By Adam Blagg and Todd Christensen
Greetings from Nazareth!
It has been a busy few days as we have moved from Bethlehem, to Jerusalem and now Nazareth. Our last evening in Bethlehem was spent at different locations as we divided into groups and stayed with home stay hosts. The next day was spent in Jerusalem with visits to a scale model of Jerusalem, replicating the time of Jesus, prior to the destruction of the city in 70AD, and a visit to Yad Vashem, the Isreali Holocaust Museum. We spent the night at the guest house in Jerusalem and left Jerusalem this morning. We began our trip north towards Galilee with a stop in Taybeh, the only remaining Christian town in Israel. After a filling meal, we continued on to Nazareth.
On Thursday we had a completely different experience than any other, we headed out early to the Nassar family farm, also known as Tent of Nations. This family farm has been owned and operated by the Nassar family since 1916 and is under constant threat of confiscation by the encroaching Israeli settlements. Instead of the typical farmhouse you might find in the Shenandoah Valley, the Nassar family made use of several caves for living quarters and these same caves still have their uses today as meeting places for guests. Our goal that day was to not only learn about the plight of the Nassar family and others like them, but also to provide some help. We spent the morning hours harvesting wheat by hand, and practiced the art of tying sheaves. As the noon hour approached we loaded the sheaves onto a wagon and brought them to an area for storage. Our work group was lively as songs and applicable bible stories were shared among the workers. Our time on the farm concluded with a wonderful home cooked meal and a passionate narrative of the issues facing the farm and how people from many places about the world have helped them in their fight to remain viable.
Each home stay visit had a unique experience but we wanted to share a few comments about our visit. Abdullah Awwad and his family were our hosts and as we entered his car for the trip to Beit Sahour, he informed us we were going to be staying at his little version of paradise. He was not exaggerating. The home offered a wonderful view of the town including the Moab Moutains and a few high buildings in Amman, Jordan. The yard was terraced and every space was filled with flora. Grape vines, fig, date, pomegranate and plum trees, mint, tomatoes, dill, apples, and a variety of flowers too numerous to mention, were put to good use. We had homemade plum and pomegranate juice when we arrived and were served homemade wine with the evening meal. The hospitality of our host was simply astounding and culminated the next morning as we watched the sun rise over the Moab Mountains and then were served a delicious breakfast.
Our journey continues tomorrow with a time of worship in Nazareth and then a visit to Mount Tabor. Our time thus far has been blessed by the people we have had the opportunity to meet, and the wonderful places we have visited.
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