Mission in Egypt
April 21 to May 1, 2009
Egypt is one of the most interesting countries in the world with wonderful history and civilisation. In this land of little rain, the greatest area being desert, from the depths of Africa comes the River Nile like a gift from God which irrigates the land - the land which according to the Holy Bible hosted the Holy family for about three and a half years providing shelter during the murder of the innocents in Judea by King Herod.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you... Matt 2:13
Vassula was born in a place called Heliopolis in Egypt and lived there until she was 16. She has visited Egypt many times but there was not really any good opportunity to witness her experience with True Life in God.
"Egypt! I raised a prophet from your land; you gave bread to My Son, so why should I not raise a prophet from you? from this prophet will issue My Word until the horns of the evil ones are revealed and exposed;" (True Life in God: 12 February, 2000)
On Tuesday, 21st April at 1.15 a.m., we departed Athens for Alexandria. Elaine who is Egyptian but lives in Australia with her family had a great desire to make known the Messages of TLIG in her own country so, when Vassula asked for her help to organise this visit, she accepted with delight and travelled to Egypt where she worked for a month to prepare for this important event. Witnessing without having books available is not viable and Elaine knew that. She found a printing firm in Cairo in order to print the first 4 books which have been translated into Arabic, as well as the small prayer book and the icon of the Holy Shroud.
The cost of printing was quite high but the love and cooperation especially between the TLIG groups for God's work is also great. An appeal was made and the willing response and combined efforts of the French and American groups and some other donations enabled the materials to be printed - a most important element for the evangelisation and the distribution of the Messages.
On Wednesday 22nd April, Vassula visited the Patriarch of Alexandria. The meeting with Patriarch Theodoros II had been arranged many days earlier while she was in Greece. His Beatitude, polite and approachable, warmly received Vassula and the rest of us and we spent more than an hour in his office.
He talked to us about the needs of Africa and the love of the people for God, about his continuous travels to different countries of this continent. Vassula expressed the happiness she feels every time she visits the country of her birth and upbringing and she mentioned the work and spread of the Messages of TLIG in Africa.
Later, we learned that Vassula's speech in Alexandria which was going to take place on April 24th at St. Catherine's church was cancelled, because the priest of the church said that when a person of oversees come to give a speech, they have to refer the event to the authorities in order to get permission. Magdi an Egyptian man who had red the 1st volume and was expecting with joy Vassula's meeting, talked to the priest of the Sacred Heart church and he immediately offered the church. When Vassula learned what happened she smiled and said, almost speaking to herself: "The Sacred Heart again opens the way for the Messages". Christ had touched many souls in Alexandria with his Message some time before and with his own unique way had brought them together. These people read the first volume - were touched - were inspired by the theme - and ran to help Elaine with the organising.
Later that night, we took our leave of Antonis who was returning to Athens by air.
Thursday, 23rd April was the feast day of St. George, beloved saint, protector, friend and companion in the spiritual struggle of our era. We attended Mass in the Chapel of St. George in the premises of the Patriarch and we received Holy Communion from him. He offered us the traditional red eggs, sweets and soft drinks, and gave his blessing and wishes to Vassula and to all of us.
Later, we visited the church of St. Savas where we met Fr. Spiridon, whom we had met on the previous trip to Alexandria, and who accepted with pleasure Vassula's invitation to take a walk. He guided us around the gardens of Montaza where we had our lunch.
On Friday, 24th April, we were with a couple, friends of Elaine who had met Vassula for the first time in September of 2008 when she had again visited Alexandria. They had read the first book in Arabic and knew about her mission. These people were the first seeds of the Messages of TLIG in Egypt.
In the afternoon, Vassula received an unexpected invitation from the couple to visit an orphanage which was called - what a coincidence - the House of the Blessed Mother, in which were hosted 8 orphaned girls. On the same day, the catechism group of the Anglican Church - 15 children with their carers - visited the orphans and presented a programme with glorious religious hymns. There were about 35-40 people there when mr. Ramsis presented Vassula and asked her to talk to the children about her communications with Christ. Vassula accepted immediately and with the help of Elaine, who translated into Arabic, talked about her conversion in the early years. The children listened in wonder and absorbed very word. At the end, she was approached by young and old and asked for more information about the books and how they could get hold of them. They took the address of the website and they were advised about her speech which would take place on the next day in the Church of the Sacred Heart.
All of us were happy with this unprogrammed meeting and admired the way in which the Holy Spirit works who leads us so discreetly, without our understanding it, where he wishes in order to realise his plan. While the programme of Vassula included only two speeches, the Holy Spirit ensured that all her days were full both in Alexandria and in Cairo. Her first witnessing in Alexandria took place in the orphanage. A second witnessing took place in the Church of the Sacred Heart and the third in an area a little outside of Alexandria on the last day before our departure, thus making known this Hymn of Love in this country.
On Saturday, 25th April, the first official speech was given by Vassula in the Church of the Sacred Heart. The books had arrived from Cairo, 4 books with the icon of our Lord in 4 different colours. The church was decorated with flowers and the icon of Our Lord was exposed in the centre of the altar. Fr. Kyrilos, the church's parish priest, welcomed Vassula very warmly having already heard of her and introduced her to the people. There were about 70 people who attended in total silence; they were from the Coptic, the Catholic, the Greek Orthodox and Anglican Churches.
Vassula thanked everyone present and, with Elaine translating into Arabic, she talked about the first years of the Messages, her conversion and the great mercy of God who comes to save his church and to bring his children close to him. She said: "God acts, He is a father and our Father is a king and He comes to remind us of His Word. Why does He speak? Because it is the time of His Mercy... God is coming to warn His creation but the people today refuse to glorify God and they accuse Him. Vassula talked about repentance, forgiveness, the power of prayer, the division of the church, and Christ's desire for unity." She ended her speech by saying Egypt is a blessed country and the Lord makes reference to it many times in the Messages of TLIG.
"..and Yahweh Sabaoth will bless them in the words, 'Blessed are my people Egypt..." (Isaiah 19:25)
"...out of the land of Egypt I brought forth prophets and saints; a blessing on the land of Egypt, may its foliage remain green and the trees that grow by the river Nile prosper and continue to produce their fruit to feed its people; a glorious throne was set in each place, where the Virgin Mary, My Mother, Joseph the Just and Myself passed by;
"Egypt, We tread on your soil and incense raised in heaven as we passed by; have you not read in Scriptures: 'Ambassadors will come from Egypt,' (True Life in God: 16th October, 2000)
After Vassula's speech, the priest blessed the people who were obviously moved and enthusiastic about her presence and her talk. They approached her with questions and asked her to bless them. They gathered around her and Vassula blessed them, young and old, holding a cross containing a splinter of wood from the Holy Cross. With simplicity, faith and an open heart to everything they heard, they took the books and thanked her earnestly for her witnessing. Fr. Kyrilos invited her to his office and was visibly moved when he told her that he had seen her once in 1998 on the Italian television channel RAI 2 and he knew about her mission: "The words you have spoken are very powerful because they come from a lay person and others must listen. I would like to organise a talk and fill the whole church with people. Give me the chance to prepare this and tell me when you can come back to Alexandria." The Sacred Heart responds to our prayers and opens the door of the church in Alexandria, thus scattering the seeds of the Messages in Egypt.
Immediately after the meeting, Vassula was invited to the home of a lady from Alexandria who had attended the speech. Twelve people gathered in her home, friends who stayed till midnight enjoying the opportunity of being close to Vassula and asking questions. "Why does God call the under-privileged? How does Vassula receive His Messages? How did her husband and children react?"
This second talk on the same day left those present enthusiastic. They were the first souls to accept with simplicity and the joy of a small child the Messages of TLIG saying: "Vassula, we are full of joy to have you here and we thank the Lord for his Messages. God bless you and give you the strength to continue His mission." We left their house late at night quite tired.
On Sunday, 26th April, after the Mass at the Church of the Annunciation at the premises of the Patriarch, we departed for an area out of Alexandria where Elain's friends own a place for spiritual exercises. We met a group of young people there who wanted to meet Vassula and listened with real interest to her witnessing. "God's word is sweeter than honey.... I could not imagine that I would be here. Elaine came from Australia to organise the talks. The Lord wanted the first step to be taken at the Church of the Sacred Heart and for me, this was a sign. This is the beginning for Egypt. Why you? Why don't you ask yourselves this? Do you understand that this is an invitation for you? Take the first book; start to read the Messages putting your own name in the place of my name." They looked astonished at what they heard about the mercy of God and His presence amongst humanity. They took the books to study them. God is pleased and blesses those who study His Messages and in this way He teaches them.
On Monday, 27th April, at noontime, we thanked the new friends of TLIG who responded to the call of God and who had welcomed Vassula with so much love, as well as helping to organise her speeches in Alexandria. We boarded the train with Elaine and left for the next stage of the mission in Cairo. The journey lasted two and a half hours and it was pleasant and comfortable.
As the conditions did not permit Vassula's talks to be publicly announced, nor were interviews on TV allowed, the news of her arrival was passed from word to mouth. In these talks, because of the particular conditions in this country, Vassula left out references to many of the rules which apply normally to the organisation of her talks, giving more than one speech and allowing questions.
In the evening, in the house of friends in Cairo, a meeting of 70 people had been organised. Many were young people who were anxious to meet her and learn about her mission and the content of the Messages. The meeting started late and lasted three and a half hours. Vassula said that she would answer their questions but would not talk about the Messages and what Christ is asking from us today. This she would do on the following day in her official speech in the church and she invited them to be there and hear about the great love of God. There were many questions especially from small children with simple answers which could be understood by everyone. "How did Christ speak with Vassula? How did she sense His presence? Did she see Him? What does He ask of us? Why does He speak since we have the Holy Bible?" They were satisfied with her responses and some spoke as if they knew the Messages. They thanked her and asked her to bless them. Among them was a young Muslim woman who a year ago had been baptised a Christian. The people bade Vassula farewell saying: "We thank you for coming to bring us the joyful news and we thank God because living amongst the Muslims has enabled our faith to become stronger." We left at 12.30 after midnight.
On Thursday, 28th April, at seven in the evening, in the church of the De La Salle College in Cairo, Vassula's second official speech in Egypt took place. It was attended by about 100 people of different religious confessions - Coptic Christians, Catholics and Orthodox. Sister Carina who organized this event welcomed Vassula with joy and emotion and Fr. Arsany a Coptic monk greeted her at the entrance of the church. The programme started with the songs of a young choir who sang beautiful hymns in Arabic. Vassula greeted them in Arabic and thanked them for their gifts. She started with a prayer for the presence of the Holy Spirit and, with Elaine translating, she talked about her life saying that she was born in Egypt and that she had visited many times in the past. She talked about God as a father, the Holy Spirit and the new Pentecost which has already started. She said that our hope today is the pouring out of the Holy Spirit to which Christ refers in the Book of Revelations, chapter 21. She spoke about unceasing prayer, repentance and the gift of love and responded to the many questions of those present. At the end, Sister Carina informed the people about the Beth Myriam which had been established several years earlier in Cairo and she asked if there were any volunteers who could help with this work of Our Lord. No one came up, except a Greek Lebanese lady by the name of Sofia who offered her help.
On Wednesday, 29th April, we spent the day in the company of Fr. Arsany, Elaine and Nadia a very close friend of Vassula's from the time the family lived in Egypt. In the evening, there was one more meeting in the house of friends and about 40 people were present. Untiringly as ever, Vassula talked again about her mission and answered again many questions, for example: "How do you see Jesus and what is the message for Egypt?" She answered: "I see Him with the eyes of my soul; open or closed, He is always there. I see Him sometimes like a King, sometimes thirsty with dry lips. My appearance here with the books of TLIG is the message for Egypt... Egypt protected the Holy Family when they fled here from Judea. Egypt fed them and gave them to drink but, most of all, gave them shelter, and God never forgets a good gesture." The participation of the small children in the audience asked more questions than the adults. Everyone though, was eager to obtain the books and they bid farewell to Vassula with love and gratitude for her witnessing in their country and wished that she visit them again soon.
Thursday, 30th April, was our day of rest and tour and we decided together with Fr. Arsany to go to the Khan el Halil bazaar, and then a felucca sailing on the Nile.
We also visited the church of St. Simon the Tanner situated at the top of Moqattam Hill. St. Simon is the protector of the Church and is associated with the miracle in 979 a.d. when the whole hill moved.
In order to reach the top of the hill, we went by car through the Zabbalin village or 'the City of Garbage', traversing narrow streets and travelling uphill with unending heaps of garbage from plastic to metal to rotten food on both sides of the road and in people's houses whilst young and old, immersed in the garbage, were choosing the items for re-cycling. This was their job. Their houses were built of primitive materials and the whole town reeked heavily an unending stench... It seemed like we were going through hell until the gate of the church appeared unexpectedly before us and we found ourselves in an area which was bright and clean and full of colourful icons from the bible were engraved in the mountain.
That evening, Sister Carina led us to the apartment where the Beth Myriam is located. It is indeed very small and in a very poor neighbourhood of Cairo. Food is offered twice weekly to 200 people of whom about 130 are small children. She talked to us with the enthusiasm of a small child about this labour of love for the families who are suffering poverty and are relieved to find a warm and healthy meal two times a week. The place is freshly painted and clean with the icon of the Blessed Mother and photographs of people who visit. The cupboards are full of foods like pasta and oil and there was meat in the freezer. Each summer, for a week, Sister Carina takes about 130 children for a vacation to Port Said or Alexandria, wherever she finds space, so that they can spend a few days enjoying the sea which most of them have never seen. Sister Carina was with Sofia the Greek-Lebanese lady.
Sofia kindly offered to take us to the airport the next day, and we were impressed about the willingness of her spirit. She had provided us with transport and offering her house for a next time.
On Friday, 1st May, in the morning, we left Cairo for Athens. We thanked Elaine for all her efforts and very efficient organisation and also Sofia who so kindly accompanied us to the airport. Vassula's mission to Egypt came to a successful conclusion. The Lord opened the road for His Messages and sent workers with His blessings to the vineyard of TLIG in Egypt.