هوذا أنت تسمى يهودياً، وتتكل على الناموس، وتفتخر بالله، وتعرف مشيئته، وتميز الأمور المتخالفة، متعلماً من الناموس وتثق أنك قائد للعميان، ونور للذين في الظلمة، ومهذب للأغبياء، ومعلم للأطفال،ولك صورة العلم والحق في الناموس. فأنت إذاً الذي تُعَلِّمُ غيرك، ألست تُعَلِّمُ نفسك؟ الذي تكرز: أن لا يُسرق أتسرق؟ الذي تقول أن لا يُزْنَى أتَزْنِي؟ الذي تَسْتَكْرِهُ الأوثان، أتسرق الهياكل؟ الذي تفتخر بالناموس؟ أبتعدي الناموس تهين الله؟ لأن اسم الله يُجَدَّفُ عليه بسببكم بين الأمم، كما هو مكتوب (رو 2: 17 ـ 24)
Why is it the trend now to talk and debate more than working? Our lives are filled now with more words that we need, and much less actions that we should be doing.
I've always said: "I do not trust people whose jobs depend on their talks", and being eloquent should never be a measure of productivity. And on the other hand, the less you talk should be adding to the balance of your actions.
So please, yes you, please: try to work more than talking about what you should do. At least save us hearing what we do not need to hear, and do what could be useful!
And believe me, it feels so good when you look at your own hands creation, feels better than your happiness with the sound of hands clapping to your articulate words.
"I need to write this down before I forget how peaceful and happy I am today. I woke up early today determined to visit a church in Izmir. The passed days I noticed 2 churches near the hotel, one very close, and another on the main street behind the hotel. So, 8 o'clock in the morning I got up, and I was in the street heading for church at 8:30."
This is how I started writing about my church visits in Izmir, but I never finished it while I was in Izmir, so am finishing it now.
The first few, short visits to Izmir, I didn't look for a church in the neighborhood. But during the long stays, I started to search for one, and I found 3!
The first was the one beside the hotel, just 5 minutes away walking in the same street of the hotel. It was a 100 years old Italian Catholic church. The service was in Italian! and the priest looked a lot like the late Pope John Paul II
And for my surprise, I arrived at 8:30 and found the service is almost finishing! Ten minutes later it was the communion, and at exactly 8:45 it was over!
I looked around and had a look at the attendants: most of them were elderly people, of different nationalities, and in total there were round 20 people in the church. They didn't know each other, and as soon as the service was over, they quickly left the church. I went to one of the old ladies before she goes away, and asked her when does the service start, and she answered: 8:15! And I asked her again: 8:15? She said yes, with a suspicious look!
It mean I arrived at exactly the mid of the service J it was only 30 minutes long! And I remembered the average service in Egypt is not less than 2 hours by any means J
Then I went to the second church that I had noticed on the way back from work one day. I was like 15 minutes or less walking from the hotel. Since the first service I attended was only 15 min. so I decided to go and check the other one. And am so glad I did.
The second church was a 40 or 50 year old Evangelical church, called Saint John, it's American I think.
It was so beautiful! The service was in both English and Turkish. The hymns were so wonderful, reminded me of the Evangelical services I used to attend in my school long time ago. The priest was a Canadian one, it was this kind of missionary churches found everywhere. I enjoyed the service so much, and because it was in English I could really participate in praying.
Then after church, they did this gathering for breakfast that's found in most churches, and especially in USA where I've used to join such gatherings. So it was a good chance to get to know new people in Izmir, and there were lots of English tongues of course. The total attendants were over 40 person, varying from Turkish to Americans to Canadians to British, even an Iranian woman, who had "escaped" from Iran and married the British guy who I've come to know later. He was responsible for the prayer books and he always handed me the Turkish books first, then I'd ask for English ones insteadJ. Everyone there thought am Turkish by the way.
And on the first time I've been there, I got to know my dear Karen, an American old teacher who has been living in Izmir for 18 years now. She was round 70, and she looked so much younger. She came to Izmir years earlier, to work as a teacher in a school there, and after she retired, she found out that she fell in love with Izmir, and couldn't leave it and go back to USA.
"I have a life now in Izmir; I have my friends and service at church. I don't want to go back to USA now and leave all this", those were Karen's words to me. She was this kind of woman that sweeps you off your feet with her tremendous kindness and welcoming. She made friends with me so quickly and easily and started introducing me to everyone and the priest. Then she told me about the third church that I got to go in Izmir!
She told me that every Sunday after the Evangelical church service is over, and the little breakfast gathering is over, she goes to this Turkish church nearby, where she has a service: she did like a Sunday school for the Turkish young kids.
And she invited me to go with her. Okay, to know the risk I took here, imagine with me: It's the first time ever for me in this church, it's the first time I meet this lady, I do not know all the places in Izmir well, and I found out later that I had no money with me! (because I thought I will just finish church and go back to the hotel, so I didn't remember to take money)
And in spite of all this, here I am, riding the car with Karen and another Turkish lady with us, heading to this church. And am also glad I went J
We arrived to the church to discover it was just the basement and the first floor of a normal house, which was turned into a church, without an altar, without a perfect arrangement, but it was so full of love and God's presence.
First there were some spiritual songs in Turkish, with music and the wordings on the wall with a video projector, so I was able to follow. They were amazing! I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed the songs, even though I couldn't understand everything. But the words were clear, part Arabic part English, so I could get an idea of what the song said. To get an idea, the Holy Spirit was "Kutsal Ruh" J so it was clear, u know.
Then in the break, Karen told me how those Turkish people (over 50 – 60 person, the biggest number as u see) they took the Christian faith, and they started this church with donations, and they were facing lots of problems to oblige them to quit Christianity, and they gave them a hard time to give them a permission to build a church, that's why they are using this basement! (Sounds familiar to somewhere else, doesn't it?)
But the truth is, of all the 3 churches, this was the holiest, the most filled with God's presence, and the prayers were so real and heartily. Those people haven't been brought up in faith, so they appreciate it so much. They know they've been blessed and they carry this bless in their eyes and smiles. They welcomed me like they know me from years, because they knew am a Coptic Christian, and because they are so welcoming and loving. After the break they celebrated having a new member in their church: a young, cute little baby, the daughter of a couple in the church. Everyone was so happy with the newly born, and we all prayed for her & her family.
Then I had to leave, and Karen was to start her service, that's when I found out I had no money J and I do not know where we are, since we came by her car. But because I had enjoyed the morning so much, and I've prayed in 3 different churches and took their bless, I knew certainly I don't have to worry about how I'll go home. Luckily I had my mobile, so I just called one of my colleagues in the hotel, told him to wait for me at the hotel door with money, because I'll be coming in a taxi and I don't have any money... and he did. (Did anyone get worried about how I went back? :) )
For the next few weeks, I used to go to the first 2 churches, I skipped the Turkish one because of the distance, but I'll never forget that day when I went to all 3, and I've experienced things and met people that I'll never forget in my whole life..
Note: in Izmir there was also a very famous historical church called the "Ploycarpa", but I didn't have the chance to visit it. Maybe next time :)
And for those who don't know, Izmir is the city in the bible called "Smirna", one of the 7 churches in the Revelation book.
Well, you must have thought about it before, haven't you? Where is your strength? How do you call yourself strong?
First put your parameters of strength. Yes it can differ from one person to another. Your idea and parameter of strength is purely your own. You might think that your strength comes from what you own, from your ability to accomplish, your physical abilities, psychological traits, faith…etc.
We can never list here all the things that make us (or make us think we are) strong. So you must define your own terms of strength.
You can also bear an instantaneous strength or long term strength. Both are needed and both are kinds of strength. You could be under preparation all your life to be strong in a one moment that needs strength of a lifetime. And also you could be working all your lifetime with the same strength that is needed for your normal everyday life. Actually both kinds help each other. What preparation could be better than going through small, short & hard situations and learning bit by bit how to be really strong? And when the big moment comes you already have a good supply of patiently built up strength.
Why do we need to be strong? I leave this question to you my dear reader, and while thinking it over, remember the last time you couldn't sleep at night…
I cannot explain the serenity I feel now coming back to you. The happiness and peace that crawl to me when I sit writing, knowing my words are addressed to you.
I missed you. I really did. I know I left you alone for a long time, but I was longing to have our special moment back together again. But being too busy to do any thing besides work, made me leave you all this time without anything new.
So now, after things began to calm down – hopefully – the first thing I thought of is coming back to you, telling you how I spent the past few months.
First you must know that I went through a lot lately. Many major events, good and bad, happy and worrying, I experienced all sorts of feelings and conditions.
But the biggest and most important was the 1 year project I've just finished.
There are 3 dates I cannot forget in this year:
Wednesday, May 31st 2006, when I first heard of it all in the interview: the traveling, the new position, and I still remember the innocent excitement I felt about the whole idea, not knowing still what lies under.
Thursday, February 15th 2007, at exactly 5:30 pm: there is no title for this event, but for me it was the night of Success. It was the first time to feel successful and triumphant after long months of hard work and traveling. It was the night I was congratulated. I never needed congratulations as I did that night, and oh I did get it. Can't tell you how strong I went home that night. Yes you know how hard and honest you worked, but still the words of appraise makes a difference.
Tuesday, April 10th 2007, our day came to reality. The date that has been a dream to all of us, became "Today". It was our Go-Live day. The time when you see the dreams and drawings come true. Not that everything was magically working, but that we were able to reach that point. Problems will never disappear, but knowing you can do it, makes you even more accomplishing. It's a day by day effort, step by step success. It will always be one of the landmarks in my career.
Dear Corner, I learnt a lot in this time. On all levels: professional, personal and human relations levels. I learnt that no effort goes in vain. And no laziness brings you anywhere. I learnt that how low people might go; never let them drag you down with them.
I learnt to make this total separation between work and life. The moment you step out of the office (if you ever do!) just forget work and forget the fights you had with your work mates, just go and enjoy dinner with them.
I learnt that it's most important to have your own identity in whatever you do. Put your mark, never be shy to make it clear and say it out loud. Life went into the direction of those who led it to, not those who just went with the stream.
I learnt that no matter how much you dislike a person, spending long times with him and experiencing all kinds of situations together, will definitely bring you closer and you'll begin to like him. A connection starts to grow between you which will go stronger everyday and will make you forget why you disliked him.
This project exhausted me physically, emotionally and intellectually, but in the end I feel it was worth it. I learnt a lot, got some experience that normally I will never get in just one year…
So I'm trying to settle down again, make a new routine for my life now. And what will never change is the time I spend writing on your walls, my dear corner.