Tuesday, August 31, 2010

honk if you love jesus

Drew and I are sitting in the office getting ready for the weeks to come. I'm learning how to build a chicken coop and what to plant in the garden, drew is busy away, trying to get a hold of the schools, but i think in this culture they don't get back to you, which doesn't really work out in life.. We've been drinking endless amounts of nasty coffee to cover up our continued lack of sleep, which is getting better over time but the heat and lack of wind are still a problem. Guess what? I ended up with this rash all over my arms...kind of strange but i guess it's part of the experience. It looks weird and reminds me that, "there is no place like home, there is no place like home." If only i had red shiny shoes..anyone have some red shiny shoes?

Drew and I are enjoying walking around town and becoming familiar with this place, it makes it seem less foreign, and we think that the local stores are catching on to our addiction to Pita bread, oops. I think for both of us the history of this place is kicking in because, before when we first got here our minds were racing and tired, but as the settling in happens so does the reality of this place. And when i was reading in Acts it just became more alive, i was like "I've been to Jerusalem, it's real," so just be encouraged that the Lord is alive and real to drew and I in a completely new way.

its still hard being here and away from all that we know and are comfortable with, but being away from those very things are what causes growth, taking risks are so good. Oh, the honking here is kind of getting to drew and i, Its like, honk at this and honk at that, oh this person walking deserves a honk, I'm 100 feet away from someone HONK HONK, i mean they practically honk at trash in the road...weird. i was telling Drew, maybe this device is new to them so they have to use it as much as possible, oh a cat HONK HONK, we like when the person was in the wrong and THEY honk, it makes us laugh.

We are so blessed by you friends and family at home. We feel the Lord guiding us and we know its from your prayers and we are eating everyday because of your financial help, we love you all and hope that you stay with us, or come visit!!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

we're proud to be an American

So its pretty likely that either Drew or I will get hit by a car over this next year, and maybe not just once but a couple of times, good thing medical is cheap. If you've ever been to San Francisco and have experienced the craziness of the drivers there then times that by 10, being here makes me appreciate San Fran. The first advice we were given is if you're driving or are a pedestrian then use the method "Watch out......." There are not rules, crosswalks, lights, ride-a-ways or just kindness when it comes to driving just aggression, "Be aggressive, be be aggressive."

Drew and I are making a verbal list of things that we miss and look forward to when we get back. American coffee, i really miss creamer and fresh brewed coffee, especially the atmosphere of coffee shops. Oh and Trader Joe's, oh how we miss you honey wheat pretzels.....Oh, and if you know us well enough you'd know that showering isn't a big priority for us, but being here makes us miss bath tubs and big enough showers that you can stand in....Never thought we would say that. Frozen Yogurt will be consumed for a straight month once we get back, make that 2 months. Chips and salsa, being able to throw away your toilet paper and just people who throw trash away, i use to get upset when I'd see a bottle or piece of trash on the ground but at least the concept and reasons are grasp where we are from. We miss you California and Utah but we know we are suppose to be here. Love you all and we do our best to keep you updated

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Friend!!

So we went for a walk today to get an idea for the lay of the land, and we made a new friend!  P8290046 


He’s so hospitable and such a good listener! His name is Mishmish, which means “apricot” in Arabic.

Paradise city were the grass is brown and the girls are covered

everyday drew and I make it a point to look at each other and remind one another where we are. Its crazy because our house looks like any other house now that we decorated, but the moment we step outside or look out our windows, were like "oh yeah we're living in another country, and not only any country but the Holy Land." Last night was such a good and needed time, we walked around a place, that at first reminded us of home so comfortable and secure, but as we continued to walk more into the Locals part of town we realized where we were, guys walking around with their Jewish wardrobes you know the tassels and curls, and we just kept looking back and forth at one another to confirm this experience. We then began walking the allies of town with walls so close to you on both sides with uneven steps and different types of stones used, which for both of us was jaw dropping cause it was obvious how long ago these were built. You all know us well enough and especially drew, to know that we were touching everything, putting our faces as close as we could to the walls to see the crazy details and pointing out everything new that we had never seen, oh and drew trying to climb the walls of course but don't worry they weren't that tall. We then got to our destination, a karaoke spot that was run by the church we attended on Friday. We picked our spots at a table full of popcorn, and for those of you who know me well enough you know how i feel about popcorn, so i ate it all, did I eat the seeds? just ask my sister. The small crowd contained 3 Irish guys, 1 English girl, 1 Local, 4 Americans....bring the party on!!! we laughed a lot because we sang very American songs, just imagine them singing "Every breathe you take, every move you make..." we laughed a lot, and the local loved Christmas songs so don't worry Christmas we are ready. The neat part of the night was when we went on the roof and say the lights of Jordan and the whole city of Jerusalem, the old and the new. Once we become more familiar with the history we will fill you in with info and pictures, don't worry i feel the camel riding coming soon. Off to life we go, we go we go we go.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Outta The Gate

Once the sun goes behind the hills and the wind starts to pick up, it’s actually pretty pleasant here. And if we’re lucky enough to have the wind blowing all night, we’re sung to sleep by it’s deep howl. So thankful for wind.

Only a few days in and we’re learning so much. Fun words (often times, any Arabic word would sound pretty dirty to an English speaker), all the little stores and markets, cultural quirks, really good food, and the people. There’s this weird kind of clash between a modern civilization and an ancient city. Modern people, with modern gadgets in really old buildings and infrastructures… but it works. And the whole political racial situation… we’ve been learning a lot about that too. Granted we’ve only been here a few days, but I’d have to say that most of the US’s perception of Palestinians (and Muslims) is largely misinformed. I guess I can’t stand too much on this yet, seeing as how over the next year we’ll be learning and experiencing a lot more. But based on my last few days here, I’m ready to fight those stereotypes on their behalf.

In other news, Char and I just cooked our first meal in Bet Sahour!! So exciting. The pita bread here is plentiful and unbelievable. Never had anything like back home. Baked fresh every day and used in almost everything. So soft and moist… And you just open it right up and stuff it with anything you want: falafel, raw or cooked veggies, fruit, meat, cheese or all of the above. Even better than a sandwich cause it doesn’t spill out the sides!! SEE!?

AND they set us up with some pretty sweet diggs. The apartment they gave us to live in is bigger than anything we’ve lived in yet, or will probably live in come the near future. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen with a sick view. We are blessed.

AND They’re really into low ceilings and short doorways, I’ve hit my head too many times.

Anyway, lots o fun stories, including karaoke with foreigners! But maybe later…

when in doubt, blog.....

well since its hot and we are wide awake we thought why not blog...Today was another warm day and in warm we mean you sweat just from standing. But life here gets easier and more thought provoking, so we are on the upswing when it comes to adjusting, just not the sleep part. As we immerse ourselves into this culture and into the conflict so many things just come up and our perspectives seem to change over time. At least for me (char) i've been thinking about the Christian faith compared to other religions in the area of obedience and desire. Being around this culture they are so obedient and faithful to what they believe when i walk down the street its very obvious who they are following. I bring this back to myself and ask myself, in a crowd, passing by or interaction do people know who i'm serving? Do people see me as set apart from this world? Honestly, i'd say no because i tend to look at my feet a lot or avoid eye contact, when my first action should be loving and welcoming with the joy of Christ painted across my face and body. If you as an observer sat on a bench and watched people walk by would you be able to pick out those who are set apart? and i don't mean those who attend the same church as you, but honestly by their actions or the way they treat those surrounding them. Now if i were the observer would i notice you or pick you out from the crowd? Its encouraging being around these people because they give me the desire to live out loud for who i serve and love. I also admire their love and support that they have for their families. They all live in these huge homes and work together to provide food and shelter, and they honestly love each other and take time for one another. i believe that's missed in my life and culture, our excuses are independence and lack of time...God is already changing both of us and using us....Fun things here would be that people wear skinny jeans and ride donkeys...kind of different...We love the food....We don't love the heat.....we did go to a church today and the crowd was a few who regularly attended but the rest were made up of people from Ireland, Norway, Denmark, England, Germany and so on so it was an exciting time...we will probably be up tomorrow night and fill you in with more news

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Go to sleep you little baby

so here we go, drew and i have not slept in 4 DAYS!!!! i mean what's the point of the earth being round, it just means that life is harder when you travel way too far, so earth please be flat.
The night of august 22nd we hung out with really good freinds at an amazingly beautiful house, thanks Huston family. We had good mexican food and a heated conversation on a couch that basically ate you. We had so much fun that we headed back to my moms hotel and continued our conversations until our eyelids got way to heavy. Then it was time to sleep...there's the problem, who sleeps when they are leaving the country the next morning for a long period of time and who sleeps when you are sharing a single bed with your significant other who likes there personal space? No one sleeps and that's exactly what we did. We were also told that if we stayed up most of the night then we would fall asleep on the plane for a long period of time and that's also what we did, but the huge problem was and is that we didnt sleep that night or on the first plane ride or at the airport, on the second beast of a plane, that night or last night. We were so tired last night so we got ready to go to bed and realized we both were wide awake and it was like 100 degrees in our room. So drew started reading some random book that he found downstairs after realizing he left his book on the plane, and I was poking him over and over again while on the computer to see if anyone wanted to chat, because it was 4 pm there, i was also researching to see if pita bread is good for you because thats all you eat here. Our biggest problem is that we are suppose to work hard during the day when the only we want to do is sleep. Coffee is really expensive here and tastes ways different so that effects us as well. And as we both are drifting away right now we have to leave in 45 minutes to stuff tires with dirt to make a wall for an outside bathroom. Please pray that the Lord will provide us with sleep and also with finances. We love you all and hope that some of you will get the chance to visit!!!!!

And so it begins!!!! …..

Here we are sitting in our new home in the Holy Land (whoop whoop). After a long flight with lots of crying babies, food that should never be eaten and no sleep, being here is good. We had some trouble getting in and everyone and their grandparents want to see your passport, i guess if you look like 2 dirty Americans then curiosity and suspicion kicks in. Oh man, so I have to tell you about our experience at this one check point, we were sitting in these chairs till our names got called and across this way was this man, at first he was just sitting there but then…he got up and made his rounds to the people surrounding him, first with a big smile but then…with one too many kisses, then guess who’s turn it was? He slowly walked our direction, sat across from us and gave us the shifty eyes, “not the shifty eyes” i thought. When he had his chance he made the connection, shaking our hands and kissing us way to many times and a little close to our lips, i mean way way to close. He got really close to drew, put one arm around him and the other on his upper thigh… and at first we thought it was a cultural thing because what do we know? so he started chatting in his language while continuing to kiss drew and then more kissing. Then later on a security lady came over to me and apologized for the inconvenience of this man saying “he’s not all the way there mentally” and that he is in the process of getting kicked out of the country, so it explained it all and later on we found out that you either get kissed once on a cheeck or once on both cheeks, never should anyone kiss you more than that, so drew had an awkward experience. All that to say, the experiences just keep rolling in.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mailing Address!

As promised:

c/o Drew & Char Otto
PO Box 28171


Some Specifics

So, we’re heading across the ocean in less than a week and it’s about stinking time.  Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and blessing, we feel very loved.  Some people have been asking for more specifics as what they are supporting and how much, which is a good question.  So let us lay it all out for you.

While we are employees of Paidia, we are technically volunteering.  They provide us with a place to live (which is huge) and a small stipend for some food.  Outside of that, everything else comes out of our pocket.  So any financial gifts go towards allowing us to live day to day life: food, toiletries, transportation.  In addition, we receive a three month visa on arrival and are required to leave the country every three months so our visa will be renewed upon re-entry and this comes out of our pocket as well. 

Taking all those in account, we estimate that the year’s expenses will be around $5,000.  That is what we are looking at towards a goal.  So hopefully that gives you a better understanding of what’s happening.  Gifts given to Paidia’s US center will be wired to their Palestinian center and distributed to us in Shekels (foreign money! so fun!).

So, that’s where we stand.  Please understand, if you wish to help, there is no gift too small.  If you wish to set up a monthly donation, perhaps $10 or $20 for the next year, it would be HUGE for us.  Or if that’s  not your thing, any one-time gift of $50 or $100 (or even $5) is also a blessing.  If it pleases you, you can go bigger.  Remember, this comes from the joy in your heart as you feel led. 

Just a reminder.  Support Options:

1. Send a check made out to “Paidia” with “Drew & Char Otto” in the memo line to:


PO Box 6037

Grand Rapids, MI 49516

2. Donate over the phone, Paidia US Office: 616-855-6424. You can also set up an automatic payment at this number.

3. Donate online at www.paidia.org

Make sure that you specify that the money you donate is for Drew and Char Otto so that it gets to us AND any gift is tax deductible!

One other option:  We’ll post our mailing address soon so feel free to send letters or pictures OR any everyday items like toothpaste, TP, etc., get creative! (Although we’re not sure how cost effective this).

If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.  Check back soon, we’re gonna put up a video demonstrating our awesome arabic skills!!