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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Views from Cairo

David Grafton, an ELCA pastor, serves St. Andrew United Church in Cairo, Egypt, an international English-language congregation supported by the ELCA. He will be filing daily journal entries, which offer his perspective as an American living in a country that’s in the region of the conflict.

Day 1, March 20, 2003

We received the call at 6 am. There would be no school for the children today. The war had begun.

Only yesterday I stood with another parent; we were picking up our children from one of the several international schools in Cairo. Like many other expatriate Americans living in Egypt, our conversation ultimately broached the topic of Iraq. “Well, I wonder if there will be school tomorrow?” she queried. It reminded me of the same kind of question I used to wonder on a stormy winter evening in January in the Midwest. Then, as a child, I used to think, “Maybe we will have a ‘snow day’ tomorrow.” Never in my wildest dreams did I think my children would be asking, “Will we have a war day tomorrow?”

They say there are around 40,000 Americans in Egypt. This large subculture of Westerners in Egypt provides a great deal of logistical support to American interests in this region. Cairo boasts the largest U.S. embassy in the world, so many of the Americans here work for government- and military-related projects. Others work for oil companies, helping to produce oil that is shipped westward. Some teach in schools and universities (the American University being key). And even a small number work for church organizations.

I think it’s safe to say that there are a wide variety of feelings among Americans about what is going on.
For all of us, though, this is very real. We must face our Egyptian hosts directly and confront the question, “Why?”

So, we’ll gather for church tomorrow and pray, “Lord, have mercy .…”

(Article continues with 12 additional journal entries from Cairo.)


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