If you’ve been wondering if I’ve been avoiding posting, the answer is yes. I dislike this very important process of slowing down, sitting down and reflecting my memories into concise sentences.
Our time here has been incredible. It is hard to summarize more simply than that. We had our debriefing team meeting on Sunday, and one of the questions we had to answer was how we were going to respond to questions from home. Obviously when most people ask, “So how was it?” they don’t want a book-long reply.
There were a few prompts to get us thinking. The first asked for a meaningful story. I thought of my homestay family here in Bethlehem. During the 2000 intifada–when Israel invaded the Palestinian West Bank and occupied for 40 days–our homestay family had their yard occupied by the military and they were only allowed out of their house for two hours per day. The eldest daughter was only 6, but she told us this story and said she remembers it like it was yesterday. In fact, last night IDF jets were doing practice rounds above Bethlehem and she freaked out; they were close enough to the ground that it rumbled the house and she thought it was another tank in their yard—she is now 19.
The next prompt asked where our team had the greatest impact. This question made us a bit uncomfortable because it sounds like we are tooting our own horn. However, it is valuable to reflect on. Our work was best received in Nazareth. We were just forwarded an email from our missions director. She only received incredibly positive feedback from our overseer in Nazareth, who ultimately concluded with an open invitation to any Trinity student interested in coming to the hospital. Apparently people are still asking after us! I’m glad that love was mutual.
Another prompt asked how we saw God moving on this trip. We were blessed at every step of the way and we have seen opportunities conclude that only God could have orchestrated. For example, five weeks ago we were introduced to a Nazareth nursing professor who wanted to potentially set up a nursing exchange program with our school, and she was only interested in pursing this because we were a Christian university. Four weeks later, a Trinity nursing professor was in Jerusalem and was very encouraged and open to this idea.
All in all, our time here has concluded too quickly, but I am so grateful for the people who have poured into us, and the encouragement we were able to return, and for the dialogues exchanged. We have met Jews, Messianic Jews, Messianic Believers, Arab Christians, Palestinian Christians, Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals, atheists, nominal Muslims, practicing Muslims, Armenians, Romanians, Russians, Kuwaitis, ex-pats, immigrants, refugees, missionaries, soldiers, pastors, priests, chaplains, nuns, and student volunteers. I would love to say we now understand the conflict, but if anything, we have only touched the surface.
We fly out in about 15 hours and so I have paused my packing to post. It had been an incredible experience and I thank you for your support and prayer.
We still have a fairly in depth security process to get through as we leave, especially since we have been living and the West Bank and probably consorting with Israeli-dubbed “terrorists” ;). If you would keep us in your prayers as we exit, that would be wonderful. But what are they going to do–throw us out? Hehe.
Love from the Middle East,