Friday, September 28

Allright, finally you all will be graced with glorious pictures of the beautiful land of Palestine. Last weekend, Sarah, Andrew, Eman, Lindsay, and I went hiking through a valley called Wadi Akhratoon. The purpose of this hike was to take pictures and map out a route for an alternative tourism program that we are putting together to raise money for Paidia. Fortunately, we also got to hike through a gorgeous Wadi and spend about an hour or an hour and half caving.

The view at the beginning of the hike

About halfway through, this is what most of landscape looks like.

Inside some old monsastic ruins, which are everywhere along this hike

Fresh and clean before entering the cave

After caving. Apparently Sarah's shirt is dirt-repellent. Mine is not.

Wednesday, September 26

tug-of-war and water balloons

since my last entry was about how normal life is here, i thought i'd share about my afternoon yesterday. it's nothing too weird, but just not the go-home-take-a-nap-arabic-lessons afternoon.

so i was sitting at my desk and ala' (one of my co-workers) asked me if i knew about the bbq for lunch. i said no, so he told me that all the students, faculty, staff, and administration were invited to beit alaqa (the house of joy) for a bbq. so i said, hey free lunch, i'll be there.

well, it was not just a bbq. it was a field day. like you have in middle school. or freshman orientation. we did get to eat, which was very good food, and then the games began.

the students at bbc are divided into five groups with teacher sponsors. they're like small groups. so then all the volunteers/internationals/random people from the media department got thrown together on a team. i was going to just eat and run, but andrea, a lady who teaches english classes here and is a new friend, volunteered me for the team. so i played.

our team was pretty dominating. we did tug-of-war, electricity, water balloon toss, peg the sponge at your teammates face (i don't know the real name of it), shaving cream and bamba (peanut butter cheetos), sack race, mummy wrapping. i'm pretty sure we won each event, but we were only against one other team the whole time. i don't know who won overall. by the end i wasn't very concerned about it either.

it was fun for the most part, but then all the water fights made me feel like i was a freshman in college again. and i liked being a freshman in college, but i'm not anymore. also, people were very concerned that i was participating in games like tug-of-war (which i did not really try to hard in), anything that involved running, anything that involved throwing or catching anything, and anything that involved hopping because i'm pregnant. it was funny at first, and then i realized that i have another six months of this ahead of me and it was not quite as funny anymore.

anyway, it was a fun afternoon. it was fun to meet new people and see how the students were getting to know eachother. it was fun to see the teachers enjoying the time with the students. it was fun to make some new friends. it was even fun to try not to be a party-pooper and think that i'm way to old for this kind of stuff.

Thursday, September 13

just life

so, life is back in full-swing. it is weird and nice to be back here. it's weird that it feels so much like home, but it's also nice. it's weird that it feels so normal to me, our daily life, but it's also really nice. i've been trying to think of something to post about, but not much exciting happens in our life, so i haven't. last year, we had tons of stories at this time. stories about the kids, stories about the culture, stories about things that happen every day that seemed so out of the ordinary to us. but now, it's just our life. and which i find it cool and interesting, i don't feel like a lot of other people will.

a typical day for me goes like this. i get up around 7, eat breakfast, ride our scooter to work, and work till 1. at work, i talk to people who come to the bible college, i answer emails, i have tea. after work, i eat lunch and usually lounge around for an hour or so before arabic classes. then i drag myself down to arabic lessons and am confused for an hour, learning to write what still seems to me like a secret code that i don't have the decoder to. then sometimes i'll go to the store or the bakery or the butcher to get stuff for dinner, sometimes i'll go get some ice-cream, then i make dinner, hang out with jason, maybe go visit some people, maybe go to a coffee shop, then i go to bed, and start over the next morning. i guess it does make it that much more interesting that all of this goes on in palestine, a third-world country where i don't speak the language. but even that isn't that crazy to me anymore.

we do still see things that we think are funny or odd. especially when we first got back. but even four weeks later, it just kind of has settled into life. things that were huge adventures last year, like grocery shopping or trying to find places, have become routine. it's still not nearly as easy and comfortable as it is for me the US, but it's a lot closer than i expected it to be.

so what has happened...well, we have our apartment mostly set up. i keep meaning to take pictures. we still need a bed, but i think we're getting that tomorrow. we didn't have to buy hardly anything, which was a huge blessing. people just keep giving us stuff. of course, beggars can't be choosers, so we have a bit of a wicker theme going on in the living room, which is not my first choice, but it's like we live on an island, so that's fun. we are buying a car, which i'm super excited about because it means i don't have to drive the scooter around everywhere now. which has been fun and all, but i'm about done with it. it's still nice when we go to jerusalem and don't have to wait in line at stoplights, but driving in bethlehem scares me and i'm excited to have a car protecting me from the crazy drivers. we're making friends and renewing friendships. the people at our church in jerusalem have been super welcoming since we've been back, which has been a huge blessing to us. we're meeting a lot of arabs as well and finding more ways to become involved in life here. so that's about it. our life in a nutshell. so until something exciting happens...i'll be here, just living life.

oh, and also, we're having a baby.

Monday, September 3

The Other

One of the stated goals of Paidia's involvement in Bethlehem is to help increases understanding and tolerance for "the Other" (Muslim & Christian, Fatah & Hamas, Poor & Rich). I am starting to realize how much work I have before I can see the other as like myself.

As I was driving home last night, I saw a young (mid-thirties) Muslim couple walking arm-in-arm, whispering in each other's ears. As I think of my first weeks in Palestine, I remember the idea that Muslims (the ultimate Other for many Americans) live, think, and act in most of the same ways that I do was almost impossible to conceive. As I started hanging out here more, and I began to talk, eat, work, argue, drive, walk, shop, play sports, and live with Palestinian Muslims, I realized the total absurdity of this attitude. However, for just a moment last night, my old prejudices returned as I was surprised by the fact that a married Muslim couple was in love. I am embarrassed to remember my surprise.

As usual, I am not reaching for any specific conclusion here. But I do want to challenge anyone reading this (as if there was someone) to think about the Other who is present in your life sphere. Once you have a specific individual in mind, think about what you have done over the last 48 hours (perhaps you have shopped, eaten, prayed, exercised, or driven). Imagine that person doing some of those things. What is your gut reaction to those images? Just think of your initial impulse, not what you are supposed to feel. I think I am figuring out that I am more prejudiced than I thought.