, despite this summer season being the Cairo version of "Day Before Vacation Sunday (DBVS)", I didn't preach a controversial sermon, we didn't have any snake handling in church, no sumo wrestling either, but I did throw sweets at the crowd. I admit that it would have been most satisfying to throw Skittles, but the floor at church is so dirty that we decided we had better use wrapped sweets and toffees. Although we've kicked footballs in to the congregation before, I don't think they've ever had the preacher throw stuff at them, and to give them their due, they seemed to take it very well. It was, of course, a marvelous illustration of God's generosity. At least, that's my excuse when Steve comes back...

We had no triangles or cow bells in the worship band, though we did have a clarinet (very mellow, thanks Petra.), and David didn't throw in any unicorn songs (you missed your chance there, mate, I was waiting for you to kick off an early 80's Vineyard Worship Music revival), so it was quite a tame DBVS by SCL standards.

What was really cool, was celebrating communion at a service where the theme was "giving and serving" - the whole image of Jesus giving himself up as a sacrifice for us, and Jesus serving his disciples at the last supper was a wonderful way of illustrating how we should respond to God's' amazing generosity by practicing the discipline of giving.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mindmap your sermon

Following on from this post, the latest news is that not only have they all gone and left me in charge, but that I am also down to preach this weekend. Fools. Anyway, in my usual style as a right-brained musician day-dreamer, I have decided to mindmap my sermon as a tool both for preparing the message and for delivering it. And I have to say it's working out quite nicely.

Here's the first draft.

This is the brainstorming, planning, throwing-everything-out-there phase. If I preached about everything on this plan then we'd be there all day. It's a sermon series in itself. It even goes over on to a second page, look...

So I have refined it down to a second draft...

(sorry for the poor quality - I'm holding the picture up to the iMac's built in camera - not designed for scanning images!)

I will be using this mindmap as my preaching notes, supplemented with a list of Bible verses, and this is exactly what we are handing out this evening as the sermon notes for the congregation, and for the two services tomorrow morning. Yes, handwritten sermon notes that we are photocopying; no computers have been used in the production of these notes - it's so 1980's!

So we thought we'd stay with the mindmap theme for the graphics, and here's what we're putting up on the screen tonight...

Oh yes, and there'll be one or two other surprises in store too - I've been doing my research.

So, what do you think?

And that's my Creative Chaos this week.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

My blog, wordled

Go and Wordle something.

It's Watercooler Wednesday over at Ethos.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kenny Belaey

So Dave and I were out riding in Wadi Digla this morning, and after we'd got back to the car park, bright red and sweating from our two hour ride up in the hills, this chap turns up, unloads the most bizarre looking bike from the back of the car, and proceeds to bounce around on some rocks balancing just on his back wheel. I found him quite personable.

It's the silly season

Fantastic news story on the BBC Web site. What is the world coming to? If Magnus doesn't want to invite Lars to his party, why should it need to go to an ombudsman?

Birthday party snub sparks debate

The case has sparked a debate in Sweden about civil liberties

An eight-year-old boy has sparked an unlikely outcry in Sweden after failing to invite two of his classmates to his birthday party.

The boy's school says he has violated the children's rights and has complained to the Swedish Parliament.

The school, in Lund, southern Sweden, argues that if invitations are handed out on school premises then it must ensure there is no discrimination.

The boy's father has lodged a complaint with the parliamentary ombudsman.

He says the two children were left out because one did not invite his son to his own party and he had fallen out with the other one.

The boy handed out his birthday invitations during class-time and when the teacher spotted that two children had not received one the invitations were confiscated.

"My son has taken it pretty hard," the boy's father told the newspaper Sydsvenskan.

"No one has the right to confiscate someone's property in this way, it's like taking someone's post," he added.

A verdict on the matter is likely to be reached in September, in time for the next school year.

Flowering Trees

One of the wonderful things about Maadi, the district of Cairo where we live, is that it is so green. It was laid out by the British and the French about eighty years ago, and one of the planning rules that they used was that you could only build on 25% of each plot, which meant that 75% of each plot was set aside for gardens. Sadly most of those villas and gardens are long gone, replaced by streets lined with appartment buildings. However, the trees remain. It is so amazing to watch the different species of exotic trees come in to bloom through the spring and early summer.

Most of these pictures were taken by my decidedly lo-res cameraphone, but at least they'll give you an impression.

First, in late February, come the Dogwoods (Camel Foot Trees)Then these frondy pink ones
Then these ones with pink puff balls of flowers
Then in late March we get these nice yellow ones
Then, through April, one whose name I know. Jacaranda. There are two outside our bedroom window and they are amazing clouds of lilac that you glimpse all through Maadi.
Then May is the month for the flame trees. We have a really old majestic one in our garden outside the other bedroom window; intense colour!

Finally, in June these beautiful pink garlands emerge. Absolutely stunning.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Daydreaming fosters creativity

Ben Elton, a British novelist and stand up comedian who invented alternative comedy and set the anti-Thatcher political agenda when I was growing up in the eighties, is quoted in Third Way magazine...

And now it is possible to take a television with you wherever you go and watch it at all times… I have begun to wonder what will happen to us.

I really do despair for children today. I don't think there's anything we can do, any legislation, but I think we are disenfranchising an entire generation - and all generations to come - from their own imaginations. I know from my own experience that if I can flip on a screen and doodle on the internet and look up crap, I will. I've got a very weak signal on my Wifi deliberately so that I can't just hop onto Google the minute my imagination runs dry. We need to be able to stare out of windows.

I totally agree. My kids don't watch tv - we don't have a dish hooked up or cable or even regular broadcast - instead they read books, draw pictures, play imaginative games with each other and their friends, and every now and then watch a movie or a recorded tv show on dvd. Holly always has her nose stuck in a book, or else she's doing exactly what Ben Elton suggests - staring out of the window. Her little ten year old mind is full of ideas and schemes and plans and stories and pictures that come pouring out at every opportunity. It's inspiring.

As for me, I spent my entire school career staring out of the window, and here I am as a guy who gets paid to be creative for a living. I still can't quite believe it. But the minute I get drawn into the tractor beam known as the interweb, an hour or two can pass by, and none of the creative things I ought to do or want to do have been done. No songs written, no poetry, no mind maps of projects and grand schemes to eradicate poverty or some other 21st century demon, no technical problems solved, no prayers prayed, no worship for my God, no love demonstrated to my wife or kids, just self-absorption in stuff that is very very interesting, but a complete waste of time. How depressing.

Maybe I'll just have to go dark for a while.

Interesting footnote; Felicity nearly became the editor of Third Way about ten years ago.

This entry is part of Creative Chaos at Ragamuffin Soul.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All the adults have gone, and left me in charge!

Well, that's how I feel at the moment. I've been working here at MCC for five years now. I joined the church at the beginning of a season of fast growth, and had the privilege of learning from a team of great pastors - Dave, Larry, Bill and Murray. Dave died two years ago, Larry and Bill left in January and Murray left last week. Our new Senior Pastor, Steve is away on holiday for three weeks, as is Travis, our Youth Pastor and Jan our Kids Ministry Director. So there's just two of us left; me and Elijah, our African Cells Pastor.

I get to hold the MCC reigns for the next two weeks.

Right now I am feeling a weird mixture of the weight of responsibility of being in charge, and a huge sense of liberation and freedom to do whatever I'd like to. I wonder which way I'll go; freedom or restraint, liberal or conservative, liberty or conformity?

Let's have some fun!

Any suggestions?

This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday over on Ethos.

Monday, June 23, 2008

40 Day Fast - Season 2

You may remember about this time last year that I participated in a blog-carnival called the 40 Day Fast. Kat dreamed up the plan and it went down a storm, and so we're doing it all over again this year.

The idea is that forty bloggers will each fast for one day and on that day they will highlight a cause that we will all pray for. We'll then all fast and pray together on the 40th day, August the 1st. The purpose behind it is to give people an opportunity to:

1. Experience a bit of need
2. Learn about the need in the world
3. Do something about it

So are you up for it?

You can keep up to date by looking at the widget in the side bar to the right, check out the information at Inspired To Action and I'll try and post updates as we go along.

Kicking off the fast is a post by Brant Hansen, one of my favourite bloggers, about a trip to Kenya he made with Compassion International. Go and see.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Frangipani flowers

We have an amazing Frangipani tree in the corner of the garden. Sadly it is mature, which means it's flowers are high up, and so you can't get the benefit of the second-most beautiful thing about a Frangipani which is the amazing scent of the blooms. It also faces out of the garden which means that people on the street have the best view of the beautiful geometrical delicacy of it's yellow-centred white flowers.

So we bought a small one in a pot and it lives on the steps to our front door. This is the first year it has flowered. It is breathtaking.

Red Zastava

I was so happy when I spotted this in the next street to my house. One of my colleageues, John, has one of these, and they are basically just about the cheapest car you can find in Egypt. John is very proud of his Zasatava, and runs it on a shoestring, often stopping every few hundred yards to top it up with water. I made him change the tyres once because all the tread was totally worn away, but he thought this was a little premature because there wasn't any canvas showing through the rubber yet.

Anyhoo, this guy has taken his Zastava to the limit and gone all Mini Cooper cool with it. He still needs to work on the mechanicals a little because a few days after I snapped this, Felicity saw him pushing the car through a busy junction with a couple of friends.

Low Res cameraphone photos are so cool - how come the red of the car has made the camera think that the street should be turquoise?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New apple iphone 3g

I am SO glad I waited.

It's better.

It's faster.

It's cheaper.

It's going to be available in Egypt.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Garments of Praise

Flicking through my email this morning I come across the e-flier for Worship Leader magazine, and there, buried in the side column for advertisers is this little gem.


I've been out of Western Christian Culture for some time now, but even so, hmmmmmm.

I had a quick look at the web site, and at first glance it doesn't look so bad, but really, do people actually wear reversible mid thigh ephods and metallic wing collar capes in church dance routines? And would anyone actually wear a special shirt for praying?

Doesn't the Bible say "pray without ceasing"? If so, would you really want to wear this without ceasing?

Fabric: MicroMatique 90%Polyester, 10%Spandex. Machine wash cold, hang dry.
Description: Uni Fit full shirt with 4 snap yoke. Long full sleeves with cuffs. Perfect generous cut for both men and women. Side openings for ease of movement.

If any of you wear special clothes to pray then please let me know - I'm genuinely interested in the reasons.

This post is a part of Watercooler Wednesday over at Randy's blog, Ethos.