Sometimes an experience is so lovely, so challenging you want to bottle it up and tuck it away in your pocket to be carried around with you for the rest of your life. It’s the only way I can explain how I feel towards my last 4 weeks in Bethlehem.
I have a feeling I’m going to keep many of the situations I witnessed and the people I encountered close to my heart. It’s difficult to choose what to share, what events to invite you into, because there is so much!
I have to share my gratitude first to all those who contributed financially to my time here. I cannot tell you how many times I had to pinch myself to remind me this is real life. My love for the Arabic language (and Arab people) have grown greatly. While I am far from fluent I feel much more confident in what I know. Shokran kteer habibi (thank you so much my loves).
Partnered with language learning was being here, present in all the craziness of Palestinian life. I’ve lived with a Christian family born and raised in a small town on the edge of Bethlehem called Beit Sahour. I am so thankful for them, their hospitality, humor, love and the ease they had in making me apart of their family for this little sliver of time.
I finished “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom halfway through my time here. One of the many, many quotes that are worth sharing particularly struck me, especially in view of the timing of this trip and all the turmoil erupting in Gaza, Israel and the Middle East.
“There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s Kingdom. His timing is perfect. His will is our hiding place. Lord Jesus, keep me in Your will! Don’t let me go mad by poking about outside it.”
I know God has His perfect reasons for allowing me to be here at such a tumultuous time. Perhaps reasons I will never be able to know, or only in the future will they be revealed.
If anything, I am more convinced than ever of God’s love for all people. Palestinian, Israeli. Muslim, Atheist, Christian, Jew. He loves them all and has no favorites. Acts of exclusion based upon race, religion, background can never be justified in light of the Gospel, nor can they be excused on a human level.
As I process this last month and all that unfolded, I promise to share more stories. For now, we are heading to Tel Aviv to finish our last two days in Israel.
Until next time friends.