Anne thank you so much for taking the time for putting this together. I am incredibly thankful for mothers like you to set and example for us who are starting out or in the middle of it all. Blessings as you head into a brand new season as your oldest son gets married this SATURDAY!!! WOOHOOO!!!!! Sooo excited for your family!!!
God opened a door of opportunity.
By Anne Stevens
My husband, John, applied for a job with an Egyptian company for which he knew he was well qualified. His initial thoughts were, “Maybe I’ll get an interview in
!” One thing led to another, and within 3 months
he was offered a job in Egypt , and we
had a decision to make. We were actively
involved in a vibrant and growing local church; our children had many friends;
John and I each had a large extended family living close by (our children have
45 first cousins!); and, we loved our home in the country. What began initially as curiosity continued
to be fed by teaching we were receiving in church regarding business people
having opportunities to evangelize in “closed” countries. After much discussion, prayer, counsel and an
exploratory visit to Alexandria,
we felt that God was leading us to make this move. Alexandria
Thus, February 1998 found us boarding a plane in
bound for Toronto ,
via Alexandria Frankfurt.
What an emotional rollercoaster to that point! It was difficult to say good-bye. I cried myself to sleep at night. How do you begin to reduce all that you own
and is precious to 12 suitcases? Which
items were needed? Which items were important?
Actually, there was not much room left for “important” items once we had
packed clothing and personal belongings for each one of us.
The first feeling when we stepped into the airport terminal in
was one of absolute loss of control of our circumstances as we entered a
foreign, 2nd-world, Muslim country.
Alexandria Not only did we not speak
the language, but how do you begin to read something that looks like this … ترحيب
في الاسكندرية. أرجو منكم تدل على سيطرة ضابط الجوازات.
In some ways life continued as usual – I schooled the kids and John went to work. But many things also changed. Our prayers took on deeper meaning. Our church family at
(comprised of people from 13 different nations and many denominations) was of
vital importance to us. Attending church
on Friday (in a Muslim country) was a refreshing break from the attention we
attracted on our outings and the constant challenge of trying to communicate
and be understood. Our family, the 6 of
us, became even closer than we had already been – 6 days a week with just each
other for company. Alexandria
Almost every day presented new adventures and challenges. A drive to anywhere involved traffic jams – donkey carts spilling over with produce, trucks filled to overflowing with commuters, goods and camels; motorcycles with up to 6 passengers; so many people … galibayas and head coverings were the norm! We took vacations that never would have otherwise been possible for our family. The change in culture and language were difficult and tiring to contend with day after day; however, the greatest challenge came regarding our attitudes. Would we be thankful, patient and kind? Would we be quick to become annoyed? Would we allow ourselves to feel that our rights were being violated? Would we expect the Egyptians to understand our ways, or would we try to understand their ways? Would we represent Christ well? (Not until some of the local people told us, “Now we know what a real Christian is” did we realize how important this was.)
Those who are acquainted with me know that I have an endless number of stories and life lessons to share. But, I will try to be concise:
- God is faithful; He provided far more than I ever thought to ask or think
- being connected to a body of believers is of vital importance
- we can live with far less than we think (and still be living better than 90% of the world’s population)
- having a family does not nullify all opportunities for overseas work
- fear is not from God (besides, my pragmatic Dutch side also says that if 90 million people live in Egypt, how could I think that I would not be able to?!)
- I try not to ever say, “I need (this or that) …” - the life I lead here in
leaves no “needs” in my life Canada