Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Arriving in Israel

June 3, 2009
It is 11 p.m. Israel time, 3 p.m. Oklahoma City time. Boy what a trip! The flight was very long and I really didn’t get any sleep on the plane. My ankle and feet are huge! I am totally wiped out; I guess I should sleep pretty well tonight. We met our driver and guide at the airport and they drove us north to check in at the school. The trip was pretty neat, as it was my first look at the land we call “holy.” As we traveled I began to see road signs, and it was amazing to see road signs with the names of places I know of only through reading the Bible.

The people here must have missed the kindergarten class that taught us to take turns. Everything and everyone seems to hurry, hurry. People cut others off – in the airport, in traffic. I am thankful I was not setting closer to the front of the bus and it has been some time since the accident. I would have had a heart attack with the driving in this place just a few years ago!

We passed the Mediterranean Sea at dusk and I could just barely catch a glimpse. Our guide, Rami, is a Palestinian Christian, and does a very thorough job of explaining everything. I knew things here were as he was portraying them to be. I thought his perspective of the situation was interesting – the Israelis need the Palestinians, and the Palestinians need the Israelis. I don’t know how many others agree with him here, but he had a very open outlook on the situation, while at the same time being very truthful and pragmatic. He also pointed out that not every Palestinian was a Muslim. Of course, we might rationally know this, but we forget I think.

Along the way I got to see olive trees! The ride from the airport to I’bilin and the Mar Elias Educational Institute was approximately 3 hours. We stopped at a place to grab something to eat, but no one was particularly hungry. We grabbed some water and continued on. When we arrived at the school, we unpacked the suitcases and were shown the guest house. The gentleman who oversees the schools operations, Elias, met us and showed us to our rooms. The place we stayed is new from the place they have stayed in the past. He kept telling us “5 star!” He was right. The accommodations were comfortable and we had the entire upper floor to ourselves, so our rooms were around a dining area. The housekeeper and cook, Asmahan, was there preparing a dinner for us. Boy! I am sure glad we didn’t eat on the road. The food was wonderful and so were the people. At 10:30 p.m. she was there fixing a meal for us, and Elias was waiting up for us. The kindness, goodness and radical hospitality that poured out from these two was humbling.

The school has over 4,000 students from kindergarten through college. Buses bring them from all over. The school does not feed them; they bring their lunch or eat at nearby “fast food” places. There are Christian, Muslims and Jews attending the school. The goal is to teach the children to live in peace with one another, in the hopes that these children will grow up and be peaceful members of society working for peace in the land.

We are to be at breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and are working tomorrow at the school. I think we will be painting. I really need to sleep, but I feel a need to remember as much as possible. I feel as if I am on a spiritual pilgrimage; a journey to see if God can restore life to dry bones. My ordination was a great way to start this journey.

(The photo is of the school and I'bilin in the morning from the roof of the Guest House.)

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