my Israel, my Palestine part 1

12 Aug

Late March, early April, Priscilla I went to the Holy Land, Israel and Palestine. We always wanted to go, especially Priscilla. So-prayerfully- we booked a tour through National Geographic ‘The Holy Land: Past, present and Future’. But it was birthed and run by a group called MEJDI with a young leader Aziz Abu Sarah. More on him in a moment.
This tour was composed of guides who were both Jewish (Israeli) and Arab (Palestinian). We did not desire to go on a Christian centred tour because we wanted a perspective that was and is not our own. We certainly got that for the 11 days of our journey. This blog will be in two parts. Here is the first bit. It would be impossible to give all our learnings; lovings; and a descriptive record of our experiences. Here, through are the highlights-(For me this is especially poignant with the present day events in the Mid East. No words here will directly address my feelings on these present moments. That will be shared at a later time.)

• 28 -29 March –we flew overnight from London to Tel Aviv. We then drove to Jerusalem where we spent the 3 and half days. Landing at 6:30 am; arriving at our hotel at 8:00 am we had a breakfast; found a Palestinian cab driver and said ‘Take us to the one place you would go if you had a half a day.’ He paused and drove us to the top of the Mount of Olives, said walk down I’ll meet you at the bottom in two hours. He did and here is what we felt and learned: We walked where Jesus walked. Most tourists only go to the top or the bottom-the Garden of Gethsemane. We walked the entire steep way. Two hours. We prayed as we walked. Jesus walked up and down this Mount everyday after teaching in the temple. He worshipped. That is what we did. For me this was and are the best moments of our trip, walking in His steps; seeing the temple and the trees and land and sky He saw. Loving Jerusalem and weeping over it. I still weep today.
• 30 March-A short visit to a Baptist Pastor on a Sunday in Jerusalem. This was the only time on the tour we were with an overtly Christian leader in Jerusalem and on the tour. Jerusalem is a city divided the East is Arab; West Jewish. Jews and Arabs do not mix and that was what made this tour so special. We could see and hear mixing of cultures and points of view from people who were listening to one another. This day we walked the city; Arabs have less water; less electric power and less overall services and they do not want them from Israelis. Arabs believe this is their land –Palestine. They do not believe in a literal King David and see all their houses and lands and flats slowly being swallowed up by Israelis. On top of apartment building if you see big black water tanks, those buildings are Arabs-they do not even want water from the Jewish sector. We were told that their leaders would be killed if they would even consider ‘compromising’ and taking some of the water that is offered.
• 31 March & 1 April City of David And Holocaust Museum and the Via del a Rosa during the day (busy days) and, meetings with the ‘Parents Circle at nights. We meet the people at night. We eat with them; listened and talked. What people? Again Jews and Arabs together united by sorrow-All parents in these circles have lost a child in the conflict. Seeing people embracing one another from these different pats and cultures was beyond hopeful and moving. They were sharing and were united together. If there is any hope in this land-besides the Lord’s return- it will come from people listening to one another. But the present conflicts seem to stop this from continuing in growth.
• 2 April Bethlehem
Seeing the fields surrounding the town and Jesus’ place of birth in a cave and the church of the Nativity above it added life and depth to our scripture and understand. Big take away? The fields where the shepherds were are/were Boaz and Ruth’s fields and only a ten minute sojourn into the town of Bethlehem. Everything is close together. Everyone had to know one another. Mary and Joseph weren’t thrown out of an inn; they were honoured in a home’s extension, a cave.

Our funny shared moment? An older semi toothless Arab man selling postcards stopped me and said, ‘Your daughter (Priscilla) is very beautiful. Can I buy her from you for 26 camels?’
I got him up to 27.

• 3-4 April We journey to Galilee. Sailed on the Sea; visited the Dead Sea; climbed Masada.
Please see my Stewardship blog here on this experience.
http://www.stewardship.org.uk/blog/blog/post/267-generous-spirit-a-breath

And I will continue on this journey recap with you in a week or so-truthfully!

Below is a 19 minute video of hope about Aziz Abu Sarah-the visionary behind this tour and our experiences. Rarely do I attach videos-watch it if you can-if you are really squeezed for time, watch the last three minutes. These moments say it all. All

Love
Charlie and Priscilla

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