Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Few Pictures

Today I am going to post a few pictures from my trip. Considering I took over 2200, I will not be posting all of them, not that all of them are post-worthy. These were some that I really liked, artistically speaking. I will post more photos with upcoming diary posts. I hope you enjoy. I have several categories of these photos that I particularly like; people, doors, architecture, etc. Today, I am posting street scenes.

Street in Jericho

Shop in Nazareth

Street in Jericho

Street in Nazareth

Street in Aida Refugee Camp

Street in Bethlehem

Street in Jerusalem

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.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Home at Last!

It has been a while since I have posted, although my "smitten husband" has been posted the sermons during my absence. I greatly appreciate him, and those who preached for me while I was away. I am going to be posting my diary from the trip as I get them processed. I will try to include a few pictures also as I do this.

Today, am going to post the June 1 and 2 diary entries which includes my getting prepared to go. When I refer to the setting off the alarms at the airport, it is because I have plates and pins in my right leg.

June 1, 2009
I leave tomorrow. Interestingly enough, I am not worried or scared. I thought I would be considering I was nervous about saying that I would go. Others have expressed concern for me, even Lark at the Post Office. I feel calm and at peace; must be God. I may begin to get nervous later, like when I get on the plane. But things are well with my soul. I am looking forward to the trip.

June 2, 2009
I am at the airport. I made it through without setting off alarms! I am glad that isn’t going to be something I have to deal with as I travel. The group I am with is interesting. I think we are all good natured enough to get along and adapt to differing personalities. There are six clergy and seven laity on this mission trip. There are twelve United Methodists and one Pentecostal; ten women and three men. It is an interesting group with those who are older and younger, outgoing and quiet.

I personally worry a bit about being about to deal with the physical demands I will be facing on this trip. We will also be out of our element for two weeks, and that is disconcerting. I don’t know how to prepare for this because I have never really been out of the country, with the exception of Cancun, Mexico; which is not exactly challenging. I think to a certain degree I am still in shock and amazement that I am going on this mission trip. It is not only an opportunity of a lifetime, it is something I have felt drawn toward for a while. God is good!

Thank You - TOMS Shoes

Thank You - TOMS Shoes

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Sunday, June 14, 2009


The sermon today was given by Sonja's daughter Chelsea, preaching in her mothers absence. The scripture reading is Matt. 28; 18-20 .

Sunday, June 7, 2009

God Is Love

While Sonja is in Israel we will be having guests preaching in her stead. Today's guest is Rev. Gary Holdeman, our District Superintendent, the scripture readings are Eph. 5; 1-2 and 1 John 4; 7-21 the title of the sermon is God is Love.

-Sonjas's very smitten husband


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Time is Now!

I wrote weeks ago about my trip to Israel and Palestine. The countdown clock has finally wound down to mere hours before my departure. The time is now.

I have had many people ask if I was scared, and if you will remember my earlier posting about it, I was indeed nervous then. However, today, as I prepare to depart, the only thing I am nervous about is getting through the checkpoints (Hid I pack everything in the right 3 oz container in the quart plastic baggie? How about my internal hardware setting off the alarms?) Other than those minor things, I am pretty calm. Isn't it interesting how God works?

I remember a story about a king who had commissioned a painting of perfect peace and held a contest among the artists in the area to paint a picture of perfect peace. When the day came and the artists all brought their paintings, there were many paintings of beautiful landscapes of peaceful waters and calm trees. There were many other serene and tranquil ideals of peace depicted in the paintings. However, the artist who won the contest did not paint such a pastoral picture. In his painting there were jagged rocks on a cliff with a roaring waterfall plunging to the white-capped river below. There were angry looking clouds and a buffeting storm swirling all around the sky. The picture seemed to be the opposite of what the king was looking for, it would have been a painting of absolute chaos. But barely to be seen behind the waterfall was a mother bird on the nest with her babies. They were snuggled in warm and dry to their mother and the mother had a look of peace as did the babies.

The moral to that story is that true peace is not the absence of chaos, but peace in the midst of chaos. There have been many occasions in my life where in the midst of chaos and even despair, God has granted me his perfect peace. This is the peace I feel today as I am going over last minute packing lists and the time to leave is getting closer. May God grant you such peace in the chaos of your life as well.