Saturday, December 20, 2014

Reflecting Praising Grieving

Reflection on being Part of the Methodist Community Palestine Israel

Comfort is found in being in community; I leave the comfort of my local congregation when I travel as an Individual Volunteer in Mission. 

Here in Palestine Israel there is a temporary Methodist community.  Rev. Kristen Brown, Liaison at the Methodist Office Jerusalem uses her gifts to nurture community for Methodists who travel and serve here

Serving here, we have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or fields in order to do ministry.  Praise God with me that in this temporary community we receive from each other part of the hundred-fold promise of God.  We create for each other the soil where we can grow and blossom. 
In community, we remove the plank in our own eyes as we are able to see ourselves.  In community, we are working on the specks, healing each other.  Acknowledging our brokenness we do not judge each other, but, stand together in the light of God’s Grace and Mercy, reflecting that Grace and Mercy to each other.  

Reflecting on Added Blessings, House of Hope

As some of you know, I stayed at the guesthouse of House of Hope for two months earlier this year.  It was my joy to be able to return and share devotions with the residents, blind and special needs students.

During this week, my last week here, I was able to attend a fundraiser for House of Hope.  They are in desperate need!  More information may be found on their web site,  

The winner of the Palestinian Idol was the entertainment for the evening. 

The House of Hope residents were invited up to sing and danced along.
Jaffa, a blind resident, was given the microphone and led us in couple of Christmas songs.  

Everyone enjoyed the music, students, and the privilege of helping the House of Hope.

Experiencing Beit Jala

Beit Jala, the village where Hope School is located, has St Nicholas as their patron saint.  The boarders from the school, their house father and I walked down for the Lighting of the Christmas tree.

 Sorry, the video of the countdown and lighting of the Christmas tree would not load.  Maybe we can watch it together during one of my presentations.

Again the next morning we went down for the Saint Nicholas Festival.  

Some of God's treasures from Hope School
 Seeing all these Palestinian Christians celebrating their special day was a joy!

Reflection on Interacting at Hope Secondary School

I hope you have stayed current with my blog,  Further information and photos of some of the things I did can be found on Hope School's web and their Facebook page, Hope Secondary School.

Seeing the administration and staff striving to educate the most vulnerable of Palestinian children is joy to my heart.  Professional development for the staff is an ongoing contributing to Hope Secondary School’s success.  Much of my time was working in the development office also being a part of English enrichment was a delight. 

The students are given opportunities and experiences that will add to their ability to thrive.  Along with their class work, students have access to computers.  During the time I was here, they attended a science fair, went an environmental learning field trip and enjoyed a day together at a park.  These are children of the occupation, I am so glad to see their enjoyment of these extras.

Special to my heart are the boarding students.  Eating meals together and exchanging vocabulary and a little conversation was a highlight.  After living with these 22 teenage boys, I am not sure I will be able to stand my quiet home.  I will miss their camaraderie. 

I have already started my leaving, grieving process!

While pondering the plight of these vulnerable children, I reread the scriptures that refer to children.  In Matthew 18:10 Jesus says, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones.  For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." 
God sees all the pain of children and through their angels; they have their own additional advocate with the Father.  

Hope School’s sponsorship program invites you to sponsor a student.  You can become an additional advocate as students face the many troubles of being a child of poverty and the occupation.  For sponsorship information, contact:

Praising God

I am completing the seventh month this year in what we call the Middle East, my heart is filled with thankfulness to God. I am praising God for the people and places in the memories of my 71st year on earth! 

May the Joy of Christmas Fill Your Hearts!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December Is A Busy Month Here Also

Jerusalem an Unexpected Journey

The roads lead to Jerusalem, especially when you pick up the bus # 21on the wrong side of the street.  In English I explained where I wanted to go in Bethlehem.  I heard and followed the Arabic, “Yella”.  It was a correct command, but bad advice if time and money is a consideration.  The bus did go to Bethlehem, but by way of Jerusalem.  It required me to catch a returning bus # 21 to Bethlehem including a second fee.  I rode for 1 hour and 15 minutes before heading down to Bethlehem on the other side of the road.  Travel time to enjoy the scenery,  contemplate and pray.


On December 1-4, I had the privilege attending an International Conference to celebrate Kairos Palestine’s fifth anniversary of launching the document, “A Moment of Truth.”  The title of the conference was, Life with Dignity.  2 Corinthians 4:8 was the Bible emphasis,
 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not despairing

It was a wonderful opportunity to learn, connect with people from my prior assignments here and make new friends.  There were many Methodists in attendance.   

The last event of the conference was a Palestinian dinner with entertainment, a Palestinian Dance group.

Bethlehem Tree Lighting Festival Manger Square

While I seldom go out alone after dark, I felt the Christmas Tree lighting on Manger Square in Bethlehem should be an exception.

Bus to Bethlehem

I caught the bus to Bethlehem, this time from the correct side of the road.  The street scene on the way created a Christmas atmosphere..

Walk to Manger Square

I joined up with Pat from MI.  Some of you might remember she presented her Ecumenical Accompaniment Experience at Christ UMC’s Middle East Peace Lenten Series in 2012.  The 20 minute walk to Manger Square added to the festive atmosphere.  It was evident that the event was to be well attended.

The Celebration

The festival included music, the lighting of the tree and fireworks!  The sign across the stage, “All I want for Christmas is Justice” expressed everyone’s desire for this Christmas Season!

We returned the following day to get more pictures without so many people in the way.

Sunday at Christmas Church and Beyond

This past Sunday I worship at the Christmas Lutheran Church near Manger Square.


It gave me an opportunity to hear Grace, a United Methodist Global Mission Fellow, sing in the choir.  There were several Methodists in attendance and we enjoyed our lunch together on Manger Square.

Grace and I had also connected in Mafraq, Jorden where we both served with the Syrian Refugees.
The United Methodist Global Mission Fellows is a 2 year mission opportunity for young adults ages 20-30. Young adults are invited to engage with the local communities, connect the church in mission, and grow in personal and social holiness. This program allows for transformation and leadership development to take place while addressing roots of social injustices with other young people from around the world.

Global Mission Fellow has 2 tracks: US-2 and International. Both track offer candidates the opportunity to be part of a cohort of other Global Mission Fellows. You will train and regroup with the same young adults throughout your 2 years of service, always have a support group to walk with you through your journey!  Please let family and friends in this age range know about this mission ministry program.

One of the stain glass windows at the Christmas Lutheran Church portrayed the Holy Refugee Family. May we all remember those around the world this Christmas season who share the refugee status.

Lunch at Manger Square

It was an added pleasure to have lunch at Manger Square, Palestinian food is so VERY good.

Hope School Exam Week

This is exam week at Hope School.  The students take these exams very seriously.  There is a lot of studying going on.  Education is highly valued here.  I like to think of their striving as nonviolent resistance to the current inhuman conditions experienced from the occupation.  The students and teachers show their steadfastness to live above their circumstances in Hope!. .

Christmas Decorations at Hope Secondary School

The Cave

The cave under the Christmas tree with the holy family displayed is a traditional Christmas decoration in Beit Jala.. 

The Decorators at Hope School

I was glad to be able to take photos of the students who helped with the decorations.  

What a blessing to be surrounded  by such kind teenagers

I had the privilege of serving these students with with English enrichment classes.

A Christmas Option

8th Annual Bethlehem Prayer Service
WHEN: Sat, Dec 20th at 10 am
WHERE: Washington National Cathedral in D.C. and Live Streaming Nationwide
Prayers, readings and hymns alternate between the two far-removed locations via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace. 

Living the Christmas Message

As Christians we stand shoulder to shoulder with all humanity, facing the Light and Glory of God and hearing with the shepherds,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 
Luke 2:14.

Be the Peace!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Across the Jordan and Return

Bethlehem Bible College's Shepherd Society Outreach

I had a special blessing being allowed to travel with an Outreach team from The Shepherd Society, Advance Project # 3020439.

On the journey to and from Mafraq, Jordan, we saw many interesting sights.  

There is even a Mc Donald's in Northern Israel.

Mafraq continues to expand due to the continued influx of Syrian Refugees.  The church is also expanding to better serve the refugees. The third floor new sanctuary is under construction.

This view is from the soon to be 4th floor community center.

The congregation and many internationals are serving the extreme needs of the refugees.

A special blessing for me was joining in the prayer meeting at Haifa's house with the women of the congregation

I went with others on distributions.
Needed household goods are provided to the Syrian refugees who have none.    

I was blessed to visit homes. What a joy it was to see the families respond to the visits, how wonderful that all but two of the outreach team spoke the same language.  Even without knowing what was said, I could see the joy, hear the laughter and sense the comfort the visits gave the refugees.

An American Thanksgiving

I accepted an invitation from Rev Alex and Brenda Awad's church for an American Thanksgiving Dinner.

There were several people there experiencing Thanksgiving Dinner and all the trimmings for the first time.

A congregation member, sitting at the table with me,  told the history of the first Thanksgiving.  His family roots go back to the Mayflower.

Desert, my favorite part of the meal!

Staying Busy at Hope Secondary School

English enrichment lessons with four students was FUN.  The students really work hard to improve their English.

We have received an unusual amount of rain.  Water came into the building from a door near my room and then into my room.

With the help of Mohammed and Mahmoud, we discovered that the drain on the deck was plugged.  With their help, we remedied the situation and cleaned up the mess.

It is starting to look like Christmas at Hope School.  

Today I had the privileged representing  Hope School at the Christmas Market in Old Town Jerusalem at the Lutheran Church.  We sold various hand made items on behalf of the school.  It was fun seeing the children enjoying their traditional skinny Santa.

If you are thinking of an alternative Christmas giving, please consider Hope Secondary School.  It is an Advance Project (number 12018A) through the General Board of Global Ministries, When donations are processed through this web site, 100% of the donation goes to the project and the donation is tax deductible.

Please Continue to Pray for a 

Just Peace in the Land of Christ's Birth!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Office, Classes and One on One Enrichment

Classes for 82 Secondary Students

It is a joy for me to serve at Hope Secondary School.  My days are very full.  Most days I serve in the development office, office work, my comfort zone.  

On some occasions I serve with students in the classrooms and as needed for special events.
At morning break time, the students rush out and go across the parking lot to the canteen.  They are served sandwiches and snacks daily.

It is still nice enough weather here for the students to sit in the garden enjoying their snacks.

After school each day, I am involved with students for individual English enrichment.

Olives Available Daily

A few weeks before I arrived, students were involved in the olive harvest on the campus.  I am enjoying all the olives available at meals and for nibbling.

Giving Tuesday

It was fun to watch this picture being taken.  Rev. Kristen Brown, the Methodist Liaison, took the photos of the Advance Projects and has posted them to the Methodist Liaison Facebook page.

Please consider a donation for the needs of these deserving students.  Donations can be sent to   The donations are tax deductible and 100% goes to the project.  Use the project number 12018A.

Your Opportunity to Serve at Hope School

 Please Pray for a Just Peace in the Middle East