This past Thanksgiving we traveled to Lebanon with some friends of ours here in Cairo. We had an incredible time. Here are some of the sights and sounds from our trip.
As we begin this new year, we look back on all the excitement of 2016 with a big “phew!” The year marked our 3rd anniversary (are we still newly weds?), the beginning of our 3rd year living in Egypt, a new teaching position for Caleb, more grueling hours of Arabic lessons for Becca, and of course, the big news of our newest family member. Looking forward to 2017, we know that life will look a lot different in many ways. Our son, if he’s anything like his father, will be a handful, Caleb will start another new position at his school, and Becca will face the challenges of being a first time mother. All in all, we’re excited about this new year and we’re thankful for the army of family and friends that continue to shower us with love and support. They are after all who made 2016 such a blessed year. This little video is in tribute to all of them. Happy new year and we look forward to sharing new memories with each one of you in 2017!
Well, here we sit, inching toward the halfway point of our third year living in Egypt, but this time it’s not just the two of us. Becca’s pregnant! We decided Cairo’s population wasn’t quite big enough yet, so we’ll be adding to the 20+ million people with one of our very own this April. With the inevitable sleepless nights and hardships of raising a child in a foreign country, also comes the excitement and thankfulness of being blessed with our first baby. We are surrounded with love from our friends living here and feeling supported from our families in the states. We’ve gotten over the initial, “We’re having a child in EGYPT” phase, and have moved onto a more realistic phase, where we realize, “Hey! People have been having kids here longer than anywhere else!” We’ve found a wonderful doctor, have a comfortable home, and already received generous gifts and helpful hand-me-downs as we prepare for our little one’s arrival. Still working on what we’ll name our little guy, but I’m sure it’ll come in due time.
We realize that having a child is going to change the way life looks like for us. I’m not going to say that we won’t travel anymore, but those trips will probably look a little different and we won’t be able to get away with only a couple carry-ons. Also, day-to-day will look a lot different for Becca as she is gearing up to be our baby’s primary caretaker during the days. There also comes the anxiety of having a child here, in a country so far from home, that may not have all the little amenities we could expect to get in America. However, we’re surrounded by several moms and dads who have done it all before. Many of them two or three times over. Their wisdom and support has and will be invaluable as we navigate the waters of parenthood here in Egypt. And learning to adapt here is essential because we aren’t leaving just yet…
About a month ago, Caleb went through the interview process to become a vice principal at his school. Despite being a finalist, Caleb didn’t get offered the position. However, on the same day he was turned down for the position he had interviewed for, he was offered the VP job of the middle school where he currently teaches 8th grade. After several nights of prayer and discussion, we decided that not only would we accept the position, but that we would commit to living in Egypt for at least two more years. This decision wasn’t easy. Especially considering that we would be having our first child in the spring, the temptation to head stateside was very strong. In the end, we gave it over to God. We trusted Him when he brought us here, and we’re going to continue to trust Him while we’re over here. He is good.
So now in these last few months before baby arrives, we’re soaking up all the together time that we can and making the most of our final days as a family of two. We’re excited to see what God has in store for our future here. And what new relationships and friendships that having a child might bring about!
Thanks to all of you for your continued thoughts and prayers! We miss you all dearly. And you’re all still welcome to visit anytime! You’ll just have to put up with a crying baby during the night, but that seems fun, right??
Love you guys!
2016 took us all over the continent of Europe! As far west as Spain and as far east as Montenegro, we trekked across the beautiful and diverse landscape with friends and family in tow. This short video is a compilation of moments and places we experienced along the way.
In March 2016, we set off on yet another week long adventure through Jordan. Our friend Eric Mennel joined us for part of the journey as we made stops all throughout the small country. Our trip took us to the Dead Sea, Petra, Red Sea, Wadi Rum, Amman, Jerash, Umm Qais and many more fascinating sites.
It’s hard to believe that we are already in our third year of living in Cairo, Egypt! It seems like just yesterday my parents were dropping Becca and I off at Fort Wayne International Airport for our move abroad. When we left, we had a two year commitment, but made the decision halfway through our second year to extend an additional year. It’s a decision we’ll have to make yet again come this December! While many things are the same entering this year, there are a few changes that have taken place. Here’s what has and hasn’t changed:
1 SAME – Our Apartment
We are happy to continue our residence in the neighborhood of Cairo referred to as Heliopolis. This is especially wonderful since neither of us have lived in the same place 2 years in a row since college! We feel a certain endearment to this part of town and have loved the relationships we’ve been able to form with our neighbors near us.
2 DIFFERENT – Caleb’s Job
While Caleb is continuing to teach at the American International School in Egypt (AIS), he is no longer in the 5th grade. Instead, he is teaching at the middle school level for the first time! He’ll be challenged by his new 8th grade students and covering science throughout the year.
3 SAME – HCC
Heliopolis Community Church, or HCC, has been an important part of our time in Cairo. Services take place on Friday mornings and we are often helping out with music. Becca continues her role as the worship coordinator for the church.
4 DIFFERENT – Becca’s Workload
Becca is continuing her work organizing medical trips to Cairo, except, she’ll be taking on a bit more of a leadership role. Her “boss” will be gone for about 4 months and therefore Becca will absorb some of his responsibilities.
5 SAME – Arabic
We continue to try and learn Arabic each week in our lessons. It’s a tough language and at times we feel as if we aren’t making any progress. However, we recognize the importance language study has on building relationships and connectedness to our community here. We will persevere!
6 DIFFERENT – Friends
Over the last 6 months, we’ve had to say many farewells to close friends living here in Cairo. Unfortunately, this is just part of living abroad, as the revolving door of individuals coming and going continues to spin. We are looking forward to getting to know the new faces that have arrived over the summer!
We are looking forward to this year and the many exciting adventures and challenges that lie ahead. As always, don’t be a stranger! We love to hear from you and what’s happening in your part of the world, wherever that is. 🙂
We’ve always felt so blessed to have the visitors that make the journey to Cairo to visit us. In the last couple of months we’ve not only had a few friends and parents visit, but also some amazing new friends we’ve hosted through CouchSurfing. If you don’t know what couchsurfing is then go you should just click here and see it for yourself! We’ve had visitors from our neighbors here in the middle east, Germany, and Brazil most recently. We also had the pleasure of being hosted on our trip to Jordan! It’s a great social network and definitely worth checking out if you’re into traveling and meeting new people.
OK, I’ll stop plugging couchsurfing now. 🙂 Our first visitors of 2016 were actually Becca’s parents. It was fun to host them for a little over a week and show them the ordinary day-to-day life that we live. It was also fun to take them to Alexandria for a long weekend and take them to some of our favorite spots around Cairo. Having them here was a little piece of home, and it’s nice when we’re talking with them now to have them understand the places and people in our lives here.
It’s been good having both of our parents visit now as we think that this firsthand experience has possibly calmed some nerves they may have had with us living here. Like many of our previous visitors, a trip to Egypt is eye opening – not only because of the magnificent ancient sites but also because the way the expectations of this country and region are often skewed by western media. Most of our visitors leave saying things like, “I can’t believe how friendly the people were” or “I never once felt unsafe.” It’s amazing what a stranglehold the media has on our lives. Of course, we can tell people the reality of the situation of here via skype, but until you actually visit and see it with your own eyes, it’s hard to really grasp the truth.
Our friend Eric made the trek to Cairo at the end of February. His trip was extra special as he traveled to Jordan with us for a few days. We loved visiting many of the country’s most popular sites such as Petra, the Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum. We also enjoyed our time seeing many biblical sites like Bethany where Jesus was baptized, Mount Nebo where Moses climbed to see the promise land, and Mukawir where John the Baptist was beheaded.
With April right around the corner, we prepare for a busy season as I (Caleb) finish the school year with a trip to Cyprus and Becca hosts a couple more medical teams from the states. We’ll also be making a short trip to Dubai. As we look toward the summer, we are looking forward to visiting with many of you back in North America. We’ll be on a bit of a whirlwind tour during those warm months before we return to Cairo once again in August for another year of living in Egypt. We are so thankful for the efforts many of you make to stay in touch and like the theme of this update, you are most welcome to visit us anytime!
Here’s our adventure through Namibia last month! We covered over 2,000 km on this week long trek through Namibia. We made stops along its Atlantic coastline in Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Cape Cross, and the Skeleton Coast Park. We then headed inland to Damaraland and Etosha National Park. We finished our journey in the capital city, Windhoek. If you’re not sure where in the world Namibia is, stop what you’re doing, look it up, and book your tickets there now!
As we had written last month, we spent our winter break enjoying summer. We flew south to spend a week in Namibia and 2 more in South Africa. We came back with full memory cards and whole new perspective of life on that side of the planet.
After nearly 36 hours of travel, we landed in one of the smallest international airports I’ve had the pleasure of visiting – Windhoek, Namibia. In case you haven’t a clue where Namibia is located, it’s the large formerly German occupied country northwest of South Africa. (If you’re unsure where South Africa is located then you made need to enroll in my 5th grade geography class.) To give you a sense of how small this airport is, the airport actually closes at 9pm. It closes. Anyway, we were soon driving west in our rental truck to Swakopmund with our friends from Egypt, Matt and Layla. Our trip would include 3 main areas of Namibia and 6 nights of camping.
In Swakopmund we met up with an Egyptian friend of ours, Martina, that moved to Namibia last year. She and her husband are a fantastic couple and we enjoyed spending some time with them. We also visited a bay full of flamingoes, climbed a massive sand dune that toed the Atlantic, and enjoyed the cooler coastal weather before heading back inland. After two nights of camping atop our truck, we headed north along the Skeleton Coast – a long gravel road where the desert is on your right, and the ocean is on your left the entire drive. After hours of not seeing anyone on the road, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, we made a left-hand turn toward the beach. And there, in the most desolate area, we stopped at one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever witnessed; an entire coastline filled with thousands of barking seals.
The seal colony was super interesting, but soon the stench that hung in the air began to be too much. We continued our trek northeast along salt/gravel roads and miles and miles of untouched terrain. We would sometimes drive for over an hour before seeing another car let alone any sign of human life. Namibia is a beautiful country and a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that there is so little development outside of the few major cities. After a long day of driving, we finally arrived at our rest camp in Damaraland just as the sun was setting. Our home for the next two evenings was easily the coolest place I’ve ever camped. Our site was complete with an indoor/outdoor shower and toilet as well as a mini kitchenette. We were nestled between massive boulder piles so that you felt totally isolated from the world. Imagine Lion King, only it was real!
The next couple of days we visited a few of the area’s treasures including a petrified forest, Twyfelfontein (2,500 year old rock engravings), and a local Namibian farm. It was fun getting to interact with local Namibians and learning about their way of life. At the farm, we witnessed how an entire extended family were all within stones throw of each other and worked together as a small army to provide for one another. They told us about their “elephant problems” and a couple of boys even sang for us. This wasn’t your typical touristic stop and we were happy that the family living there wasn’t putting on a show for us.
Our last stop in Namibia was Etosha National Park, a massive game park in the north of Namibia. En route to the park, we patched 2 flat tires we’d acquired from the brutal gravel roads. We camped in Okaukuejo the first evening in the park and were entertained by wild jackals that ran about looking for unsupervised food. The next evening would be honey badgers! The camp’s water hole had visits from an elephant, a black rhino, and zebras. The next morning we loaded up the truck and drove around Etosha looking for more wildlife. Ostriches, springboks, and onyx were aplenty. We also found some hyenas, water buffalo, a white rhino, and the day’s highlight, a pride of lions. That afternoon we arrived at our next stop, Halali, and fought off the heat with some poolside R&R. It was Christmas Eve so we decided on cooking a Christmas feast for ourselves- a breakfast skillet, grilled cheese, green beans, and orange juice. The perfect Christmas Eve meal.
Our last morning in Etosha, we got up early and started our journey back toward Windhoek. The early start awarded us some more unique animal sightings and we left the park feeling happy with our results. KFC made for a delicious Christmas lunch as it was the only place open, and we made it back to Windhoek late that afternoon. We managed to find a steakhouse that was open at the mall, so we proceeded to enjoy T-bone steaks to celebrate the completion of our Namibian journey. The next day we flew onward to Cape Town, South Africa.
When asked about our time in Namibia, we can’t help but share with others the beauty in this country’s untapped landscapes. There are few countries that afford you the opportunity to see such wonderful places with so few other people around. We highly recommend to any who’s looking for a trip a bit more out of the proverbial touristy box, to consider this large African nation to the south. We know that you’ll leave with many of the same good impressions that we still feel today!
Another month is in the books for us here in Cairo and so far this year has been anything but slow! Each of our first 3 months have been highlighted by visitors from back home and the many treats and goodies they bring along.
We love to share our home and way of life with the many friends who’ve made the trek to Egypt and always enjoy getting to show off this unique country we live in. We’ve been encouraged by our visitors and the way the leave us with a whole new positive perspective on this region of the world. A perspective that impacts not only them but also influences their friends and families back home through the sharing of their experiences.
Living in a part of the world that is heavily influenced by Islam and the influx of refugees, it has been challenging to follow along with the negative media we’ve seen surfacing back in the states. Living in this country, our opinion on such matters has been significantly impacted and while we are not experts on such issues, we feel that our point of view gives us a perspective that is lacking amongst many Americans. We feel especially discontent with how many Christians, and so called Christian leaders, have been manipulating the Bible to suit their agenda. Islamaphobia and anti-refugee movements weigh heavily on us and we pray for wisdom and clarity from those who seek to know truth.
We’re thankful for our connectedness to friends and family back home. The internet is such a gift that, despite the many miles between us, it allows us to remain a part of others lives. It also makes us miss “home”. Especially during this holiday season, we long to be surrounded by our families and enjoying this festive time of the year. But, we do what we can to get in the Christmas spirit here. An artificial tree stands proudly in our living room and we take every opportunity to play our favorite Christmas songs while at home.
However, the Christmas mood won’t last long. Next week, we are traveling to Namibia and South Africa for our winter break. We will be spending the holidays first safariing around the raw Namibian landscape and then cruising along the coast of Western Cape. We look forward to this adventuresome trip with our friends Matt and Layla and reporting back to you with all that we see along the way!
Lastly, we have some exciting news to share with everyone. We’ve decided to stay in Egypt another year longer! This decision comes after many months of discernment and prayer. While the idea of leaving Egypt was certainly on the table, we didn’t feel at peace with going anywhere else. Additionally, we both felt like the work that we’re doing here just won’t be yet complete after just 2 years. So, the Hatfields will continue their African adventure until at least June 2017. We miss everyone and look forward to seeing you all again soon! Merry Christmas!!
We hope you enjoy there pictures from the last few months here in Egypt…