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!