Thursday, January 31, 2008

men of snow.

It snowed in Beit Sahour today.

Apparently, Raneen had never seen snow fall in Beit Sahour before. She could not wait to drag us outside to make a snowman and have a snowball fight. So, we bundled up and attempted to make a snowman with an inch or two of snow. We used a tree to support the body. The scant amount of snow meant our “snow”man was half dirt. But Raneen wanted him to be white. We tried our best in the muddy olive grove.

We used olive tree branches for the mouth and hair. Upon their placement, Raneen exclaims, “He says, ‘Peace for Palestine! Freedom for Palestine; go away, Israel.’ Why does Palestine not have freedom? All other countries do – Israel, Egypt, Jordan...”

I never suspected making a snowman would become so political.

Monday, January 28, 2008


(View from our window at morning, Beit Sahour)

Just when I’m beginning to think that the days cannot possibly get any more packed, the next day comes. Not just comes, though; it marches in and tramples the following day.

We wake up this morning and raise the shades to a beautiful grove of olives, oranges, lemons, and tangerine trees. Incredible - this house, this family. Nagwa serves us tea with mint, eggs, pita, and the most delicious fig and apricot jam you’ll ever taste.

Our day begins with storytelling at ATG. Kelly Smucker was locked in a bathroom while her mother sang, “The Wheels on the Bus” to comfort her as they knocked down the door. It’s amazing to hear the stories already pouring out of the families. Incredible hardships. My own host family has deep pain. Nagwa and her husband were married in ’68. She and her husband left Kuwait in ’67 so that he could manage his women’s clothing factory. He left due to the Gulf War. They had 3 girls, and Awad was about 5 years old. So they re-entered Palestine. They lost everything in Kuwait, Awad says.

Sagee is Awad’s close friend from childhood. He has a great fervor for life, talking, and singing along with Lebanese pop singer Elissa. He was born in Syria, and he now lives in Palestine illegally. His papers/visa expired, and he has no ID. So basically, he is quarantined in Bethlehem. He wants out so much. I can’t even fathom living in a restricted area. I am privileged to move about nearly everywhere – the States, South America, EMU, and oh, yes, the Middle East. How is it that I have all the freedom in the world and do not use it or even ask for it… and a young Palestinian yearns and longs for it, asks for it, but cannot even touch it for himself?

Seeing that massive wall – 5 people high – humbles me. I want to injure the wall in some way to make it crumble. We were not meant to live behind fences or walls, of that I am sure. Even as a child, I could not understand my neighbors with fences. Fences meant less room for us to play. It made the neighbors seem haughty, snobby, and unfriendly - like they wanted us to go away. All fences seemed good for was to keep a dog in or to use the fencepost as our soccer goal.

(the wall, Israeli side, Bethlehem)

Monday, January 7, 2008


Our first day of Orientation was TODAY! All of us were kinda jumping around; we're only slightly excited. :)

Lindford opened up by reading "Oh, the Places You Will Go" and playing a beautiful song, although I don't remember all the lyrics or the name of the guy who wrote it.

Linford talked about making "home" wherever you are in the moment. In all honesty, he noted, you cannot fully live and grasp every opportunity with vigor in one place if your mind is somewhere else. Being in school has already warmed me up to the elusive "home". When I am in Harrisonburg, I long to be "home" in West Chester with my family. But when I'm in West Chester, another part longs to be "home" at EMU. But if all attachment is found apart from current experience, it cripples ability to embrace with both arms the excitement, challenge, and growth right in front of me.

I'm exhausted, excited, intrigued, giddy, and anxious all at once. This trip will be incredible, and I'm excited to share what I can along the journey. :)