The last couple of days have been busy getting ready for the Christmas bazaar. On Sunday afternoon, after Bible study in the morning, I met Pam to go solicit more donations. She had been out that morning with Marge and was feeling discouraged: they hadn't received a single item. Most stores were closed. It hadn't occurred to us that lots of places are closed on Fridays and Sundays here, rather than all weekend. Looking around, I noticed all the locked-up shops. Pam and I agreed that the best thing to do would be to wait until today, then try again. But neither of us wanted the day to end with nothing to show for it, so we agreed to stop at Volume 1 (a book and office supply shop) and ask there and at the other shops on that block. We still ended up the day with nothing in our hands, but we did get one firm commitment and a couple of others who promised to ask the owner or manager. We agreed to come back by some of those shops "bokra," which was today.
Not long after I got home, I got a phone call from Pam. Our plans had been changed by executive order. Marge had arranged for us to go to the Wadi Degla Club, where the bazaar will be held, to see the spaces set aside for us. Because we had committed to going back to those particular stores today, though, I wanted to make sure we went. Pam agreed; we decided to stop by on the way back from the club.
So this afternoon--after staying very busy this morning with other commitments--I walked down to the church, where I met Nancy, the MWG treasurer. The two of us rode out to Wadi Degla together, where we joined the club manager and an Egyptian woman--I forget her name, that's awful of me--who is very involved in MWG. She was negotiating--very assertively--on the phone with the guy who rented us tables and chairs last year. I was proud of myself because I could understand about 25% of what she was saying. Pam, Marge, and Lidia joined us soon after we arrived.
The group of us talked some about how things worked last year and how they'll work this year. While we sat there, Marge received a phone call from a nice Cairo hotel--Halina dropped off a letter and made a request; they have an envelope waiting for us at the reception desk. We don't know yet if it'll be a free room or a free meal at their restaurant. I was given a pack of tickets to sell as the opportunity arises. (Shameless plug--those of you in Egypt who will be in town on 12 December 2008 and want something really fun and charitable to do between noon and 4pm, contact me--leave a comment if you don't know me personally--and we can make arrangements for you to buy a ticket from me. They're LE30 each.) Then we all went for a walk to see the different areas where we'd be.
The food vendors will set up on the tennis courts. They'll bring out long extension cords or generators or something to provide electricity. The product vendors will be on the soccer field, I think, or anyways, on a big grassy field near the tennis courts. The silent auction will be in an air conditioned (if we still need it by then) room. The room has four doors, but we'll probably only have two open for loss prevention reasons. The pillars in the room naturally divide it into three areas, with a fourth area created by a serving counter. (The room usually functions as a coffee shop.) We've got ideas about how to arrange the tables, but the final decision will wait until we know how much stuff we have.
Then Pam and I headed back into Maadi to make our stops for the day. On the way, Pam told me about her morning. She had gone out with Marge again, with some success. She had generous gift certificates to a restaurant that's popular among expats, a beautiful embroidered pillow sham, and a wooden box with metal (maybe bronze) overlay from an Indian home decor shop. She also received promises for items from other shops. At the shops we visited together, we received a nice duvet and two shams from one store, and two beautiful ceramic plates from another. We also were told by one manager that he had spoken with the owner and was pretty sure he'd donate; I'll go back on Wednesday while Pam has other commitments. We also stopped in at a shop that was closed yesterday; that shop's owner will be in tomorrow, so we'll go back then.
It's working out just like Marge said it would: we go, we go back, sometimes we get stuff then, sometimes we go back a third time. She said there will be fourth visits. We drop off letters if the decision-maker isn't there. Sometimes we're convinced the letter goes in the trash; sometimes it makes our next visit easier because the owner has read the letter and has decided already what to give. But things are happening. Pam was smiling today.