Blessed be Egypt, my People

Man, I don’t even know where to start right now. We are just finishing up our time in Egypt and there are so many things running through my mind. First, I am just so sad to be leaving this amazing place and all of the great friends I have made here. This place truly means so much to me now, and I just honestly don’t want to leave just yet. Second, I am trying to process through everything that happened this trip so that I don’t forget anything. God did some crazy cool things here and those are the things that I want to remember the most. I am going to miss Egypt dearly. I will miss the people that I’m met, I will miss wadi sports camp, I will miss teaching aerobics and dance to an awesome group of girls, I will miss playing the game of signs late into the night, and I will miss this amazing team that became family in just such a short time. We are currently in the airplane on our way to Dubai and I think I’m still in denial that the trip is over, a trip that I have been looking forward to and getting ready for since November. For those that don’t know, this trip is a part of my final internship at UT. I am an exercise science major in my final year and in order to graduate with a specialization in personal training I needed an internship. I thought about going the normal route and just interning at a gym in Austin as I had done before, but I was fortunate enough to have a professor that encouraged me to follow what my passion is, which is missions. She introduced me to Geoff, a professor at UT who goes to Egypt every year, and told me that if this trip will help me meet my end goal of missions that she will count it as my final internship. Before I go into the internship and trip too much, let me back up a little bit.

About a year ago, God called me to go to the mission field. I have had a solid relationship with Christ a majority of my life, but on that day last January I heard God’s voice more clearly than I ever had before. He said, “Shelby I want you to Go.” And he said that He wanted me to stay until He called me home. He basically wiped out all of my plans that I had previously had so that I could move to a new place and new culture in order to further His kingdom amongst the unreached. At first the thought of this was terrifying, but over time I just developed a deep since of peace and joy about it. I began to get excited about the prospect of moving somewhere new and doing the work that God has set before me. He hasn’t told me exactly where I am moving yet or what I will be doing there, but I know that He has something perfect in mind for me and I can’t wait to find out what that is. The one thing that I do know is that God has given me a passion for the Arabic speaking world. And as I am typing this my heart is hurting deeply for those in this part of the world that haven’t heard the amazing news that Christ has died for them. One thing I have learned this trip from some of the counselors is that the people here in Egypt and all around the Muslim world are looking for something. They know that there is something missing in their life and they are desperately searching for something that can fill that void. I probably should have censored that a little bit for safety reasons, but my heart is just bursting at the seams for this part of the world. So even though I don’t know exactly where I will end up, one thing I do know is that as soon as we landed in Cairo and were driving through the city, I had this overwhelming sense that I was at home. That may seem strange since that was my first time ever in Cairo, but there is just something about the culture and feel of the Arab world that makes me feel so giddy and excited to be there. So if there was one huge thing I took away from this trip, it is that God truly has called me to an Arabic speaking country to live and work. And I personally cannot wait to see where that will be.
So back to the trip. I was basically Geoff’s intern leading up to the trip. My jobs including helping to recruit the team, helping design the shirts, paperwork and logistics, and team communication etc. Pretty sweet gig if you ask me. So seeing everything that we had planned play out throughout the trip was very cool. It was such an amazing week of camp in Egypt and there is just something so special about Wadi Sports Camp. I was the aerobics and dance coach and had so much fun coaching that group of 23 girls. I think one of the major ways I saw God working was through those 23 girls. It took a little bit for them to open up, but towards the end of the week I was so excited to get to majors each day and dance with them. At the beginning of the week I was scared that what I had planned for them was going to be too hard or that they wouldn’t like it, and sometimes that was true. I threw out half of my plan for the week and instead we just danced. I taught them a jazz and a hip hop combo throughout the week and in the end my favorite thing was to see all of their hard work pay off. We also had some fun playing games like freeze dance and ninja. I taught them how to Texas two step and they taught me how to belly dance. It was so much fun trading cultures and one girl even gave me a yehaw at the end of it.
I had no idea what to expect coming into camp, but those girls were such a joy to teach and I will miss them immensely. For a lot of the week I had no idea how they were liking the major or if they were having any fun with it, but at the end of the week a lot of them came up to me to tell me that they loved the major and they had so much fun. One girl came to me and admitted that she was sorry for missing one day at the beginning of the week so that she could try out another major. So I must have been doing something right last week, and that was definitely all God. On my own I would have failed miserably, but luckily I had the big guy upstairs watching out for me and those girls. After one jazz class, one girl came up to me to thank me and said that she has always wanted to dance, but that she had never been able to before this week. It just warmed my heart to hear that God was able to use my 15 years of previous dance experience to impact these girls.
There is so much more I could say about the week, but I think my favorite thing was hearing so many of the kids and counselors asking if we will be back next year. And as of this minute, I want to full heartedly say that yes, I will be back next year if that is what God has for me. And I can’t wait to get back to Egypt, even though we only left 3 hours ago. But for now, we are landing in Dubai so I need to sign off soon. I am especially sad because this is where I split from the rest of the team. While they head back to the states, I am continuing on to Uganda for another adventure. I’m sad to leave this team that I have grown to love so much. But I know that this is only the beginning of some sweet adventures in Texas and next year in Egypt.
I also just want to thank each and every person that supported me during this trip. It means so much to me and it wouldn’t be possible without you help and prayers. I know a lot of you were worried about our safety in Egypt, but I have to say, there was not a single moment that I was afraid for my safety. (Well, there was this one overhead fan that shook a little bit more than it should, but that’s another story). God was truly watching over us, and I have decided that I don’t want fear to dictate my life. I don’t want to let the prospect of something bad happening hold me back from living my life. God will always be watching over me, and I just need to trust that he works everything for His purpose.
Well, I love you all! Until next time!