As we entered Galilee, we encountered rolling dessert hills, palm trees, flowers of all colors, which eventually turned into grassy mountains with livestock and olive trees. Pictures cannot even begin to capture it’s beauty. After all, it is the land of milk and honey. Despite the beauty of the country, it is very much divided and unjust. A Palestinian woman describes her story: ‘The children ask me, “Mamma, we want to have fun, why can’t we go (to the other side of the wall)?” I tell them we cannot go because we are living in a prison and do not have permission to leave. We cannot go because we are controlled by the Israelis.’ (Mira from Bethlehem.)
Half way through the week, we had the privilege of seeing a pleasant side of the Palestinian lifestyle in Bethlehem. These families welcomed us into their homes with open arms. They are very family oriented, as the adult children (in their 30s) lived at home until they were married. The first night at their home, Krystal and I sang happy birthday to our host mother, who had outdone herself with a delicious dinner: maqluba (rice and chicken plater), arabic salad, and 2 different cakes. They placed sparklers on the cake and the sisters taught us their cultural dances. Even though we did not speak Arabic (which they primarily spoke to each other) we felt completely included into their family. Our host mother would say, “my home is your home,” and “now I have 2 more daughters!” By the end of our stay, I didn’t want to leave. The hospitality was spectacular and I felt completely at home with this family that I had met only 3 days ago.
Leaving the country, I had many emotions. Blessedness, joy, sadness, sympathy, heartache, and a sense of holiness. No one knows how the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians could begin to be solved, but one thing I know is that Jesus will be the center of the solution.
~ Megan Radloff