Thursday, August 12, 2010

I made it. I'm finally home, and after 43 hours of traveling, have slept in my own bed. I thank God for your prayers and for His traveling graces! Ilhamdilila

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Sea of Death

Weirdest water experience of my life. Seriously.

The other day on Saturday, we had the opportunity as a group to go to the Dead Sea, not only the lowest point on earth but also one of the saltiest. There's actually a legend I was told that attempts to explain this saltiness, that it is the result of when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (It's actually due to all the run-off from the surrounding hills and from beneath where the lake now stands, from what I understand). This increased saltiness has some rather intriguing side effects. Buoyancy, is as you know, the action of stuff floating while submersed (at least partially) in the water. Or as Wikipedia puts it, "... is an upward acting force, caused by fluid pressure, that opposes an object's weight." In a way, it's very similar to Hot Air balloons floating through the air (but not "at the surface" of the air) because the hot air is less dense... there's more stuff in the air beneath the balloon than within or above the balloon.

In the Dead Sea, there is much much more in the water beneath you than you'd ever expect there to be in water: all that salt! As you're walking out into the water, past the rocks and that pricelessly cosmetic mud-slime beneath your feet, it becomes surprisingly difficult to walk, because you find that your legs no longer want to go down. Just as this realization and it's implications begin to hit, there's no longer anything beneath you, legs and body floating while completely upright. A subtle and nearly imperceptible muscle movement later, knees shoot up in front of you, back goes flat, floating on the surface. Buoyant beyond all reason. Inconceivable.

The mud was also pretty sweet, I guess it's the thing to do: cover one's self ridiculously with the nasty stuff and bake in the 107 degrees of sun for a while, rinse, and enjoy baby's-bottom-smooth skin. (I have to say, my Inner Child was quite pleased with this experience!) Upon the writing of this blog entry, my skin still feels like a good thing to be covering my body, more so than usual that is. Don't take me wrong, I'm generally pretty happy to have skin. But these days, when you're only showering once every 4 or so days... it can be nice to throw off the old man in a manor of speaking. ;)

Looking forward to daily showers when I get home... and church. I'll post more on that later, suffice it to say, I finally had the chance to go this morning. The Church of the Nativity. Pretty sweet.

Also, I would have pics from this adventure yesterday, but my camera is being all wonky, doesn't want to charge anymore. So much for pawn-shop treasures.

For now, Mas Salaama! See you all soon! (Such a very strange fact...)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Final Escape

I'm close.

I'm terribly close to being through with this entire adventure, and I'm left feeling all sorts of different things in the pit of my chest, the epicenter of some crazy hurricane. There was a Hurricane Alex a month or so ago, right? Wouldn't be suprised if it had been influanced by events here someplace between my lungs and heart.

Tough, in a word, is how life is now.

Politically speaking, things could hardly get worse here in the West Bank. I had the opportunity to spend this last weekend in Palestine's two largest cities: Ramalla and Nablis, traveling with my HLT group and visiting several NGOs and similar organizations along the way. At each, we heard a similar story of general decay of economic viability, the increasing possibility of the West Bank being split in several places by Settler-Only roads, The Wall, and et cetera, and that essentially the only thing for me to do that is helpful as a so-called International is to spread the word. Refugee camps bursting at the seems after 60 years, an ineffective and compliant government that doesn't get anything done... I don't have enough heart for all that's happening here. For all that's happening in my life in general.

And here, in the midst of all this confusion, I've been getting more and more struck by a particular theological question (It's been a while since I've posted on one of these!). It occurred to me actually in jest after we had visited Hebron last week, after I was reminded once more by someone how all that the Jews are doing is being done in the name of God. All politics aside, I respond that I surely wouldn't want to be serving a God that condoned the purposeful and systematic oppression, killing, and disrespect of an entire ethnic group...and then I had to pause. And...oh wait.

Deuteronomy 2:31-36 (NIV)
 31 The LORD said to me, "See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his country over to you. Now begin to conquer and possess his land."
 32 When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz, 33 the LORD our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. 34 At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed [c] them—men, women and children. We left no survivors. 35 But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves. 36 From Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the gorge, even as far as Gilead, not one town was too strong for us. The LORD our God gave us all of them

This is merely a single example. From what I recollect of my readings through this part of the Bible, there were many such instances as Israel was establishing itself in the Promised Land.

I've heard repeatedly over and over, God is a God of justice[Leviticus 19:15 , John 5:30 , Acts 3:14]. He wants us to care for the downtrodden, the poor in spirit, those who are overlooked[Luke 4:16-21]. God is Love [1st John 4:8]. Neither the Jews nor the Gentiles are above one another [Romans 3:9-19].

How does this go together exactly? Here, I seem to be confronted with the fact that, if the Jews only are referring to the Torah and most of the OT (or is it all of it? I can't recall all that they considered Holy Writ), then they would seem to have ample support for what they seem to be doing today. (Granted, many Israelis are not acting explicitly or with the mentality that they are doing anything for God, but some are) And yet, there is plenty of support for God not wanting to advocate the wan-ton killing of entire peoples. (Not that this is exactly what's going on here either, but still.)  

I find myself conflicted....

... and that I'm leaving for home in 8 days.

Totally weird.

Eventually I'll have more pictures up, it's just an entirely laborious process overhere...


Monday, July 26, 2010


Hey all,

Sorry for the lapse in communication. This week has been more difficult because my volunteer placement actually decided to use me, significantly chewing into my time to blog! How dare they! As I've mentioned before, the folks back in my home stay are essentially addicted to Facebook online poker; a point of endless frustration. They're actually leaving to visit family in Honduras and America in less than a week (August 2nd), which will mean me and Trey will have the house to ourselves! Block party! Hahaha... it'll actually be pretty sweet. We're definitely going to miss our host father, but not our host mama! Terrible, I know, but that's life in the West Bank.

In many respects, it's actually been a pretty difficult week, and I thank God for getting me through it. I found out last week that I didn't get into my intended major at the UW: Human Centered Design and Engineering. Huge letdown. I suppose this topic is outside the context of this blog, but it matters, it has impacted me. Last year I found out right I had been rejected by engineering literally a day before leaving to help with a camp for children and their families who have cancer (Camp Side-by-Side)... I don't know if this is any better save for my maturity in Christ and my long-term-understanding.

Don't get me wrong, I was distraught. If it hadn't been for the mercies of His People around me, several e-mails and a phone conversation, it would have been much more difficult than it was. I'm already considering a couple other directions for my life, but honestly, it's all in His hands regardless. He keeps closing some very specific doors on purpose which leads me to imagine there's something headed my way I simply can't anticipate...

Partly in response to the above, I've really dedicated myself to making the most of the time I have left here. These final 15 days...and interpreting for myself what that means. Part of what that's looking like right now is to really be not only reading scripture for personal assurance and growth, but to study it. Spending some decent time following a collection of lessons compiled by a professor at Union College in 1894 that really directs an array of important concepts...and provides ooodles of passage references. If anyone is interested, I could send you one of the lessons. Maybe I'll include one on here eventually...

Essentially, I can no longer ignore the significance of ignorance. Biblical ignorance. This conflict swirling about me is essentially based on assertions of Biblical authority, or at least, from the Torah. For goodness sake, settlers are attacking children in the name of honoring God! How can this result from anything but profound ignorance, when combined with the evil naturally present in all our hearts? How can this be tolerated except by a people ignorant of Christ's passion for the downtrodden?

Anywho, enough ranting for today. Hopefully all is well wherever it may be that you are reading this. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Impressions of Egypt


(+) Incredibly cheap food. The average full course meal (including complementary lemonade, dessert, at very special price!) ran me about 6 bucks.
(+) Incredibly cheap accommodations. 4 bucks a night, yeah baby!
(+) Generally beautiful vistas. Particularly due to the ocean.
(+) Fabulous environment, however touristy it really was (Think: something out of Disney Land but real)
(+) Totally killer bonding time
(+) The Ocean. / The Red Sea (same difference if Saudi Arabia wasn't in the way! Most the time you couldn't see it through the dusty haze, so it's a moot point)
(+) Frequency of showers concerning me increasing about 7-fold
(+) Getting to be shirtless for basically 5 days straight
(+) Being completely removed from the conflict in Israel


(-) Constantly being harassed by the hordes of shop and restaurant owners hanging in the street, which at any given time just about outnumbered everyone else there.
(-) Non-potable tap water
(-) Bathrooms without toilet paper...that is to say, every single bathroom in the Sinai.
(-) Having sweat pouring down my face...while I'm doing nothing but standing. The heat was cuh-RA-zy. (And A/C was quite noticeably absent from the entirety of Dahab)
(-) "ugly days"
(-) What amounted to a bureaucratic nightmare on the part of the Egyptian Government...or lack thereof.

It's good to be back, though. =)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Travel Plans and Etc

Half way done.

Yikes!!! Where does time go? Is there a big ole hole somewhere it all gets sucked into? Gosh dang...

This is a quick one for lack of sleep time.

I'll be traveling to the Siani Penensula for about 4 nights starting tomorrow... it's going to be awesome. We've just hit some major free time since we're between sessions of the Holy Land Trust (which also means there's a bunch of folks leaving which is totally sad!). There's 7 of us trekking out into the wilderness, should be awesome. I'll be sure to take plenty of good pics. ;) Might be outta blog-contact for a while, just as a heads up.

God's Peace be with all of you!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Day-After American Diplomatic Immunity Day

[As written 7/5/2010 11:55am (+2 GMT)]

[Note: Anyone interested in seeing better quality photos or to comment on them, visit my Picasa album]



An incredible weekend.

I mean, seriously. If you could measure a time by the quantity of pictures one takes, well… I think I took about 200 pics. I feel tempted to overuse the word "breathtaking" to the point that I'd basically be admitting to suffocation.

Our group from Holy Land Trust had for us a weekend-long adventure through the northern bits of Israel and Palestine, giving us our first opportunity this whole trip to really be “tourists.”

Here’s what our weekend’s itinerary looked like:

 Bethlehem --> Jordan River --> Sea of Galilee (Including a boat-ride! Complete with Titanic soundtrack) --> Capernaum à Mount of the Beattitudes -->  The Golan Heights --> Haifa --> Mt. Carmel --> Caesarea (Beach on the Mediterranean) --> McDonalds --> Bethlehem

Now that I’ve just written that out, aswell as cross-check with my map, the prospect of describing all these places seems like an overwhelming task! How about bullet-points and pictures? Ya’ll good with that?

Jordan River
  • Pathetically small, ever since the Israelies have been pumping out more and more water from the Galilee and creating dams and such, there really isn’t all that much to this water-way anymore. BUT, there’s this “Baptismal Location” you can visit (as we did… felt like they were – dare I say it – marketing baptism. It was  honestly disgusting… get your photo while being baptized! Get your bottle of “Holy River Water!” Get your samples of holy dirt, holy oil, holy smokes! Felt like overturning some tables…) There was a place you could stick your feet in the water, and these fish would eat off your dead skin. Totally exfoliating.

Sea of Galilee

From Deputation
  • Small wonder they called it a Sea! Seriously, the most vast body of fresh water I’ve ever seen. You couldn’t even see the farthest end of it! We took a boat to the otherside, ate some horrifically overpriced fish (“Jesus Fish”… the “same fish” that Jesus ate. So I gained like, 200 Spirit Points).

  • Now, a Tourist Trap. It was pretty alright, had some sweet reconstructed ruins. A massive Aloe-Vera plant thing that seriously looked alien. Someone made a comment about it being a giant venus fly-trap. Ironic, visit the West Bank, get killed by a plant.

From Deputation

Mount of the Beattitudes.
  • Traditionally believed to be the location where Jesus preached His sermon on the mount [Mathew 5-7]. I actually was just reading through that passage, so to be able to put a place to the words: ridiculous. The view of the Sea from there is breathtaking. The church there is also pretty alright, lotsa nuns. More gift shops.

The Golan Heights

[multiple pictures, coming soon]
  • !!!!!!!!!!!
  • Stunning.
  • We spent the night here in a hostel, in this small town up by the border with Syria… I’ve never seen anything like it. The Mountains literally all around, a view down into Israel like nothing else… ending up playing soccer with some kids and Trey and Eric (another HLT participant)… sunset like nothing ever…
  • Me and Trey both firmly belive we’d come back to this place… it was also the only place I’d say we got to more than simply “taste” for half an hour, like most the other places listed here.
  • Most industrialized city in Israel.
  • Nuclear Power Plants --> totally sweet [photo coming soon]
  • Ba’hi Gardens  O_O
  • Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel

From Deputation

From Deputation


From Deputation
  • Beach on the Meditteren
  • Were only there for 30 minutes… =(
  • Ancient Roman aquaduct right there on the water! Poor choice building on the Sand, silly Romans. Should have visited the Mount of the Beatitudes first…
  • Got my jeans pretty soaked, Trey and several others decided to strip down and jump in (Skivvies only…or, as Jenny our Brittish friend would say: Pants only)
  • Never getting time at the beach = a piece of my heart never getting satisfied. Right next to the part of my heart that never get peanut butter or bacon or mashed potatoes or tacos or milk or OJ or cerial…..

  • Our single act of patriotism. Supporting Cooperate American Supremacy. I opted for for the chicken sandwich from the 10-Sheckle Menu. Total Rip-off. Trey got a Big Mac ™ . Paid for it later.

Oh geez….  *takes big breath*

That’s a lot of stuff, there.

Infused amongst it all, and almost more importantly… I had ample time to reflect while on the bus when I wasn’t socializing.

Praying a ton, reading… and really feeling God working in me about patience and judging others… to unpack this statement completely would take more than what I’ve already said… suffice it to say, there’s some interesting characters on this trip. And my heart, being full, in some respects cannot wait to get home, or to someplace where I don’t have to be on edge. And being patient to let this time do it’s work is key… but I’m starting to miss home. The green forests. The deep blue bodies of water where-ever I turn in Seattle. The Music, oh… the music. The Friends. The Lady… it’s rough.  And honestly, there are times where if I could, I’d teleport right over there from here. And then I have to tell myself:

no. This is where I need to be. If I keep looking forward, I’ll miss the significance of the right-now.

And keep telling myself.

And get to my host-home, and feel so completely the opposite of “at home”… almost the exact antithesis. To be tired regardless of how much I sleep.

It is trying to my soul, but I know it must be true: that I’ll be better for this. I’ll be stronger. I’ll have a better understanding of myself, and how stinky I can get. Of who I want to be, and who He wants me to be. Of me. For me. Through me.

Honestly, politics aside, people just need to be loved. That’s all I see here, when it comes down to it…. Everywhere. And we’re all just so stubborn and reluctant to do so…

Christ, preserve me. Uplift my spirit, encourage me and Trey. May Your peace soak us in this thoroughly dusty land…

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shotgun- Update

I've made my frist visit to an Internet Cafe here... got super tired of trying to cut in edgewise with my host parent's addiction to Internet Poker (On Facebook no less, thank you Zynga). So I'll keep this farily quick, some highlights.

Interesting Wildlife:
-- Horse at/in the ATM
-- JUMPING spider!! O_O (In my bedroom!!)
-- Goats in the street

Interesting Places
-- East Jerusalem, turns out this place is actually technically one of the Israeli settlements. Comprises several settlements, in fact. Where the Israeli appartment complexes end and the Palistinian neighborhoods begin, no more sidewalks, nice streets, fountains, publicly servicable dumpsters, or watered lawns, or decent busses or schools. These particuar folks have Israeli citezenship and pay taxes just like the rest of the Israelis....
-- The "Bethlehem Meusem." $2 USD to see 8 rooms from 18th century homes. Totally a tourist trap, but sweet. According to Trey, we lost major street cred.
-- The Wall Lounge. A Restraunt here in Bethlehem with a projector screen attached directly to The Wall... interesting way of protest (?) or attempting to make light of the situation(?), great place to watch USA lose in the World Cup  >.<

Interesting Happenings
-- Someone in the group has started a Bible Study on Wednesday afternoons to compensate for our total inability to go to church because we're always traveling on Sunday. Should be awesome, there seems to be about 8 of us interested. =)  Finally get some serious spiritual time in! It's been so difficult always sneaking it in the cracks in my schedule... in the morning... when I have a moment during Volunteer time, et cetera... That's honestly been one of the most difficult things for me is really staying connected with Christ. Be praying for me in this regard... my heart is full. My spirit grows tired...

Mas Salaame, sadiiqi (Go with Peace, my friend) -- I don't know how to make this plural yet! Maybe I'll ask in Arabic class today...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Little trouble in Big Bethlehem

There’s been a recent grumbling amongst certain unnamable followers of this blog that some of you may be wondering what my daily schedule is.

Consider yourself lucky, that I have a moment while “on the job” ;)

Typically, each morning begins at about 7:30am with me literally peeling myself out from amongst my sweaty bed-sheets (I know, mega-gross. The nights are rather toasty here…) Shortly following, after I’ve already “put myself together” I usually have to remind Trey that breakfast will be soon (Promptly at 8am) and as we both know at this point, to miss a meal seems to be quite the offense to our host family. (Their generosity and overbearing hospitality does have it’s dark side…)

Breakfast has consistently consisted of pita with a wide selection of “dips” including amazingly fresh hummus, homemade marmalade, olive-oil, thyme mixed with sesame seeds, fried (or hard-boiled) eggs, and this white chunky stuff the two of us generally avoid. And always, as with every meal, it’s served with sweet tea with fresh mint.

Yeah. Elaborate. But awesome.

From there, I walk or bus into Bethlehem where my volunteer job is. (Doing all sorts of different things, actually… I stuffed envelopes the other day. Fixed a computer. Typed a bunch of stuff into better English, etc etc... Cool people though when they're around. There's also a few pianos there, and I'm definitely taking time out of my day to practice music. =)). Sometimes I even might get lost and wander around downtown for a hot-hour (Christie, that’s for you! ;) ) struggling in the heat and hills until about 5 taxi drivers converge and “help” me find where the place is...but it’s not like that really happens, I mean, it could. Probably. ;) Volunteering officially is from 9am to 2pm.

Between 2pm and 3pm, I have time to travel to the Bethlehem Bible College, maybe chill a bit, who knows. Arabic lessons at the college from 3 – 5, and then after that, the schedule is different for each day. Yesterday, for example, we learned some of a traditional Palestinian folk dance called Dabkeh. (Pretty awesome, I might say). Tomorrow we have some “football” and BBQ going on with the team.

That’s the typical day. ;)   All kinds of adventures, mishaps, and thinking about my girl back home (^_^) are typically thrown in-between for variety, I can assure you. Like trying to get a “burger” at 9pm two nights ago when me and Trey were starving. 40 minutes later… ughhh…. We finally got our "food". I don’t even really feel like talking about it. And how when we got back to our host family, they were upset with us because they’d saved us dinner food in an obscure metal dish hidden among all the other pans… SO frustrating! >.<

Anywho, I suppose I should get back to work!

Take care, all of you. Your thoughts and prayers on constantly appreciated! Shokran! (Thank You!) It makes it a little easier to be so far and away from everything I know, regardless of how exciting it is to be over here… a faint amount of home-sickness started to settle in my heart this morning… you guys really are helpful in that respect.

Hope you’re holding things together back home ;)

Mas salaama!

Monday, June 21, 2010

"I Have Business to Attend to in Remallah..."

If it wasn't for your constant prayers, and the near-constant supply of falaffel and rice with lentils and schwarma and pita...I'd be dead. Exhausted. Helps with the sleep, I must admit (which has been fab-u-lous by the way). The heat does to, but our past few days have been packed.

I fully anticipate that eventually the frequency of these posts will subside, but it's all fresh and new still!

Finally, after nearly a week, my mind and heart have become set in this place. After walking the city, "talking" with the people, hearing Arabic conversationally and musically all day long... I'm here. I'm in Bethlehem and I'll be here for two months. Well, closer to 7 weeks at this point, but still.

Oh, and another fact of life that reminds me I'm in a very far away land:

From Deputation

I've seen several of these around at this point. Makes me wonder if they're actually doing anything useful in these parts...

The other day, Me and Trey and the rest of our team spent the entire day traveling, building relationships, and getting baked by the sun...but it was awesome. Really got to know some of the folks on the team owing something to the hours of bus riding and bus-breaking-down-ing (see Image below).

From Deputation

On a more serious note, however, the point of the trip was to expose us to some of the tragedy happening here in Palestine. Besides the ever present wall one experiences where-ever one travels around this land, the first thing we saw as we traveled North was one of the so-called Illegal Israeli Settlements . Honestly, it was rather disgusting. Surrounded by the poverty of Palestinians and the water-starved landscape there this settlement stood among the desert like a green gem, perched on a hill (like every other city around this part of the world). Locals of the West Bank are not permitted to enter the settlements or use some of the surrounding roads. As I've heard, the idea is to cut the West Bank in half with these towns, tearing apart the Palestinians even more. (I have photos, they don't seem inclined to upload themselves. >.< ). As one of the more... opinionated... team members stated, Israel's goal is to kill all the Palestinians and that Israel is a terrorist state that will be wiped from the planet. Needless to say, I don't exactly share these views. Don't worry. But it was weird to encounter such a blatant perspective

We continued on, through the various sectors until we reached Sector A, which is completely under the legislative and military control of Palestine, toward one of the Refugee "Camps." (Built in '48, they're just as permanent as anything else around). As we were being shown the bullet holes Israeli soldiers left in 2002, I couldn't help but notice the children playing in the street...

From Deputation

such a confusing contrast...

We also visited a Woman's center, and a Media Center which had a really great mission. They aim at educating children in visual arts to allow them to express the horrors that they've experienced in the society and through the wars... to start a cultural revolution that will eventually repel the Western and Israeli cultural influences and re-establish an identity of their own. In the middle of a refugee camp. In a place where they are constantly confronted with pain and hurt established by generations of violence.

We saw the houses that were bulldozed to build another section of wall:

From Deputation

Or the houses that were torn in half, just as many families of this town were similarly cut in half... for the life of me, I can't remember his name, but we also had the chance to hear from a renown ex-Freedom-Fighter that now strongly advocates non-violence. Very wise were many of his words and answers.... heavily confident in the next generation, although I fear the next generation may have already have been tainted by the scars of their fathers...

After that day, all I wanted to do was process. To sit... and figure out what I'd just seen. I suppose I had plenty of that time on the bus, but that wasn't all that alone, all that focused of a mental space. (Taylor Swift's You Belong with Me may or may not have been sung on the bus-mike by me... ;)

The only thing I could seem to grasp after the end of the day, was that the world is a place that is full of suffering. The evil contained within the human heart is not something that knows geographical is ever present. It is in America, it is in Great Brittan, it is in the Sudan, it is everywhere. And regardless of how many "good people" a society may contain, that somehow doesn't seem to make all that much of a difference. People need something more in addition to social service and volunteerism.

They need Christ.

And so, I push on, explaining myself and attempting to articulate this love I've been given to others as the time arises... and also as I do computer tech-support and web-development for a small music academy in Bethlehem! (My official task!) I may also be visiting Remallah where the family of one of the team members lives, along with Trey. Should be pretty stellar. 8)   <--- *Stunna Shades*

Sorry if the post seems... abrupt in many subjects. So much has happened... maybe I should start focusing on individual events, yes? I feel it'd seem less disjointed. Hmm... but the whole time has seemed strangely disjointed for myself aswell. Pray for my brain and heart!

God's Peace to each of you! Your thoughts, prayers, and Google Voicemails have been hugely appreciated!!! =D

Mas Salaam!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Some Photos!!

From Deputation

Me and Trey in Beit Sehoor (House of Waking) just south of Bethlehem where we're staying. We're on top of one of the more significant buildings in the area, because it's owned by a related member of our household (as is just about everyone on the block! Things are like that around here...huge families that cluster together.

From Deputation

Looking north toward Bethlehem

From Deputation

Me and the other Beit Sehoor-ers outside The Shepherds Field (Like, where the shepherds saw the angels! Or at least the traditionally believed location. Probably close enough )

From Deputation

The "Peace Wall." An ever-present reminder of the crazy prejudice going on here... from inside looking toward Israel, you'll see all the graffiti. Some it it is pretty powerful stuff...more to come. Not to sound like the political agenda is sinking in, it's just that the local politics are ever present and the grim reality of the situation inescapable.

I've got more pics from the other day too I'll be getting up here. We got Trey's bag from Jerusalem (Thank the Lord!) and spent some time exploring with one of our friends along with more of Bethlehem. Today we're doing some traveling also, I'll keep ya'll posted. ;)

Mas Salaam!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 1.5 -- The Journey Ends, the Adventure Begins

Note: Interested in leaving me a voicemail while I'm unable to use my cellphone? Use the GoogleVoice button at the bottom of any BoundlessChrist page and follow the instructions. I'll be able to check them from my email. =) (But not respond). Your warm wishes from home are much appreciated!

Someone once said, to live would be an awfully big adventure.

I can certainly say that we have lived life in a big way these past few days.

Getting here amounted to what was probably the most stressful 24 hours of either me or Trey's life. Getting everything gathered and packed the night before leaving (with time for zero sleep) only compounded the problems later in the day: in Dallas, about an hour before our plane was scheduled to leave, Trey discovered that his bag had been misdirected to be dropped of in Texas. He had to run down, grab his bag, take it back through security... etc... terrible. In all, about an hour long process, all the while, I had no idea what was going on (no cell phones. O_o ). Got back in time to find out that he got booted from the flight, and had to make it on another, leaving us with no time to coordinate what we were doing once we were in London.

All I knew was I'd get there two hours before he did, and that he was now flying American Airlines, not Brittish. Along the way, I ended up sitting next to two Mormon gals who were heading out for their year-and-a-half long missions trip and were very interesting to talk with. Spent quite a long time talking about God and what we believe "Oh, I just love learning about what other people's beliefs are!" I think were "Sister Alexander"'s words. Mm... they were pretty cool though, left me with a couple things to think about. One of them was talking about how after she had prayed, God had given her a verse and how it was exactly what she needed to hear and how great having relationship with God is and etc. How this book has really changed her life... made me wonder what was really going on. When we departed ways at the airport, they gave me their only extra copy of the Book of Mormon (I tried to refuse... *sigh*... I have no idea what to do with it! At least it's not going to someone else, I suppose).

In London, I and Trey were met with another nightmare. Essentially, we spent the entire 14 hour layover not having a clue where the other person was and trying to wait in various places hoping against hope of finding the other. Trey did venture into the city, whereas I chickened out at the last second. Thought it'd be lame to visit all by myself, and from the sounds of what Trey said, it was pretty lame. Crazy stressful.

I figured that if all else fails, we were to meet at a terminal for our flight out at 1030pm. I woke up from a nap at 9:40, headed over there, and I'm telling you, there are few other faces that could make me feel so suddenly good as Trey's as we ran into eachother in the bathroom....

The flight to Tel Aviv was wonderfully uneventful. I will say that the food on these flights was absolutely incredible. I mean, I haven't had anything besides peanuts or pretzels to eat on a plane in goodness knows how long. Curried Chicken, rolls, salad, dessert, drinks, milk... so good! =D

Tel Aviv: turns out Trey's luggage didn't make it from London. -_-  HOWEVER, we made it in the country without a hitch, which was such a blessing! We made it! Met at the exit by a man (not to be confused with this who took us to Bethlehem from the airport...where we met our host family (who are going to be pretty sweet, especially the food!!!! and the couple of kids that are totally awesome! I was playing with one of the kids and his mom told him that I don't actually speak Arabic... the kid disagreed, a fact I found quite amusing).

Trey is still trying to track down his Luggage and may have to visit the airport to get it all figured out... something that's just killing him. I don't blame him =/  . Be praying for his situation! That he get's his stuff! Otherwise, we're alive and well, thinking of home much... it's just starting to set in how far and away both in space and time we really are from Seattle...


[Also, If you're inters

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Almost Gone

Almost gone!
My last several hours in america, being spent here in Dallas, TX. So surreal. So glad to have my teammate Trey with me... I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that...I'm not coming back any time soon. What I packed is what I have, and considering I finshed packed at 330am, I hope to God I didn't forget anything!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

T-Minus 4 Days: Is This Really Happening?

As another quarter comes to a close, as friends leave and graduate, as yet again I find all my belongings making their way into boxes and Trader Joes bags, I'm left in a very confused state.

This is really happening. -- I keep telling myself. Over and over... In four days, I'll be in Bethlehem!   It's like my brain just doesn't have the never centers to process that. Like a computer without a floppy drive, I cannot read this type of data...this "magnetic tape" of experience yet. I have to be there before I can know what to expect...

My mother called me the other day, feeling that God was speaking to me about the upcoming trip and cited Acts chapter 13 (excerpt below)

2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate now for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.
3Then after fasting and praying, they put their hands on them and sent them away.
4So then, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from [that port] they sailed away to Cyprus.

The whole chapter in general has to do with the journeys of Paul (Saul) and Barnabas, but it's this intro part that really concerns itself with the setting out of the trip. What an awesome example of community! Supporting, commissioning, and praying over these men...but beyond that, and most significantly, was the work of the Holy Spirit in orchestrating the whole venture. Everything else was merely a result of His prompting, of His action within at directly to the people.

Have I felt this prompting? Maybe. I know beyond anything else that this is something I need to do, regardless of dangers both physical and...erm... financial. Maybe that's the Spirit's prompting, those strong feelings.

And now, I have packing to attend to....and cleaning.... the stuff of life is so clingy! Just like an ecosystem, every possible niche and perceived "need" becomes occupied and rooted with memory and sentiment until the days come when you must transplant it all elseplace... messy messy messy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Christological Variation -- The Problem of Continuity

In mathematics, there's a distinction to be made between numbers that are discrete which can be /counted/ in indivisible portions (i.e., the number of protons in a nucleus or the number of party hats at a birthday, how many times you've sneezed) with no space between "whole numbers" (essentially true)... and those that are continuous which represent quantities that can take on an infinite number of possibilities between those "whole numbers." (i.e. Your weight, the length of a string, the velocity of a Space Shuttle).

Even areas of life not dictated by numbers can be described by these two classifications. One could say based on common generalizations that men tend to think of color in a very discrete way. The primary rainbow colors + a couple. There's a huge range of things he might call red. On the other hand, one may similarly conjecture that women seem to recognize  some the true continuous nature of color. The shades. All the in-between bits that aren't quite Fuchsia or Lavender.

Even here, though, one can start to see the problem with continuity. It leaves massive room for interpretation and quibbling. At what point in the spectrum is the light definitively Red? Is that shirt red? That stoplight? That sunset? That guy's sunburn (no, that's burnt-pink!). Goodness knows how many times I have ended up arguing (briefly. I'm psychologically stable. I can let go) about the color of some inane object with a girl that's definitely orange not burnt-umber.  *sigh*

This problem propagates itself into all areas of life. Every "grey-area" we encounter is the result of continuous data, particularly when we're attempting the systematic categorization of a continuous series. When making a discrete approximation. 
We do this sort of approximation all the time, because discreteness is generally easier to deal with than infinite possibility (something to do with finite capacity to understand, I'd gander).

However, when doing this and drawing these lines, there's always going to be something left in the middle from which arrises ambiguity and uncertainty. The whole question of  when does a twig become a stick? A stream become a river? Or a hill become a mountain? (along the lines of This Movie) People end up sketching together seemingly arbitrary rules for these classifications, then forgetting at some point down the line that they were the ones drawing the lines.

I've seen examples of this in my Archaeology class and my Human Evolution class this quarter, but it also seems to crop up in many other areas of my life. It frustrates me because it doen't tend to lend itself to answers per se, or theorems/generalizations. It doesn't lend itself to simple answers or a lessening in complexity, in fact, quite the opposite.

What frustrates me the most is when I see it in Christianity. My faith, the foundation upon which I construct my life, has places that cannot be pinned down. For example:

Phillippians 4:8
"8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

Which thoughts are bad? When do my errant thoughts stray from daydream to...sin. At which point does entertainment become "not-pure." When does something become unworthy of a good-report? Upon this basis, my parents (and even myself for many years) discouraged the play of First-Person-Shooters. Did not watch R-rated movies (another arbitrary scale: movie ratings.
What do you think, Continuous or Discrete?). We however lived upon the right side of a sliding scale of another continuous metric known as: Conservative.

Makes me wonder about a few other things about Christianity:

  • Is salvation itself continuous (happening over a period of time) or discrete (at a particular moment)?
  • When does striving after the ways of Christ and turning entirely away from evil render your incapable of associating with the very people we're to be a witness to? (That is, at which point do we become so concerned with following Christ that we become labeled a Prude? A Monk? Sequestered from society?
    • When does Fearing God and the Rightness of His ways turn into Legalism?
And, most relevant to what's currently on my mind, is a question stemming from a Human Evolution class I'm currently enrolled in. Now, forgive me, but I suppose there's an abundance of "if"s here, so please bear with me.

If I'm to believe that God was responsible for the creation of the universe (though whichever means He decided to choose, which I do believe), and if He so chose evolution as His means of creation (for which there seems to be a certain amount of evidence either way), at which point would He have decided along the sliding scale of genetics that we were.... human. Imbued with a soul, and His existence revealed to us? At which point did H. erectus really become H. sapian ?


Evolution is weird. There seems to be just as much evidence to support as there is to contradict, but the support seems so compelling.

Alright, here's another. A friend brought this to my attention this last spring break, upon a canoe, amid beautiful snow-capped mountains and fresh pine-laden air... the question once more: when is life? Where does it start?

When did I get my soul? (some would argue this never took place for me *cough cough* my roommate)

Is it at inception? If so, my friend said, then he is very very sad, because during the normal course of a woman's cycle, fertilized eggs regularly pass out of her system if she's been with a man. Regularly. Granted, I never double checked on this (has anyone else heard this?) but if it's true, than thousand of babies die all the time...without ever being made known. If false, then all is well... granted we know where life begins. Another continuous scale. Something to think about, at least.

As always... plenty to think about... but not get too intellectual about. God is about relationship and faith, not our trivial ponderings...

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Church is an interesting place. That is, "church" with a lower-case "c." As in, the physical space worshipers generally occupy on Sunday mornings.

It's an intersting space, because it is a space rife with expectations and standards you rarely find elsewere dictating posture (sitting, standing, kneeling, and potientially bowing), etiquette (when to speak, refrain from speaking), and emotional expression (yelling, shouting, crying, dancing, displays of affection). Every church contains it's own subset of these expectations for good or bad. Generally, I prescribe to the notion that it's good for churches to have some latitude because people can't be put in boxes. Room for individuality is key... but I digress.

One expectation I feel is generally affixed to most churches is the idea that all attendees must pay attention to the speaker. (although really, this is merely an extention to what we've all learned about any gathering of people with a leader) To the paster/reverend/priest/what-have-you at the pulpit/dais/music-stand/coffee table/whatever, you may not display anything less than intent listening with maybe the occasional yawn without risking people thinking you don't really care.

This is wrong, In my view. Maybe I'm saying this to assuage my own suppressed guilt from the dozens of sermons that have made that journey between ears while managing only a brief stop to say hello somewhere inbetween. Regardless, I feel the words of whoever's up front are really only optional at best to listen to. 

The physical space, church, is really just a meeting place. A safe place to meditate and to set the lens off our own life for but an hour and half and critically think about the implications of Christ. Sometimes a sermon will help. Sometimes following along with the fill-in-the-blank cut-and-dry sermon-notes will be of use. But I've found that as long as I'm not thinking about what groceries I need to buy or where I'd like to go on a date, church can be most beneficial when I'm thinking and praying my own thoughts and prayers.

That's where I found myself this last Tuesday at a ministry I attend. I could feel that my brain had shut down many hours previous... I needed my journal to keep my mind and heart busy. This is what I fond myself jotting down. [PS, this is actually how many of these posts are born in their earliest of stages]

Christ doesn't simply complete us,
without Him, we would be nothing.
Christ doens't simply complete us, 
Christ is our Sum-total.
We exist in the darkenss and He is the Light.
We are but vapor while He is The Rock, our Fortress
Solid and True.

I think about completeness from time to time, particularly the number 7, which is one of several numbers that is consistently used in the Bible and almost entirely in reference to some kind of completion. 7 days of creation. 7 years of "tribulation," many of the feasts on the Jewish calendar cycle by increments of 7, etc. (comment if you come across any others that I'm sure I'm forgetting) ANYwho, I think about it. It's an important concept, there being a beginning and an end and the fact that God transcends all of that...

I found myself wondering at the idea of God completing my life.... making me whole. How offhand of a thought that is, and how at surface, it seems good and true. And when taken to the full extent, it is. We wouldn't even /exist/ if there had been no God! Our lives, even when not in harmony with the One who made this whole thing, still are fulfilling some important role. We are inseparable from Him, however distant we may lead ourselves to believe we are...    I think I at least can easily forget this, and there are times the idea of Him completing my life has as much weight as knowing that the final check mark on a list of to-dos completes my day. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Looking Ahead

So, I suppose it's been a month since my last post.

Just as it seems to me that there could be no possible way for one's life to be more replete with activity and happenings, I once more stand corrected. Or sit corrected, as I now am doing in resin lawn chairs.... oh, the beauty of Spring

Deputation. It's happening. In only slightly more time than 2 shakes of a stick, I am going to be flung out to Israel -- the place where it all started! -- for 8 entire weeks. 8 weeks of serving and learning about a people who have played almost as significant a role in world politics as Israel itself has: the Palestinians. Being the other side of a thousands+ years long conflict has something to do with that, I imagine.

For a while, I found myself, honestly, a little frustrated about the whole deal. While I'm down there, I'll be working through an organization that has no spiritual objective about it, it's all political. They're objective is to expose peoples from all over the world to their plight as Palestinians; for us to see their side of the conflict which rarely makes it past The Media. I was frustrated that during this once-in-a-(at least)-very-long-time opportunity, I wouldn't have a direct outlet to share my faith. In fact, you're encouraged not to by the organization unless explicit asked to do so. Naturally, I've found myself wondering why a Christian Church would be sending individuals to such a place. To a place that has not particularly missions-oriented for a missions trip. It just seemed weird.

After having talked with a number of people about this, I still don't think I have a concrete answer. From what I've gathered, this trip is one of those that is specifically to grow you and stretch you through challenges and crazy-new experiences, of which I'm sure there'll be plenty. Growing is always meritorious, but I can't help but feel that it just seems like such a cop-out explanation. (see post: Convenient Answers)

More revelations soon to come, I hope.

God's Peace,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Typical Judas

This Easter Season, there's been a good deal on my mind. Between traveling this summer to Palestine and the whole Resurrection of Jesus thing, my spirit's been packed.

And so, this last weekend which is arguably the most important weekend of the Christian Faith, I found myself thinking -- struck, in fact -- by something. As I was reading through John ch 18 - 20 on Easter-Eve, there was something Jesus said about Judas that stuck in my mind and made me wonder. John 19:9-11

John 19:9-11 (New International Version) [Highlighting added for emphasis]

9and he went back inside the palace. "Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10"Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?"
 11Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."
This raises some profound questions in my mind regarding the nature of Judas Iscariot.

Honestly, after I gave it some thought, I couldn't figure out how what Judas did was all that different than what we (both Christian and otherwise) tend to do on a regular basis. Replace 20 Shekles, what Judas sold-out Jesus for, with just about anything. Position. A good time. A good joke. Reputation. We all are sell-outs. We all give up Jesus for something, some more regularly than others. This is a terrible terrible fact, but a fact it remains and forgiveness we receive nonetheless.

Why is it then, that Jesus says what He does here?  It seems to be that Jesus is comparing the power Given to Pilate by God with the power not given to Judas. Judas hasn't been given authority? He was what set God's ultimate plan for redemption into motion! Jesus came to die, and Judas played an integral part in that! Doesn't seem like much of a great sin at all, but rather, a typical one. But perhaps that's something only to be seen from my current context and couldn't have been seen then...

All this is also to say, I wonder whether or not Judas is in heaven. Absurd question, perhaps. But if his part to play was as important as it was -- in fact necessary! -- then how could anyone justify God's intentional use of a man for good, that his soul might suffer? How could anyone condone the damning of a soul that became the catalyst for the greatest victory -- over death itself -- ever to be achieved? If we set aside his betrayal, this leads me finally to the question of Suicide. His ultimate end was through murder of his self. The destruction of his person.

I've been led to believe that all sin is equal in God's eyes, it is merely it's physical repercussions that manifest at various magnitudes which ranges anywhere from internal guilt to destruction of relationships and lives. Sin is sin is sin. Must one be forgiven of all sin before their moment of death?

When I was younger, I was told that the answer to this question was yes. If you lied and were hit by a car, you wouldn't be saved. That seems... so harsh. So lacking in understanding. But Suicide? What of suicide? Forgive me, I digress, but so many are forever lost to deep and painful hopelessness... it seems a terrible thought that they'd all be past redemption.

So... Judas Iscariot. Typical in his betrayal. Lost to his guilt. Did he find salvation? Because surely if he can't, what does that mean for myself?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Blessings on you this Easter!

Throughout the history of God's people, there have always existed means of remembering significant moments in their history. The Passover, the 12 stones placed after they crossed the Jordan, various celebrations throughout the year, the Sabbath itself.

In the midst of the many things we do, brunches and egg-hunts, baskets and roasted hams, let us soak in the memory of what Christ did on "this day" so many years ago.

He redeemed us.

May you experience God's overwhelming peace and love this Easter weekend,

Monday, March 29, 2010

Break Me Un-Broken

Apparently this blog is becoming also a creative outlet for me, so don't be too alarmed when you begin to see things that inexplicably rhyme, are chopped into funny paragraphs, and may not make a whole lot of sense.

The following is something I wrote while sitting on the floor of my room. I don't really know what to call it yet, maybe this post's title is sufficient enough for the poem itself. I feel compelled to ask you to "enjoy," but I always thought that was a weird way to introduce something that's not for mere entertainment. So, I will begin with: "here it is."

Oh God, let me disappear,
why can't I to my peers,
stand without fear?
Why to my fears
can't You, the Reigning Champ
Defeat what I can't and move
this Mountain encamped.

Memories, they haunt they
Jab. They tear where there is wear.
They consume me bare, bar
the weight I bear. Break these memories,
Father, into ash and stone, that
I may atone for the infected bone
and eyes alone.

My heart. contrite, my spite it
bites. I can no longer to myself lie
that the poison that lies within mine
eyes stings as lye. Stained by
black die. Broken without even
trying. Without even Striving.

Break these lies, Father, into ash
and powder. The lies I contrive to
keep the sky at arms length
at fist's strength. Dreams once vivid
infected now livid.
Blacked out beaten down broken
bloodied cold.
                       cold as dead as
with no longer the Breath that sustaineth
the will to prevail. Hail the new order,
unveiled. Tyranny has prevailed, and
on the high seas this ship will sail, sinking
with king drinking to it's offspring
cynic and faith-stale.

       Break me into something un-
       Take me into steeples un-
       Work in me something un-
written. Unsmitten and recommitted.
Willing to stand not crouch, confront not couch.
To speak and spread truth spirit led
spirit fed truth abundance
non-encumbrance truth
over my head. Truth... I cannot write

I cannot write

If only to find the switch-light
the mind-light, the on-off nite-light.
That I may lie down to sleep
      and my rest be sweet;
Yes, to lie down and not be afraid
      of thought unabated.
      of thought ungrated, unsated and ingratiated.
That I may lay aside my lies and know: You are God.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Convenient Answers

This last Wednesday, I returned from one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Malibu, Northern Canada. Breath-taking snow-capped vistas, deep dark-blue ocean, relatively untouched forests, it surrounds you and captures your senses and sense of place and yet, as with beautiful smells and beautiful moments, it all fades to the background eventually...and I was left becoming distracted with something else.

As I listen to other Christians talk, I've noticed that we tend to talk funny about events and opportunities. There never seems to be a wrong answer. And it all feels...too convenient. Has anyone else ever noticed that before? It frustrates me. It frustrates me because it doesn't seem right that there should always be such an easy response. Such easy thoughts. Easy-to-contrive answers.

An example. Kinda like those Choose your Adventure books of old:

Let's say Paul, middle-aged Jr. College graduate, has really been praying about his future. He feels like maybe he should move to the East-coast from Washington because his family here is too oppressive, restrictive, his friends have moved away for their careers, and he feels like he needs a new start.

[Outcome A] Everything works out. He makes it East, get's plugged into a job that's really going somewhere. Away from the oversight of his parents, he flourishes. Paul's prayer may look something like this: Truly, it was God's plan for me to move here. Thank you Father for your provision, and Your plan. Thank you for Your blessings.

[Outcome B] Something falls though. Unexpected expenses turn up, or he can't get a ticket, or he falls ill, or a parent is on his or her deathbed, or any number of reasons. Moving is no longer an option. He's stuck. Eventually this may be Paul's prayer: Thank You Father for growing me, for the challenges you placed in my life that I now recognize have allowed me to grow beyond what a more comfortable life would have. Et cetera.

I see this scenario play out countless times in the lives of the people I know, where they've (or myself even) faced a decision. A moment of great opportunity, perhaps. A moment of great hesitation. And regardless of it's outcome, regardless of the pain or joy, the victory or the failure, it's somehow alright. It's somehow all justified, with some tidy (and yet often dis-satisfactory) explanation. Often with no explanation at all.

But maybe that's the point.

Maybe if God is truly over and in and around all, then this really does make sense. Because if He's really holding the infinity of time and possibility in His hand, then there really is nothing that can escape Him. Nothing that happens outside His purposes, nothing that removes or alters His plan.

Is this comforting or confounding?

Or both.

What frustrates me is it's it just seems too... good, I guess. Or rather, it just seems unnatural because we as people never have all the answers, or if we do, it's because we're actually trying to scam someone or are delusional. But maybe that's because we're just people and that's what we do anyway.

Maybe I wish God was just a little less infinite.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Sponge in a Fist

I keep probably too many journals at this point. Does that mean I have too many thoughts and not enough words, or the other way around? Not enough action? Who knows. What I do know, I was reading through a "spiritual journal" of mine the other day, and there were a couple good excerpts.

This first one was written with poeticalness in mind. I'd heard a guy preforming what he calls "Spoken Word" which is poetry that is written to be spoken, very rhythm intentional. Similar to rap in many respects, yet without the conventions that follow from music. I thought about him for a long time, and during church while I was dosing off again, I wrote this.


I hit the clock pound the books grind the nose where I'm to go there can be no soul. It's choked, erased, and extracted with care and time leaving nothing but a filmy grime.

The place to where I trek, there's no going back no respite. A wheel unhinged, an American unbinged. Impossible. I realize the size of my disguise leaves no room to contrive another lie inside the time that I have to Die.

God, You become the sweat the tears drawn out of pain and uncertainty. Pressured forth like a sponge in a fist or puss from a cyst Why is this so? Why are You not my everything my everytime that when I fall up not down, I realize the Source instead of drown in the impossible drone of industry and sound?

Pressure me into You so instead of forgetting or running, into You I find my source for divorce from life so contorted.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Life Without Bounds

Forgive me for my silence. It's been a busy few months, and for some reason, the act of blogging has seemed too great of a commitment for me to pile atop of the already considerable stack. A needle too much threatens to topple the whole works, or so it feels.

So, what has changed? What brings me here, now?

Bethlehem. I found out last Tuesday that I will be spending the majority of Summer '010 in the little town Bethlehem, Palestine. Shocking, and exciting, this will surely be an adventure unprecedented in my life. Bethlehem! Palestine! Both words, loaded with meanings and connotations, almost contradictory.

Peace, hope, Christmas, Wise-Men, swaddling clothes, Jesus.
Terror, struggle, dismay, contention, oppressed, Islam.

Through the INN's summer missions program, I will be entering into this. This whirling and struggling to find direction and an equilibrium. (Isn't that what we're all trying to find, afterall?) An Identity crisis of sorts. And I'm not sure where I stand.

My Christian upbringing would suggest that I wholeheartedly support Israel. Kick the Palestinians out, they have to stake. They aren't God's chosen people. Who are they to lay claim to this land.

-- aaaaand, these notions led to the Crusades. Great. Wonderful.

My university education would suggest that I'm compelled to support equality and civil rights and to oppose oppression. That if "the world" can dictate whether a nation has a state or not (as we did with the Jews in 1948), why can't the Palestinians be extended this offer, particularly if we set matters of Religious bias aside in terms of the Government?

Regardless, I've begun learning Arabic.

I can only pray that God prepares my heart for the challenges of mind and heart I'll most certainly encounter.

That God has in store plans for me to experience that which I need to through friends and circumstance that my perspectives may be adequate to enable me to truly see the Arab world for what He sees it as.