Wednesday, June 21, 2006

back again, with more goodbyes

Well, we had a vacation. I can't say with any confidence that we had a "retreat" per se, but we did get to hang out on the beach, go on a glass-bottomed boat tour, sleep in, etc. We had only two debriefing sessions, which I found unhelpful. We never discussed any of the impact on or implications of our year here on our faith. We did not at any point apply Bible Study or prayer to our experiences. We spent a lot of time talking about "solitude" as a spiritual practice after a year in which many of us have been inordinately lonely and unsupported. We spent a lot of time listening to Lynn's experiences here (mostly negative) and the reasons they stay here rather than going home. We spent no time whatsoever discussing our group dynamic.
We returned from our weekend with sunburns, of course. Bad ones for me and Jason--ugh. And we returned to leaving preparations for four volunteers--at this moment all three other women and one of the men has left and they will be arriving home tonight. This Sunday another man is leaving. Jason and I will be the only ones here in Cairo for the next month, since we are not leaving until July 17. Saying goodbye to our friends was not easy. I woke up this morning and my first thought was "all my friends are gone!" Their flats are open and empty. It's pretty lonely around here right now.
We returned from our weekend to discover that the flat upstairs had things stolen--a digital camera and a digital video camera. There have been workers renovating the other flat upstairs, and they finished the work over the weekend. One of them was seen by our cleaning women trying to get into Lynn and Dick's flat as well. When the boys upstairs tried to file a report of theft, they accidentally filed an accusation because the person translating for them neglected to translate that paragraph. Now there's a big thing, because several workers were arrested. When the boys found out and tried to say that wasn't what they wanted to do at all, they were threatened with a lawsuit for libel and false accusation. Great. Now that it's all in motion, they are kind of stuck. They are being forced to press the charges...except that they have left/are leaving the country this week! So they had to sign a power of attorney for this case over to the lawyer for Ramses College. Basically, it has to go to a trial (in two months) and then, after that, it's possible (likely?) that the foreman/engineer guy will then press a suit against the boys. OY. This situation is not the way they wanted to leave Egypt. It's also really distressing to think that our house is not even a safe place. I know that in the US these things happen (it's happened to me more than once), but here we don't feel really like anywhere is a safe space. Grr. Anyway, hopefully nothing will come of this for the boys, and also hopefully they will not have this as their overwhelming memory from their year of service.

I am working on a newsletter and so won't be posting as much for a couple days. But I just have to say that the streaming live feed from the General Assembly is not helping me to write the newsletter. It is helping me to get a good dose of decency and orderliness, which I definitely feel lacking in this country.

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