Palestinian-Israeli Camp

Today I’m going with about 40 other leaders for a two-day training prior to our Israeli-Palestinian summer camp. Through this camp, we intend to encourage relationships between young believers and expect the relationships to change the trajectory of their perspectives on the “other” in this conflict.

On Monday, we’ll be joined by 73 8-12 year-olds for the five day camp. Since I won’t likely be able to blog during the camp I’ll be keeping pictures and stories to share with you after the camp.

This camp marks the beginning of my last two weeks here. I’ll have a final week in the office and then be off toward home. Check in next week to see some posts about what I’m looking forward to about being home. I’ll only be home for a month, so will need to pack a lot in. Maybe having a record of what I want to do ahead of time will help me remember when I actually have the opportunity at home! I hope they’ll be fun to read, too:-).

Chivalry in the Middle East

Chivalry in the Middle East

I’ve been meaning to write this for a long time. One thing I appreciate about Arab culture is that, when I get on a bus, a man often gives his seat up for me (or any other woman who gets on-board). This is especially nice because the buses are small and standing is very uncomfortable.

So here’s a shout-out to Arab gentlemen. I know you guys often get a bad rap, and I want you to know that I appreciate your kindnesses!

I was with my photojournalist friend when he took this picture of our bus driver right by the checkpoint.
Photo credit: Barry Rodriguez, www.worldnextdoor.org.
Coventry 2

Coventry 2

I thought I’d share the report I did on the Coventry Conference and some pictures from the professional photographer who joined us. It really was a great time. I am hoping we’ll do a conference in the States sometime before too long!

The beautiful Coventry Cathedral was a wonderful location for the conference

On May 20th and 21st participants from the UK, other European countries, and America gathered in the iconic Coventry Cathedral to join Musalaha for our first international Reconciliation conference.


Musalaha was invited by Christian leaders in the UK to share first-hand experiences and lessons learned in reconciliation with the wider body of Christ – whose members have increasingly felt the need to choose sides as they consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The powerful story of the Coventry Cathedral was meaningful to our participants as they heard testimonies of reconciliation in the place dedicated to forgiveness since its devastation during a war-time attack in 1940 and rebuilt as a testimony of faith and hope.

Salim Munayer and Evan Thomas
Speakers included Palestinian and Israeli leaders such as Salim Munayer and Evan Thomas as well as other leaders. We also worshipped in Hebrew, Arabic and English and heard powerful testimonies, including some young Nigerian leaders in reconciliation.

Participants were very encouraged by testimonies and teachings from Musalaha’s ministry partners. We were joined by Cathy Nobles and students from YWAM’s School of Reconciliation and Justice, Tanas Alqassis and Rev. Joseph Steinberg from the Church Mission Society, Rev. Gilbert Lammerts van Bueren from Near East Ministry and representatives from the Baptist Mission Society.

We were excited to have approximately 150 participants representing a wide variety of churches, organizations, and communities.

Insights following the conference made one thing clear: the message of reconciliation is not only relevant for those of us living in areas of conflict. It is the call of God for all believers.

Here are some quotes from participants:
The variety of speakers, insights, demonstration of faith in action! Very exciting ministry that challenges everyone’s thinking.

I realize now that as a Christian I am involved… I should be a peacemaker.

The quality of the speakers was absolutely first class!

The respect that the team shows each other also witnesses to the power of your message. Insightful.
Great Britain is in need of this message, especially within the church.

The conference was everything I had hoped it would or could be. I feel better equipped with all the excellent teaching and sharing… to take Jesus’ way of the cross through the middle, without being swayed by the rhetoric or fears of either side in the Body of Christ in the UK.

All of us have been inspired by the teaching and especially by the high quality of testimonies and the way Salim Munayer and Evan Thomas have answered questions: sincere and with a sense of humor. It was not easy to keep out of politics and at the same time remain relevant to the situation which you as Israeli’s and Palestinians have to face. For those of us living in the west, it was humbling to witness how you are forced to identify with Christ more fully because of the conflict. A true encouragement to all of us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus.

For more information, please visit www.coventryconference.wordpress.com. Here are some more pictures of the event:
Thank you so much for your prayers for the conference. We felt the presence of God and are thanking Him for a wonderful time.

Coventry

Coventry

Last week I had the opportunity to go to the UK for a conference we (at Musalaha) organized. The conference was to share about what God is doing in reconciliation here in the holy land, and elsewhere in the world. I hope someday we can do a similar conference in the States!

Here are a few pictures:

Me with my friend and coworker, Ronit, in the beautiful Coventry Cathedral, which we called  home for three days.
The crowd.
With Diana and Ronit, two Messianic Jewish Israelis who shared their testimonies at the conference. It was fun to have the English and Middle Eastern worlds I know collide!
Youth Desert Encounter

Youth Desert Encounter

During the week before Easter, I had the opportunity to go on one of Musalaha’s Youth Desert Encounters. Israeli Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christian youth go into the desert for several days for an experience they will likely never forget. Here are some pictures from the journey:

The men proudly joined forces to move a very heavy table.

The Israeli girls talked on one side of the camp…

As the Palestinian girls hung out at the table with Judy. It made it difficult that several of them didn’t speak much English.

Our hike ended right near the Red Sea, and we had the opportunity to visit Eilat briefly. 

At the camp in the desert, a scenic location for our meetings.

I love camels.

An Israeli girl and one of the Palestinian guys. One of Musalaha’s ways of encouraging relationship-building is to put the kids together in uncomfortable situations, so they learn to work together:-). This is fun AND uncomfortable!

I finally rode a camel. So much fun!

I admit, the scenery made me feel a little bit like I was in a movie.

Everyone hanging out in the desert.

By the end of the trip the kids had built some good friendships. Here is a Palestinian girl with two of the Israelis.

I loved seeing the kids get to know each other during the trip, and am hopeful that these experiences will influence their perspectives for years to come.

Too Much Adventuring, Too Little Blogging

Too Much Adventuring, Too Little Blogging

This has been a busy month. Between things heating up at work, me starting to have things to do almost every night with friends (what a blessing they are!), a few special trips, and some illness, I have done a very poor job of blogging. But here is a “catch-up” post with lots of pictures. If you don’t hear from me at least weekly from here on out please send me an email like wonderful father did yesterday: “Hey, I just noticed that you are not doing a good job with your blog. Time to get with it!!” Thank you Pops:-)!
Stars and Bucks in Bethlehem. Definitely enough of a “green circle of pleasure” to make me smile when I see it, and it serves one of my favorite things: fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice! There are many benefits to living in the Middle East and the fruit is at the top of my list of those things.

My boyfriend, Kagiso, was able to get a visa to come visit me here at the end of February. We traveled around the country during his four-day visit.

This is me floating in the Dead Sea. It is very cool, but I think the water is one of the grossest things I have ever tasted! (No, I didn’t drink it intentionally. I think a little splashed on my lip. YUCK!)
Kagiso on the sea of Galilee. It was cool to be at a place we read so much about in the gospels.

Hanging out with friends and eating a wonderful traditional Palestinian barbecue lunch. These guys have made life here so much fun!

My roommate, Judith, walking in the hills near Jerusalem. This was at the beginning of March and I hope gives you a taste of the beauty and diversity of this country.

Setting out on a trek through the desert near Jericho with good friends.

After our hike we rode on a cable car up the Mountain of Temptation. It was amazing to spend the day in the place where Jesus had done his fast and been tempted by Satan. I have new respect for how difficult it would have been to not turn the loaf into bread… we were sooo hungry and tired after our one-day hike!

After the recent bombing in Jerusalem I was concerned that getting through the checkpoint would be much more difficult. Thankfully, the day of the bomb was the only time we noticed a difference at all. I’m thanking God that for us here it hasn’t caused the problems I feared it would. Please continue to pray for real peace here, and that people would not turn to terrorism. I have many thoughts on this, but will post them another time.

Friends and I went to an event at the Intercontinental Hotel (which is amazing) in Bethlehem. It was my first stand-up comedy performance to see live, and had a great time.

Believe it or not, two days from now will mark three months in The Land. I needed to leave the country for a new visa, and spent a week in Bradford. God is providing some possibilities for my time after being here, and I’ll need to write about them later as well. This picture was taken in a paddle-boat on the pond in Lister Park on a gorgeous spring day.