Saturday, June 09, 2012

absolutely nothing and everything to do with our trip

The sky is made of marshmallow here. After the sun dips its toes beneath the pool of the horizon, the sky is a rope of pastel colours and easter shades. It is a bag of coloured jet puffs melted onto the curtains of the heavens. It's an edible sunset.
It goes well with the moon that follows the sun's tail and comes loyally after it. At times it is a sliver; like a nuisance in the heel of the stars and the dark. Other times, she is full and watching, and the colour of a fresh pencil. And if you're lucky, luna is the shade of an expired sun. She is a simple glow with the suggestion of yellows + oranges + cheese-like qualities.
Who knew you could taste a sky from a roof in Palestine.

- linds. + team

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

1 Timothy 6:12

I guess these are personal thoughts. 

What makes a good fight?

Here we meet a lot of activists. 
Peace activists. They advocate for the freedom of the people in this land.
They want justice and negotiation.
They want the land returned. And power.
Not so much political power as that which is personal. 
I want that for them too.

But so much as they can support this fight - it isn't theirs to partake in. 
These activists wear the tears in their clothing with pride.
With flashing eyes they speak of their tear gas and near encounters with IDF soldiers. 
But what does this do? Really. What are even 7 more people at a rally?
After all, it's a Palestinian rally. And they want peace. 
Is this what peace looks like?
I want peace too.

I think a lot of activists just show up and cover the occasion. I don't think I could that without having my own emotions and convictions ensnared by the intensity. 

It's easy to fight, and it's easy to yell. It's easy to get mad, and try to bully back even.
I love taking on causes that aren't my own. 
But I can't do that here. The problem has to be reconciled in each home, not in the streets or political parties. 
Change has to come from vulnerability and sharing. In order to repair this torn garment of 
a country, I believe that the fabric itself needs to be repaired. Stitches need to be reinforced. Trust can't be mended by hands filled with guns and stones - 
big holes cannot be filled with more fire.
Stitches can't be in skin, just like love cannot be in screams.
I once wanted to be an activist.

That's why we're working with Musalaha. I can't claim to know that much of this conflict. To know it is to be one of the many who has lost everything. Sometimes 2 or 3 times. Tonight, one of our friends was sharing that he helped rebuild a family's house after it had been demolished twice in the construction of the West Bank wall. Musalaha strives for reconciliation through understanding, through individual relationships being forged between Palestinians and Israelis. It takes time, sacrifice, and effort, but most truly good things do. []

 I cannot deem that participation in a rally - to yell, and shout, and release misdirected anger or frustration on anyone - is worth it. It's not worth the risk of getting blacklisted and shunned from this country. Or worth the darkening of  (what should be) the bright and calm face of true justice. After all, hope isn't the taunting cry, but the gentle voice (1 Kings 19:12). 

And it's certainly not worth ruining the witness of Christ. Especially when both people groups are so frayed and wanting. 

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for the shall be called the children of God."
[King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)]
Momma Lorice - a gracious and lovely Palestinian woman. I'm wearing her daughter's dress for church.

This one time in Nazareth, things got crazy. We're a plenty less white now... We almost look like locals - "but seriously."

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Different Roads

We've arrived safety in Palestine proper... approximately 2 days ago actually. It's a bit strange because the six of us are now split into pairs and living with homestays. It's so unique to our time in Nazareth, where we were together almost 24/7. But so far it hasn't been too difficult to see one another, and works starts on Monday - so four of us will be at a children/youth center, and another two will be working with the Musalaha office in Jerusalem. The two working in Jerusalem will have to cross the checkpoint each day, which will be good to lend a greater perspective to common inconveniences that come with the occupation. Though they will pass through seamlessly with their North American passports, probably in one sixth of the time as the Palestinians/Arabs with work permits.

Yesterday we toured the Bethlehem area and then went to Hebron. We passed many settlements and military outposts on our way to the bustling and wealthy city. Our guide never failed to mention Israeli marks: different hydro stations and the like, where Israel proper was using the Palestinian land for their own resources. I am not going to get overtly political here, but it was a heart wrenching trip through the Judean desert. We passed many refugee camps, and countless soldiers. Hebron itself was interesting: Jewish settlers have actually taken up residence in upper areas of the Old City. The Palestinians living and working in the market below have had to lay a chain link fence above the alley, to keep large rocks and trash from being thrown on them. There are also armed soldiers lingering around on the rooftops, keeping a close eye out for what have you. The Old City doesn't see too many tourists these days.We went through a couple of security checks on our way up to the Mosque that held the tombs of Rebecca, Abraham, and Issac. Fact: They never took or checked inside my purse. But they made our registered tour guide empty all his pockets and then leave his belongings with them. Other Fact: While he was emptying his pockets, his cell phone rang and the ring tone was an Arabic Lebanese victory song. We laughed and simultaneously winced all the way up the steep steps. Afterwards we met a joyful man who was galloping his horse through the cobbled and ancient streets - a reminder to choose happiness and freedom so much as a soul can be made to.

Our homestay families are all wonderful and blessed Palestinian Christians. The village where two thirds of us are living is called "Beit Sahour" and Lindsay's and Chelsea's house is technically built on the Shepard's field where the angel appeared, giving tidings of great joy and peace.

Please continue to pray for unity: among the Arab/Palestinian/Messianic Christians of this land, and for our team as we're now on a very different ride than before.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Keef Halick?

    How are you? Keef halick? It's a simple and common inquiry. It can be as deep or as shallow as we like. Thus far, the response here has been "mopseuda," or "mopseude" 100% of the time. seriously. At least when i've asked the people around me. Mopseuda means happy in Arabic (the feminine version anyway), and i feel like cheating each other of honest answers and authenticity may just be more universal than i had perceived. Maybe people are just trying to be polite, and that's fair... but i'm interning in the hospital psychiatric ward. I'm just not that easily appeased by pat answers from stretched and troubled patients. We've been observing life on the hospital grounds for a couple weeks, and it's very clear that no one has it breezy.

     This city (Nazareth) is broken and segregated beyond what we can even understand. Religion (by birth - not so much as practice) and formal citizenship determines an astronomically large portion of your identity. Naz is the largest Arab city in Israel, yet it still retains a Jewish section. The Jewish area is in an entirely different neighborhood, far out on a separate hill. It's even called by a different name: Nazareth Illit. "Illit" is pronounced like "elite" and the name definitely led to some preliminary embarrassment at my expense. My good friend Kat (27 year old, nominal Muslim, psych patient) has lived in Nazareth her entire life and never had a Jewish friend. Nothing against Jews or Arabs here: they just don't seem to associate with one another. They VERY rarely attend the same schools. 

    There are also obvious divisions between the Arabs themselves. I was aware that there were hardships for Arab Christians in other countries. I had heard about the shrinking Church in Coptic Egypt, the dissipating Maronites in Syria, the persecution of Iraqi believers... but i was ignorant in thinking that Israel would be different. Christianity is an identity that you're born into here, and converting from Islam is a nearly unheard of familial/societal disgrace. Culturally, conversion just isn't something that you easily "do." in fact, i would compare the apparent difficulty of coming to know Christ to someone trying to change their race or skin color. It happens, but it certainly comes with incredible consequences. Naturally, i feel like Philippians 3:8 offers great encouragement for this. But I've found that this verse is not to be taken lightly, and especially not here. 

    For further segregating features of Israel, let's also mention the difficulty of language. Not our personal difficulties (which are understandably more numerous than the stars in the sky), but the difficulties among the native people. Arabic is a language with almost countless dialects. The accent changes from town to town, and even between Bedouin communities. Kat was trying to help translate what another woman was attempting to convey to me, but she simply could not understand her unique accent. And these are both Israeli Arab Muslim women from around the Galilee region! How is it then feasible to expect unified and coherent opinions to come from all the 1.3 million scattered Arab people all over Israel?...including those in the West Bank refugee camps where standardized education is non-existent. 

    These past couple weeks have been an incredible overdoes of information. Getting professional opinions on the education systems, foreign aid, political regimes, religious movements, globalization, human services, and cultural taboos has left my head reeling and heart feeling at just a little bit lost. Thankfully, a busy head can also make busy hands. The entire team has been working heartily at their placements and enjoying the numerous opportunities for ministry and practical contribution. Fun and genuine relationships have been established, and are continuing to be sought. I can't believe that we're already leaving here (and going to Bethlehem) next week. We're looking forward to more learning and helping in another town - one that promises to have a lot of different challenges and charms. Frankly, I think we're just all itching to settle in on the other side of the wall. 

     I hope you don't mind some of this rambling. I could probably continue on for days, maybe even years... In fact, i guess i have been going off for the past two years already - ever since i first heard the Islamic call to prayer in July 2010, in East Jerusalem. The passion in the country is both contagious and overwhelming. 

     Welp, I have to go back to "work." We're visiting the children's ward this afternoon, and later i'll go back to check on Kat (who was thoroughly beaten by a manic patient recently - please pray that she recovers asap). I'm aware that I can't, we can't, and you can't piece together all of Israel's fragments. But i know that Jesus wants to. Please continue to pray that He will administer a greater peace and wholeness, beginning in the high hills of Nazareth . While you do that, we're going to try to keep bringing Him into this place through our continued efforts to love and serve. Thank you for your support, we truly could not do it without your intercession. 

We love you (ba habek) and hope that you have a genuinely mopseude day. 

-C (and team).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sandals and Sunburns.

  Week one has flown by with much beauty and excitement and we are well into week two. On Saturday our team thought it would be an adventure to walk from Nazareth to Cana on "The Jesus Trail". We ended up walking for 6 hours (getting lost twice) and arriving in Cana with a whole new perspective on travelling by foot. I must say, that I had never given much thought to the amount that Jesus and the Disciples traveled. The Bible always seems to make the journeys sound so easy and simple: "and then they went to a Wedding in Cana". It almost sounds as if Mary and Jesus just took a train there but after walking for 6 hours in the hot Middle Eastern sun to a town that by bus (we did bus back) is only 20 minutes away, I suddenly have a new respect and awe for the price of the journey to get anywhere in this land. As we walked along and saw fields of wheat or felt the hot sun burning through our layers of sunscreen, so many of the parables and stories of the New Testament came to life. Suddenly passages seem tangible and when put in the context of the land and the people: the gospels are no longer just stories but rather I feel as if I am living and breathing them. There is the overwhelming feeling here that it is a privilege to be apart of this faith, it is a privilege to know a God that is so real and present. 

Saturday, May 05, 2012




There is a 10 hour time difference, so while we're awake, our North American friends and family (probably you) are sleeping. We're all a bit jet legged from the roughly 40 hours of travel time, so be merciful on any non-nonsensical or abstract musings in this post please. 

We're staying onsite at the hospital and the accommodations are modest, but so so so lovely. We are very great full for our respective flats and the beauty surrounding us. I'm going to post a picture soon of the view out my bedroom... glorious olive branches, sun, and ancient stone buildings. Or maybe I won't, but it just keeps blowing my mind. Wow, consider us blessed out of the water.

We commence work on Monday at our respective locations. We work individually Monday-Thursday, then have a group work day on Friday. We'll be here until May 25th (I think). We're all really excited and feeling great!

Thanks for all your prayers and support!!! You're the best!!!!


The Team.

Friday, April 06, 2012


So this is our team creed... yes, we stole it. ( Oftentimes we'll end our team meetings off with the recital of this; it's inspiring and always help to energize and refocus us.

Happy (sad) Good Friday to you.

We believe that God is present
in the darkness before dawn;
in the waiting and uncertainty
where fear and courage join hands,
conflict and caring link arms,
and the sun rises over barbed wire.

We believe in a with-us God
who sits down in our midst
to share our humanity.
(a little sassy in Hebron)
We affirm a faith
that takes us beyond a safe place:
into action, into vulnerability
and onto the streets.
We commit ourselves to work for change
and put ourselves on the line;
to bear responsibility, take risks,
live powerfully
and face humiliation;
to stand with those on the edge;
to choose life and be used by the Spirit
for God's new community of hope.