Hey Everyone! Shabbat Shalom! -“Peaceful Sabath.” Today is Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath which technically starts from sundown on Friday, and goes until sundown on Saturday. This day is a time of rest and fellowship. We have a special dinner each Friday night to celebrate. Yesterday was the first! Before dinner we played Ultimate Frisbee in hell!! Ahh just kidding- it was in the Gehena Valley (compared to hell in the New Testament). After, we dressed up and celebrated the special occasion.
On Thursday night I was given the opportunity to help out at a youth group in Bethlehem. It was amazing! The city is fifteen minutes from campus and in Palestinian territory called the West Bank. A couple of us took an Arab bus to the gate of Bethlehem. The city is completely surrounded by a wall to separate the Israeli and Palestinian territories. This holy city of Jesus' birth did not look anything like I pictured, or the fancy pictures you see in church. It took at least five minutes to walk through the security gate. And once inside, I felt was anxious, especially since it was in the evening hours. I will put up pictures of Bethlehem soon.
Once we got to this cute little hole in the wall cafe, which hosts the youth group, I was so pumped. The students are from a Christian school in Beit Jala. About fifty students were there. Here's the deal- I talked to one of the leaders the night before and she asked if I knew any crazy, silly games to open the night. And me- with my Camp Orchard Hill, camp counselor experience- was like "Of course I know some games!" I told her the classic Oreo on the face game (you break an Oreo cookie in half, lick the cream, stick it on your forehead and then use your face muscles to bring it down to your mouth).
When I got there she asked me if I wanted to lead it! I was so excited, but also a bit nervous! Turned out to be absolutely hilarious! I will try to get some of the pictures! After the four students couldn't successfully eat the oreo's, she asked me if it was possible. THEN, I demonstrated it! Overall, I think it went very well! First time I have ever lead something like that! And, I think it was a good way for students to get to know me! The rest of the night was awesome- worship, then a message (like a typical American yg). I loved hanging with the students and cannot wait to start helping out each week. I got to talk to some of them and they are like the best teenagers ever! I'm really glad I will be working with teenagers here. I feel so alive when I am investing in the lives around me.
Today a few of us walked the Ramparts walk. This walk goes along the large wall around the Old City of Jerusalem.
After, we stopped by Shaban's shop!! He is THE coolest shop owner in the entire Old City. The college knows him well. Whenever we come, he gets us something to drink and sometimes gives us yummy pita bread with hummus (way way better than sodexo hummus!) And, best of all he is very honest about pricing, which is virtually unheard of here. Most places charge very high with the intention of haggling down to a more reasonable price.A few hours ago I bought a Byzantine (330-1453 A.D.) coin from Shaban. I bought it to remember the concept of time I have come to understand thus far. I have found it challenging to understand time in America- our government history is indeed only several hundred years. But in Jerusalem, history dates back to B.C. I'm learning about and seeing real, ancient history. And it makes me think about my time. What, at most 100 years? I want to rewind and even pause. But, God blesses time and calls it holy (Genesis 2:3). And, he is the author of it. In this, I find immense comfort. In the end, I don't control time. But, it is still difficult. I have certainly thought about history before, and how the world has been around for at least thousands of years. It is unnerving to think about, but necessary. I think we are able to grasp a better understanding of this world and ourselves. What do I have but a breath? And what should I do in this time that will actually mean something?