Monday, March 1, 2010

More of "Expecting the Unexpected"

Thank goodness Deborah prepared us by sending us that last reflection before we embarked on our pilgrimage, i.e., "Expecting the Unexpected". I guess I tend towards optimism, with a base in reality. I pretty much expect things to "go right" but also do not fall apart when they don't.

I set out on the pilgrimage with very few plans, other than following the itinerary, if it could be kept. I knew that there were many things that could happen. And guess what? They have!

It started out with our plane in Roanoke having a leak, needing a mechanic, taking off late and things haven't been on schedule very much since then. Because we were late leaving Roanoke, we had very little time at Dulles but that was a "hurry up and wait" experience too. Then we had a long layover in Frankfurt and most of us had slept very little on the plane from Dulles because it was so hot and noisy. We toughed out the layover, finding things to do and finally just staring into space a lot! But by the time we were to leave, there were high winds that kept our plane g rounded for quite a while. Little did we know that there were gale force winds in Europe and Frankfurt was on the edge of that storm. The pilot prepared us for having to remain in Frankfurt but finally got the clear to take off. Bad1 news: our luggage had to remain behind us and was to come on a later flight. UH-OH!

You guessed it, we have been in Egypt now for more than a day and we have no luggage, except for Eric Shelley who brought everything in carry on luggage. We just don't think his 6 pairs of underwear are going to be enough for all 15 of us!

This is tough and disappointing but still wasnt enough to dampen our spirits the first day in Egypt. We truly have had a full and glorious day, seeing the Egyptian Museum with its endless and magnificent antiquities. We also visited the ancient Ben Ezra Synagogue, Egypt's oldest synagogue; Church of St. Sergius, where the holy family stayed for safety while in Egypt to avoid Herods decree to kill all male babies; the Coptic Museum; and the Hanging Church, where our guide worships.

These destinations, except for the Hanging Church, were all on our itinerary. But the experiences today were at least unpredictable. They were even more meaningful to me as a follower of Christ than I could have guessed. I will let you know about one in particular, although I am sure that an of the pilgrims could tell you about several others.

At St. Sergius, I did not expect to see a beautiful icon of Mary and the Christ child draped in blinking "Christmas tree lights"! This sight in front of the worship space WAS UNEXPECTED. One might have found it silly or comical but somehow the unexpected in this case was touching. And when we viewed the entrance to the underground cave where the holy family took refuge, I found myself overcome with tears at the thought of this scene. The people who offered the holy family hospitality, Mary and Joseph who lived for 3.5 years trying to protect their baby, who therefore lived to become our Savior.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Our luggage??? More wonderful experiences in Egypt? The next blogger will have to let you know!

Posted by Melissa Hays-Smith


  1. Thanks for your post Melissa. . . I am glad to hear that you all made it safely to Egypt, albeit, with some unexpected delays and without your luggage! We look forward to hearing more about all your adventures.
    Our love to all the pilgrims!

    mike and ellen

  2. I preached about you guys on sunday - Jesus on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, you all on to egypt, and mentioned that jesus too should have had a blog, joked that on yours we could see what you ate on the plane, but now know you didn't have luggage. . . . thanks for sharing the journey.

  3. When was the old synagogue built?

  4. Hi Pam,
    The blog has been fun way to experience your adventures in Egypt. Despite some challenges it sound like you all are have an amazing time and seeing so much. Looking forward to hearing more. Love Rose Marie.
    P.S. a note from AJ please don't forget his souvenir!