Macomb couple grateful for prayers after tense days in Egypt
By: By Jennifer Willems
MACOMB — It could have been worse.
Sightseeing in Egypt when the anti-government demonstrations broke out, Dr. Subhash and Linda Jani of Macomb were stuck at the Cairo International Airport for nearly three days before they were evacuated.
“It’s awfully good to be home,” said Linda, a member of St. Paul’s Parish here.
“I know an awful lot of people were praying for us. I never felt like we weren’t going to get home or that we were in imminent danger,” she told The Catholic Post by phone about a week after returning to the United States.
“I feel like we made an awful lot of the right decisions at the right time and that was guided by other people’s prayers,” she said. “We could have had a much more difficult time.”
The couple journeyed to the Middle East to take part in a pilgrimage led by Scripture scholar Jeff Cavins and his wife, Emily. Nine other parishioners made the trip, including Msgr. Richard Pricco, pastor.
One of the main attractions for the Janis was the opportunity to renew their wedding vows in Cana. They celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on Sept. 5.
“Everyone I talked to was enthusiastic about it,” Linda said. “Brochures surfaced and we decided to make this our anniversary trip.”
They like to travel and retirement gives them more time to get away now. Subhash is an optometrist and still fills in when needed, while Linda taught nutrition at Spoon River College.
NO BIG DEAL. . . ?
Leaving home Jan. 6, they traveled with the group until the pilgrimage ended on Jan. 20 and then flew to Egypt with another couple.
“A friend said you couldn’t go to that region of the world without going to Egypt,” Linda said. “We got to do all of the things we had on our itinerary.”
The Janis visited the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and were able to see the King Tut galleries before the museum was ransacked by vandals. “They told us if you stood long enough in front of each exhibit to take a picture, it would take a couple months to see everything,” she said.
They also visited the Great Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza, and went to Memphis, once the capital of Egypt.
After three days their traveling companions returned home, and the Janis continued their tour. Leaving Cairo they went to Alexandria, the Valley of the Kings at Thebes, and Luxor, where they started a four-day cruise up the Nile to Aswan.
“We had heard there were some demonstrations, but people said it was no big deal,” Linda said.
By Jan. 28, however, the unrest could be felt outside of Cairo. Going to the train station for an overnight trip back to the capital city and their flight home, the Janis ran into a demonstration.
“They were burning some posters in the street, posters of (then-President Hosni) Mubarak. There was disorder and the police had tear gas. We got a whiff of that,” she said.
Even though their flight wasn’t until 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 29, they decided to freshen up, get something to eat and be at the airport before the 4 p.m. curfew that had been imposed.
“Things were starting to get tense,” Linda recalled. “We thought we would be out of there by midnight. We didn’t realize it, but Delta had canceled the flight. We were at the Cairo airport all night. It wasn’t a pleasant place to be.”
They would end up making alternate arrangements, which required them to go to another terminal and spend another night in the airport.
“It was chaos,” Linda said of trying to get from one terminal to the
next. “People were pushing and pushing to get in. Nobody was getting out because all the flights were canceled. It was frightening. My husband and I got separated for a time. You could understand how people could get trampled.”
On Monday, Jan. 31, they learned that Americans were being evacuated. After walking for nearly a mile to get to the gate and waiting in line all day, they were on a plane to Athens by about 4:30 p.m. Even though the Internet and phones were down, Subhash was able to use his BlackBerry tocontact their travel agent, who got them from Athens to Amsterdam to Detroit and finally back to Chicago.
They flew into a blizzard, but the Janis considered it a gift. “Our son and grandchildren all had a snow day, so were all there together. We got a day to unwind,” Linda said.
Her concerns now are for the people they left behind.
“We have to keep the people of Egypt in our prayers. They’re lovely people and they were so nice to us,” she said. “Our little fate was impacted by all those prayers. If we could join those prayers for Egypt. . . .”
Linda said their bags are unpacked, but they still have many experiences to unpack from the pilgrimage as well as their time in Egypt.
“It will be awhile before we get the gist of it all,” she told The Post.