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 boundaries...it 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!