By Dorothy Jean Weaver
We are safe, well, and still happy to be here, even as the “real world”
encroaches in ways that we could not have predicted.
Our latest EMS blog comes from Bethlehem on an evening when we are aware of unrest and violence in many places within this region, both within Israel/Palestine and on its borders: Jerusalem (at least yesterday), Kalandia just north of Jerusalem, Rafah on the Gaza border with Egypt, Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights just across from Syria, Maroun el Ras on the Lebanese border . . . .
And this morning we learned that there was a “closure” on Bethlehem itself today (at least for its own residents), to prohibit folks from Bethlehem from heading out to Jerusalem or elsewhere . . . . (Our day today was a “Bethlehem day,” with a worship service at Christmas Lutheran this morning and a visit to a Bethlehem shopkeeper’s shop this afternoon; so we were not affected in any way by this closure (which would most likely not have had implications for us as tourists in all events).
But in the midst of all of this emerging violence, we have found ourselves safe and not endangered in our daily journeys about the countryside. Rest assured as well that in coming days we will be taking counsel, the very best there is, from the local folks associated with our program: our tour guide and any others likewise connected to our program. We trust these folks deeply; and we will continue to seek out their wisdom in coming days.
We thank you for your prayers that have supported us thus far on our journey. And we welcome your ongoing prayers, not only for us and our safety but for the peace of the entire region and the safety of the many, many people in cities, towns, and villages in this region that are now experiencing a significant surge in violence.
Just a few little notes from our day today . . . . This morning we were blessed by the worship service at Christmas Lutheran. Reverend Mitri was not there, since he is currently on a trip to the US. But his colleague from the Lutheran Church in Beit Sahour, Reverend Imad Haddad, was there in his place, leading the service. Afterward we stood around at the coffee hour and visited with folks from the congregation and with other visitors like ourselves.
Today noon a few of us had the special privilege of sharing a delicious meal of maklouba in the home of Majdi, our shopkeeper friend, while others found lunch in eateries down on Manger Square. Then we spent some time “enriching the local economy” in Majdi’s shop.
And this evening, before the dinner hour, we had a lively time at “Evening Prayers” comparing current Middle Eastern cultural patterns with the stories of the New Testament and noting how Jesus and Paul challenged the Middle Eastern cultures of their own day.
Tomorrow is a “People” day, filled with “People to People Conversations”
in Jerusalem and Bethlehem . . . .
Blessings to you all! And know that we all–we here in Israel/Palestine and you in many other places–are being held in God’s gracious care as we move forward from day to day.
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