I'm in Egypt right now! I still can't believe it and I've been here for a week now. Such a strange feeling it is to be walking the same streets of Nasr City in Cairo as last year... even stranger to see the same people working at the same shops from last year. So I've had a lot of reflections since I've arrived...
There’s a concept in social psychology that the situations you find yourself in are not random. They are a product of your behavior and your choices in life. Too many times we blame our environment for our shortcomings. But the truth of the matter is that we should be blaming ourselves.
I love Egypt. I really do. Last year I had the most amazing roommates mashaAllah (what God has willed) and I really felt that they were the reason that my experience was so wonderful. I was surrounded by people who had deep faith running through their veins. I was surrounded by a city filled with the unconcealed forthright remembrance of Allah. And most of all I was surrounded by knowledge and students of knowledge.
Before coming back to Egypt this summer, I was so excited to be back in an environment that would pull me back up again, that would bring me back to my roots of faith. It was almost as if I thought the feelings I have here in Egypt are impossible to have in the States. Although certain things at the moment are impossible in the States (like hearing multiple loud call to prayers five times a day from my balcony), I failed to realize that if my faith wasn’t stronger in the States it was my fault, not the States.
Right now I live in an apartment with three other girls. Most of the girls are really independent and are doing their own thing. We’re all living together yet are still so apart. I really wanted to bring us back together…and what better way than to pray together? This is something my roommate last year used to do all the time. This year I feel like her. She knew that she had to create her environment so she pulled everyone up so we could pull her up without even realizing it. Now the tables have turned and I’m finally realizing that in order for me to have a stronger sense of faith, I need to be the one who works at making my environment support me.
Yesterday I went room to room in my apartment asking the girls if they wanted to pray together. Surprised, they all got up, made wudu (cleansing before prayer), and came to the sitting room where we prayed together. It was so nice.
I'm slowly realizing that this summer is probably going to be a lot different than last summer in Egypt. I'm going to have to be the one that pulls everyone up...because if I don't I think I'll lose myself. Man, do I have my work cut out for me. I have to get these girls to come together and become like a family for the time we're here together.
So my first method was to pray together ...which has been working to some extent. My next method is to play the story game during dinner. Its basically where you take turns telling some interesting thing that's happened to you in your life. Any other suggestions??