Hello friends and family! Isabel writing once again 🙂 As we only have one full day left in Israel, I’m sure you are all getting anxious to have us home. Although the trip is slowly coming to an end, we are all enjoying each and every moment that we have left here in the Holy Land. God is continuously opening our hearts and minds to new things in this amazing place. The one thing that struck me in particular today was people. The word makes it sound so simple, but people are pretty much the most complex thing on God’s earth. This is something that He is really open my eyes to as I discover new types of people in His land.
The first time the idea of people hit me was when we met up with the Blamer family’s Palestinian friends. They are Palestinian Christians living in Bethlehem. We first met the head of the family, Abdullah, and later, his wife and children. Abdullah helps run a center, called Al Basma (the smile), for mentally disabled adults so that they can develop life skills, independence, and most importantly, a sense of hope. The work that Abdullah is doing in this place is one of the most inspiring stories ever. He has absolutely no obligation to these people, but the love and compassion he has for them makes him committed to his job. Later in the day, after visiting this center, we went to the home of Abdullah and his family. Here we were treated with a great amount of hospitality. The family is also very committed to the conflict that exists between Israel and the Palestinians. As Palestinians in the West Bank, they are majorly affected by the issues that take place in the country. Besides the fact that they are viewed as terrorists by outsiders, they are also kept in the West Bank by the separation wall and prevented from traveling to Jerusalem. Many times while we were at their home, they asked us to be praying for them as well as the country. As many know, Israel is in rough shape right now and they are in great need of peace. This isn’t necessarily something you fully understand until you meet people that it actually affects on a daily basis. I’d say that this conflict now holds a special place in all of our group members’ hearts because we have gained friends that are affected by it.
Later in the day our group encountered an intriguing and AMAZING situation. Our last stop for the day was the separation wall that lies between the West Bank and the rest of Israel. As we walked down the street that used to be the main road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, the owner of a tiny shop pulled us in and asked us if we wanted to hear her story. This woman’s story appeared on 60 Minutes a couple months ago. Now before I go any farther I want everyone to understand the location of this shop. It used to be located on one of the busiest streets in Israel. Now it is literally surrounded on three sides by the separation wall. This is something that is so difficult to put into words, but basically just imagine placing your own house between concrete walls that are about 26 feet high. There isn’t anybody on the planet that desires to live like this. This horrible situation has been completely forced upon them. This is something that most people only get a chance to see or hear about on the news, but our group actually got to hear firsthand from a women who lives about ten feet away from the wall. What a God moment!!! The lady that we talked to explained that she has lived under these harsh conditions for about eight years. The best part of her story is that she is completely depending on God for survival. She went through a period of time where her life was threatened frequently, but she still trusted God with everything. Instead of running away from the situation, she faces it head on the best she can. She shares her story with anyone who will listen and spreads the glory of God by doing so. Hence the reason that we had the opportunity to be inspired by her story 🙂
The final encounter that I had with people in Israel was so simple, yet so precious. After a long day of exploring Bethlehem, we came back to our hotel. Dinner was delayed a bit, so I got the chance to spend time with a young Israeli girl. Our conversation first began when she asked if I knew of the band “One Direction.” It’s pretty hilarious how two people from completely different backgrounds can connect over such a silly thing. After this I spent about fifteen minutes talking to her and her mom about simple yet interesting topics like traveling, school, music, and animals. Later in the night, we began talking again, and the little girl ended up doing the Cupid Shuffle with our group in the hotel lobby. This situation sounds so ridiculous, but this is when the idea of people really began to hit me…
I absolutely love that God is always bringing people into our lives in the most unexpected ways. A few months ago I never would have guessed that I would meet a Palestinian Christian family living in Bethlehem, a Palestinian Christian women trapped behind a large wall, and a young Israeli girl just curious about American life all in one day. Meeting people sounds like such a casual and frequent event, but these meetings meant sooo much to me. These people became a part of my story and I became a part of theirs as well. There is so much conflict that exists in this large world today, specifically Israel, and I think we sometimes forget to think about the people behind these stories. This really reminded me of the idea of the Body of Christ. When it comes down to it, the Body of Christ is about PEOPLE. People praying for one another, talking with one another, connecting with one another, listening to one another, sharing with one another etc etc…I could go on for pages. Although the big issues that take place on this earth are important, first and foremost, as the Body of Christ we are called to take care of one another. We can’t get lost in the craziness and forget about the people. People – families, women, young girls – are important and we HAVE TO be there for them.
Favorite moments of the day…
Kelsea – eating plums at Abdullah’s house and meeting Claire and hearing her story and being able to record it
Stephen – going to Al Basma and meeting Abdullah was amazing! I want to grow up and be just like him, the experience unleashed a new passion for the outcasts that I didn’t quite know I had.
Isabel – listening to Abdullah talk about his life and chatting with the Israeli girl at the hotel
Dave – lunch meal and Claire at the wall
Phyl – Claire and listening to Abdullah
Judy – talking with Abdullah and with Claire
Marv – pie and ice cream with Abdullah and by the wall with Claire
Kayla – holding a baby lamb…it was so precious
Derek – visiting the smile center
Kara – visiting Abdullah and his family and going to the wall
Sam – getting to meet Abdullah and the Al Basma Center
Nael – lunch and Abdullah’s