I realize that I have not done a very good job of documenting my everyday adventures and now that I have some free time I shall fill this void and share with you about my life here in Beit Sahour.  To begin, every morning starts off with a relativity quick breakfast consisting of tea, pita and all the other side spreads that can be combined with pita- jam, olive oil, spices, avocado, eggs, cheese, olives, and a sour cream/yogurt spread called lebana.  Throughout breakfast our host father, who just so happens to be our Arabic teacher, gladly shares with us the Arabic word for any food we touch or any object that catches our eye.  Although I appreciate his willingness to share and teach us (Becca is my roommate), I have to remind him that it may take me a while to be able to repeat words with relative ease…after all, not only are the words different than English, the way in which words are pronounced also differ.  For instance, there are three separate pronunciations for the letter H.

After arriving late at ATG for our eight am group ‘homeroom’ session, of which arriving late has become a permanent occurrence, individuals are able to share anything they would like.  People share about what’s going on in the news, a devotional, a funny story that happened the night before, a response to any lecture or comment made the previous day, or even a prayer request.  I’ve grown to love this time, a time when the whole group, including the leaders, come together to support each other and listen to one another.

From here we have an hour Arabic lesson followed usually by a half an hour break in which people talk, get tea or coffee, or use the restroom.  From here the schedule for each day varies.   Some days we travel by bus to another location to receive a lecture or visit a site, and other days the lecturer comes to ATG.  For lunch we are often free to go and get what we please.  I’ve usually gone to the local market to grab some pita, some sort of spread and lots of delicious fruits.

After another lecture or two we are usually free for the evening around four in the afternoon.  From here Becca and I walk back to our house with Dustin and Taylor who live only a street away.  Once we arrive at home we do a variety of things ranging from playing games, getting on the internet, journaling, reading, etc.  Once dinner is made Becca and I are filled to the brim with delicious food.  After about an hour we are usually served tea and cookies as we watch t.v. with the family.  It is worth noting that each night does vary as many nights we meet up with a group at the local restaurant for food, drinks, and conversation…other nights Becca and I have ventured to Dustin and Taylor’s house to hang out with them for a few hours.

What has always remained a constant is the fact that we are both in our room by nine to allow for a time to read or journal, and I’m usually the first to sleep by nine forty-five. Yes, this is probably the most sleep I’ve received since being in college but hey, I can’t complain that I go to bed on a full stomach after spending an adventurous and stimulating day here in Palestine.  Ironically the direct translation for the town we are staying in- Beit Sahour- means ‘house that stay up late’.  I guess Becca and I are not living up to this name!

So…this is it- an average day living in Beit Sahour, Palestine.

Although this is the average day in Palestine, what is missing from the description above is the details as to what we have been experiencing and witnessing.  One of the most profound days thus far has been our visit to Hebron.  To say in short…things have been a bit more emotionally draining than I initially realized.  Below is a reflection from my journal to sum up my emotions:

Journal Entry February 2, 2010

As I sit here in Palestine, I recognize the value of humanity.  Every one’s a human being, pure and simple.  This conflict is one based on ownership of land and resources- do THEY not recognize that the richest resource of all are the people.  THEY fight for or protect the land with the edge of their sword, spilling blood for something that is simply temporary.  As I’m becoming educated on this conflict, my conscious dictates to me that neither side is correct.  Instead of choosing a side, I choose to aspire to inspire.  Inspire those with hope that their story is heard, shared and felt by others.  However, what remains most important is that I share my story, my hope that one day all conflicts will cease to exist and wars will truly rest only in the  past.  This is my prayer, my hope that all will come to know the peace that is Jesus Christ.

On a lighter note, here are some lessons I learned over the past week and a half-

1. Make sure you do not add salt to tea and serve it to others.  Hospitality is one thing, but trying to serve your friends (sorry Becca, Taylor and Dustin) disgusting tea is another. 

2.  Do not add recently purchased clothing to you laundry load if you think the item might bleed onto other clothing.  Some of Becca and my clothing are now the fantastic color RED.

3.  Do not enter a ’Sweets Shop’ unless you are prepared to purchase some sweets.  I’ve learned I love Kinder chocolate…thanks to being introduced to it by one of my leaders, Rebekkah, who happens to be German.

Well…again this is long, but I’ve learned that I like to write so I hope YOU like to read:)

Sending Peace and Love, Janelle

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