Friday, July 6, 2007

Past the Half-Way Mark

Greetings from hot and hotter Bethlehem, where Jesus was born under military occupation and were now 60,000 Palestinians live, again under military occupation, though this time now Roman, but Israeli.

It really has been a sultery last couple of weeks, for both the wheather outside and as far the wheather of people's souls. Gaza has been a nightmare and things in the West Bank have been difficult as well. Daily there is news of deaths, of military operations, of suffering. As typical for the summer, Israel has cut the water in the camp for the last 10 days or so. Some have gone without a shower for the 10 days. One of the bright spots (though really just bitter sweet) was the release of another guy from prison. He is the brother of one of my good friends in the camp and is well loved and respected here. The party for him was especially big and a great release for the camp. We all piled into cars, loaded with flags and with the horns blaring, to welcome his taxi as it came into Bethlehem. He is 26 and was in prison for 2 1/2 years, reportedly because he is an artist and was doing art in protest of the occupation for different political parties.

Personally I am doing well, though there are many times when I count down the days util I will be home and in an environment where I can communicate easily and where the expecations for what i am to do are clear. This last week, for example, I made several cultural blunders that got a couple people somewhat angry at me.

Arabic is going well. I am feeling quite pleased with myself at the moment. I am able to keep a conversation going on a variety of basic topics and can answer most basic questions about myself.

Last week I visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum. So much suffering experienced by the Jewish people that continues to this day for both Palestinians and Jews alike. Each side's suffering easily becomes an excuse to inflict suffering on the other sides. One's suffering makes one blind to the suffering of others. Lord have mercy on this region that seems so hopeless and messed up. When visiting the museaum I was able to meet, by chance, an American-Israeli-Jew (who lives in the Old City of Jerusalem!) and am now hopefully going to be able to meet with him this next week to get his perspective on everything. Please pray that this works out and that this serve as a door to more connections with Israelis.

Tommorow I am travelling with my group to visit Nablus, Tulkarm and Qalquiyam, cities that have seen the worst suffering in the West Bank. It should be eye opening experience.

I have 5 more weeks left here. Thanks for your prayers and emails.

(I added some new pictures to http://picasaweb.google.com/independenceonhim/Palestine)

1 comment:

Judy Gunn said...

Hi, Jonathan! GREAT to read about your time in Palestine and also see some pictures! We are anxious to hear all about what God is doing in your life through this time.
Praying for you.
Judy
Panama