Journal in the Holy Land
January, 2001
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The sounds of Zababdeh:
4:45 AM, Muslim prayer (40 sec.)
6:00 AM, Church bells (40 sec.)
6:30 AM, sheep
7:30 AM, National Anthem (40 sec.)
24-7, Electrical generator (5 sec.)

1/1/01:  Kul 'am wintu ibkhayr (Happy New Year - it's easier for beginners)!  After our adventures getting from Zababdeh to Jerusalem, one thing has become clear: the peace process should begin with taxi drivers.  Perhaps an explanation will help: since peace is forged beginning with commonalities, and since both Palestinian and Israeli taxi drivers have that inborn desire to take your money, they should get along famously.  All the other pieces should fall into place from there.  Once we made it to Afula's bus station (where at least the prices are well-known and published), we thought we'd have smooth sailing.  But on the way from Afula to Tel Aviv, we clipped the back of an 18-wheeler.  In the charged atmosphere here, the loud sound and flying debris sent a chill of fear down everyone's spine. Fortunately, we all quickly knew that it was not a bomb, and that everyone was OK; all it meant was that we had to change buses.  Finally, we arrived at our hotel at Jerusalem's Jaffa/Hebron Gate (video - 22 sec. - of the view).  Two images stick out in our minds: the frisking of Palestinian youth by Israeli soldiers just below our hotel room (routine by now) and the apparently inebriated Orthodox Jew dancing on his balcony in the new city to Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead's "You Gotta Serve Somebody" (from Bob's born-again Christian period - wonder if he knew that).  An odd, odd city.  But of all places to be on New Year's Eve and hear bells and see fireworks (video - 24 sec.), it's hard to top Jerusalem.

That was all last night.  Today, "The Situation" (as the Intifada has come to be known) put a damper on our plans.  "Ramparts walks" on top of the Old City walls (reputed to be a fantastic way of seeing the city)  have been forbidden indefinitely.  The Haram as-Sharif (Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque) is closed to non-worshippers (actually, it appears to be closed to non-worshippers and to worshippers below the age of 40 or 45) - the Israeli soldiers who were preventing entry tired of Marthame's persistent questions as to why it was closed, and replied rather ominously, "It's closed forever."  As we left their post, we were handed a flyer explaining the significance of the Temple Mount to Judaism.  Bolitics, bolitics.  We took solace in the fact that it's a big, big city, with no dearth of things to see, and so we became tourists again, doing some shopping (the pleas of desperate shopkeepers are depressing - as we walked the Via Dolorosa, we wondered if the crowd shouted "50% off" to Jesus, too).  We took a wonderful detour through the Armenian Quarter, arriving in time to be waylaid by the smells and bells of St. James' Armenian Orthodox Cathedral.  The church is covered in beautiful carpets and icons, with lanterns hanging from every available ceiling spot.  Novices and youth joined with hooded priests in intoning the service (video - 28 sec., or audio - 23 sec., or video - 23 sec.).  It is built on the site believed to be where St. James' head was interred following his martyrdom.  On a roundabout meander through the Armenian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters, we returned to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and its unending nooks and crannies (at the holy sites it's the desperate tour guides who depress you).  Completing our circuit by way of the Christian Quarter, where our wonderful hotel was, we caught a taxi for our (hopefully) regular Jerusalem get-together with some other ex-pats.  Conversations here are often limited to re-hashing the difficulties of The Situation, but these friends give us a welcome respite.

1/2/01:  Elizabeth and family headed off to the Mount of Olives where we saw a wonderful view of the city (video - 31 sec.). We visited the Church of the Pater Noster, where Elizabeth's mother happily read the Lord's Prayer in Finnish (video - 23 sec.) and was amused that the church (which has the prayer in languages from all over the world) had both Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. We hustled to get to the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, which has beautiful golden onion domes and limited hours for visitors. We enjoyed the church and its grounds (see some of the flowers of its gardens on the nature page!) and talking with two of the sisters, one from Serbia and one from Ireland. Elizabeth bought some of their hand-made apricot jam (from their own trees). Yum. Unfortunately, we missed the Garden of Gethsemane's visiting hours, so we headed through the Valley of Jehosaphat, past the tombs of the Patriarchs (video - 28 sec.) and along the walls of the Old City. Our destination was St. Andrew's Church, the Presbyterian church (Church of Scotland). There, we had a look around, especially the Sunbula shop, which sells Palestinian hand crafts in order to provide jobs for economically desperate communities, and also keep the traditions of these crafts alive. After looking at so many beautiful things, we headed on through the German Colony towards the Israel Museum.

Meanwhile, Marthame spent the morning nursing a cold, curled up with a good book and some even better cough syrup.  Later in the day he did manage to wander out of the hotel to visit some friends but happened upon the site of the "Garden Tomb."  Held by the British government, it claims some (although limited) archaeological legitimacy for being the site for the crucifixion and burial places of Jesus.  Unlike the aura of mystery and the millenia of tradition of the Holy Sepulchre, the Garden Tomb goes for historicity.  Poised above the Arab bus station (a former quarry) is a hill resembling a skull.  Digging has revealed an ancient garden nearby, as well as some ancient tombs - including one where the place for feet was never carved out (the tour guide explained that one reason could be the resurrection of the intended occupant!).  Some have called it Protestant sour grapes at being squeezed out of the Sepulchre, but the place has an altogether different feel. Unlike the Holy Sepulchre, which is usually (although not this year) crowded by pilgrims and tourists, noisy and full of bustle, the Garden Tomb presents a very peaceful place surrounded by gardens for quiet reflection and prayer. 

As Marthame attempted to rendevous with the rest of the gang, he encountered the snarl of competitive (political?) economics.  Elizabeth had the Palestinian cellphone.  Marthame could be in conversation with it from East Jerusalem and Old City payphones, but not from new city payphones - they don't recognize the 059 prefix.  Nevertheless, we managed to rendezvous at the expansive Israel Museum (highlights included the Dead Seas Scrolls and Ethiopian Coptic Crosses) and for dinner back in a grand (need we say "empty?") old restaurant on the Arab side of town.

1/3/01:  Elizabeth's brother had an early, early AM departure, and so we said farewell at maybe 4 AM.  Afterwards, we slept. Hours later, we took off in different directions: Elizabeth and Mom went for a haircut and another look at the Old City suq (market); Marthame took care of multiple tasks and connected with several Christian groups who have housed themselves in East Jerusalem - the Mennonite Central Committee's Palestine Office (to deliver a gift through them to the Christian Peacemaker Teams we visited in Hebron), Sabeel (a Palestinian Christian ecumenical organization with whom Marthame is working on scholarship applications for Palestinian Christian students to attend North Park University in Chicago), and World Vision (a wonderful organization, doing wonderful work, but Marthame was just saying hi).  In the office of World Vision stood an Arab priest who had been attacked on the road by settlers on the West Bank.  He was told that the damage to his car was not covered because the attack had been by Jews.  Had it been Palestinians, the government would have paid for the damage.  A rabbi in the same office confirmed the priest's story - his windshield had been smashed, and the government paid for all repairs in a local garage.  Once again rendevouzing (no thanks to cellphone technology), we departed our hotel for the Dead Sea and the Ein Gedi Reserve!  Our road took us from Jerusalem through the West Bank to the Dead Sea - a bypass road we now traveled in an Israeli bus.  A month ago we had traveled the same road in a Palestinian taxi.  It's difficult to explain how different those two trips were, two sides of a very odd-shaped coin.  But it's hard to believe it was the same road.

1/4/01:  Everyone is relieved to have tourists - whether in Bethlehem or Ein Gedi.  It was a welcome relief to just play tourist (not even pilgrim, just plain old tourist).  Our day began with sunrise at the Dead Sea (though it was too chilly for floating right now - that will require a return trip) and explorations of its tremendous salt formations.  Down at the South end of the Sea is Sodom, where Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of the stuff.  We spent the rest of the day hiking in the Ein Gedi nature reserve, visiting the critters (hyrax and ibex) and the dramatic vistas of waterfalls (video - 28 sec.) and natural springs of Wadi David and Shulamit Falls.  Unfortunately, the Dead Sea is shrinking at the rate of an inch a year - it's hasty retreat is dramatic.  As in most places, this has to do with the appropriation of its natural sources for other uses. According to our guidebook (we like our Lonely Planet), Israel (which draws on the Jordan River for the National Water Carrier System) and Jordan (with a similar project on the Yarmuk River) deprive the Dead Sea of over 600 million cubic meters of water per year. The future seems bleak for the sea.  Finally we came upon the remains of an ancient synagogue (3rd century) with dramatic mosaics and inscriptions written in Hebrew and Aramaic.  The figures in the floor are those of birds, because there was a strong belief in the injunction against portraying the human form as a "false idol" (so much so that some illuminated manuscripts we saw at the Israel Museum showed Biblical characters with birds' heads).  We finished an exhaustingly long day by returning to Tel Aviv to spend a few days in Old Jaffa.

1/5/01:  It was a return visit to Jaffa (where we visited just a few weeks ago).  Unfortunately for Marthame, it was a return visit to the bed (can't kick this cold!) - but Elizabeth and Mom spent much of the day checking out the rugs for sale all around our hostel. At the end of the day (as the shops were closing for Shabbat), Mom decided to buy one. Mabruk! We discovered the true story of Simon the Tanner's house we tried to visit last time - apparently, the old Christian site is also the site of an old mosque, and the municipality is in the process of dividing the site in two for both religions.  The old Armenian couple who live there, in the meantime, have been told not to let any visitors enter until further notice. We capped off the night with spectacular seafood (direct from the Dead Sea, we think ;-) over a spectacular view of the Mediterranean.

1/8/01:  We spent some time wandering through Jaffa and enjoyed another delicious meal overlooking the sea. Then it was off to the Tel Aviv bus station, where Mom took the bus to the airport and we to Nazareth. We finally made it back to Zababdeh with a few bumps, but no major headaches (could've been worse - could've been raining).  More roads have been closed off between the checkpoint and Zababdeh since we last came, making travel that much more fun.  We arrived to find out that Zababdeh had no running water and everyone in our building has empty water tanks (except us--our two-week absence must have helped our cause) because of a broken or sabotaged (we're not sure) pipe, and that there has been nightly shooting between Palestinian gunmen and the Israeli soldiers in the camp.  Add to all of this that today was the first day of school, and re-entry becomes a difficult task!  We have a new neighbor in our building - the other one left his job at the University because of "The Situation" (hereafter known as "The Euphemism") to be with his family in Jordan.

Tonight there was an incident worth relating.  On our way to the store to do some shopping this evening, we heard the usual gunfire exchanges in the distance - Palestinian shebab (that is, youth) firing from the hills near the camp, and the Israeli jeesh (that is, soldiers) returning fire.  We gathered with a crowd of folks along the road to see what can be seen - sometimes the red lights of Israeli tracer bullets (we think) can be seen disappearing into the hills.  Suddenly, we saw one of these lovely red lights headed in the direction of our gathered crowd - thirty feet in the air and to the left (it wouldn't be a field goal), but in our general direction.  Everyone scattered - Marthame went one way, Elizabeth another.  Five or ten more followed suit afterwards, no one was really sure what was happening.  We connected again after perhaps a minute (as the shooting continued) and headed back home, where we knew we were safe.  Everyone wanted to know what was happening, and there was a delicate balance of informing everyone and not worrying the kids too much.  We know without a doubt that there was no firing at the camp from the direction these bullets headed.  We heard some houses were damaged, but have not been able to find out with any certainty.  In any case, it seemed clear that this was a deliberate effort to frighten the civilian population of Zababdeh.  It worked.

1/9/01:  Mabrouk!  The water truck arrived today, alleviating our water fears and droughts (video - 5 sec.).  Speaking of segues, we are often reminded, in ways large and small, that the British came to Palestine long before the Americans.  Elizabeth is in the process of making flash cards for her classes, and has had to conform to the spelling in her textbooks (Marthame's students were confused by his writing on the blackboard, "Jesus said, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" - One students asked, "Isn't it 'neighbour?'").  Alas.  But we'll give you extra credit if you can get the flash card  right (no, it isn't "aeroport").  Then tonight we got to see two things that folks in the States didn't get to see: a total eclipse of the moon (it's the last one until 2003, we hear), and more shooting in Zababdeh.  There were more exchanges between the shebab and the soldiers tonight (continuing their streak).  We heard more and more shooting, bigger and more powerful calibers.  Then shots began coming in our general direction, from the camp and landing on the road to the University (video of the red tracer bullet - 5 sec.).  It brought everyone out of the building to decide what to do (kind of like a fire alarm).  Once the shooting stopped, we paused to watch the beautiful moon disappear slowly from view.  One of our neighbors said it looked like it was sad for Palestine.

1/11/01:  The community and school of Zababdeh experienced a deep tragedy today.  Fourth grader Annas al-Ahmad, born with a hole in his heart, was playing ball with friends before school started.  He was hit in the chest with the ball, collapsed to the ground, and within ten minutes had died.  He was a student of Elizabeth's. His sister is one of Marthame' students, and his aunt is a fellow English teacher at the school. Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day, and for Saturday as well, as the school did its best to honor his memory.  The family arrived, and the children gathered around the football field as he was carried on a bier around it - giving them each a chance to say goodbye.  Students and teachers alike were in tears.  We gathered in busses in the afternoon to head to his family's village (outside Jenin) for the funeral - Arab culture holds the service the day of death in most cases.  It was hard to witness the overwhelming expressions of grief, but heartening to see the strength of the school community in the face of such pain.  Words will have to suffice for today, as the camera just didn't seem appropriate. We have added Annas's family and the whole school community to our prayer list.

1/14/01:  Today was the third day (the traditional Arab day for visitation) after the death of fourth grader Annas.  We returned to Rummani with other teachers to sit with and show support for the family. We were suprised to see that many roads have been opened up again, and the bulldozed dirt that has blocked side roads is slowly being removed.  We have heard that the recent incident near Zababdeh where the IDF shot at the Bishop of Nazareth was such an embarrassment that they've eased up on things around us - maybe that explains why things have been quiet at night (thank God).  In Rumane, all of the men sat were silent observers as Annas' father and Abuna Louis exchanged words of comfort.  The father expressed an interest in helping to have a doctor on-call in Zababdeh around the clock in case something like this should happen again - the grace of a grieving parent.  We also drank bitter, bitter coffee - nothing sweet at the time of death.  The women gathered together, and each was given a date.  Again, not to eat, but seemingly as a hopeful symbol of sweetness to come.  Each was given a plate of food to eat, as at a wedding, but to be eating quickly with no few exchanged - again a reminder of the need for sustenance to the body, but for the moment there is little joy.  We then gathered in the home of one of the teachers who was Annas' aunt for more visitation (her house, and all of Rummanih, sits within sight of the Israeli checkpoint on the way to Megiddo, where we had had such surreal experiences with our French consular vehicle two months ago).  Few words were exchanged except for the formal greeting, "Allah yerhamo" - God have mercy on him.  We're not sure how much was tradition and how much was no one really knowing what to say.  A little bit of both, most likely.

1/15/01:  School is back in session.  A memorial tree was planted today on the Patriarchate lands in Tayasir nearby.  Otherwise, things are returning to a sense of normalcy, though nothing is never normal after the death of a student.  There is a vacant seat in classrooms, in the line-up for assembly.  Teachers gather in the teachers' lounge a bit more shell-shocked than usual.  But we continue, and grades are still due for last semester.  Today was the beginning of basketball practice for the girls, an event Elizabeth had been looking forward to.  But with only four girls, there's not much room for drills and practice.  Nonetheless, they did some practice dribbling, and hope for a bigger turn out next week.  The boys, never ones for organization anyway, gathered around the school's ping-pong table for matches that last until people get hungry.  Marthame was humiliated by the school's coach (21-4!).  Ouch.

1/16/01:  We realized that we haven't talked much about our new, expanded pad (video - 29 sec.)!  While it is good news for us, it happened because our neighbor had to leave.  Originally from Jordan, he had come to Zababdeh to work in the school as a Social Worker.  Because of some cutbacks, he stayed in Zababdeh but could find no work in his field.  He tried desperately to stay as long as he could, working as a painter for the Ramallah construction company working on the new Arab-American University of Jenin.  But when the Intifada started, the company closed up operations at the University - couldn't get their project managers through on the roads.  So our neighbor went back to Jordan to be with his family and hopefully find work.  We will miss him, but it does give us the opportunity to allow sunlight into the place and affords us a spectacular view of the University (too bad about the new chicken coop going up nearby).  We also visited tonight with our dear friend, the Melkite priest in waiting.  He even let Marthame try on his Thob!  As our work grows more ecumenical here, we got together to brainstorm cooperative possibilities with the Melkite community, whose church has been closed for fifteen years because no new priest has been installed.  Even though they cannot worship, though, our friend is anxious to get them involved in a whole new bevy of ministries.  We couldn't agree more.

1/18/01:  Viruses aren't good.  Elizabeth's been in bed with one, and Marthame managed to give one to our computer.  While not particularly destructive, this little bugger (called "The Matrix") is a sneaky one and very difficult to get rid of.  One of its more ingenious methods is to prevent you from going to websites that contain words like "virus" or "norton" or "mcafee" to cure your computer.  Another one is to connect to its own website and download new viruses onto your computer.  Twelve hours later, the computer is healthy, and it seems we only passed it along to one other person whose software was up-to-date enough to catch it.  A reminder: DO NOT OPEN UNKNOWN ATTACHMENTS!  No matter who tells you to!

1/19/01:  The way the world works these days is strange.  A week ago, we received an email which contained a copy of a letter written by Jerry Falwell about the Christians in Beit Jala.  We let it sit for a few days, and then decided enough was enough - we had to respond.  We sent our letter to Falwell, as well as to some of our usual recipients of such letters.  Within days, we were receiving responses from London, New Zealand, and Palos Heights (Illinois, of course).  Seems the thing has been bouncing around the internet quite a bit.  No response from the stated recipient, though.  We also learned today what the story is with the water supply.  It seems that Zababdeh has no running water (except for that stored in rooftop tanks) because of a broken water pump. The pump for the town is under Israeli control, and the Israelis have thusfar failed - or  refused - to fix it.  That is why a water truck brought water to refill our rooftop tanks last week.  Our neighbors put out every available bucket to catch the rainfall and avoid - or at least delay - this added expense.

1/21/01:  A walk to the University with neighbors took us through the fields to see the blessings that recent rains have brought.  The red flowers (Crown anemone - Anemone coronaria) are everywhere and look too perfect to be real.  Farmers have been able to plant their important winter crops (alfalfa, beans, squash, etc.), leaving the land in a patchwork of brown (ploughed) and green (planted).  The lush new growth on nearby rocky hills reminds us more of Ireland than John the Baptist.  Because of our trading off illnesses, we have not been able to go for a walk since late December.  But the transformation of this place from brown, hot, and dusty to green, lush, and muddy is remarkable. Go see the nature page to see more of the beautiful flowers and critters from our walk!  We have been promised that it will only get more beautiful in the months to come.

1/23/01:  This morning on our way to school there was a stunning rainbow - it stopped us in our tracks, as well as many of the students - the first time one has ever seemed this close and the first time we've even seen one from end to end!  There was little time to contemplate it, though, as the rain started up again.  The word for "rain" in Arabic is the word they use for the season of "winter."  Almost every night there's a downpour (audio - 5 sec.), which is good news for the farmers and for our view - but bad news for our body temperatures and lack of central heat.

1/24/01:  We have arrived in the world of media publishing.  Our open letter to Jerry Falwell made it, in full text form, to the on-line journal Media Monitors.  We are working on a shorter version to have a little wider distribution.  Meanwhile, we learned that Marthame was published in the Atlanta Journal (short op-ed, Friday evening edition - it's a start!).  Our muse must be the vocal bovine neighbor who has been serenading us day and night for the past week (audio - 14 sec.).

1/26/01:  A much-anticipated walk today.  We have been meaning to wander around the new Arab-American University up on the hill, but every time we walk there, we're too tired to do any real exploring!  Today we drove there with our neighbors and exhausted ourselves around the campus.  Now is a wonderful time to see the land, if a bit nippy.  Not unlike our impression of Ireland - green, wet, and rocky.  Beautiful land anyway, but particularly now with all of the winter rain-induced greenery (did we mention it's green here now?).  Wonderful views of many of the nearby villages - Zababdeh, Raba', Mesilya, 'Aqaba, Jalqamus...Those who own the land near the university have done some landscaping in an effort to woo professors and administrators to buy and build.  There are groves of almond trees, bitter almonds with different grafts, rubber plants, olive trees, all growing here. If you want to see more of our discoveries (and finally some more pictures from our January trip to Ein Gedi), go to the nature page.

1/27/01:  Last month, we went to Hebron with a group called Internationals in Palestine.  Tomorrow they are organizing another event (an olive tree planting where IDF soldiers recently bulldozed a grove) in Beit Sahour.  For all of the talk of opening roads and lifting closures, our experience today belied the political rhetoric.  We were traveling by Palestinian shared taxi, the main mode of inter-city transportation here.  Normally, the trip is two and a half, maybe three hours.  Today?  Five hours.  From Zababdeh we went to Tubas, from Tubas to Nablus.  Then it got interesting.  Coming out of Nablus, only Israeli cars are allowed to travel on the two-lane highways designed for heavier traffic.  So Palestinian taxis, busses, cars, and donkeys (no joke) wind their way up through the mountain villages on dirt and gravel potholed roads meant for the donkeys and tractors.  The views are splendid, but bring your motion sickness medicine (Elizabeth sure wished she had).  Eventually, we connected with a more reasonable route.  Coming into Ramallah, once again we detour around the main entrance to the city, following rush hour traffic creeping through small neighborhood streets.  Coming out of Ramallah heading to Bethlehem was the worst leg of the journey - particularly at rush hour.  Once we reached the outskirts of town, we also reached an IDF checkpoint.  A few cars are let through, but most are turned back, often after long waits and harassment.  Most of the commuters opt for the other option, which is to head through the nearby neigborhood's dirt roads for a forty-five minute detour.  Eighteen wheelers and sports cars shared the narrow road, as we crept along within inches of each other and of the houses.  In the States, at least we have road rage as an outlet!  But curiously, although you can feel the tension build, here we have never seen people start to yell or threaten violence, as we have seen in the States.  We rejoined the main road some 100 yards from where we left it, on the other side of the checkpoint, in full view of the soldiers.  They know we are doing it.  They make no effort to stop us.  And thus the checkpoint serves little purpose but to delay and frustrate.  The final detour is through the Wadi Nar (the Valley of Fire) into Bethlehem.  It's a spectacular view, and unlike coming out of Nablus, mostly worth the extra five or ten minutes.  We arrived in Beit Jala in time to visit friends living and working there.  Things have quieted down, as opposed to several months ago when they huddled under the dining room table one night because of the IDF helicopter gunships shooting into town.  We spent the night at the Latin Seminary, joining the priests for dinner and some multi-lingual (Arabic, English, French, Italian, Hebrew) time around the TV (Colors with Arabic subtitles?).  We also were introduced to 91 year-old Abuna Ibrahim, former exile,  member of the Palestinian National Committee, former PLO member, and close personal friend to Yasser Arafat. He has made several speeches to the United Nations regarding justice for Palestinians. He promised to pass along to us his UN speeches.  No one ever said Palestine is boring...

1/28/01:  A paucity of pictures again today, but how do you capture a cancellation on film? ("Aargh!" said Charlie Brown)  There was too much rain to do the planting, so it has been postponed for next Sunday.  Considering the fact that we rearranged things in Zababdeh to be away, and that we had such fun on our commute yesterday, it's doubtful we'll be back.  Most of the "Internationals in Palestine" are centered in Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, so a cancellation is not a big deal.  For those of us way, way up in the hinterlands who are carless (or is it "careless"?), however, it's a drag.  Our mantra for the past couple of months, which seems to apply so well here, has been "chalk it up to the learning curve."  We made it back to Jerusalem (traveling another bizarre detour to avoid the roadblocks - at some point, almost arbitrarily, the taxi driver turned off the road and into what seemed to be the desert.  We then traveled along a "road" at the bottom of a valley strewn with garbage until we reconnected with a small village road again).  Once in the "Holy City", we connected with our friend who was packing boxes of clothing donated for the Jahallin Bedouin.  There was a new volunteer on the project, a Modern Conservative Jewish college student from Cleveland.  As we talked about our experiences over the past few months, it was very clear that her vision of this land has been shaped by very different things than ours. We found that our mental maps of the land had very few common reference points. Our West Bank is landmarked by Palestinian cities and villages, connected (now) by windy roads, whereas hers is marked by Jewish settlements connected by highways. It was as if we were talking about two totally different countries. Our trip back to Zababdeh was mostly along the same route, getting us back in time to eat some homemade maqlube.  Yum.

1/30/01:  Our ecumenical drive continues.  We spent an evening with the Anglican priest of St. Matthew's Church in Zababdeh, Father Hosam Na'oum.  We ate together, shared dreams for ministry in Zababdeh, and sang some Christmas songs (it's never too late - audio, 15 sec.).  These are the collegial moments that refresh us (or is "steel" a better word?) for the schoolteaching part of our work.  Do we have school tomorrow?