Leaving on a Midnight Train to Luxor

July 2, 2007

The Egypt Chronicles, Part 4

Our adventure in Egypt introduced me to many things. I experienced life on my own in a foreign country for the first time—no professors were guiding the way. I saw amazing things like the Pyramids. I tried some new foods (but not too many.)

Also, I rode a real train for the first time in my life. Yes, I did not need to go to Egypt to experience this, but it was in Egypt nonetheless that first made my way by rail.

Train travel (like most kinds of travel) turned out to be not that exciting. Since it was night, there was nothing to look at out the window. Nevertheless, I still found my first train experience interesting. The four of us were put in a room with two Egyptian men. Both spoke good English, so we enjoyed talking to them for a bit. One even had some questions about Christianity, so PC spent some time sharing the gospel with him.

Before too long, all of us felt the need for sleep. The four of us had had quite a day, and it had started at 3:45 AM Egyptian time. However, trying to sleep in the train car proved interesting. Our seats barely reclined. PC eventually stretched out on the floor, and the girls split the three seats on their side of the cabin. I was seated with the two Egyptians, so I tried to make use of my backpack as a pillow, and that worked…for a while.

After about four hours of sleep I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. And for those of you who know me, you know that me plus being tired plus traveling plus not being able to sleep plus an optional side of McGriddles equals interesting times—I feel sick. To complicate things, vacant bathrooms proved to be exceptionally hard to find on this train, so that added some suspense to my early morning experience. Thankfully, I ended up feeling alright and even got some more sleep before the end of the train ride.

That morning as I sat on the train feeling sick to my stomach, I felt like I had never been in such a foreign experience. I was so far away from everything I knew and was comfortable with. I was on a train traveling deep into the heart of a strange country. I was surrounded by people speaking a foreign language and practicing a different religion. I had no way to contact anyone outside of that train, and there was nothing I could do. I was far, far away from my comfortable bed on the Moshav, and even that was fading farther into the distance.

It was this morning that Psalm 139 became the Psalm of Travel/Study Break. In this Psalm, David stresses the omniscience and omnipresence of God, and he says, “If I ascend into heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” I have never made my bed in Sheol, but that morning I felt like I was as close to doing that as I could be. David also says, “Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” Even though I was in the strangest place in my life and nothing felt normal, God was still there, holding my hand, and leading me on.

By this time our trip was starting to take shape. We would spend the next two days in Luxor, followed by a day in Aswan, followed by a day in Abu Simbel. We did not have all the details filled in yet, but that was the beauty of our Travel/Study trip. Next time I’ll post (with pictures) about Luxor.

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