Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My brother, Ossama

No description of our journey to Egypt would be complete without acknowledging a very special man, Ossama Sharaf. He was our private guide for our whole time in Cairo. He escorted us to Giza, Memphis and Sakara for our first full day of touring to show us all the ancient wonders. His knowledge of Egyptology was impressive and his fluency in English much appreciated. But what I valued most about dear Ossama was his kindness, his humility, and his openness for questions about the culture. So long as I live I will never forget the sparkle in his eye when he would smilingly say to me, "No matter what people believe, Lady, we are ONE!" The picture you see of him here was taken at the site of the Burning Bush at St. Katherine's Monastery. This devout Muslim man prayed with me, a Latter-day Saint Christian woman and both of us were deeply edified. Then after our restful time at Sharm el Sheikh, when we returned to Cairo, Ossama again took up his role as our guide to show us the mosque, synagogue and Coptic church. We sat together on the floor of the mosque and had a powerful discussion about faith and the role it has in our lives.

Ossama's courtesy was boundless. He kept us safe, informed us, entertained us with his stories and touch our hearts deeper than he knows. My understanding of Islam is much more complete and compassionate today than it was before I met him. Because of his graciousness, I will always feel as if I have a second home in Cairo. Ossama, you are truly loved.

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