I am Praising God
for Allowing Me to Serve with EAPPI
In a prior post see the information about the church I visited and the activities with the organization working out of Beit Jala.
Checkpoint monitoring continues five days a week. My heart is extremely sad viewing the way people are treated. This barrier to access adds hours of standing in line to the lives of those Palestinians who have “clean records” and have a work permit to Jerusalem. Prior to the wall, what would have been a commute to work of less than half an hour now turns into waiting in long lines with thousands needing to go through the turnstile, go through a metal detector and be processed through an ID booth where they are required to present their ID and have their fingerprints verified electronically.
If an issue comes up, the Palestinians are required to try to deal with whatever it is through a soldier who does not speak the same language and has his/her finger on the trigger of an assault rifle. The Palestinians are eager to get across to the buses so they can go to work, yet often these interactions do not result in an understanding of the issues.
The Palestinian's faith, steadfastness and hope are amazing. Having the hassles of the checkpoint, a wait of over an hour with the humility of taking off belt, shoes, anything else that causes the metal detector to buzz, and being monitored biologically through electronic fingerprints when out of the check point building, they kneel on the hard sidewalk and say their morning prayers. This picture of prayers at the checkpoint will be forever in my mind even though I cannot share it with you because my freedom to take pictures is limited.
We have a God who sees and answers prayers!!!
Taxi DriversOur taxi drivers are like family. Their knowledge and dedication to EAPPI and the work we do allows us to feel VERY safe.
This week the two that do most of our driving took our team out to an authentic Palestinian meal.
Part of what EAPPI does is serve those from refugee camps that are undeserved. This week we visited Al ‘Aza Camp. If you Google this name, you will see a profile of the camp. Our service in this camp started this week with a meeting facilitated by our Arabic speaking EAPPI field assistant. We met with members of the camp council. They are our contact as we finalizing plans to work with residents.
In 2006, this camp received money to build a center for meeting. It is a small building, but six floors tall. Because their land is limited, they have to build up, not out. It is the only way these people get to see Jerusalem, visible from their tall vantage point. They also see the settlements, cities on a hill, illegal under international law.
Access to Education
Access to education is another of our tasks. At several schools, the students have to walk pass soldiers and guns. We have set our schedule to be an active presence at locations where student are required to pass guns. For the next 15 days, the students are on a changed schedule because of exams. We will be producing a handover report so that the next team that comes in the fall will know their usual schedules and will continue to provide a protective presence.
I had a chance to "smell the flowers" enjoying nature, even a turtle, while waiting for the children.
Demonstrations this week were in commemoration of the 1948 Catastrophe (Nakba) when over 800,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes. They lost all they had. The right of return granted under international law has been denied.
Even though I thought I had a place of safety behind the emergency workers, tear gas bombs landed within feet of me on either side and one of the emergency workers was hit in the head by a stone.
Friday's Nonviolent Demonstration remained nonviolent!
This mother used the nonviolent demonstration to call attention to her son who has been poisoned form many years. She is allowed to see him only once every 15 days for 45 minutes according to our taxi driver.
The faithful still pray, even though classified as nonviolent terrorists. This week at the mass, there were four tour buses of pilgrims. How encouraged it must be for our brothers and sisters in Christ to see pilgrims from other parts of the world come and pray with them for a Just Peace.
sAn unusual incident occurred at the wall prayer. The tour bus unloaded about a block from the location for the wall prayers. As all these pilgrims walked toward prayers, the metal gated slid shut. We can only guess that Israeli soldiers thought perhaps this was a demonstration forming and these prayers were going to try to “storm into Israel.” I had never seen this gate close during the day before. It reopened after the prayers moved on down to the place where prayers were to start.