Wednesday, January 23


last weekend was quite a busy one. we went to jericho on friday to celebrate the epiphany and then had a huge bbq at a place called banana land. a seriously huge bbq. there were 3 kilos of meat for 8 people.

but the highlight of my weekend was definitely saturday. we were invited to visit hebron with haithem, who works at the house of hope. fida, one of the house parents, came with us as well. we went to visit baraa, who is no longer attending the house of hope, and to pick up hiba because her parents hadn't brought her back from vacation yet. then we went to haithems house and ate more food, even though both jason and i were still full from friday. we got a taxi back to bethlehem and then jason and i got to hang out at the house of hope for a little while before heading home.

the best part about it for me was getting to hang out with hiba. she is awesome. i want everyone to meet her, because she is the sweetest little girl. i loved seeing her at her house, because she is so "normal". she was playing with her sisters, showed me her room, pointed out the fifty posters she has of some arabic singer guy on her wall, danced around, acted very sassy, and gave me lots of hugs. she attends the house of hope because she has hearing problems and at one point her family though she had brain damage, but as she's grown it looks like she only had post-traumatic stress and she is fine now. except she can't hear.

hiba was born with no problems. well, no physical problems. she comes from a family of 11, six girls and three boys, and her parents are both unemployed. her two oldest brothers work some, but only when they can find work. their family lives in the old city of hebron, which is quite a political hot spot. her house is about five rooftops away from the ibrahim mosque. on her roof is an outpost for israeli soldiers.

when hiba was about three, she fell and hit her head. she was either running away from seeing the soldiers or scared in her bed from the soldiers. both would make a lot of sense, as her bedroom has a clear view of the roof and their house is built with on about three different levels. whatever happened, the fall caused damage to hiba's hearing, as well as traumatic stress. for years, she was very reclusive, terrified of the soldiers, not talking to people, and not thriving at all. after a few years at the house of hope, hiba has found her smile again. she is a beautiful, fun, laughing nine-year-old who loves life and has even learned to not be terrified of the soldiers on her roof.

so back to saturday. i loved it. hiba loved it. she got to be a normal kid, hanging out with grownups. she went with us to visit baraa and helped to take care of her. she was served coffee and tea and cookies wherever we went, which is huge because kids never get coffee or tea. at haithem's, she ate lunch with me and jason, fida, and haithem. then she got to sit out on the balcony with us and drink more tea. hiba had a great time because she got to hang out with the grownups. i had a great time because i had someone to talk to and entertain me. after spending a day with her, i want her to hear more than almost anything in the world, because i know she can have a full life. she is so bright, such a quick learner, such a people person. if she got her hearing fixed, i really think she will thrive. it was wonderful to see this while we were hanging out.

jason and i are in the process of trying to raise money to get her hearing aids. they will cost NIS 3500, or around $950, which is more than her family could ever think of affording. we have $700 so far. if you are interested in helping with this, email jason or i and we'll tell you how you can help out. in the meantime, pray for hiba. pray that she will continue to grow into a beautiful, confident young lady. pray that the fear that crippled the beginning of her life will not return. pray that she will continue to smile and laugh every day.

Thursday, January 17

beautiful day

yesterday, it was about 65* outside in the sun. unfortunately, it was still like 20* inside thanks to our stone walls and floors. so jason and i spent the afternoon on our balcony playing "ticket to ride" and drinking tea. it was so nice. we have a beautiful view and it was warm and relaxing and just an all around great afternoon.

i am 28 weeks along, which means that there are only 12 weeks until the baby comes (hopefully). that's not very long. i have a feeling that when she does arrive, relaxing afternoons of playing games and drinking tea will be few and far between. but that's ok, because we'll have a child, which is better than those afternoons. at least in the long run, or that's what they say. :-)

Friday, January 4

Christmas Break

this break has been good. especially for me, since i have nothing to do so it's a real vacation. here's a little rundown on how the break has gone so far.

-lots of christmas parties. i think that in some ways we try to overcompensate for the lack of family and old friends around at christmas time, so we ended up doing a lot. we had a party at our house with a gift exchange that was tons of fun. rachel had a party at her house on christmas eve. we had some volunteers from the bible college and other friends over on christmas morning to have breakfast. i had two parties to go to for the bible college and we went to one dinner for the churches in bethlehem.

-christmas eve at manger square. there were tons of people there. we stayed to watch the bible college choir sing and then left because it was so crowded. it was good to see so many tourists. jason and i thought that there were a lot of people last year, just because there were the most people we had seen in once place since we had come to bethlehem, but this year was insane.

-two christmas dinners. one was on christmas day at alex and jamie's (friends from our church in jerusalem). i made scalloped potatoes and found my calling for what to make when for potlucks or dinners where we bring a side dish. they were really good. the day after christmas, we had a dinner at our church in jerusalem. it was a lot of fun. and my scalloped potatoes were just as good as the first batch.

-new years eve party. we had our neighbors over, along with two other couples from bethlehem and played ticket to ride, settlers of catan and dance dance revolution all night.

-lots of games of settlers and ticket to ride. me, jason, rachel, salim, and munther have played more games than i can even begin to count.

-laying around and relaxing. it's been a good time to take a break, catch up on sleep, and do not much of anything.

so that's the short version of all the festivities. pictures will follow shortly.