Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jerusalem to Bethlehem

I am recapping yesterday’s events, Wednesday, April 17.  It is 8: AM, Thursday, already “home” from our first check point duty 4: AM to 6:30 AM.  I will tell you more about that later.

Wednesday was filled with excitement because it was the day we were to go from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.  In the morning, we were briefed on important security and cultural issues. 

Receiving my EAPPI vest was a very emotional event for me.  This vest is our identity while here.  Yes, I have on three layers and was still cold 62 degrees and the wind made it feel like Michigan.

From our hotel to catch Bus # 24 for Bethlehem was about a six-block walk.  I was glad Steve, EA from team 47 offered to wheel my large suitcase. 

Even with this vest on, we, like the Palestinians, have no rights.  We are under military law.  This became very evident on our ride on bus #24 to Bethlehem.  Armed military came through the bus and checked everyone’s ID.  There was a noticeable change in atmosphere, as tension filled the air.  No one was taken off the bus, but one person who had been waiting for the bus was not allowed on.  I am glad Steve, from team 47, was on the bus when this happened to us, he talked us through the incident.  The Palestinians deal with many different enforcers. 

The bus stopped at the wall; from there we walked through the wall and into Bethlehem.  There are no security checks coming into West bank. 

Another six block walk and after climbing a steep hill, we arrived at the beautiful front yard of our new “home.”

Team 47 our hosts and trainers are from four different countries.  They are Jenny and Rachel from Ireland, Anne from Germany, and Steve from Canada.  

There had been another team member, Merta from Finland.  For some reason, unknown to her, she had been given only a two week visa at the airport when she arrived.  During here first two weeks here she applied for an extension.  She was not given an extension at that time, but was given an appointment for a hearing in a month and half.  At the hearing, even though there would have been only three weeks left for her to complete the program, her visa was denied.  She was given only one week to get out of the Country.  No explanation for the denial was given.   

On a personal note, I now have more cats now than my sister, Molly, does.  The our house has a cat, Cleokata.  Five Kittens arrived not long ago.  Cleokata comes up from the field for food, but has not brought the kittens with her yet.  She allows us to look at them from over the fence.

Team 47 provided a wonderful candlelight dinner for us

This entry is really all about Wednesday.  It is now Thursday 9:42 PM.  I have been on the walk since 4: AM.  I have decided to tell you all about Thursday in another entry that I hope to create in the morning, Friday.  Our first event is at 9:30 AM Friday morning instead of 4: AM as it was today. 

When you see the post about all I did today,  you will wonder how I even had the energy to push send for this one.

Your prayers are needed and appreciated.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tour in Jerusalem

The team was led on a Tour through Jerusalem by George, one of two current EA's from USA.  He has Jerusalem as his placement and has been here almost three months.

We went to places that we will need to know about, such as the bus stops, post office and police station. 
We were in West Jerusalem and today was one of Israel's national holiday; the 65th anniversary of the beginning of the country.       
 Below you can see that the streets are in three languages.  

George did let us tour the old city.

We were on tour, not shopping.
The Pyramid is made out of spices at this shop

To get a visual and audio feel of the old city play the video below.

Pray for Peace in Jerusalem!

Nelda's Service in Mission

Nelda and I met at the cross-cultural training for the Individual Volunteer in Missions of the General Board of Global Ministries.  It was held June, 2012, in Louisiana at a United Methodist Retreat Center.  Nelda is standing right front wearing the stripe top. 

The program I am now serving through suggested having “go to” person in the states.  It is an answer to all your prayers and very clear to me that it is at God’s direction that Nelda is filling this important position. 

During my preparation period, Nelda sent many emails of encouragement and prayers.  Below is her email prayer sent to me in Washington DC.

I want to pray (again) with you this morning. This time, let's pray and agree for your safety of travel!

Lord Jesus, Randie and I come before Your presence in prayer again this morning to pray for the safety of her travel.  Lord, we pray for each and every step in this long journey.  Lord we ask for "traveling mercies." Lord, we pray that each vehicle, which transports Randie, will be of Your choosing.  Lord, we ask that Randie be delivered from any and all things and all people that would hurt or harm her in any way.  Lord, may there be no setbacks, no delays unless You send them in order to protect Randie from being in danger.  Lord, on the planes, may Your protection and safely and Your comfort and rest provide Randie a safe and pleasant transport.  Lord, bring people across Randie's path that You send. Keep her from evil in any form: germs, contagion of any kind, injury, mishaps. Lord, cover Randie's bags and belongings. Send these personal items with her so that she will have and possess the physical things she has so carefully chosen.  Lord, give Randie Your favor. Lead her into the company of people who can and will help her. Lord, may Randie see and feel Your miracle working power as each step unfolds according to Your plan. Lord deliver Randie from evil.  May she accomplish all You are sending her there to do. We pray in the mighty power of Jesus Christ, our Lord!

I sent an email back, with a huge “Amen” in my heart!

A Special Weekend

It was a joy to have my son and his wife, Ed and Gale, visit for the weekend before I left for Jerusalem. We attended a departing dinner and the send-off service at church.

Ed and Gale are on my right.  Pam directly behind provided a wonderful Departing Diner.  Other friends in this photo are John, left, and Bernie, in back.

Of course when Ed and Gale visit, they bring my grand-dogs, Solo and Cory.  They have been with us for about nine years, but I cannot tell you which is which.  The is our Christmas portrait from 2012.

The joy of friends and family is a pleasure I am taking with me on my journey.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Very Special Part of a Wonderful Weekend

Randie’s journey into mission has been a signal event in the life of our congregation.  She has helped us become more aware of the world and it’s needs, has involved us in her learning, invited us to share in supporting her, and inspired us to live more fully in God’s way.  We wanted her to feel our love and support as she sets out into this exciting and unknown future.  A send out ritual was a way for us to do that.  It expressed our desire to walk with her in spirit as she goes. 

The ritual began with anointing. I anointed Randie’s hands with oil making the sign of the cross.  I recalled the nameless woman in Mark 14:3-9 who anointed Jesus and challenged her to go and do as she did being extravagant in her caring.  Then I anointed her forehead in the name of the Christ, whose body she and all of us are, challenging her to go and do as he did; being infinite in his ability to give and receive compassion.

After the anointing the congregation gathered around her as she knelt and we laid hands on her as I sang the following blessing adapted from a song by Debbie Freidman called “L’chi Lach”:

L'chi lach, to a land that I will show you
Leich l'cha, to a place you do not know
L'chi lach, on your journey I will bless you
And you shall be a blessing, 
You shall be a blessing, 
You shall be a blessing l'chi lach.

L'chi lach, on your journey we'll go with you.
Leich l'cha, and our prayers will pave your way.
L'chi lach, may you feel our love surround you.
And you shall be a blessing, 
You shall be a blessing, 
You shall be a blessing l'chi lach.

We love you Randie!  Go with God. 

Dianne Doten Morrison
Pastor, Christ United Methodist Church