Sunday, December 20, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

And here's the view from up the hill...

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This where we were staying a week ago

Total peace and tranquility in the company of the bedouin in the Sinai mountains.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Today's excitement: Another fire in the church

We had another fire under our church tent today. The last one a month ago was caused by an electrical fault and did no damage other than some melted cables.  This one appears to have been caused by someone flicking a match or cigarette in from the street under the back of our stage area. The fire was put out very quickly by our staff and some very helpful and brave neighbours, before the fire brigade arrived, but not before it did some significant damage.

This is where we are due to hold our worship services tomorrow!  I'll let you know how it goes :-)

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The view from my bamboo hut

We have just arrived at Basata on the Red Sea after three days cut off from the outside world at Al Karm in the heart of the Sinai mountains. Will be putting our feet up for a while.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Found this little chap buzzing round the garden tonight - a huge moth with the amazing distinctive pattern on the wings. His right wing is a little moth-eaten though.  Check out his curled tongue in the first picture. He was flitting round all the flowers gathering nectar.

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Home made sushi

For Toby's birthday some kind soul gave him a do-it-yourself sushi kit. Everything you need for a sushi feast. And he decided to share it with me. For Single Dad Week (Felicity comes home tonight), just the two of us and some raw fish. All made from scratch.

We overdid the wasabi on our first Nigiri pieces and nearly had to call the paramedics. It was serious!

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cars of Cairo. 50's Mercedes

Any ideas on the model? 190? It's in beautiful condition all round. Spotted by Cafe Greco on Road 9.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shane Beales - recording strings.

A friend, worship leader, amazing songwriter and musician from Frontline church - home, really. Here's an insight into his work.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Went to desert, made a fire, cooked some steak.

Our Norwegian friends are staying with us this weekend. We knew each other very well the first time we lived in Cairo, in 1999 & 2000. So we took them to Wadi Digla of course. We explored a cave and had a great meal. Steak always tastes better cooked in the outdoors on a fire.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

The tale of the towed truck

Bonus points to anyone who can identify this heap I found parked under a bridge last night.

Anyway, to the tale. For once the boot was on the other foot and it was not my car being towed. I went to rescue a friend whose 4x4 had broken down at Carrefour. It's quite an experience towing a big heavy car through Maadi at night. The traffic is heavier in the evening and no-one wants to cut you any slack. We had drivers trying to force their way in between the two cars, pedestrians trying to cross between the two cars (one guy nearly got his legs taken off by the tow strap) and a cyclist who stopped himself at the last possible moment from doing the same thing. And please bear in mind this is quite a short tow strap. At one point it even broke because my friend had to jam on the brakes as another driver tried to force his way past just as I was accelerating to get out of the way of the same driver. Poor tow strap.

Still the package (4x4) was safely delivered to the mechanic in the end and we have another interesting experience added to our Cairo Chronicles.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Church was on fire tonight. No, really. On. Fire.

Now you need to know that we worship in a tent attached to an Episcopal chapel in a suburb of Cairo. The tent has a steel frame and canvas roof panels and open sides.  Power cables run from the switch box in the chapel through conduits, across the roof of the tent to the stage on the other side. Lots of power cables. And it was one or two of those that decided tonight, during the offering, to short out and burst into flames.

We were about half way through the second service of our usual three services. There were about 500 people under the tent, and LD Frazier, a gospel singer from New York City was doing some special music while we took up the offering, just before the sermon. Suddenly there was a bang from the back of the tent and all the power on the stage went off along with some of the lights. Someone yelled "there's a fire, everybody get back" and someone grabbed a ladder and a fire extinguisher and climbed up to the top of the tent and put out the flames. We then started flipping breakers, and after a couple more dramatic bangs and pops from the fused cables we decided to kill ALL the power. The Master Switch.

Darkness fell across the property. The kids in KidZone came out of their rooms because all the lights had gone off and the air conditioning too.  People milled around and wondered what to do. Eventually we decided that we couldn't get some of the circuits back on safely as we didn't know which breakers were connected to the fused cables, so we cancelled church and spread the word.  It was all Very Dramatic.

Wow, we are so blessed that the canvas tent didn't catch fire, which would have spread in seconds and been a potentially fatal disaster. We are so blessed no-one was hurt and that there isn't much damage. God was looking after us tonight.

I just hope we can get these cables repaired before the LD Frazier concert on Tuesday!

Tickets are available...

PS, who can guess the famous worship leader and song writer in this picture?

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

First carrots of the year

Not that we grew them ourselves you understand...

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Monday, August 31, 2009

My birthday meal

I love sushi.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Today I am eating stir fried vegetables with noodles.

Cooked to order

Delivered to my office

Total cost: ten Egyptian pounds

That's one pound Sterling

That's $1.50

That's really good.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Watching someone die on Twitter

I know what death is like. People close to me have died, and three years ago my friend, mentor, boss and pastor died suddenly in an accident. I'll never forget that afternoon as the story unfolded, as the news came in piece by piece through phone calls and texts, when his wife came to the office to be told "officially" by the police, as members of the church went to stand vigil and pray around his body where he lay in the street. It was truly a black and terrible day.

Yesterday I watched someone die on twitter.

I follow quite a few twitterers, one of them being Michael Hyatt whom I met at the Recreate conference I attend in the USA.  He posts about his life as a CEO of a major publishing company.

Michael was first with the news:

michaelhyatt: Please pray for @handsdance. She came home and found her husband unconscious. We need a miracle here. 

Then his wife Gail sent this:

gailhyatt: Please pray for @handsdance. She came home and found her husband unconscious. She's very scared. 911 is there. 

and then

gailhyatt: Please pray for @handsdance. She came home & found her husband unconscious. She's very scared. 911 is there. No pulse.

So I prayed and then this came through:

gailhyatt: Thank you everyone praying for my precious Twitter friend @handsdance's husband. It's not looking good. She's so scared. 

And then I clicked on @handsdance to find out who she was and found this:

@handsdance: Thanks to everyone who's praying for me.. My hubby is with Jesus.. Family here & my parents are on way..

Oh. My.

It's very strange having watched this tragedy unfold thousands of miles away through my impersonal and remote computer screen, knowing @handsdance's life is totally and irrevocably changed, understanding a small portion of what she is experiencing, feeling a connection through my friend, Michael and yet, at the same time, not knowing really anything about what is going on there.

Twitter is amazing at getting news out to the big wide world, such as with the Hudson River plane crash in New York, and even though that news concerns people I've never met and communities I am not physically part of, as I was watching it unfold in real time I felt part of it even though I'm not and I will continue to pray for @handsdance.

I think I feel shocked because news on the TV and in the newspaper and on news websites is still impersonal - we have become immune to the impact it should have on our lives, and so to feel emotionally drawn in to this story has really surprised me.

I think we're all still trying to work this twitter thing out.

It's a strange beast.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Worship Confessional

Thursday 30th & Friday 31st July

Just thought I'd post some thoughts and comments about the weekend worship here at MCC.  It was a great service and it's always nice to celebrate it when things go well and God is glorified :-)

I have been away for four weeks on my summer trip with the family, and only got back in the early hours of Wednesday morning, so basically I planned the services on Thursday including writing out a couple of charts for songs we were going to do in different keys to standard.  Our 5pm soundcheck came round very quickly!

Here's the setlist...

Open the eyes of my heart (Baloche)
Forever (Tomlin)
Jesus Messiah (Tomlin)
Holy Holy Holy (Trad hymn)
Worshiping You (Stockstill)

Welcome & notices
Sermon "Cleansing a leper"

Mighty to Save (Hillsong)

I chose fairly simple songs musically speaking because we didn't have our usual Monday rehearsal and also because it's the summer we had some musicians who don't normally play in one of our teams, so they are not used to playing regularly.

I ran the first five songs together as one set of worship, with the songs flowing into and out of one another with extempore prayers from time to time and tried to leave space for people to express their own worship to God, and it really seemed to be a special time, especially on the Friday morning service.  I also dropped "Holy Holy Holy" and "Worshiping You" down to the key of C so that people were more likely to  keep singing through the many sustained high notes.

If you were there, let me know how it went for you...

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Deauville - Paris by the sea.

Had a wonderful afternoon wandering around oh-so-fashionable Deauville with it's grand hotels, boutique shops, casinos and snobby cafes. Got turned away from one posh cafe because we had too many children with us.
Saw three Aston Martins, one Ferrari and a couple of Porsches. A motoring oasis for this dry and thirsty soul :-)

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The view from our chateau (!)

That's the sea, over there between the lnd and the sky...

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Cairo Tweetup with Greg Surratt

Last night Felicity and I headed downtown to meet up with Greg Surratt and his wife Debbie. Greg is the Senior Pastor of Seacoast, a church of about 12,500 people in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. The way they got to Cairo and the way we connected is one of those crazy stories that just has to be told.

Seacoast Church has been running for twenty years and to celebrate this ministry landmark, the congregation sent Greg and Debbie on a special trip - a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea starting in Rome, ending in Greece and visiting Egypt, Israel and Turkey on the way. The main reason they chose this cruise was for the itinerary that takes in most of the Holy Land sites of interest. 

Unfortunately, just as the boat was sailing away from Port Said, next stop Israel, there was a very serious fire in the engine room which the crew risked their lives to try and contain. All the passengers were called to Muster Stations and told to bring warm clothes and essential medications only, with the possibility that they might have to abandon ship and jump in to the lifeboats. For four hours the 700 passengers sat in the dark, in silence, with no power, lighting or air conditioning, listening to the tannoy announcements and not knowing what might happen next.  Eventually the fire was brought under control, and the ship was towed the five miles back to Port Said by a tugboat and the passengers were told that the rest of the cruise would be cancelled and that they would get full refunds and that the cruise line would fly them all home after a night in Cairo.

What gives this already dramatic story an even more interesting twist is that Greg was keeping the whole world abreast of the situation through updates on his Twitter page. In fact, most of the friends and relatives of the cruise passengers were getting more accurate and timely information from Greg's tweets than from the cruise company's PR people.

Here's a few of the messages from Greg's Twitter...

::We have a small fire in engine room. Looks like it is under control. Didn't get dinner. Bummer
::It was a bigger fire than we thought. It's under control. We've been on floor in dark for 4 hrs w 700 close friends. Romantic :-)
::Apparently the fire was bigger than we thought. Looks like we are spending a few days in Egypt Here's USA Today story
::Pictures I took out our window. We are on the 7th floor, smoke is coming out of 10th floor, fire on 1st floor
::Your friendly Egyptian tow truck
::People sleeping on deck last night
::RT @GeoffSurratt: So you were almost to the promised land but now must spend more time in the desert? Sounds very Biblical.
::Princess cruise crew have been incredible. No sleep. No air in quarters. Very gracious. Praying for them.
::Some may be tired of cruise info, but several are now following me for info on families aboard. I will continue to update.
::We have elec, air, sanitation in cabins. We can get off ship. Waiting for report from Princess on state of ship
::Rest of cruise canceled. Damage worse than expected. Putting us off the boat tomorrow. What next??? Stay tuned.
::Standing in line trying to figure out what's next. Some people are a touch annimated :-)
::Princess is offering our money back and flying us back from Cairo tomorrow or Sunday. Still looking at all options.

I discovered the story on Twitter through following a friend of a friend in Nashville, who happened to mention it. I then started following Greg's Twitter feed, and the next day, he followed mine. I sent him a direct message offering help in Egypt if necessary and pretty soon we ended up lounging on the bank of the river Nile, drinking lemon juice, sharing our stories together and praying for each other.

This may be the start of a long and beautiful relationship - definitely a God-thing - who else could have orchestrated this? :-)

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Cars of Cairo - Jaguar Mark VII

Mark Jaffrey.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

International guests @ MCC

After six years I still can't get over the diversity of the congregation at our church. Yesterday, in the 9:30 service alone we had guests from:
New Zealand
South Africa

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Cars of Cairo - Chevy Suburban 1975?

It might be for sale...

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sponsored taxis? Whatever next!

Snapped from my bedroom window, this taxi driver was very proudly keeping his "Halvoline" liveries taxi very clean indeed.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Morris Cerullo is following me on Twitter

Why do I find this slightly disturbing?

Is it because I've never been followed by a TV evangelist before? Is it because I was always told you should never trust a man who puts his own name on the front of a Bible? After all, anyone who publishes the "Morris Cerullo Financial Breakthrough Spiritual Warfare Bible" must be suffering from delusions of grandeur, or at the very least, an markedly warped view of Christian theology.

Maybe it's because he reportedly lives in a multi-million dollar house in the USA's wealthiest neighbourhood and flies around in a personal gold-plated Gulfstream...

...whilst raising money for his mission crusades from the inhabitants of some of the world's poorest countries.

Anyway, I'm not following him back.

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Food art

I've never had food served on a mirror before.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009