If my writing stops and your screen suddenly is covered with goo it is because my head has exploded from all the information and emotion that has been poured, plunged, gushed and jammed into it over these past days. It is all so real and harsh here but they still have hope for a future of peace and for some the future is far and distant for others it is closer but still just out of range of their grasp.
Today started with an uplifting visit to the Rawdet el Zuhur School, translated A Garden of Flowers school. This school is a Global mission partner and began simply with 20 girls and has now grown to 230 children K-6. We got to tour the school and then some of the children sang and danced for us. Their classes include Arabic, French, English, science, art, music, math and all the other normal classes. All the children are Muslim that attend and the message of peace and hope are taught as fervently as Arabic and math. The kids were all so cute and smiled and welcomed us and wanted their pictures taken. It was good to see positive things happening.
Next we boarded the bus and headed to Ramallah where we met with Jean Zaru who is a Palestinian woman who is also a Quaker. She works and lives in Ramallah. She was an excellent speaker and made some very good points. She said, "We must have power with each other rather than power over each other." She said we must raise the consciousness of the problems and we must work together. She kept us captivated and shared much of her struggles. After her talk and question time we were given free time to wander around Ramallah and get something to eat.
A group of us headed out and ate at a little restaurant off the street. Not sure what all we had but I had yellow cheese bread and Glenn had one with cheese and fresh thyme. We also got to try some of the things others had ordered and we were very full when we left. It was a fun little location and the people were very nice and friendly. We wandered around for a bit afterwards. Some bought some candy to take home to family and then we ended up at Stars and Bucks for coffee. We just couldn't resist. It was up stairs off the street so we had a good view of all the Saturday traffic by the town square. After a brief respite we headed back to the Quakers meeting house for another speaker.
This speaker was an American by birth but had been living in Palestine for over 15 years. He married a Palestinian woman and his father had left Palestine in the 1950's. He was a telecommunication executive first in the states and then in Palestine. He talked about what life was like before and after he got his "residency" card. It was amazing the difference and the limits he had placed on him once his card was issued. He talked about the problems with the Oslo agreement and it's serious flaws. He was also a very good speaker that kept us captivated.
Next we walked to the Latin Catholic Church and met with Fr. Raed Sahlieh the priest there. He was like the energizer bunny with AD/HD on speed! He kept hopping up and down and wiggling as he talked. He was so energetic and funny at times even though what he had to say was very serious most of the time. They have over 700 children in their school there and half are Muslim. He talked about the significance of the area and about the fact that Christians have been here for over 2000 years and are here to stay. He talked about what it would take for peace and what kind of compromise would have to occur. He jumped around sometimes from topic to topic and it was hard to follow but at the time it seemed to make a sort of sense. By the time we left there we were all mentally and physically exhausted!
We had an hour ride back to our hotel due to traffic at the gates into East Jerusalem, it was only 1/2 hour ride to get to Ramallah this morning. So another problem with the Israeli system.
Dinner was different... the hotel had a "special" dinner for all the tour groups that were staying here. They had music and traditional dancing or so they said. It was actually good food but stupid entertainment. One of the other women and I snuck out after Glenn and some others got trapped in a line dance. We went and sat in the lobby where we all met shortly after for reflection time. Most everyone stayed for reflection and it was a good time and good sharing. We came back up to our room to work on pics and get packed for tomorrow. It is hard to believe that it is our last day with the group. We did find out that the one woman from UK that is in the group is on our flight to London and staying over night in the same London hotel we are. So we will have her with us for a bit more. But we still have a full day tomorrow so it is to bed I head!