Marratan ukhra fi umm al-dunya

Marratan ukhra fi umm al-dunya January 9, 2024


The Nile and its delta
A map of Lower Egypt.
Cairo and Giza are shown at the point where the Nile River fans out into the Delta. (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

But what, you will naturally be asking yourself, is this clown doing back in Egypt yet again, when he was just there at the end of last year?  It’s a good question.  Do I simply love jet lag?

Let me back up just a bit before I give you The Answer.

From what I’ve seen of it and from what I know about it, The Other Side Academy is one of the most remarkable undertakings that I’ve seen.  Remarkable and moving on every level.  Phenomenal.  Please have a look at its website.  And here’s an article about it: “From helping people die to helping people live: Dave Durocher used to be behind bars, now he’s in charge of The Other Side Academy, an organization dedicated to keeping people as far away from prison as possible”

Each time I’ve been to the Other Side Academy (TOSA), both times I’ve spoken there, I’ve been deeply, deeply impressed by the people at the Academy — and most especially, perhaps, by the students (as they are called).  And I’ve enjoyed very much spending time with them.

The Other Side Academy is a cause that is abundantly worthy of support.  At the very least, if you’re planning a move in the Utah area, or if you know anybody who is, or if you could in any way use the services of reliable professional movers — some members of my extended family had a disastrous experience a few years ago with movers in Idaho who were neither reliable nor even minimally honest — please consider The Other Side Movers.  If you’re in the buying vein and you’re anywhere near Murray, Utah, please give The Other Side Thrift Boutique a chance.  Also, please look at the website of The Other Side Village.

Now, back to my explanation:  Joseph Grenny and his wife, Celia, are the co-founders of The Other Side Academy and the principal forces behind it.  They were neighbors of ours in Orem for many years, and members of our Latter-day Saint ward.  We’ve remained friends since they moved away.

Some time ago, it was decided that the leadership cadre of TOSA (for the most part themselves graduates of its program or of analogous programs elsewhere, plus Joseph and Celia) wanted to take a trip together and, for whatever reason, they chose to go to Egypt.  The Grennys remarked that they knew people who had lived for several years in Egypt and who have often led groups to Egypt, so my wife and were approached to accompany them.  My wife did much of the hard work to organize the trip (e.g., arranging for a local guide, tours, lodging, meals, buses, the boat, and so forth) and I’m coming along as the occasionally amusing performing monkey.

So now you know.

As it happens, for particular reasons (that I won’t get into) we’ll also be joined in part of our Egypt tour by a couple who are serving as Church service representatives here, working largely with refugees.  (There’s yet another item for you from the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File™, but I’ll not go into detail on their work here for the sake of their privacy and security.)  She was a student of mine in the intensive Arabic program that I supervised in Jerusalem many years go, and he recently retired from teaching evolutionary biology at a university in Texas.  We’ve brought some supplies for them in our luggage.

Cairo, a sampling of mosques
A view of some mosques in Cairo, where my wife and I spent the first four years of our married life. (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

On the flight across the Atlantic, one of the flight attendants congratulated me on being a member of Delta’s “Million Miles Club.”  This surprised me, although I vaguely remember having been made aware of my “membership” at some earlier point.  I don’t know whether to glow with pride that I’ve flown more than a million miles with Delta, or to weep with sorrow.  One million miles translates into roughly 1750 hours sitting cramped in a metal cylinder hurtling through the sky – which is the equivalent, almost, of a year spent on a full-time job.  It’s roughly five hundred flights from Salt Lake City to New York City, or two hundred and fifty roundtrips.  Good grief.  What have I been thinking?

The city of Giza, on the Nile
Giza, an essential part of “greater Cairo,” faces the city of Cairo proper across the Nile River. On its western boundary, at the edge of the Sahara Desert, stand the greatest of the ancient pyramids. This is, to put it mildly, a fairly interesting place.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)

On Monday night, we attended a performance at the Barbican Centre of My Neighbour Totoro, put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company and Executive Producer Joe Hisaishi.  Thanks to my wife’s foresight, we had excellent seats.  The large theater was absolutely full.  The staging was extremely clever, and the audience loved the show.  I found myself seated next to a couple who occupy some sort of leadership role in national or international fencing and, during intermission, I got an earful about Russian oligarchs, hiding the ownership of houses and mega-yachts from international sanctions, and the persuasive power of huge sums of money in international sports.

Cairo Tower at sunset
Cairo Tower, on Gezira Island in the Nile River. (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)
(It’s slightly weird, by the way, to speak of “Gezira Island” in English, since “Gezira” is simply the Arabic equivalent, pronounced in the dialect of Lower Egypt, of English “island.”)

Interpreter Radio Show — December 24, 2023

For the 24 December 2023 installment of the Interpreter Radio Show, Martin Tanner discussed Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon lesson 3 and evidences for the Book of Mormon.

Now, a recording of that discussion is available to you at your convenience, it having been edited to remove commercial breaks.

The “New Testament in Context” portion of this show, for the Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon lesson 3, was also  posted separately on Tuesday, 9 January 2024.  (See immediately below.)

“The Book of Mormon in Context Lesson 3 ,“Come and Partake of the Fruit” (1 Nephi 6-10)

In the 24 December 2023 Come, Follow Me segment of the Interpreter Radio Show, host Martin Tanner discussed Book of Mormon lesson 3, “Come and Partake of the Fruit” on 1 Nephi 6-10.  Purified of extraneous material, his comments are now available to you at absolutely no cost (to you).

The Interpreter Radio Show can be heard along the Wasatch Front each Sunday evening from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640, or you can listen live on the Internet at

Come, Follow Me — Study and Teaching Helps (2024):  Lesson 3, January 15 — 21: 1 Nephi 6-10 “Come and Partake of the Fruit”

Editor’s Note: Four years ago, Jonn Claybaugh began writing the Study and Teaching Helps series of articles for Interpreter. We now have these wonderful and useful posts for all four years of Come, Follow Me lessons. Beginning this year we will be reposting these articles, with dates, lesson numbers, and titles updated for the current year’s lessons. Jonn has graciously agreed to write new study aids for those lessons that do not directly correspond to 2020 lessons.

Posted from Cairo, Egypt


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