The story of a farmer

His hands were rough and worn from years of working the soil. His face was weathered and forever kissed by the warm desert sun that blanketed the hills of South Hebron. He reminded me of my grandfather, who, too, carried his story in the palm of his hands. Amidst his silence was a sense of deep passion and steadfastness for his land and his people. He, like my grandfather, was a farmer, a shepherd, and a steward of the earth. Continue reading

Belated Blogging and Intentionality

I was supposed to have written this blog last week, however, I did not have the proper words to express my experiences and the thoughts and emotions affiliated with them. When I write and speak, I like to convey my ideas through very intentional words; sometimes, this intentional articulation takes time to develop, as is the case with this post. Continue reading

Biting My Tongue

I tend to bite my tongue. And when I say this I mean that I tend to prevent myself from speaking but I also mean that I do it by literally chewing on my tongue as a manner to stay calm when I am distressed. And it was one thing to feel intense discomfort walking the emptied streets of Hebron, facing large groups of soldiers filling spaces where Palestinians are no longer allowed. But that night back in Jerusalem with our group, people who I cherish and among whom I feel safe and valued, I found myself again biting my tongue, refusing the opportunity to say anything as the words I could not find stayed shut behind anxious teeth lined up like so many rusting store fronts in occupied Hebron. Continue reading

AVH: Putting the Hospital in Hospitality – and More

The sweet 16 had the opportunity to step into my world for a day and become better acquainted with the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH). Housed in a historical stone structure, this building served many purposes before being acquired as a center of care for Palestinian refugees in 1948 by the Lutheran World Federation.

Since that time, AVH has transitioned from a secondary care hospital to a leader in specialized medicine including but not limited to cancer treatment, radiology, hematology, nephrology, and diabetes care, offering the only services in Palestinian territories in cancer radiation therapy and pediatric kidney dialysis. On any given day 320 AVH staff operate 102 of the 170 beds available, providing a standard of care that recently earned the Hopsital accreditation by The Joint Commission International, the most prominent health care accreditor in the U.S. AVH is the only hospital with such a designation in all of Israel and Palestine. Continue reading

identity and assumption

Identity.  We all have an identity.  We all have different narratives that help us to define our individual identities.  Some parts of our identity we do not choose.  Others we readily lay claim to.

Assumptions.  As with identity, so too do we all have our assumptions.  Our personal narratives inform our assumptions about ourselves and each other.  Sometimes the world around us assigns us both our identities and our assumptions.  Sometimes we do not realize how quickly we jump to believing our assumptions are realities.  But what if that were not the case? Continue reading

Bethlehem: More than Just a Little Town

Bethlehem is a place to which thousands of Christian pilgrims journey year after year, filled with a deep and profound longing to be in the place where Jesus was born. Christians express a deep desire to be in that “little town,” so still and silent, seeking connection to the land where our God took on flesh and came to dwell with us in the form of a tiny babe. This desire to come, see, and to be in the place that is central to our understanding of our faith, speaks to something deeply profound as we think about land, home, sacred space and pilgrimage.

Yet, the story of the little town of Bethlehem continues today. This story is one of walls, 12 meters high, covered with the laments of the people who long to move freely. It is a narrative of military presence, economic hardship, and political instability. This city has seen deaths, births, weddings, graduations, dancing, weeping, loss of land, and deep familial roots. Bethlehem, my friends, is a place filled with living stones. Continue reading

Beauty Amongst Brokenness

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After checking out the skyline for the past couple days, today was the day we finally got to wind through the narrow bustling roads of the old city.

Early this morning we worshiped in a small chapel in the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, met some fellow English speaking pilgrimaging Lutherans, and then headed to the Holy Sepulchre around the corner. When reflecting on our visits to holy sites, some have mentioned how they have noticed the worst come out of people while waiting impatiently in long lines to see a certain holy site. While others noted the beauty in the range of people from all different regions of the world coming together and experiencing these places. I tend to agree with my peers and I feel that there is beauty amongst brokenness here. Continue reading

Distressed.

I am writing to you all after two days of contemplation. Friday was a hard day for me in more ways than one and even after rest and many conversations…I am still wrestling these thoughts in my head.

Most of you don’t know my story, who I really am, or my background..so let me paint you a picture. I grew up with a father who was a Marine. He was a wonderful man and so were all of his peers. I grew up close to the base and I was a part of a diverse mismatched family who took care of each other in so many ways. I was essentially a daughter to 20+ individuals.

Continue reading

Holy Sites and the Sacred

A belated post from Thursday:

Today we drove up to the Galilee and spent the day seeing holy sites–the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, Tabgah where Jesus fed the 5,000, Capernaum, Nazareth. Many of these places have churches built around them, and most are devotional sites as opposed to historical sites–in other words, we know these events may not have happened in these exact places, but we use them to come and remember what happened there as people of faith.

We have been talking on this trip about the notion of living stones. The purpose of this trip is not just to see the dead stones of the area–the places where things happened long ago–but to listen to the stories of people living here in this land that is often called holy, this place where conflict, violence, and division are a daily reality. Continue reading