Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Model Thanksgiving


It’s the last day of November and it’s gotta be 80 F outside.  Too hot for post T-day activities.  Speaking of Thanksgiving…

Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is not a national holiday here… weird.  So as the local reps for America, we had our own.  It was great, we invited all of our foreign friends (locals, brits, canadians, and irish) to celebrate the feast and it was pretty rad.  Char made a killer salad:



Carving the turkey.


Saleem coveting Brady’s ham.

All in all, it was a great night.  Lots of good food and good people. 

BUT wait.

We are proud to announce that we have officially begun our modeling career.  And what better place to start than Palestine?

One of our friends here from the UK named Rosie works with an organization called Hope Sew.  Lots of Palestinian women are great handicrafters but have no market to sell their good because they cannot move about with the occupation.  Hope Sew helps them market their goods and provides in-house training to help them broaden and hone their skills.  Cool?  Yeah!  Right now, their focus is making pajamas.  Arabs wear a “hata” around their heads to guard them from the glaring sun.  This material is great cause it’s really light and airy.  They started making pajamas out of this same material.  After some failed attempts to get some locals to model their pajamas, Rosie turned to her foreign friends (that’s us!) to become the new figures for their product.  Check them (and us) out at www.hopesew.org

As December bears down upon us, the city here is starting to put up Christmas decorations!  Or rather, turn them on.  They leave a lot of them up all year and then turn them on when Christmas comes around.  It works.  But it’s getting exciting to be in Bethlehem and see those cheesy angels and bells… it feels different.  So Good!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A thought

There has been something that I keep being reminded of and would like to share.

Sometimes I think I get so caught up in trying to make the right decision. You know the “God where do you want me to go? What do you want me to do.” And sometime the “God should I choose this place or this place?” And it can be so frustrating especially if you are like me and making decisions are almost impossible. But in processing and learning I’ve rested on this. Some times the decision is not what’s important, but the process it takes to make the decision. There are a few examples that I can share. The first one is, when Drew and I were presented with the Israel opportunity. I was so frustrated at times because I was  wanting God to write a sign in the sky the said “GO” but there was never any sign or voice. Yet when I think back to that time I see that it wasn’t the decision that was important but it was all the prayer, silence, conversations, thoughts, faith and community that changed our lives. I believe God will use you anywhere if you are willing and I believe that some times there isn’t an obvious calling to either place but a process that needs to happen to get to a place.

The second example is leaving this place or staying. when  I re-entered the country Nov. 1st I was told I would have to leave permanently by Dec 31st if my volunteer visa didn’t come through, since then drew and I have been talking about leaving or staying. We were so frustrated at times because again we wanted God to just set a bush on fire with a loud voice saying, “It’s time for you to go,” but that never happened. Yet, since Nov. 1st we have grown in so many ways, like communication, trust, hope, patience and love not only with God and this place but with each other. When we sit down and look back over the last month we can say that the process changed our lives and marriage not the decision.

So with this life lesson I believe it’s helped me stay focused on the bigger picture; living in the moment. There are many times in my life that I have been so focused on the decision that I disregard the lessons to be learned in the process. I just get so stressed and mad that God isn’t clear about what He wants me to do or where He wants me to go. So I hope you can rest in that as well.

Love you all, thanks for your prayers and support

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hello Loved ones!!

It has been quite the humbling experience living and working in the Holy land these last four months. We've been led quite out of our comfort zone and grown and stretched in so many healthy ways. One of those significant ways is the humility that comes with living off of the prayerful and financial support of others. By your prayers, encouragements, and gifts we have worked for a cause here and one of the biggest challenges has been letting God love us and support us through His body (that's YOU!). Know that we are so grateful for all of you being in our lives and that God is using you to sustain us physically, emotionally and spiritually. That's cool, right?
Times change, and that's what's happening now. We originally had intended to be here until June of next year to finish out the school year here and thereby finishing out the programs we started, but it seems other things lay in our future.
Upon Char's re-entry to the country at the beginning of the month, they pulled her aside (because she's so sketchy looking) for some intense questioning and rather than giving her the standard 3 month tourist visa, gave her a two month visa instead. And since they don't have a two month stamp, they put the three month in there and then scribble it out and write in nice and big "2 months ONLY!". Very discreet. Which makes her an automatic suspect everywhere we go. On top of that, they flagged her in the system and informed her that she was not allowed to renew her tourist visa, so we had better be out by the first of 2011 or figure something else out.
Well, we had volunteer visas in the process, but as these things go here, the government is making it incredibly painful and slow to make that happen, so it won't work out. So we are taking Israel's hint and leaving the country.
It's not all bad. We definitely miss the western US and living in Palestine isn't necessarily easy. If we were extremely passionate about staying here, there are apparently some slightly less legal routes to take, but we don't consider ourselves much for playing the international immigration game, so we're taking this opportunity to head back to our homeland, the land we love.
What this means for YOU:
-- If you were considering coming to visit us this spring... don't. cause we won't be here
-- If you were considering sending us any packages... don't, cause we'll be gone by the time they get here
-- If you are supporting us with monthly monetary gifts, make sure to cancel it after we leave. We fly out of here Dec. 28
-- If you have missed us as much as we have missed you, then we will see you soon.
We will be spending this next month and a half here working very hard to try and leave Paidia and it's staff as well equipped as possible to fill our holes when we are gone. So be praying for that and if you happen to hear of any good job openings that you think we fit the bill for, give us a heads up.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cheeky Bugger


These last four days, Char and I took a trip up north with some of our coworkers to see more of Israel.  I’d definitely have to say that one of the favorites of the trip was having along a philosophical Canadian and a cheeky Brit, cause when you put those together, along with some American sarcasm, it makes for a lot of fun. 

Really, it was just nice to get out of the west bank for a while and see something new.  We stayed in Nazareth at night, in this really swank guest house at a British hospital and by day took trips around to Caesarea, Haifa, and Akko, as well as the beach for a dip in the Mediterranean. 

On our way up we stopped in Caesarea to check out the old harbor and fortress that had been destroyed by the numerous battles fought over it.  There were some really cool ruins there.  Originally built by Herod (yup, that one), it was his dream city/deep sea port and at the time the largest on the Mediterranean.  After several years, there was a Jewish revolt once the Romans squashed them, they began slaughtering them and other religious types in the gladiator games in the city’s Hippodrome.  The port was laid siege to many times and passed hands to the Crusaders, the Byzantine Muslims and then eventually fell to ruins. 



That used to be a watchtower/lighthouse, but now it’s a little museum/gift shop



Ancient hot tub baby


What’s left of the hippodrome, where they had the chariot races and gladiator games.  Those blocks down in front are the old starting gates. 



The foundations of ad old house


Bleachers of the Hippodrome, taking a break


What’s left of the old governance hall.  Check out Acts 25, this is where they think Paul was tried before being sent to Rome.  He had a great view


The old theater, which has been modernized a bit.  They still do plays here.


Poop pot.


The next day we stuck around Nazareth and checked out the sights there.  Not a whole lot, but it’s the city where Jesus went through puberty and they’re pretty proud to have at least that.  The two main attractions were the Basilica of Annunciation (Mary’s home/where the Angel visited her and told her she had a little bun in the oven) and Nazareth Villiage, one of those touristy places with the actors all dressed up and working how they did in a certain time period, in this case, the time of Jesus. At the Basilica, they have these huge murals all around the courtyard and inside the church of depictions of Mary and Jesus.  Each mural is from different country.  It was cool to see how different cultures see and portray the icon.  Here’s a few:


Thailand (that plate got cut out)






And of course, The US, which is kind of odd.  It does make a little more sense when you read the description (below), but still…


Some pics of the church itself:


The best stain glass I’ve seen


Off to the left a little, in the cave, is where thing Mary was visited by Gabriel.  We couldn’t go down there, they were having some sort of service.


The second level of the church

Oh yeah, at one point we wandered past Mary’s well, where several people have deducted that it must have been the well where Mary, and thereby Jesus, got their water from.  It was quite unimpressive, a hole in the ground that smelled like urine.  Perhaps that’s more authentic.

We cruised by that little Nazareth village.  The period place.  I feel like you can either really hit or really miss with those types of things, and this was pretty cool.  They had a excavated a bunch of foundations and rebuilt/replicated some of the old buildings. One of the coolest things we saw was a wine press, carved into the rock.  Regrettably, we don’t have a picture, but it was pretty cool to see how they did in the old days, quite ingenious really.  They had also replicated the olive oil process.  They used ass power to crush the olives:


The next we ventured into Haifa to check out the Baha'I Gardens.  They’ve got this huge shrine there with these immaculate gardens terraced into the side of this big hill.  I don’t know much about the religion, but they have great gardeners.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t really go all the way into the gardens, we had to stay outside the gates.  But here they are looking down.


Me practicing my smooth moves and sweet lines… it worked.


Then we headed to Akko, the site of the last Jewish resistance against the British mandate.  It was cool, we got to tour the old crusader city and see some old dungeons and secret tunnels:


In the tunnels below the city.


The Templar Tunnel



The crew with out nifty audio guides.

All in all a good trip.  And we topped it off with a few hours at the beach on the way back.  It was nice to feel like a tourist for a little bit.

Alright, that’s enough.  Thanks for following.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It’s been a while….sorry

Drew and I have been lost in thought and conversation with one another this last week. We have been confronted with lots of decisions so our minds and energy have been focused a lot on that. With that we could really use your prayers for guidance and good communication with not only each other but with the people we are volunteering for.

Any ways life in Israel continues with the adjustments of the culture/language and the heat….oh the heat. Its hard to see the Facebook posts of it raining and snowing places because we only dream of those here. The temperature has dropped a little bit but its never consistent, one night it’s cool and the other nights are so hot that you don’t want any blankets on you. I’m in the mood for big jackets and scarfs, for thick socks and warm drinks, and our down sleeping bags!!!! But the waiting continues…some day…maybe some day

Last Saturday we had a fun event!!! All the staff came together and Drew led us in our own team-building game with applying the experiential debrief.

 team building 2Got to love him

So here we are…. staff that teach this stuff, and WE even have a problem with communication and leadership……oops…team building 1

It was neat though seeing one another outside of a work context because we got a chance to see and speak who we really are and how we function. I would highly recommend it for any staff

. team buildingJumping game

Another fun thing that Drew led us in was the high ropes course, that is now functional!!!!.here’s some pictures to give you a visualteam building 10         team building 11

team building 4               team building 7

team building 9     team building 12

Love you all and hope this a little somin’ somin’ to keep you going