Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Busy Week May 12-18

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 

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 Drivers

Our 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.

Refugee Camps

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.

 EAPPI stands in support only at nonviolent protests and when violence occurs  we leave.  I am VERY glad for this EAPPI policy.

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.    

Pray for a JUST peace For Palestine and Israel

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Father Abraham

EAPPI Standing in Solidarity with Church Related Organizations/Projects

Abraham’s Herberge, Abraham’s House of Hospitality and Abraham’s Tent

These projects were originally established by the Lutheran Church Beit Jala.  The desires were for contacts, coordination, and cooperation with other places and establishments in Palestine and Israel, e.g., parishes and congregations of other Christian confessions as well as mosques in Beit Jala and its immediate surroundings.  Being place where people can meet and join in their common peace work founded on the three Abrahamic religions.

The Abraham’s Herberge 

Abraham's Herberge operates as a hotel and hostel. 

Abraham’s House of Hospitality 

This was started because of a vision of the pastor Jadalla Shihadeh,.  It included an orphanage for 150 boys housed on the church’s premises.  Due to budget changes, most of the boys now live in the community and their placement and oversight is coordinated through the Lutheran Synod.

Abraham’s Tent

This was a project created to provide a space for all faiths, all faiths of Abraham’s children.  It started in a tent at Al Dueisheh Refugee Camp, then moved to other towns.  Below is a picture of a picture to show how it was previously.

Now, it is no longer housed in a tent, rather in a nice building, in the village of Obidya.  The view from their patio was breath taking.

One Hundred twenty village children eat at Abraham's Tent each day, but because of funding, they can  eat here only every third day.  Teachers are hired to help youth with homework in their after school program. 

Abraham’s Tent teaches peace, understanding and compassion.  In the summer they have a whole week of special activities.  For example, they will visit children with cancer in the hospital, and go on education field trips. A picture of a picture of a previous summer's group.

We had lunch with the children and Abraham’s Tent Dabka (dance) team entertained.  Abraham’s Tent has provided opportunities for most of these dancers to go to Germany and entertained there.  

I have a video of their dancing, we will watch it together when I get home.  It would not load into this blog.

Abraham’s Tent is no longer funded by the church, but depends totally on donor money. 

Pray for a JUST Peace in the Middle East

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Beit Jala Lutheran Church

EAPPI Standing in Solidarity with Local Churches

Beit Jala Lutheran Church

EAPPI visits as many local churches as possible during each team’s time in Bethlehem.  This past Sunday we visited the Beit Jala Lutheran church.  It is the largest congregation locally with about 600 parishioners.  They gave us a warm welcome in their beautiful church.

The service conducted in Arabic, some of the hymns were recognizable from the music.  Yes I sang along in English, but not loud enough to be a disturbance.

Even with a language difference  the Spirit of worship is a blessing.

During the communion part of the service, we stood together in a circle.  Then the elements were brought to each of us.  It was a wonderful community feeling.

Pray with this Church in Beit Jala for JUST Peace!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Village of Wadi Fukin

EAPPI Standing in Solidarity with Local Villages

Wadi Fukin

I had the privilege of visiting Wadi Fukin with the United Methodist Liaisons to Palestine and Israel, Janet Lahr Lewis and Rev. Kristen Brown.  Also with me was the EAPPI Field Assistant, Yamen. 

The GBGM has chosen Wadi Fukin (Foquin) as a community development project.  The next three paragraphs below explain the project.


The Palestinian village of Wadi Fukin is located near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. The valley (wadi) is squeezed between the Green Line/border with Israel on one side and the illegal Jewish settlement of Bitar Illit on the other. There is only one road in or out of the village which can be closed by Israeli soldiers (or militant settlers) at any time, cutting off the villagers' access to Bethlehem, the main market for their produce. Alternatives for income generation for the residents is essential. Training in new areas is needed that will assist people in finding new avenues for employment other than agricultural. It is also an opportunity to help people understand what it means to be a Christian in this entirely Muslim village.

Goals & Objectives

a) To provide training for women for three years in basic business management and assist them in establishing income-generating projects to help support their families
b) To provide training for young adults, especially males, that will enable them to find employment and/or have an income to support their families.(On going)
b) To provide salary support for three years for program coordinators
c) To provide funding for three years for renovations and rental/purchase of abandoned building for establishment of Community Center in which to have programming.

Activities Plan

a) Assist women in training and developing of a shop where they can sell their needlework, spices and baked goods to locals and internationals.
b) Provide instruction in learning Hebrew to enable young men to find employment with Israeli companies.
c) Hire local professionals to train women in basic first aid since there is no clinic in the village.
d) Continue to encourage VIM teams to help in repair of Community Center so that programs can be held.

Donations are Needed

You may make donations for this project at  When made through this web site, 100 percent of the money goes to the project.  The project’s advance number is 3021565.

Current Developments

The community has built a wonderful park for their families to enjoy.

This community, with some help from the Israeli town directly west of them, is in the process of requesting that this community be declared a UNESCO site.  UNESCO’s aim is to contribute to the building of peace, eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture community and information.  A group, Friends of the Earth, is partners with the village in obtaining this designation.  The hope is it will help preserve the village and its agricultural ways.

While this settlement (a city of 60,000) was being built, the construction derbies were dumped onto the olive orchard, burying  part and causing the need for a new road.

During our visit, we heard of ongoing issues, the settlement releases their sewage onto the land of these farmers, causing much damage to their products and fields.

A climb up this hill revealed the unbelievable truth, sewage from settlement on top of hill being sent down to villager's fields.

Two weeks ago, 20 soldiers pulled an individual from his home in the middle of the night to sign some papers.  This intimidation technique is an example of the human right violations that villagers suffer.  The soldiers have this individual’s cell phone number and could have called him during the day and he would have been glad to come and sign the paper.  Instead, the whole village was traumatized. 

Demolition orders were received because a villager added a shed to his home.  The demolition order is for his entire house, not just the shed

One of the homes has been the target of stone throwing by the settlers.

An additional problem is occurring when armed “settlers” come down to the villager’s private land and swim in the farmer’s irrigation pools.  They destroy crops and splash out precious water in the process. They are armed.  The ones I saw during my visit appear to be in their late teens and young 20’s.  Most offensive is their nudity and near nudity.  This is an offence to the religious understandings of the villagers.

For More Infirmation:

For more information or updates on Wadi Foquin go to (sign the petition!) or (violations listed)

Pray for a JUST peace in the Middle East