Monday, June 27, 2011

West Jerusalem

I had the opportunity to go to into downtown West Jerusalem last week with Ronit, Judith, and Kagi, and had a wonderful time. We had excellent, affordable sushi in a place with a great atmosphere, visited some quirky and nice shops, and enjoyed walking around and seeing the city. There is a really fun quality to a place like Israel where people come from all over the world and bring some of the best things their cultures have to offer.
Kagi, Judith, and Ronit

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Girls Night

Last week, a group of friends and I went to "Arab Ladies' Night" in Bethlehem. It was a fantastic time sitting around a big table eating excellent Arabic food, laughing with friends, and overlooking the beautiful city as the moon shone in the sky from a very traditional looking restaurant.

It is rare for us to get dressed up, but it seemed a ladies night, with no men around, would be a good time to get looking pretty and wear a little bit less conservative outfits. Culturally, it is acceptable for people to stare and as a woman it's best not to stand out. I realized that this is generally the opposite of what we'd do at home -- why get dressed up if you're just hanging out with your girl friends?

The funny thing was, we didn't calculate well. After getting all souped up, we still had to get to the restaurant, and met on a big street. As we should have anticipated, we got more attention than we wanted. Live and learn...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hand Signals

I had a funny, classic cultural misunderstanding moment on Saturday.

I was with a group in a cafe, and a few of us ordered coffee. The waiter came out with our coffees, trying to figure out who had ordered them. We pointed to the coffee drinkers, and he had one left. Everyone pointed to me, and I raised my hand. He looked at me, and then kept looking for the person for the coffee.

Then they pointed more and told him it was for me. Again, I raised my hand so he could identify me. He turned from me and looked for someone else.
Coffee bought on
the street and in
cafes like the one we
 were in come in little
cups like this one.

This literally happened four times. He'd come toward me, I'd raise my hand and he'd back away, looking terribly confused and a little bit distraught. I considered the possibility that he was refusing to serve me for some reason.

Finally, as everyone was pointing to me and loudly telling him to give me the coffee, a friend realized what was going on and told me that the way I raised my hand meant "no."

You would think I'd know this by now -- I have been here for over five months, after all! Finally I stopped raising my hand and the poor guy could give me the coffee. Lesson learned.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cars are Bouncy

During my recent walk, I was thinking about how we have an incorrect perception in the States that cars are easily breakable and should avoid brushing up against things. If we mis-estimate a distance we feel pretty bad. If our cars get a little character (scratch) we get upset.

Drivers here bounce cars and trucks off of lots of things --walls, buildings, concrete blocks, parked cars, and sometimes even low roofs of buildings. It happens all the time, and I witness it regularly.

So if you are in doubt about a distance between your car and something, maybe just give it a try. Probably the worst that'll happen is that you'll bounce -- and really, who doesn't like doing that?

Note: Jenni, guardian of my car, this post is not relevant for you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Divine Appointments

Kagi will be here in The Land for the next three weeks. He is working in Pharmacy at a hospital in the West Bank while I continue my work with Musalaha. This is very exciting for me, as you might imagine!

In order to make his stay possible, we prayed that God would open the doors for a visa, a pharmacy placement, an inexpensive place for him to live, and affordable plane tickets. Last week He provided all of these things! Kagi arrived on Saturday early morning and a friend even let me borrow a car to pick him up in Tel Aviv.

Sunday, we had a really nice day. We went to church in Beit Jala and then took a bus to Jerusalem, and had a wonderful time walking around, doing some shopping in a very western part of the city, and etc. First, though, we went for lunch in the old city.

Through a variety of circumstances, we ended up meeting a lovely guy who has a jewelry shop right near the Jaffa gate. He helped us find a place for lunch and then we visited him in his shop for a little while.

Today I am thinking about the privilege it is to meet strangers who quickly become friends. This Muslim gentleman's daughter will soon get married, but the joy of that occasion is mixed with sorrow due to a recent family tragedy. He openly shared what they are going through and graciously accepted our offer to pray for him.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

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 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.