Thursday, July 30

Our Future (Big News)

Note: This is an email we sent out earlier this week.

Greetings from the hot, hot summer of Bethlehem! It's been a busy summer, but we're enjoying it. Paidia is continuing to plan for programs in the Fall, finding land to build the high ropes course, and gearing up for our annual carnival. We're also enjoying spending time with friends - hanging out, have bbqs, and swimming. Hiba is growing every day and is so much fun right now. Matthias is also growing every day, as is Sarah's belly - that's not as much fun. But we are really looking forward to his arrival, now less than two months away!

In our last email, we asked you to pray for us as we think about our plans for the future. Thank you for your prayers. We have decided to move back to the US at the end of December. There were a lot of factors that went into making this decision - the ability to get visas, our roles at Paidia, and some family issues being the main factors. After a lot of prayer and counsel from others, we really feel a peace about this decision and believe it is the right next step for us.

For Paidia, this means that we will have to hire or find a replacement for Jason before December. Current staff will take over a number of his duties, but we are on the look out for someone with experiential learning experience who has a desire to live and work in Bethlehem for a time. Obviously this will be a huge change for the organization, but we believe that it is now in a position to continue to thrive in the face of these changes. In addition, Jason will continue to help support Paidia in a consultive and (perhaps) a fundraising/advocacy role. This is something that will be further defined later.

We will be moving to Little Rock, AR sometime at the end of December. Jason will be looking for job over the next few months and hopefully find something before we move back. So if you hear of anything - let us know. :-) Sarah is planning on staying home with our two kids and will continue her work with Paidia as the Volunteer Coordinator from the US. She will continue to develop the program and work mostly with marketing it and recruiting volunteers.

This move is exciting, sad, and nerve-wracking, all at the same time. We are excited beyond words to live near our families again. We are very sad to be moving away from our friends and loved ones here in Palestine. We are also nervous about how we will adjust to living in the US and to more structured work environments. There are some feelings of failure, and of course, wondering if we are really hearing God correctly. I (Jason) have had to stop writing this a couple of times as I feel the tears well up in the midst of these conflicting emotions, please pray for peace and comfort.

We would like to thank you so much for your consistent support, both in prayer and finances, while we have been in Bethlehem. We have been so blessed and well taken care of while we have lived here. We have been continually amazed at the way God has provided for us and trust that He will continue to do so.

While we will be done with our work in Bethlehem at the end of the year, we ask that those of you who support us financially on a regular basis consider continuing to support us financially through the end of February. While we hope that Jason will find a job before or as soon as we move back, we would like a chance to get our feet under us while we transition. Please know that we do not want to put pressure on you and will understand and be blessed by whatever decision you make. If you will commit to supporting us through the end of February, please let us know.

Please continue to pray for us as we finish up here and transition to life back in the US. Specifically, please pray for:

-Energy and enthusiasm for our work with Paida as we come to the end of our time.
-A safe and easy birth/delivery for Matthias and Sarah
-Wisdom and guidance when making decisions about jobs, housing, etc.
-Unity as we have a lot decisions ahead of us - big and small - and will have to deal with different issues that come with moving and starting over in a new place.
-Pray that we won't idealize what life in the US will be like so that we can enjoy the rest of our time here and have realistic expectations of the struggles ahead of us.
-Our friends and "family" here, that we will enjoy the last couple of months that we have with them. Pray that we will all stay in touch and not grow apart because of the distance that will be between us.
-Our mental state. There is a lot to think and feel during all these changes. Please pray that God will comfort and support us.

Thank you again for all of the love, support, and prayers that you have given us over the past three years. We have been so blessed to have such a strong team of people behind us as we have lived and worked in Palestine.

God bless,

Jason, Sarah, Hiba, and Matthias

P.S. If you have an questions or just want to talk about this stuff, please feel free to call or write and we will do as much as we can to communicate openly and honestly.

Sunday, July 26

celebrate good times, come on!

so, last week we went to visit the family of a boy who hangs out with jason a lot. his name is eyoub and he comes by our house from time to time, hangs out at the tower, etc. so we went to see his family. well, it turns out his sister was getting married this weekend, so we got invited to the wedding.

here, there is always a henna party the night before the wedding and then a party the night of the wedding as well. we were invited to both, but only ended up going to the henna. it was at their house, and as they are a pretty traditional muslim family, the men and women were separate the whole time. so, rachel and i were inside with the ladies, and jason was outside with the guys.

jason had seen eyoub earlier in the day and he said the party started at 4. so we decided to show up at 5:30. which was a good call by us, because we were still some of the only ones there. when we got there, eyoubs family (like cousins, aunts, etc.) were there and so we danced and hung out. shireen, his sister who was getting married, didn't come until about 6:30 and her fiance's family didn't come until about 7:30. my camera died right before the groom's family showed up, but here are some pictures of shireen and her family.

my favorite part of the evening was when they began playing "yeah!" by usher and made me and rachel dance by ourselves in the middle of a big circle. and not just kinda sway back and forth - they wanted to see some good american booty shakin' - which was pretty awesome with my huge stomach. and this didn't just happen once, but twice, once with just the bride's family and once when the groom's family came.

i really enjoyed going to this wedding because it made me change my thinking a bit about arrange muslim marriages, at least here. my first thought was "holy cow, she is 16. that is way too young and it's so sad that she's throwing her life away and having to get married". but as i saw her at the henna, she looked so happy. genuinely happy, excited about getting married. in this culture, there wouldn't be much for her to do if she didn't get married now - she'd help around the house and wait for a husband. and while i don't think that is right, it is what it is, so if she is really happy about marriage, even if she's young and it was arranged for her, then it's probably a better thing that i once thought it was. she was really cute when the groom came in and they danced together. she was absolutely glowing when he gave her the gold jewelry. i think they'll be pretty great together.

Saturday, July 25


sometimes i wish i was white-trash.

because if i was, i could walk around in public wearing cut-off shorts and a sports bra or bathing suit top or cut off shirt and not care. it would be much more comfortable in this heat.

however, i like to believe i'm not white-trash, so i'll continue to wear jeans and shirts that fit even though its 3000 degrees outside.

Friday, July 10

lodging, touring, AND also dental treatment

this is from a resort by our house. i was looking at the site today because we want to go swim there tomorrow. but apparently, we can do more than just swim.

While you are staying at our hotel, you can take the opportunity and do a check up on your teeth, we have fully equipped clinic that will assure you with a healthy efficient treatment. This treatment will be as well less expensive than in any other countries like the United States and Europe.

The good thing about this service is that you can save money. we can provide you with a package deal that includes lodging, touring and also dental treatment.

Please feel free to send us your panoramic x-ray and we will send you a free of charge report.

Tuesday, July 7

the swine flu

so we're mostly settled in our new house now. i haven't taken our "after" pictures yet, because there are a few finishing touches that i still need to do and there's no wal-mart to run to, so it's taking longer than i want it to. but hopefully tomorrow and thursday i'll finish things up, take pictures, and post them so you can see the wonderfulness that is our new house.

in other news, the swine flu has hit beit sahour. well, maybe. it's hard to tell what's real and what's made up, because the news really only travels through word of mouth - which is pretty unreliable - and in arabic, so word of mouth in a second language is a little sketchy. but the rumors are that a couple families in beit sahour have it, some kids have it, and some kids spread it at a summer camp. so for today, all of the summer camps in bethlehem, beit sahour, and beit jala are closed. we also just started putting hiba in daycare a couple mornings a week, but that's not happening this week either. hopefully we won't get the swine flu. i'm not too worried about it - i think stories get exaggerated a lot here. but that's the exciting news of the week.

it's been surprisingly cool the last few days. when i say cool, i mean like 85 degrees or so, but the evenings have been great. and 85 sure is better than 100, so i'll take it. it's still too hot to do anything productive during the day (at least in my opinion), but at least i don't drown in a pool of my own sweat just sitting on the couch.

that's about it right now. i'll try to think of some good stories to share and maybe one day i'll get the house done. we'll see. this afternoon i'm going to sit in front of the fan, so that probably won't bring about good stories or house pictures, but i'll feel good. :-)