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.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

like western black rhinos

As it has been almost a month since the last post on here, I would firstly like to warmly welcome a new team member! Daniel Briscoe will be joining us now, and we couldn't be more excited. Dan is a second year business student at Trinity and one of my close friends. I can't wait to watch him give and receive blessing in an entirely different environment.  Myself and Emily are tickled that he felt convicted to jump into this, and there's a lot of peace around the decision. 

Anywhoo, what I wanted to post about was this (click the links if you're interested): 

and finally...

I know that some people reading this probably consider themselves to be anti-religious or non-religious, thus meaning that they don't really care if the Christian presence is evaporating. I would like to propose that even if you're not concerned about the spreading of the gospel message and love, the traditional Christian presence has been important in supporting a lot of humanitarian work - social service establishment, education, and medical care as well. Additionally, the last article offers an interesting perspective:

..."Finally, there’s the principle. Who cares? I don’t believe in any religion, let alone the Christian religion, so what does it matter that a particular ethno-religious group loses its coherency in the face persecution if they persist as individuals? I think this is a fair logical point, and I don’t have a fair logical defense. I’m in fact broadly skeptical of the proposition that groups have collective “rights” as opposed to individuals. Rather, let me simply observe as a descriptive matter that just as we live in the age when the Western Black Rhino goes extinct, so we live in the generation that will likely see the passing of the ~2,000 year old living Christian communities of Iraq and Palestine. Of course the scions of these communities will continue to make pilgrimages to their ancient holy sites, but without a living community to care for them they will become as the ruins of Nineveh, a testament to memories and ages forgotten."

I wasn't expecting this, but it really makes the situation that much more unsettling for me.

Just some things to munch on for our Thursday morning. 


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Zain's 'Wonderful Life' advert for UNRWA + some

I watch this video often. I find it eerily lovely, but it stirs something dangerous in me. A bitter fury. I think the song "Wonderful Life" is what does it. It nearly (unintentionally) transposes the ravaged images of the camps into something beautiful. But the truth is, the destruction and ravishing that these families have seen is anything but acceptable. I could go on, but I'd probably regret whatever I said next.

Fun fact: This is my friend Orabi's blog:

He is a positively brilliant and dapper lad in his early twenties. He has his degree in engineering and although his English isn't perfect, his emotions are certainly clear. I think that he paints a very clear picture of Palestinian refugee life from a sensitive young man's perspective. I couldn't speak more highly of the love and hospitality that he has offered me through our friendship. I exhort you to take the time to filter through some of his postings. He grew up in the Jalazone camp, just outside of Ramallah.  - if you're curious.

Welp. Back to the books! 


Friday, February 03, 2012


Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, 1930s

Child in Biet Hanoun, Gaza, 2008

Women work a quarry in Kibbutz Ein Harod, Mandate Palestine, 1941

Woman cries in front of demolished home, Hares, West Bank, 2010

Genesis 35:11 (NASB)
I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you. 

Proverbs 17:1 (NIV)
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.

Proverbs 17:19 (NLT)
Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who trusts in high walls invites disaster.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Missions Fest Vancouver

"Missions Fest Vancouver is part of Missions Fest International and highlights global mission opportunities, showcases over 260 international mission organizations..."

260 International missions organizations!

It's true, and although I didn't count, there were indeed PLENTY of booths set up in the exhibition room. While I enjoyed walking through the many isles and losing myself in conversations about local and overseas work, it seemed second nature to be seeking out information about people located in the 10/40 window (, and more specifically the Middle East. I cannot claim that I spoke to every single exhibitor about Israel/Palestine and the surrounding few countries, but after a couple hours of finding nil through polite roundabout conversation, I certainly forwent the icebreakers and facades where I tried/pretended to be interested in other regions. What I found was this:

-4(or so) Organizations who had projects in either Iraq, Jordan, or Afghanistan
-4 Pro Israel organizations
-No groups that had projects in Iran
-No groups that had projects in Palestine
-No groups that had projects in Syria
-No groups that had projects in Lebanon 

...I forgot to ask about Yemen. I know. I wish I had remembered. Have you seen pictures of Yemen recently? What a cool place! Sadly, the population is statistically unreached with the hope of Christ. 

Comparatively speaking, there was an abundance of known activity happening in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Of course that isn't to say that there aren't any large umbrella organizations in the above above listed areas, just that they weren't represented at this specific conference. 

I wish that I would have know that I was going to blog about this, because I really would have taken better notes and sources. Anyhow, these aren't academic musings. I'm not saying that there isn't a Christian presence in the "forgotten" countries (because there most certainly is), but that presence is definitely a lot more grass roots (grass roots is awesome, just difficult to follow abroad). As people looking for opportunities to go overseas with the intention to work/serve/volunteer, I feel strongly that more focus should be given to the forgotten promised land, not simply because there is a lack of Gospel being circulated, but because many areas are actually very impoverished and therefore needing plenty of practical help with things like community development, access to clean water, and education. I'm specifically thinking of refugee camps in Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. 

As a side note, there seems to be quite a few established English teaching opportunities in Iraq. Shane Claiborne shared a bit about his experience with the local church in Baghdad and his stories were intensely captivating.  If we come back safe and sound from Palestine/Israel, perhaps that will be a future TWU trip proposal. Haha, that's mostly a joke for my mom. Sorry.

If you're interested:  [Shane's site]

Blessed that I could share this with you.
Happiest of Saturdays and peace,



Monday, January 23, 2012

"We talk of the Second Coming; half of the world has never heard of the first." 
- Oswald J. Smith, Canadian pastor

"To belong to Jesus is to embrace the nations with him." 
- John Piper

Sunday, January 22, 2012

starting something new and wonderful

This is a blog about six spirited college kids who are stepping out from Trinity Western University to go where no Global Projects team has gone before. Until this year, TWU has never sent students to the Middle East in order to build community and serve with volunteer work. This summer will be the fulfilling of a wonderful vision given me in September of 2010. It has been an exercise of faith to get this started, but God has recently given our project wings and it has taken off much more gracefully than we could have envisioned. Besides myself, there is co-leader Emily Gemmell, Emily Zmak, Rhys Volkenant, Lindsay Dijkman, and Levi Jerome embarking on this journey to the Holy Land of Palestine/Israel. God-willing, we shall go for six weeks, commencing at the beginning of May 2012. That means that it will be less than two years since my last visit to the region. I am so pleased at the opportunity to go back to my heartland. Emily Gemmell will also be making a return to the refugee camps and we couldn't be more thrilled with the passion moving our souls. We would really appreciate it if you would consider praying for our team's guidance, courage, provision, and humilty from now until our safe return mid June. 

I reckon that this blog will be updated regularly by either myself or one of my inspiring teammates. I hope that you won't mind the casual nature of these entries. I think it would be neat to post pictures, poems, verses, short blurbs, dialogues, songs, and videos in order to share what's stirring amongst us. 

It would be unreal if this blog could stay in service for years to come with other teams travelling to serve in the Middle East. What a blessing that would be. I really hope that this is just the start of something new and wonderful in our hearts and on campus.

I feel like this song encompasses some of what's going on right now.

"there's a pounding in my heart
 it's gonna leave a mark
 it's a knocking on my door
 it's the signal of a start
 it's You, it's You."

More info to come.
Salam, Shalom, Peace,

Miss Chelsea Ayers

city of the moon [Jericho]

running in Aqabat Jaber