If you follow my blogs then you know last week in Cairo was FILLED with adventures (a nice way of describing the stresses too!)  I must say it was one of the most memorable and favorite weeks of the year, perhaps of the last five years.

Egypt is wrought with so much history (think 7,000 years old), from the land itself, to the buildings, the Pyramids, and the stories of Moses on the Nile River or crossing the Red Sea.

I am still marveling at how blessed I am to have been asked to serve in the Bush Presidential Center Women’s Initiative, the program that sent me there.

More memorable though, are the people I met, wonderful people who love their nation and are working tirelessly to make it great, in spite of many challenges.  Here are a few summarized thoughts…

Similar Pains Exist Everywhere — I met with a group of women counselors who spoke of their personal stories of depression, lack of identity, bitterness, and the search for God.  Each one has a story of coming into personal wholeness, forgiving the offenders, and finding life spiritually.  They now serve hundreds of others in overcoming the same challenges. 

As I listened to them share over pizza, you would have thought I was in the U.S., or South Africa, or Canada, or anywhere.  As women we have so much in common regardless of surroundings, which is comforting and at the same time inspiring, to think that what I’ve learned can help you, and vice versa, no matter where we live.

Relationships Trump Everything — I arrived in Cairo but my bag did not.  Every day I thought it would arrive and four days later, with nothing but the clothes on my back, it did.  The breakthrough finally came when our tour guide from Monday, who I randomly ran into on a side street 45 min. from our hotel on Tues. night (no such thing as random) heard of my plight.  Within hours his friends at the airlines and airport had delivered my long-last bag.  Thank you Samir! 

Networking is a major focus of the Bush Initiative, training the Egyptian fellows on how to practically extend their networks.  Other than dealing with a little inconvenience, was glad to be reminded of this truth about how relationships trump everything.  Thank you lost bag!

Hurt People Hurt People — As the news media showed, violence broke out in Cairo the week we were there.  What wasn’t clear from the media though, is the underlying reasons people respond the way they do.  Hearing many stories from the locals reminded me that while violence may be a horrible reaction, there is so much more to the story in every single human heart.  This truth has challenged me many times in the corporate world, to respond with compassion vs. jumping quickly to judgment.  I do hate violence but more than that hate brokenness that leads hurting hearts to hurt others.  We pray for the peace of Cairo and that lasting healing comes.

With many fond memories from Egypt, we look forward to reuniting as participants next March when the fellows will graduate and a new class will begin.  It is truly an honor to serve this program. And to think a casual meeting with Charity Wallace (who runs this program) at a small book signing 6 years ago in Washington D.C., is what started it all. Never underestimate small beginnings.

Thanks to all who prayed for our trip, we felt and needed the prayers.  Now on to ORU Board meetings in Tulsa for the week….never a dull moment, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jenny Lynn Buntin (left) and Charity Wallace make this program work.  Serving has been a total pleasure, working with these two first-class leaders.

Hearing these women’s stories rocked my world and brought me to tears.

My mentee Nora is one of my heroes, what an overcomer and change-agent she is.

A quick overnight stay in London enroute home was a surprise fun perk.

Hello Westminster Abbey!

Window boxes everywhere, wish we had as many in New York!

Wonderful hotel in the heart of London called the Royal Horseguards (cool name huh?)

Love the contrast of the modern style chandelier with the old style ceilings.

Farewell London, you were a perfect ending to a marvelous trip.

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