Wednesday, December 29, 2010
After 35+ hours of airports and airplanes, Char and I are finally back in California. Thank you so much for your prayers and well wishes throughout our adventure.
Now that we are back in the states and speak a bit more freely without repurcussion, we plan on processing and debriefing our experience and sharing those thoughts on our blog. If interested, please continue to check in and share your thoughts as well.
As for now, we aren't entirely sure what comes next. The future is wide open... so prayers for the next step would be appreciated too.
Thank you all again for sharing our adventure with us. We are blessed.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
On one hand, it’s pretty incredible looking out on the hill that Bethlehem is built on as I read the Christmas story. It’s crazy to think we’re looking at the same sky as the shepherds… That is cool.
But otherwise… it was not what I expected. I don’t know what I expected, but I don’t think I got what I thought I’d get.
Painted on “The Wall” just inside the checkpoint in Bethlehem. Interesting wording too, considering my recent trip to the Holocaust Museum…
We headed up to Manger Square (the market square right outside Nativity church) on the morning of Christams Eve to watch the scouts in their parade. That was pretty cool. All the local families came out for the festivtes and the news stations… Char got interviewed several times by different ones!! They scouts came through in their fancy uniforms and drumlines and bagpipes bands!! I don’t know how or why bagpipes caught on here, but they are huge. Check out some of the scouts:
See that girl behind the girl in front? The girl looking the other way? That’s on of the kids I’ve been working with! I saw several of them marching by! I felt so proud!
The parade was pretty cool. I dug it.
Afterwards we headed back to our house and had a feast of a lunch: homemade pita chips, hummus, and mixed veggies… super good.
Later that night we headed back up to manger square to check out the festivities. This is what we saw:
They had shows going on all night, up until midnight. Christmas eve here is like new years in the states. It’s a big party and everyone hangs out until midnight and then cheers. It’s kind of weird. We didn’t stay the whole time because there were tons of people and we were definitely touristy looking enough for people to constantly try to sell us things.
In the morning all the families came out and it was fun, in the night time, all the creepers come out. There were a lot of the 20 something year old guys who were kind of gross d-bags… no offense, but that’s really how it is.
So we cruised back to our place.
This morning we had a great family breakfast. Then played a four hour game of risk, had some presents and now we’re relaxing… it was a good day.
Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!! We come home in a couple of Days!!!!! We are so excited about coming back to our homeland where the coffee is great and the weather is right for the season. We miss our families and friends a bunch but excited that we got to spend Christmas in Bethlehem with Callan and Austin!!!!! It was definitely unique and one that will be remembered forever. Pray for us as we wrap up the next couple of days here saying our goodbyes and going through the airport again……And we would appreciate your prayers for all of our flights as we know the weather is a bit crazy everywhere. Love you all and are excited to see your faces.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Everyone meet Jarius.
He is an Arab Israeli who grew up in the old city of Jerusalem and has an incredible story.
After being imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, he found himself in the presence of the Lord and loved Him. After a series of events he found himself living in Texas for eight years where he got involved in the Campus Crusade for Christ movement.
After another series of events, he felt strongly led (against his will) to return to his homeland and continue his ministry with CCC. Which is what he does now.
This is guy is incredibly caring, a powerful prayer, always wanting to pray for you. He loves America and is sad to see people taking advantage of the systems it has in place to care for the poor and disabled… rightly so Jarius.
It’s been interesting getting foreigners take on America, on things I generally take for granted. It’s been refreshing and excited me to return home.
If you think about it, pray for Jarius. His ministry is extremely challenging, almost exclusively to Muslims, and he lives in a turbulent environment. But we love him dearly. He is our brother.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
So I can’t say we know each other real well, but everyone meet Hamsa:
The picture is a little bright, I couldn’t figure out how to make it darker. But this is Hamsa. He runs a little souvenir shop right down the the street from the Nativity Church. How did we meet Hamsa? Well, pretty much the same way you meet all other Palestinians…
We were walking down the street and he came out and asked if he could help us. We told him no. Then he invited into his shop for some coffee.
So that’s what we did, we sat outside his shop on little stools with him and drank arabic coffee (which put a hole through my esophogus, but nice gesture anyway) as we talked about life.
He told us all about the tourist trade. Business is down right now, not many tourists and people don’t want to buy things. We talked about his family for a while and about his aspirations… All of this in very broken english on his part and very broken arabic on mine. He told us about how he wants to learn english better because all the time he invites tourists to sit and have coffee with him, but they only stay for two minutes because they can’t understand him, so they leave. “Money? I no need money! I need life! This life! Talk with friends and coffee life! This all I need”
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Today Callan, Austin, Char and I went to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum. Intense. I am sufficiently exhausted, physically and mentally. There are no pictures as they would not allow photos to be taken. Powerful stuff though.
I learned a lot. There were a lot of details that I wasn’t aware of, the intricacies of the war, ideologies, and politics. I heard lots of personal accounts that made my flesh crawl. It gave me a much deeper compassion for the Israeli’s, a deeper understanding of their heritage as a people group. It helps me to understand their lack of trust and seemingly fear for security.
I’m conflicted… it helps to validate the reason they came here, but I still struggle with their actions toward the Palestinians. Indeed, I have now a better compassion for both sides, but my prayers are that the Israeli government would be wary of committing the same acts against their neighbors as were committed on them.
It makes one want to pray. For peace.
Also, one can’t help but wonder what Israeli youth will think of it a few generations from now, when first and second hand accounts have died off… hopefully growing up in the privilege of the country won’t numb their senses.
So we rented a car, got up at 4:30 AM, on the road by 5 AM, heading south!!
Yesterday Austin, Callan, Brady, Char and I headed south to check out some desert sites. Blew our minds
As we’re crusing south along the Dead Sea, we were blessed to watch the sun rise in the desert air over the mountains of Jordan on the shores of the dead sea. It was… different… and beautiful. We have pictures of that, but not on my computer yet.
Our first stop was Masada. This was fortress/palace that Herod (yup, that Herod) built back in the day because he was afraid of attacks from without and revolt from within. What’s a man to do? Of course build a luxury impregnable fortress on top of a lone mesa in the desert! And that’s what he did!
When the Jews revolted against Rome and it was pretty evident they were losing, a small group of rebels retreated to the fortress of masada and successfully held of a large roman army for quite a while. It’s an incredible story that you should wikipedia or something for more details. But we visited the remains. Here’s some pics.
Before we started hiking the “Snake Path”, 890 steps to the top!!
Pretty sick to wake up to this view out your bedroom window. That’s the Dead Sea out there.
Looking out where the Northern Palace was.
There was this huge water cistern that had a convenient hole so light could shine through and make for good photo ops…
Looking out again at over the northern palace, there’s three different tiers, the one here is the middle one.
The lower tier of the northern palace, where they would have banquets. Here, original columns and tile work.
More photo ops in the cistern.
Dead sea!! Craziest sensation ever! When we first showed up there were a bunch of Nigerians swimming in their underwear. Super nice people. And the salt stings when it gets in your eyes or mouth.
The rocks on the shore look like they are frozen, but it’s the salt left after evaporation!
Char rode Charlie the camel!! Go Charlie Go!!
Since Callan and Austin have been here, we have been playing the tourist pretty heavily. And it is exhausting.
A few days ago we went to the Israel Museum. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, especially since the entrance fee was kinda pricey. But my expectations were sufficiently filled.
One of the highlights was the dead sea scrolls. Upon acquiring most of the scrolls, Israel built a shrine to commemorate, honor and show them off. It was crazy to see such old writings, right before my eyes. Of the shrine, probably the coolest part was the Isaiah scroll. A scroll that contains the entire book of Isaiah as we know it in our bibles today. The scroll was dated at 100 BC and is exactly the same as we read it now. Nothing has changed. Perhaps even cooler is that this is book with many prophecies pertaining to Christ and it is the ONE to be found in its entirety! Hmmmm…..
The other highlight was the model of Jerusalem. They had built a model of Jerusalem in 66 AD. The model is 1/50 scale. It was incredible to be able to visualize what the bible is talking about: Temple mount, Herod’s palace, Golgotha… really brought the story to life. Since it was outside, we were allowed to take pictures. I have a really cool composite picture of the whole thing, but for some reason it won’t let me post it. So here’s a less impressive one, but impressive nonetheless.
They also had this art garden that didn’t really speak to me. I suppose abstract sculpture is beyond my scope, but we did find this fun mirror thing:
They also had a humongous art gallery/archeology museum/jewish life museum. So huge that we kind of glazed over and were unable to absorb any more.
Israel take the museum scene pretty seriously.
Everybody, meet Osama:
For that last four and some months that we have been here, this guy has definitely been a highlight. He’s a taxi driver, and our friend.
The first time I got into his cab, we had some small talk (he taught himself english from picking up tourists over the last couple years and from tv and pop songs). He discovered I was American and he lit up “I LOVE America” (in super thick accent). I asked him his name and got real quiet and said “ehhhh, no.” so I pushed him a little bit more and finally he gave in: “Um, well my name is Osama, but I am NOT Osama bin laden! He very bad! My new name: Obama!”
Since then, we seem to cross paths an awful lot. I’ll be walking down the street when I hear someone laying on their horn, I look over and there’s Osama, stopped straight in the middle of the road, hanging halfway out of his window, waving his arms “HELLO DREW!! HELLO FRIEND!!” How can I no miss that?
Every time he sees me walking anywhere, he offers me free rides: “Where you going? Get in Get in!! I don’t need the money, no money from friend!!”
The other night Callan, Austin, Char and I had just walked through the checkpoint and were headed home (about 1.5-2 hr walk) when Osama comes around the corner, sees us and slams on the breaks. Hanging out the window (this time with a very serious look and a car full of people) “Drew, you stay right there, don’t move, two minutes, don’t move!”
So we waited.
Then we see Osama, squealing around the corner, lights flashing, horn blaring. We get in, and he’s wearing a jacket that says FBI on it. He wears it all the time, he loves ot. I introduce him to our new friends (from America, He loved that) and now that he had a new audience to perform for, he sang to us, honking and shouting out the window “FBI! Clear the road! American people with me!!” Ridiculous. He stopped by the store and waited while I went in and got something. Then he took us home, and of course, wouldn’t accept any money. So I gave him a hug instead.
Anyway, he’s one of the locals that I have grown fond of and will be missed.
Everybody, Meet the Lads:
From left to right you got Tim, Kyle, Chris
These three guys are from Ireland and came to Israel about a week after we did. They are living in the Jerusalem at the Nazarene church and working on a research project.
These guys are awesome, and we love them dearly. They go wayyyyyyy back. Kyle and Chris have been friends since 1st grade, and Tim joined in around 8th grade. Super cool.
Back in Ireland, Kyle hatched a plan to try to develop ways impoverished families with little or no land can sustain themselves. The answer: Aquaponics. Aquaponics is like hydroponics, except more natural and more sustainable. He got Tim and Chris in on it and did a trial run in Ireland that went great. With such great results, they were able to get funding to come do some trial runs here, where it’s hot and dry.
That’s kind of how they hooked up with the Nazarene church here. The Nazarene church is letting them conduct there research on the their roof and letting them live there. In exchange, the three have taken over running church stuff while the pastor is back in the states raising support, which happens to be the church we attend and that’s our we met them
We have had some great times and talks with these three and they will be missed.
Check out their projects on FB: search “Aquaponics Research” and like it.
OR Check their blog: http://web.me.com/kylep3/Aquaponics/Home.html
Sunday, December 19, 2010
The other night Drew, Callan, Austin, Brady, Fadia and I attended one of the biggest nights in Bethlehem, the Tree Lighting Ceremony. All of the people come out of their homes and gather around to listen to passionate people speak about their desire for peace and recognition. During this time there was lots of singing and dancing, and the night ended with the Prime Minister saying “Let this tree remind you to remain hopeful.” It was such a neat time……well, if modeling wasn’t enough, there is now a picture of Drew on a website of the event, I’m pretty sure he is the only white one with a scarf on. If you click this link and let all the pictures load, you’ll come to the most handsome man in the world, THAT’S MY HUSBAND!!!!!!!!!
Enjoy!!!! oh by the way we are loving having Austin and Callan here. We come home tired every night because of all of our adventures and we are stuffing them full of the best pita in the world….don’t worry.
love you all!!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
We have been working with some 6th graders at the German school in Bet Jalla. We have six different sections of students there and each group functions at various degrees of efficiency. Being in 6th grade, they are still victims of that debilitating disease for which a cure has yet to be found: cooties. That’s right. The dreaded cootie plague has swept through this school and they have it BAD. I remember having a small case of the cooties in my 6th grade years as well, but definitely not to this extent. For whatever reason, these kids are fatally infected. Boys and girls stand on opposite sides of the room, will only speak to each other in insults, the only appropriate touch is hitting and punching and the only acceptable way to play together is for the boys to leave the girls behind because of course, girls don’t know anything.
We had had several weeks with these groups trying to cure this disease; trying to convince them that it is all in their head. Most groups made a pretty good recovery. But there was one group where the cooties seemed to dig in further and set in for the long haul. Having been cootie free myself for many years now, it was incredibly frustrating to see them suffer so needlessly. We spent so much time trying to convince them that this disease was indeed harmless. So much energy invested in bringing them out of it. We got so close. At one point, we even got them to admit “it’s silly that we can’t work together with girls, there’s nothing wrong with them, but I don’t want to anyway.” WHAT?! They WANT the cooties?
At this point, we decided to move on and focus on other afflictions and maybe in time this one would work itself out. Weeks later, as we began another session with this particular group, we decided the focus of the day would be communication. A noble cause for sure. We introduced the initiative and let them go. There must have been something magical in the air that day. Before long, the group was so completely engrossed in the activity that they seemed to have forgotten that anyone had cooties. Unbelievable. We witnessed two genders working in unison! Girls thanking boys for their help, boys insisting that girls go first… Amazing. They worked… like a team! We watched, beaming, as they finished the initiative and cheered when their team was successful. After some “hoorah’s” and high fives, we gathered them around. They had some good communication throughout the event, but my mind was no longer concerned about that. I said “I couldn’t help but notice that everyone, boys and girls, were helping each other. You worked together great. Why did boys and girls help each other this time?” One kid raised his hand and gave a very short, and in light of our history with them, a very deep answer: “Because we’re a team.”
It’s the small victories you have to look for. Even though the next week it was apparent that we had not completely eradicated the cooties, it was nice to see that they were starting to weaken. Some day cooties, you’re going down!
Friday, December 17, 2010
So its been constant laughing, sleeping, walking, talking, and dancing since these two entered the Holy Land. Life has been so good since their arrival and we couldn’t have ended this adventure any better.
The Holy sepulcher
The Western Wall
Bring it on adventures. Thank you all who are supporting us and supporting them, our lives will forever be changed and our eyes will forever be open. God is doing mighty things here and we feel overwhelmingly blessed to be apart of it. Love you all
So I put on a Christmas party for my kids that took many long nights to plan and prepare and a very patient husband. So many homemade crafts, way too many snowflakes, and a very small budget. But I’m happy to say that it was successful and am so thankful that it is done.
So here is where it gets good, the actual party. The people I work with are are great
Crazy, but great. The Party started at 9….am!! so we were up early setting up and dancing to some Arabic music…”put your shoes up.” After we completed the set up the kids came running out ready to play some games, win some prizes and eat a ridiculous amount of candy.
Santa even made an appearance
There was face painting….only the staff trusted me…
And we played a game where the kids turned Drew and Brady into Christmas trees!!!!!!
And of course……there was wrestling