Friday, February 3, 2012

Israel and Palestine

This post could be sooooo long, but I'll keep it short and sweet :) I was so grateful to be able to take a trip to Israel and Palestine and I feel that I learned more in those few days than I would have in an entire masters course. We spent a lot of our time with the people of both Irsraeli and Palestine, learning their stories, and understanding the conflict.

I took lots of photos of the places we went, but I wish I could photograph the people, stories, hearts, joy and grief that we encountered, because that's the part of the journey I fell in love with. We got to meet with Palestinian pastors, Jewish Rabbis, Palestinian farmers, Israeli human rights activists, Israeli government officials and a lot of other Israeli and Palestinian 'every-day' people.

However, photos of places will have to do :)...enjoy

One of our first looks at the wall, with some Banksy art. Our first hotel in Bethlehem, and the wonderful, wonderful food.

Shepherd's Fields (where the shepherds saw the Angel and heard the good news) and a look at the caves where the dead sea scrolls were found

The dead sea. We all got in so we could float!!! It was awesome :)

A view of the Jordan Valley from the Mount of Temptations, and one of the markets with all the yummy fruits they grow there.

The first two photos are examples of what I learned about, in terms of the conflict.
In the road photo: there is an Israeli road to the left, and an Israeli made Palestinian road to the right.
In the view photo: to the left is a Israeli settlement in the West Bank, and to the far right is what used to be Greg's families land (they are unable to access that land now).
The home is our leader Greg's families home that was built close to the time of Jesus. Greg's father was born in the one-room house and we were able to go in. It gave me a real picture of what is was like to live in the time of Jesus.
The last photo is Solomon's pools

A first look at the church of the Nativity and Stars & Bucks cafe :)
The lower photos are view from a farm in the West Bank that we went to. It was one of my favorite days from the trip for two reasons.
1. I love nature. Sometimes I feel so trapped by the city, and wish that I lived in a place with land, and fresh air. I would love to work hard in the day planting trees, working with the land, and enjoying all that this beautiful earth has to offer us. We got to plant olive trees on this farm and I loved every minute of it. I loved that the air was crisp and clean, I loved that the view forced me to stop and stare, I loved that the only thing we would hear is the sound of the horse in the background, and I loved getting dirty and sleeping well that night. Trever doesn't believe me, but I think I could be happy being a farmer.
2. The man who owns this farm was one of the most vivid pictures of the gospel I have ever encountered. He is a Palestinian Christian and has experienced many injustices from the Israeli people, however he has chosen to respond only with Peace.

A detailed look at the church of the Nativity. It's where they believe Jesus was born. It was a beautiful place, however a bit difficult to connect to the reality of that story when is looks so different from it's original form.

Some views of the Old City of Jerusalem

The Garden of Gethsemane

A bit of the Old City and the Western Wall.

The church of the Holy Sepulchre (tomb), where they believe Jesus was Crucified, buried and resurrected.

The Garden tomb, the second potential place of the crucifixion. You can see the hill where he would have been crucified, and the tomb where we would have been laid. Whether or not this was the location, I loved going there because it gave me a picture of what it looked like. I was able to connect with the story at this place.

Some more food pictures :)..YUUMMMMMM
The Mediterranean sea and an ancient aqueduct. Plus my roommate Christina... :)

Jacob's Well

These photos are hard to put into words.
The first one is a photo of a refugee camp called Balata. It has close to 30,000 people in one square kilometer. There are significant amounts of poverty, greif, violence, sadness, and wonderful people in this place. Because they can't build out they just build up. In the entire kilometer there are no streets or sidewalks, just a 2 foot wide alley in between each building. I had a very profound sense of grief when walking through this refugee camp. A sadness for what they have done, what they have been through, and what has been done to them.
Across the street was Jacob's well. It's the place where Jesus went into enemy territory (samaria) and spoke with the women at the well. She was the first one that Jesus gave the news to.
The juxtaposition in between those places was loud and clear. We had spent so much of our trip understanding full stories from the Palestinians and the Israelis, and i had been wrestling with my conclusion. I think it was here that I came to one.

The beautiful city of Haifa

The synangogue at Capernaum where Jesus taught and a beautifully simple church we had the pleasure of visiting. The church is used to minister and care for Palestinian ex-convicts. They were the first ministry like this in the area, there are now 12, however this is still the only one that cares for Palestinians. The man who runs this mission has a real heart of GOLD!!

The Sea of Galilee, it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.

A view from the Mount of Beatitudes. Maybe one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen. Our pastor Steve read the sermon on the mount while we were standing there and it was a very powerful moment for me.


The church of the Holy Family
So we're back now, and the journey has only just begun. Our team is working through what we want to do, to play a part in this story.
It was great to see the Holy sites and remember the story of our faith. I have found a much deeper connection when reading the scriptures and it has come alive in a new way.

However, my favorite part was spending time with the living stones is Israel/Palestine. The people of this land were amazing and I hope to partner with many of them in the future.

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