Monday, March 26

my new love

don't worry, it's not another man. it's scooters. i love them.

when we first talked about coming over here, we joked about getting a scooter. like made fun of them a lot, because compared to a motorcycle, they're pretty dorky and jason wasn't really going for that. once we got here and saw how many people drive them, we reconsidered our stance. i mean, they're still pretty dorky, but then again, maybe dorkiness should be defined in a cultural sense, and if so, then scooters are really cool.

erich and candice have been in the states for almost a month and they erich is letting jason borrow his scooter. we took it into jerusalem today to look at buying one. and i love it. first, it's way better than riding busses. and second, it's way better than driving a car. think of any driving law. here's a few: don't drive on the sidewalk; stay on your side of the road; don't pass people at stoplights; don't drive in the middle of the road; wait your turn at stop signs; don't pass people on the shoulder. none of those apply if you're driving a scooter. basically as long as you keep your lights on and wear a helmet, if you can fit through, go ahead and drive there. coming back to bethlehem from the old city there is a lot of construction and on the buses it takes a good hour to get back in bad traffic. well, the traffic was bad and we were back to the house of hope in twenty minutes. we were weaving in between cars, riding on the sidewalks, cutting up to the front of the line at every stoplight. and people in the cars don't care. they actually seem to leave space for us to fit through. it's so fun.

Thursday, March 15

american woman

we got our passports back today. they had been gone for about two weeks while getting our year-long visas stamped in them. and by stamped i mean now taking up an entire page. so much for every trying to be sneaky about having an israeli stamp in our books.

the first day they were gone, i tried to go into jerusalem. we have to go through the checkpoint every time we want to go into jerusalem. we usually just flash our "magic blue books of power" and the guards smile and wave and we go through without any problems. well, i didn't have my magic book. i had a bright yellow piece of paper with a bunch of hebrew writing. it's a volunteer permit, which implies that i have a visa and a passport. it actually has my passport number in it. but the guard was having a bad day and it was raining, so she wouldn't roll down the window of the guard room to look at it closely and she didn't speak enough english to understand that my passport is with the israeli's, it's actually her fault i that don't have it, now may i please go? she didn't let me through. i had to get back in the van, turn around and drive past a long line of cars. rejected. i was fuming. how dare she! she wouldn't even read it! i don't know what it says, because i don't read hebrew, but that's her job! and she was so rude! then i started to think, well i'm like one of the palestinians. this is how it feels. this is how it is to be humiliated and treated like crap and turned away for no good reason. and then i started thinking yeah, i am just like them. the girl was so rude! she has no right to treat me like that! after all....i'm an american.

and then i wanted to slap myself in the face.

it wasn't that i was another human being and she had no right to treat me how she did. it wasn't that i had the papers that i needed and she just wouldn't look at them. it wasn't that i had a legitimate right to be in the country and she wouldn't take the time to listen. it was that i was an american. so how dare she inconvenience me.

i think a lot of times i don't realize how easy i have it over here. that was the only time i've ever had problems going into jerusalem. when i got back to the house of hope, i told my sob story to everyone around and rhoda quickly wrote a letter in hebrew explaining exactly where my passport was and told me to call her if i had any trouble and she'd be right there. i went on to complain to all the other palestinians about how rude the guard was, how she gave me a dirty look and wouldn't let me through.

and then i wanted to slap myself in the face again.

most of the workers here can never go to jerusalem. once or twice a year they get permits for christmas or easter, but it all depends on the mood of the people working at the permit office. and when they do get permits, they're not allowed to simply drive through the wall. they have to walk through the checkpoint, which makes you feel like you're cattle being herded. it takes forever. and the guards are usually really impolite. and i was complaining to these people about one dirty look and one delay that was quickly fixed.

i'm so spoiled, but i don't know how to fix it. i am so thankful to have an american passport. i am so thankful that i was born in america and that i was born into a family that has plenty of money to provide for my needs. i am so thankful for the freedom of movement that i have, both here and at home. but sometimes i feel really guilty for feeling thankful. is it ok to be thankful that i'm so much better off than the people around me? i guess i just have to make sure that my thankfulness does not turn into a feeling that i am owed anything that i have been thankful for.

Tuesday, March 13

it's been awhile...

so, we're still alive and well. we're just lazy about updating and keeping in touch with people. we really do love you all, i promise.

life has been going. we don't have many exciting stories or crazy adventures. it's mostly just real life. we work, we eat, we sleep, we hang out with friends. it's kind of nice. i don't feel like a tourist as much anymore. it's not always as fun as it was at first, but it's also less frustrating a lot of times.

work is going as well. there have been a few bumps in the road lately, but things are smoother now. we had three people go to the hospital in three days, which added quite a bit of stress. the worst was baraa, who fell of the slide and hit her head. she fell about six and a half feet. but the good news is she is fine. she probably had a concussion (i say probably because the hospital was awful and didn't really tell us anything helpful, but that's another story) and a broken nose, but nothing else. no one actually saw her fall, but the way she landed it looked like she hit her head first. i still don't know how she didn't shatter her skull. or her legs or elbows or whatever absorbed the blow. i know angels were all around her. anyway, ismael also broke his hand from a fall and it's unclear how it happened. that was two days after baraa, so it brought even more stress. but...God is good and things are getting back to normal and the accidents forced us to talk about issues that needed to be talked about. so it's smoother now. not smooth, but smoother.

last weekend, the kids went home for their monthly break. it was needed, i think by all of us, but defiantly by me and jason. we got to just lay low for a few days and on sunday and monday spent some time at the dead sea and ein gedi national park. it was really fun to float in the dead sea. we just floated. we also found a mud pit and got to have mud baths for free, which was much better than paying a bunch of money for them. i'm not convinced that i'd pay tons and tons of money for dead sea products, but my skin is very soft and exfoliated, so maybe it's not a big hoax. ein gedi was beautiful. it's a wildlife preserve in the desert, but there are a few spring and a few waterfalls, so there's lots of greenery in certain places. we took a three-and-a-half hour hike with some girls we met at the hostel we stayed at. we saw lots of rocks, lots of sand, some ibex, some hyrax, two springs, some flowers, wadi david, and david's waterfall. ein gedi is the place where david hid from saul when saul was trying to kill him. it's a good place to hang out if you're in the desert. the waterfall area looks like a tropical paradise. it's really green and has tons of plants and obviously water, and then you walk a few hundred meters and you're back to the dry, dry desert. it was a good little vacation and i'm excited to know that it's close by for when weekend getaways next year.

we are now in the process of raising support for next year. it's kind of stressful. sometimes i don't think i'm cut out for this missionary stuff. please pray for us that we will have faith that God will provide for our needs and that it won't be a huge distraction for us (especially me). if you are not on our support list and want to know about our support raising, email us and we'll let you know how you can help.

well, that's our life in a nutshell. we'll try to start posting again. also, we forgot our camera this weekend, so no pictures of ein gedi. but rachel, one of the girls we hiked with, is supposed to email me some when she's done traveling in a month or so. don't hold your breath or anything, but we'll have pictures one day.