I have been anticipating writing this post for a while. Eager to tell about my recent trip to Egypt (we weren’t allowed to say anything ahead of time for safety reasons), feelings of excitement and hesitation have been churning beneath the surface. I’ve been hesitant to write because I’m still wondering how I can possibly give such a life-changing experience justice in a simple blog post. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I can’t-but I still have things to share, so here it goes…
Last month I had the incredible privilege of traveling to Egypt as part of a missions trip with our church. This was my first time going on a missions trip, and it took a couple of weeks to let the experience settle in my heart and mind. We saw the city of Cairo with all its rich history, personality and bustle, but we spent the majority of our time outside of the city of El Minya in poverty-stricken villages where the pace was slower and the people welcoming and friendly.
We partnered with a local ministry called Healing Grace. They help provide basic needs for poor sponsored children and their families, including clean water, food, education and health services, all delivered with the love and hope of Jesus Christ. I had never heard of Healing Grace before this trip but I was familiar with organizations like them. We started sponsoring a nine-year old boy from India almost two years ago through Compassion, and while I’ve known that sponsoring a child in a third-world country is a good thing, it was incredible to see first hand the difference sponsorship actually makes.
Our team was able to visit with many women and children at once during women’s meetings at the local churches before doing home visits with individual sponsored children. The welcome we received was heartwarming! Just the fact that we made the effort to be there meant so much to them. I remember that first day learning the custom of a handshake, embrace, and kissing cheeks back and forth (we were told to kiss three times, but most of them did five!) The Healing Grace team had a lot of laughs about how many kisses all of us received that day!
The home visits were inspiring and humbling. Living conditions there are deplorable compared to our American standards; it was common to find one-room homes with dirt floors and no running water or electricity.
Pushing the disparity in living conditions aside, what we saw inside those homes was more familiar. We found people, precious ones loved by the same God that loves us. There were mothers and fathers beaming with pride over their little ones. Women were going about their household chores of baking bread, peeling vegetables and washing clothes. Young children were eager to share what they had learned with us at school and in AWANA clubs. What we found there was people a lot like you and me. They were just born in a different country and in less desirable circumstances.
Through Healing Grace, they have had their physical needs met. Our team worked with HG and handed out water containers (how I have taken this precious commodity for granted!) We delivered food packs filled with rice, beans, tea, flour and sugar to sponsored children’s homes. But more precious than food and water, Healing Grace has given them the gift of hope. These children know someone loves them, cares about them, and is willing to invest in their future, and that has made all the difference.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11