Thursday, September 28


One question I have heard a lot since I've been here is "is it what you expected?" I have a very hard time answering that question because I really don't know what I expected. I have discovered, however, that there are some things about the US that I miss more than I thought I would, there are also some things that I miss less than I thought I would. That is as close as I can come to answering the question about expecations, so here's what I think.

Things I miss more than expected:
Singing praise songs in English with the saints
Playing basketball or rugby (or other physical competition)
Old Spice: High Endurance
Our bed (caboose, watch yourself)
Premium coffee
Pastor Dave's sermons
Rain (not a drop since we've been here)

Things I miss less than expected:
Watching sports
My bike (don't tell her I said this)
Daily showers
Having a car available to me
Hamburgers (falafels are a more than adequate replacement)
Changing my clothes everyday
Every weekend off

Things I miss as much as expected:
My friends and family (I really miss them a lot, just as I thought)
Christian Radio


Tuesday, September 26

I'm the Lady!! (How not to get to Tel Aviv)

Some of you may remember and earlier story about Aimaan, one in which he started calling me Uncle Almost, because he could not remember my name. Well, apparently he has a knack for misunderstanding me.

As we were playing futbol in the courtyard at the back of Beit 'Araja, Aimaan kept complaining that the other kids were getting in his way while he was trying to play. I was quite a ways away from him, and I yelled to him "Aimaan! Stop complaining!"

He yelled back, "What did you say, Amu Jason? You're the lady?" He then laughed maniacally and proceeded to yell "Amu Jason's the lady!" for the next forty minutes. In addition, he went to every adult that was working that afternoon and told them that I was the lady. I wish, by the end of the day he was literally hoarse from yelling that I was the lady over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

If you are ever in Bethlehem and want to get a Visa from the Jordanian, do not ask Sarah and I for directions. Here is what we did yesterday.
Taxi from Beit 'Araja to the Wall for 12NIS
Arab bus from the Wall into Jerusalem 7NIS
Egged bus from Jaffa Rd in Jerusalem to the central bus station 11NIS
Egged bus from Jerusalem to Ramat Gan (a suburb of Tel Aviv) 34NIS
(by the way, we also got on the wrong bus, but the driver spoke English well enough and was kind enough to drop us near the Jordanian Embassy, where we were trying to go)

Walk to the Jordanian Embassy
Realize we need a picture for the visa application, walk around Ramat Gan trying to find a place to take it. 50NIS
Walk back to the Jordanian Embassy
Realize we don't have enough shekels on us, walk around Ramat Gan trying to find an ATM machine that accepts our American ATM card.
Walk back to the Jordanian Embassy
Acquire the visas!! (and pay for them, 370NIS)

Get directions to the central bus station from an Arabic speaking security guard.
Get lost.
Get directions from an English speaking banker.
Get lost.
Get directions to the train station from an English speaking security guard.
Find it! But have to ask two more people for directions to the bus station.
Find it! Board the bus for Jerusalem 30NIS

Arrive in Jerusalem, realize we're really not sure how to get back to the Old City to catch and Arab bus. Ask three security, guards in Arabic, one knows how to help us.
Get on the right bus!! Sit in traffic for 80 minutes in order to travel about 10 kilometers. 11NIS
Get on the Arab bus bound for the wall outside of Bethlehem. 7NIS
Take our place into the crush of people trying to get through the checkpoint. Make new friends and enemies.
One of our new friends offers us a ride back to Beit 'Araja in his 30 year old VW Beetle, we gladly accept and arrive safely at home. A mere 8 hours after leaving and only 45 minutes late for work.

Yes it was quite an adventure, and I am leaving out some of the oddities for the sake of brevity (I clearly failed). The point is, we now have our visas and on Thursday we will be visiting Dave and Susan Vila (and family) in Amman! Hopefully, our travel there will be less eventful and less expensive.

Jason and Sarah

Sunday, September 24

September's Letter

Here is a copy of the e-mail we sent out to friends and family yesterday. Please let us know if you would like to be on our mailing list.

Hello friends and family! God bless you all.

Fitting In

We are on the verge of completing our 3rd week with the children and yesterday was the one month anniversary of our arrival in Bethlehem. It would be accurate to say that this adventure now feels like real life. We no longer get confused and think we are on vacation. All the things that accompany normal life (being easily irritated by minor things, not getting enough sleep, taking joy in getting to sleep in, etc) have started to return as well. Praise the Lord!

One of our chief frustrations at this point, is figuring out the culture of the House of Hope. To us, it seems that the communication and conflict resolution styles that are used are sometimes ineffective. This has caused us (especially Jason) to be occasionally discouraged. The children really are wonderful, but (just as in most cases) working and living in an institution can be emotionally tiring.

All 12 of the children who will be living at Beit 'Araja (House of Hope) this school year have now arrived. For those of you who are keeping track, we have seven boys (Forest, Mhamad, Nabil, Kais, Ismael, Ahmed, and Eyad) and five girls (Asma, Shedha, Hiba, Aya, and Razan). Each letter we want to send you pictures and descriptions of one boy and one girl so that you can pray specifically for that child. We believe that prayer for the children can have an incredible impact on their lives, please join us in this vital endeavor.


Ahmed is 11 years old and has lived at Beit 'Araja for around 4 years. His family is from Hebron, and he also has a sister who used to live in the boarding section here. Ahmed enjoys riding bicycles, playing catch, and lots and lots of attention. He does not enjoy school or sitting still for long periods of time. Ahmed has autism and we are working with his family and the doctor to establish the appropriate amount of medication. Since he has been here, he has had a difficult transition and he may have to return home for a time due to behavior issues.

Please Pray:
For the leaders at Beit 'Araja to exercise wisdom in deciding Ahmed's future.
That Ahmed would receive the appropriate medication.
For the teachers and house parents to care for Ahmed in the best possible way.
For Ahmed to know Jesus more completely all the time.

Asma is nine years old and has downs syndrome. This is her second year at Beit 'Araja. She loves to play futbol, ride on the back of bikes, play the "guitar" and sing. She is usually very loving and affectionate and loves to give hugs and snuggle. She can also be very stubborn and throws fits when she does not get her way or feels that she is not getting attention. She can be very mischievous, especially during nap time and early in the morning.

Please pray:
That Asma will know how much we love her, and more importantly how much Jesus loves her.
That she will display her obedient heart more often.
For the workers, that we will praise her for the positive things she does so that mischief will not be her preferred source of attention.

Prayer Requests

We are so thankful for all of your prayers for us over the last few weeks. We know that they are making a difference and ask that you continue to pray for us. Here are some specific request that we have this time around:

Continue to pray for our language acquisition.
Pray for the House of Hope; pray for unity of the workers so that we can effectively minister to the residents and the community around us.
Pray for the children as they go home this weekend (Thursday, Sept. 28) that their visits will go well and that they will not be too homesick when they come back.
Pray that God and people around us will be encouraging to us, and that frustration with Beit 'Araja will not be overwhelming.
Pray for Muslims during Ramadan, that they will be aware of their need for Jesus.

Money Stuff

A financial update: As of our latest calculations, we have raised $10,430 out of a desired $13,627. We trust that God will provide for our financial needs over this year. We are so grateful to all of you who have given us money and we praise God for His provision. If you wish to give financially, send a check to Every Nation Ministries with Bethlehem Ministry on the memo line. The mailing address is PO Box 94564 North Little Rock, AR 72190.

In Christ,
Sarah and Jason

Monday, September 18

story of the week

i think i will start to post my favorite story from each week. this week, there were a lot of funny things that have happened, but one stands out to me.
so saturday morning, i was so excited when i woke up at 7:45 (needing to be to work at 8), because the girls were still asleep/playing quietly. this had never happened before, so i was really excited that the night had gone so well. however, when i went downstairs to the boys flat, i realized that i had finally gotten the easy kids and the boys were the naughty ones. when jason went to get the boys up, he found that they were all up and laughing about something. one of the boys said something about muhammad and kais eating some snacks. jason found kais with crumbs from cookies all over his shirt. he asked where muhammad was, and the kids replied, laughing of course, that he was outside. sure enough, muhammad was out there, talking to some of the guys around, also with crumbs all over his shirt.
so as it turned out, kais and muhammad had gotten up during the early morning and gotten into the zakee (sweet snacks) and had eaten an entire box of wafer cookies. they also made themselves some coffee, by pouring tons of nescaf and sugar into a teapot of cold water. when we found it, we thought it was arabic coffee because it was so thick. the best part was that both of the boys tried to say it wasn't them. when we asked them about it, they just replied "mish ana" (not me) and said it was the other one. this may have worked if they both didn't have smug grins and crumbs all over them. i don't know if they ever actually fessed up to the crime, but they spent the morning walking around with huge grins on their faces, as if they had just accomplished the greatest feat ever.

on another note, guess what i have? the taste of coffee in my mouth. and not nescaf. real coffee. today, jason and i found a drip coffee maker and made some coffee after dinner. it was wonderful. i have gotten used to just drinking tea instead of coffee, because the instant coffee just isn't the same, but i had not realized how much i missed drinking coffee. it was wonderful. so now, we have in our room a coffee pot and can make real coffee whenever we want. finding a coffee pot was not as easy as it might sound, as no one really drinks drip coffee here. we walked all through the market and only saw three. and the market is huge. it probably has litteraly hundreds of shops. so we bought the cheapest one. the hunt took about an hour and half and when we were walking back to beit araja we saw that there were at least three different kinds of coffee pots in a store that is a block down the street. oh well, the adventure was fun. and the main thing is, we have a coffee pot. it was quite the successful day.

Thursday, September 14

An Arab Proverb

Notice that the title of this post is not "An Old Arab Proverb" as most proverbs are considered old. However, I made one up this week. It goes like this "One must watch where he is walking or his baboush may end up covered in someone else's vomit." I happen to know that this proverb is true because Kais (the taller boy, on the left in the picture) discovered it. Kais is not what you would call attentive. It often takes 4 or 5 times of saying his name before he realizes you are talking to him. As we were walking back from Church last Sunday, he had his head firmly in the clouds and was looking every direction instead of in front of him. As a resuly, his eventually had his sandal firmly in a pile of someone's vomit. Just thought you needed to know that.

Please pray for a little boy who lives here named Ahmed. He is having a very difficult time, and is in danger of having to go home. He also has a very rough family life. When you read this, please take a moment to pray for him and if you can remember to do so at other times, please do.

I went to a funeral yesterday of a boy who was killed in Bethlehem by the Israeli Army. If you want to read a description of it, I have posted one here.

more pictures

we put some more pictures on our photo alblum. they are of the house of hope and our living quarters, so you should check them out. ok, that's all for now. i promise that we'll update soon about life.

Thursday, September 7

Uncle Almost and a hint about Arab culture

Here at the House of Hope, all of the house parents are referred to as "Amu _" or "Auntie _" with "_" being the first name. For example I am Amu Jason. (Amu is a term of affection that literally means Uncle, but can be used by children for adults). My name has generated quite a bit of confusion for two reasons: First, it is unfamiliar to Arab people, the name that is Jason in English is Yusoon, in Arabic, not all that close. Second, there is already another volunteer here named Jesse. Half of the children simply think that I am named Jesse, as well as do many adults when I first introduce myself.

Because of this confusion, one of the first boys that I have met here, Aiman, has often resorted to calling me "Amu" without a name attached. When he did that yesterday afternoon, I started to try and get him to remember my name. He looked at me and shouted, "Amu Jesse!"

I said, "no, no, almost . . ."

Before I could finish describing how to pronounce my name, he started jumping up and down and shouting, "Amu Almost! Amu Almost!" A name which Kais also picked up and called me for the rest of the day. I am once again granted with a new name, Uncle Almost. Hopefully they excitement of yesterday's discover will have warn off this afternoon, and the boys will remember my real name. We'll see.

Ahhh yes, a hint about Arab culture has also been promised by the title. Here it is: When you have been invited over to someone's house for a meal, scoop a very small amount of food on your plate, so that when they offer you more, you can say "yes." If you refuse, many will look at you with shock and dismay, as if you had just announced your intention to convert to cannibalism . . . and that you were starting with their children.

Tuesday, September 5

Lullaad Hoon!!!

Yesterday, the children who live in the House of Hope arrived for the semester, at least some of them did. There are actually one 4 boys and 1 girl here now, though eventually there will be 7 boys and 5 girls. Apparently the kids just kind of show up as the semester continues. Welcome to Palestine. It is really nice how laid-back everyone is here.

Both Sarah and I have been progressing in our Arabic, I don't know if we've mentioned this before, but it is a difficult language to learn. Even the native Arabic speakers here tell us that Arabic is more difficult than English. Think about that.

Ok, you can stop thinking about it now.

We've had the chance to visiting a number of families in the last few days. On Saturday we went to Hebron, where we sat on the roof, looked over the city, and drank tea with a Muslim family. One of the brothers from the family lives at the House of Hope part-time. We discussed the different opinions about marriage, adoption, and things of that nature between Muslims, Palestinian Christians, and American Christians. One of brothers, who was about 35 and had 2 wives and 7 children, kept trying to get Sammi to ask us to help him visit America. I have noticed that many Palestinians think that Sarah and I have some sort of sway with the INS, as if we can get people into the country. I try to explain that we do not, but it does not seem to convince anyone.

On Wednesday, Sarah and I have been invited over for Lunch by a family who we met Saturday night. The grandmother speaks some English, though it is difficult to understand her, and our Arabic is not quite at a functioning level. Please pray that we will be able to be friends with this family, despite the language barrier.

Tonight, I am leading the devotion for the children. I have never actually seen anyone lead a devotion here, so I don't know exactly what is expected . . . but maybe that's a good thing. I plan on telling a story about Noah's Ark, finding some coloring pages of the story, and then using stuffed animals to allow the children to act the story out. I'm a bit nervous. Most people probably won't read this before 7pm (or 11am cst) when I give the devotion, but if you do please pray that I at least will not embarras myself too badly.

Thanks all of you for your interest in our lives, by the way. Oh yeah, the title of today's entry means. The Children are Here!!!

Friday, September 1


we finally added some pictures to our photo album. just click on the link to the right. here is a teaser. you should check out the rest.


so i just learned that we have to publish your comments. i thought no one loved us, but there are tons on comments. so thanks. i'll check them more often. so if you write a comment and it doesn't show up, we got it, we just didn't know. but now i do, so i'll publish them. sometimes i think i am not made for the technological age.