so yesterday, i (sarah) ventured into the market alone. this was a first for me. it's kinda pathetic really. i mean, i have lived here for almost three months and haven't gone shopping by myself. it is kind of intimidating though. for one, it's super crowded. and everyone is speaking gibberish, or at least that's what it sounds like to me. cars are coming from every direction. the "market" is not so much square with booths set up nicely or a shopping center, but rather a couple of streets with shops all around and street vendors everywhere. there's a mix of produce, clothes, toys, souvenirs, dishes, tea, felafel stands, a meat market. people are everywhere. and so are cars. people walk down the middle of the streets and cars try to run them over. there's no "right of way" here. walking around cars is just one big game of chicken.
so anyway, i went to go shopping for some clothes and shoes. i went from about 1 pm till a little after 2. there are shops everywhere. tons to choose from. everywhere has pretty much the same stuff, but you can barter for a better price than the shop next door would give you. i did find one shirt and two pairs of dress shoes, so all in all, it was a successful trip.
a few minutes after i got back, i heard a lot of sirens. i didn't really think too much of it, because we hear sirens here all the time. i think police cars and ambulances just drive around with their lights on, and sometimes sirens just because they can. anyway, at 3:00, auntie bob, an older norweigian lady who is volunteering here, told me that she and her husband had been up near manger square and they saw the israeli army come in to make some arrests and some palestinians ended up getting shot. no one died, but it was still a pretty dangerous situation. not something i would like to be around. manger square is at the opposite end of the market from the house of hope. probably about a block away from where i had been, maybe fifteen minutes before the soldiers came.
people have asked me if i'm scared living here. i don't know how to answer that. so far, i have not been personally affected by any of the violence that has happened in bethelehem or anywhere in the west bank since i have been here. but this is the second time that i could have been around something that has happened. a few weeks ago, the soldiers came to bulldoze a house, and ended up seigeing a hospital right around the corner from the house of hope. this was in the middle of the afternoon and i had been planning to go on a walk with a few of the girls, which i do all the time, but i talked myself out of it. i don't even remember why. but we would have walked past the hospital as it was happening. i mean, they had road blocks up and weren't really letting people walk by, but i would have tried to walk by. when things like this happen, i start to get scared. but i don't want to be.
i am confident that God will protect me while i am here. not protect me in the sense that nothing bad is ever going to happen to me or near me or i'll never get hurt or be in any danger. but protect me in the sense that His hand is on my life and what happens to me is a part of his plan. but on the other hand, i don't want to be foolish and put myself is unnecessarily dangerous situations. i don't think that i was ever in any real danger yesterday. i was home before anything happened. and i'm a smart girl. if i see and israeli jeep, i'm high-tailing it the other direction. if i see a mob of angry arabs throwing rocks, i'm not going to go get myself caught in the crossfire. but if i had been walking by myself, not being able to speak arabic well, i could have not been able to understand what was going on, i could have accidentally ended up somewhere i shouldn't have been. i don't think either of those are a huge possibility, but still. i has gotten me thinking about how to balance trusting God for protection and looking out for myself.
i don't want to be foolish, but i don't want to sit in my room for the next six months because i'm afraid of what might happen. it's a hard thing to figure out. i don't want to live in fear, but i also don't want to live in ignorance to the potential dangers of my surroundings. i want to feel confident enough to go places alone, get involved in activities without jason, not be dependent on others to always escort me around. but i also want to be safe. and that's a hard balance to find. so far i haven't figured it all out. maybe by june i'll know how to handle life here.