Friday, May 24, 2013

Israel & Palestine :: by Cory

So, we've done a pretty terrible job of updating this blog since we left India. We arrived in Bethlehem seven weeks ago and pretty much dove right into adjusting to another new culture, figuring out where to shop for food and other necessities, learning about our new jobs, making new friends, learning about the conflict here, and doing some site seeing. It's been amazing, difficult, fun, challenging, eye-opening, relaxing, educational, emotional, thought provoking, and beautiful. Living in the West Bank/Palestine is not something everybody gets to do and it's an incredible opportunity to see a side of this conflict that most people in the West hear nothing about.

For those of you who didn't know... we had to leave India for at least two months for visa law reasons and Israel is where we felt God leading us to spend our time away so that we could continue volunteering our time and gifts. Kevin and I were fortunate enough to visit Israel last year and in our time here we met some incredible people doing some amazing work in the middle of a conflict that goes back thousands of years.

So, we've been working with an organization called the Diyar Consortium in the heart of Bethlehem. It is an organization that was started by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb who pastors a local Lutheran Church that we've had the privilege of attending a few times over the last few weeks. Diyar has a number of different ministries and is one of the largest employers in all of the West Bank/Palestine. They focus on the arts in helping the people of Palestine express themselves and search for peace in non-violent ways. They do this through the Diyar Academy that focuses on the youth, the Diyar University College of Arts & Culture, young adult leadership training programs, and elderly programs. It's incredible to see how they are impacting the lives and the communities in the Bethlehem area.

We're all chipping in with our individual skills, gifts, and passions and the staff has been incredible about making us feel right at home. The people of Palestine are absolutely amazing, welcoming, and hospitable. Everywhere we go we are invited in for tea or over for dinner. We have loved the beautiful people of this beautiful land!

Kacie & John in front of the Garden Tomb
Orthodox Easter on the Via Dolorosa
Orthodox Easter 
Kacie, John, and Renee at the Church of the Pater Noster 
Cory in front of the Church of the Masses: Garden of Gethsemane
The streets of Hebron
The ruins of Masada
Kacie & John at the Dead Sea covered in mud
Peace Rally at the Cremisan Monastery
Kevin & Angela at the Cremisan peace rally
The Herodium
Kevin in front of the Mar Saba Monastery
Cory with the Judean hills behind