amazing how much can happen in one week here. A week
ago I was in Jordan and now I am living here in Beit
Sahour, a village near Bethlehem. It's nice feeling
less like a tourist here. Egpyt and Jordan were amazing,
but I was ready to settle down when we arrived at the
Alternative Tourism Group (ATG) office in Beit Sahour.
After a quick meeting with the group, my Palestinian
host family arrived and Ashley Handrich and I headed
off to the home we will be living in for the next two
Sa'ad and Suzy are great. They have three boys: Cesar,
age nine, Jirar, age seven, and Tamar, age five, who
are completely adorable. The youngest two speak no English
so we've been playing "war" a lot because
the numbers pretty much speak for themselves. Ashley
and I stay with our grandmother, Rania downstairs. She
is really sweet and, ironically, has been to my hometown
back in Oregon. It's comforting to know you can make
connections anywhere, even thousands of miles away.
I don't know why, but it made home seem closer, somehow.
I have a love-hate relationship with the food here.
Love, because it is delicious, and hate because I eat
altogether too much of it!. How can I refuse fresh baked
pita bread? Not only have carbs always been my weakness,
but there are such interesting things to dip it in,
like Dibis a spread made by cooking grape juice until
it is thick and oh so yummy. My host mom, Suzy, is sending
some back to the States with me.
The past week has been eye opening in many ways. It
has been stressful communicating with my family and
feeling like an outsider. At times I feel like my mind
is constantly processing the things I see and hear each
day about the conflict engulfing this region. From the
first day we've been hearing speakers give insights
on everything from land confiscation in Palestine to
the fundamental beliefs of Islam.
I've already changed my mind several times about my
view on the conflict. The only thing that remains unchanged
is my confusion. I thought I recognized the complexity
of the situation here before I left. But there is more
involved in it than I could have ever imagined. It will
definitely take a full semester to even remotely understand
this land that means so much to so many.
One of the hardest things is looking at the people in
my host family. They are so wonderful, and yet they
are so limited in so many ways within the society. I've
watched home movies with them (around four hours of
wedding and baptism footage) and if only the world could
see what I see, they would know that these people could
never hurt anyone.
Despite the outbreak of violence which has occurred
in the last few days in Jerusalem, I continue to pray
and hope for peace. It is possible; I can feel it.
God is not a God of disorder, but of Peace."
I Corinthians 14:33