Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bethlehem: A Palestinian Perspective

Hello All! First of all let me say I had the unrealistic expectation that I would lose weight. At the very least I didn't think I would gain any. Let me tell you, the food here is great, and we are pretty much fed banquets wherever we go! But I guess I'm not complaining. Ruby and I (Julieanne) are staying with a super nice host family. I would try to spell their names, but I don't really know how. We went to church this morning with our host mom and her youngest daughter. It was a Greek Orthodox church, and completely in Arabic and Greek. The only thing Ruby and I could decipher was when they would say Kyrie Eleison. The service was about 2 hours long, and much louder than my church. At one point of the service they pass out Holy bread. Our host mom had bought some on the way to church and I'm pretty sure the priest blessed it. Basically you get hunks of Holy bread from anyone who is sitting close to you plus a guy comes around with a bowl. Our host mom hav us these bags to put the bread in so that we didn't have to eat it all. It was quite an experience. After the service we went back to the house and had breakfast. It was your typical breakfast of pita, hummus, boiled egg, and some sort of yoghurt spread. I also had this sweet pastry thing that our host mom made yesterday. It was this layered pastry with olive oil, cinnamon, sugar, crushed peanuts and coconut. It tasted so good! We met up with the group at Manger Square which is right beside the Church of Nativity. An MCC worker who is living in Bethlehem met us and took us to Aida camp, which is one of the 3 refugee camps in Bethlehem. There are about 5000 Palestinians livig there, but the size of the. mp is fairly small. MCC partners with Lajee Center, which was where we listened to a presentation and had lunch. The presentation was put on by a few of the refugees there who were young adults as well as the director of the camp. We also watched a few short films that were made to tell the true Palestinian story. This is one of the ways they hope to bring peace, becaus it gets out the message and informs people living here. Lunch. Insisted of a huge plate of rice and a piece of chicken. We had a short tour of the camp, where Emilt gave a bracelet to some children following her. The wall is very close to this camp and 5 watchtowers surround it. In 2009 the Israeli Army even shot into the school there, and we even saw the bullet holes that were in the doors. They also shot a few of the water tanks that everyone has because wAter does not always get delivered, and the percentages of the water they do get is not very high. My host family even said that they won have water because water won't be delivered for another two weeks. We had a one hour presentation back at the ATG (alternative tourism group) by MCC about their partner organizations here and a bit of Q and A. We also did a short debrief and the. Our host families picked us up. We had dinner almost as soon as we got back. Ruby and I had helped make dinner yesterday, and it was this cool stuff that looked kind of like tortellini. It is called Shish barek or something that sounds like it anyway. I think it tasted better just because we helped make it. It was our host mom and dad's 28th anniversary today, so her parents came over and her oldest (married) daughter. The men Played backgammon while the women talked. They also served us this other pastry with a kind of custard in the inside. To end off the night they also took us out for ice cream. I will definitely have to hit the gym when I get back home! God Bless! - Julieanne Enns

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