Hope and hospitality; the two words that I feel best describe our time in Beit Sahour, Palestine for the past three weeks. Given the opportunity to stay with local families while we’ve studied and explored here has opened my eyes to an exciting culture and to the challenging realities of living in this land. I enjoyed feeling a part of this community through memorable breakfast conversations, morning walks to school, and searching the friendly streets for favorite lunch items and practicing our progressing Arabic, of course! Beit Sahour, Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, Jericho, Ramallah and many other destinations have been awe-inspiring classroom settings. I’ve never learned more about the rich history and capability of a people, than I have here. With an instilled sense of home, I have felt hospitality. With an informed sense of resilience, I have felt hopeful.
I think it’s safe to say this has been an unforgettable stay in Beit Sahour. Nonetheless we all have different outlets on this journey, and have been actively expressing them. Some students have been willing to share excerpts of their personal reflections of their time in Beit Sahour. Whether it be through poem, prayer, picture, or journal, we hope you can get even a small glimpse of our impactful experiences. Enjoy!
Marhaban! (Hello in Arabic)
Our group is now settling into host family life in Beit Sahour, a small town just outside of Bethlehem. We are looking forward to the next three weeks of getting to know our host families, and embracing the challenge of learning Arabic.
Before we arrived here we spent eight days in the wonderful country of Jordan. Each day was full of experiences and learnings in many different areas such as Biblical sites, history, and modern day issues. After spending a night in a resort in Aqaba (a good place to regroup after a somewhat stressful border crossing), we traveled to a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum. Here we got our first taste of Jordanian hospitality, and even though the cold desert winds would blow through the camp, we were very content in sitting around a fire, sipping tea, enjoying delicious food, dancing, and enjoying each other’s company. A highlight of our time here was a trek through the desert on camels.
From Wadi Rum we traveled to Petra, the ancient Nabatean city carved in stone. We all marveled at the beauty that the Treasury and Monastery buildings displayed. We enjoyed a free day choosing different hikes to go on and being in God’s beautiful creation.
Our last stop in Jordan was the capital city of Amman where we spent three nights. We met with the current MCC representatives in Jordan and got to hear about the work they are currently doing with the refugee crisis. It is good to hear that our Mennonite community is supplying aid and support to these refugees at a time when our government is helping a small percentage.
A highlight of Amman was also listening to presentations about the Syria conflict and the religion of Islam. I think it is safe to say that these presentations opened all of our minds to the realities of the world that we live in. We are looking forward to many more of these experiences as we continue with our travels in the coming months.
Thank you all for your continued support in thought and prayer.
-Erik Peachey on behalf of the group.
Our time in the Middle East has already been a whirl wind of new places, faces, and food. As one member said, if we went home today we would think back on the week and a half in Egypt as a really great and transforming cross-cultural. It is incredible to realize we still have three more months of discoveries to make and friendships to build!