Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Stinky fish and Psalm 4

So, last week while I was subbing for Teri’s Level 3 English class (I subbed for 4 weeks) we were talking about traditions and holidays and I found out Copts fast for more than 200 days of a year! YIKES! Each fast through the year is a different length of time and expects one to fast in differing ways. This past week Copts have started the “Advent fast”. They cannot eat meat or any milk products until Christmas. Then, for “lent fast” they must also refrain from eating fish. So, that means no milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, meat, fish, etc. for 50+ days in a row, after already fasting for 40 days!

As we were discussing these traditions, one student explained many people break the Easter fast by eating “Stinky fish”—fish that has been soaking in a salt solution for a number of years. “Like lutefisk?” I thought. Not exactly. Tonight before my class the student handed me a wrapped gift and said her class is really going to miss me as their teacher even though they are happy Teri is back. When I returned home and opened the gift it was non-other than stinky fish in a jar! Ha! Oh, it looks and smells so horrible. No wonder it’s called stinky fish. If I ever had to fast from milk products and meat for more than a month you can bet I’d be eating a thick juicy hamburger and some DQ at the end. (Ironically, I am fasting from juicy hamburgers and DQ for a year! Hmmm…if anyone wants to go out for some good grub next August, I’m your woman!)

Last week I started reading Psalm 4 with my level 4/5 class and using it as a bible study. In an hour and a half we only got through the first four verses. Of course, we go on tangents for a while, and I make all of them speak the psalm out loud and we talk about the vocabulary, but still, I wasn’t sure if they left feeling disappointed that we didn’t “get anywhere” last week. Boy was I wrong. Within the first few minutes of class today Equib said since last week he has been praying Psalm 4 (and some other psalms) in English and has found it to be much more meaningful than reading it in Arabic! He explained that using another language makes it “new” again and the words help him visualize the message, especially since we took so much time discussing it last week. His spiritual life has awakened! Thinking back, it really was a great bible study conversation full of great theology and idea of how we should live. Ah…I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again—I love this class!


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