Thursday, August 31

the land of abu-bishara

well, we have had quite the adventureous time the last few days. tuesday was jericho and than wednesday and thursday were spent at abu-bishara's farm. jesse has made friends with a family who own some land south of bethlethem and invited us to go with him to have a relaxing evening and stay on this farm. so we said, sure, that sounds great. sammy, one of the palestinians who lives at the house of hope, gave us a ride there. the land is on the top of a hill and extends to one side of the hill, about a hundred acres. abu-bishara's land has been in his family since the 1920's when his grandfather bought it. they have always lived on it, mostly in caves underground (because it is cooler), with limited electricity and water. they have olive trees, grape vines, many fruit trees, and lots of space. however, over the last fifteen years, the israeli government has slowly been building settlements on the land around it and are trying to get the land from him. his land is now completely surrounded by settlements, but he has all the original papers saying he owns the land, and so far has been able to win the court battles. but it is still in the courts, so he is not safe yet. in order to keep the land, abu-bishara must keep it fertile. this year, he planted 650 new olive trees and is planning to plant new grape vines. he has some young men who volunteer their time (mostly from europe) and live there for a few months to a year so that he has help on his farm. we also got to (i guess it was a priveledge) help him with some of the work during our stay. jesse did not tell us we would be working in the hot sun all afternoon, but i guess that is his idea of a relaxing time. it was fun though. we built a wall, watered his olive trees, cut bushes, and other things like that. another thing that abu-bishara does with is land is he has a camp there called "tent of nations: people building bridges". he has three large, bedouin style tents that serve as lodging for people passing through, camp groups, or groups of young people. people from all nations come through and stay with him. sometimes there are children's camps, sometimes there are organized weekends, and sometimes there are people like us who just show up. the program sounds very neat and seems to be a way that is leading towards reconciliation between people groups. besides slaving away in the sun, we also got to enjoy a few meals and many cups of tea with abu-bishara and olli, a german guy volunteering there for the next year. every meal was pretty much the same--pita bread, cucumber tomato salad, grapes, oil and spices. it was very tasty. it was intersting to talk with him about the settlements around his land. he is very proud of his land, and even though it is not the greatest piece of property (it is in the middle of a desert), it is part of his family's history and a very important part of his life. he didn't seem bitter or angry towards the settlers, even though they have made his life very hard, but instead just works harder to keep his land worth something so that he can continue to live there. if you think of it, pray for abu-bishara. pray that he will have the volunteers he needs to keep his crops healthy. pray for rain in the winter so that he will be able to collect water for the summer. pray for tent of nations, that it really will be building bridges between people and that it will break down walls and point towards reconciliation. (p.s. sorry if lots of things are spelled wrong. i was hom-skooled and my parents never taught me to spell and the spell check won't work.)

4 comments:

nate "the sole kahuna" said...

Just a weird famer question: What type of grapes does he grow there? I am interested to know what variety of grape grows well there...

ray said...

Sounds like you had a great time. At least now you can know what to expect when asked to go relax at the farm :)

I want to see some pictures!

J&S said...

the sole kahuna,
there were green grapes and red grapes. that's as much as i know. maybe jesse or jason will know better, i'll ask them.
-sarah

jean piston said...

I enjoyed this story as well as your account of the trip to Jericho. I also would like to know what kind of grapes the farmer grows, and do they dry them for raisins? Your work there is reminiscent of my life on the farm as a child and early teenager.

Grandma