April 27, 2011

A Few Photos To Get You Started

This is a side view of the Fauzi Azar Inn from my roof top, that would be down the street and around the corner. The three large windows you see in the front are facing the street and are in a large meeting/sitting area. There is a small balcony on the side just to the left of the small lit window (the toilet room) which is just off the kitchen. On either side of the three large windows are guests rooms that take up the whole of each corner.

This is my beloved rooftop! Either in the morning or in the afternoons I sit here and think or read or write or have engaging conversations with some of the other volunteers. Not to mention soaking up the sun. The "bush" you see is actually a lemon tree that is growing up from the courtyard below. It doesn't provide a lot of shade but it smells good and keeps it pretty cool in the courtyard.
You can see the Fauzi in the background and a little bit of the stairway to go down to the rest of the house. There are also four people's rooms off of the roof. One to the right, one to the left and one behind me shared by three others.

April 24, 2011

A Thought For Easter

Well now, just a bit on my thoughts from today. I haven't done a whole lot since I haven't been here long so this one might be a quicky but I promise a bigger blog soon.

There has not only been lots of time to just chill and let my thoughts run away while basking in the sunshine, but I think there is something about this country or just my surroundings that induce endless meditation and room for questions. Maybe it's because I'm currently dwelling in what would have been Jesus' neighborhood 2,000 years ago (or least close it), just a hunch. But anyway, Carol I don't know if you will read this or even if you are aware of it, but I want to thank you for your very dynamic talk last Sunday. You briefly talked about a man who became a believer. I don't remember the particulars but that's not so important; what is important is how it happened.

He could not prove how else that stone was rolled away from in front of Jesus' tomb other than that it was a miracle, it was all God! And indeed how true that is. I had never thought about something so simple a thing that happened and what an impact it had on one man's faith and probably on those who saw it removed that day Jesus was resurrected.

There have often been times that I just don't know how to believe that it is all real, that God was present then and has been ever since. There have been people who have performed miracles since Jesus through the power of prayer and sure that is God but there are also magicians who perform acts that seem godly to some. But seriously if you can imagine back to that scenario... just paint a picture for yourself. This is mine since I have seen an example of a tomb from the 1st century: there is more or less a cliff or rock face in the hillside (not necessarily a large hill it just has to be tall enough for a person to access). A simple doorway is carved into the rock with an open room with some spaces cut in the sides of the walls that would be the laying places various members of one family. A much smaller version of the catacombs in Italy. Just outside the door to one side would be a carved rut shall we say that a large flat round stone would set in and provide a track to keep the rock standing up. Now it would be nearly impossible for one person or even two to roll this rock away from in front of the doorway and after a person who has been dead for a few days, who would want to. The Roman soldiers were placed to keep the tomb from being tampered with and these guys were no people anyone would choose to mess with. And so perhaps if you have ever doubted God's existence, His power, or any aspect of God as I'm sure you have at some point or another (or maybe you don't believe in the first place), ask yourself how that stone was moved... I don't need to convince you of anything that's God's job which is why He gave us records of Him. He will speak to you when the time is right and you are ready to be open and learn, if that time comes.

That's all for now, I hope you all had a blessed Easter!

(sorry not exactly a quicky, I just couldn't help myself) hehe

April 22, 2011

Everlasting Hospitality

Now have I got a story for you....

One of the things I love most about this country is that however much it keeps you on your toes and always looking out for things and people who might "detain" you in some way, I never cease to be amazed by the genuine hospitality exhibited by just about anyone. Now before anyone freaks out because I said I had a story, and before you judge my perhaps lack of good judgment, just listen (I mean read)...

My trip here was fairly uneventful apart from a delayed flight from JFK. I knew just what modes of transportation and which line numbers to use to get to Nazareth from Tel Aviv. However, because of the additional flight delay from Istanbul to Tel Aviv, my grand plans, which were constructed between myself and those I have connections with here, were dashed as soon as I got off the plane. I was fully aware that it is a very busy travel season in this part of the world what with Pesach (Passover) and Easter, so I figured places would be busy, but technical difficulties created worse situation. Being late coming to country on a Friday where everything at least in the way of public transportation shuts down from sundown to sundown requires some critical thinking skills. The train I was supposed to catch had already left as had all of the buses. The only thing left was to use shuttle buses aka group taxies. Not the cheapest option I tell you. But you meet all sorts of interesting people... 

So I confronted a taxi driver, asked how much to Haifa (aahhh too much) and he said great you can join this gentleman and his sister who are also going to Haifa and on to Nazareth. Now before you jump to conclusions, had I never been to this country before I would not have even considered this whole "joining" a complete stranger, but I knew that at any point I could get off the bus and get another transport straight to Nazareth and I also recognized the roads we were on since I'd traveled them on a regular basis last year. So yes I was under the "tutelage" of this young Arab of how to shuttle myself from Tel Aviv to Nazareth, but at the sign that we were no longer going in the direction I needed to go, I was out. So why did this man decide to help me out, I haven't the slightest idea. 

We introduced ourselves, I told him the general area where I needed to be, but he didn't press for details nor did he know much English at all so we used pictures and motions to communicate. He helped me with my luggage (not that there was much at all) and talked between me and the drivers. He payed for all of my transporting apart from the connection to Haifa despite my insistence against it and when his stop came, he smiled, bid me a great trip and that was all. He was gone. No attempt to get money or anything at all from me! Was God looking out for me through this all, no doubt. And was there a risk of course... There's always a risk. But that's why we have faith. Perhaps I trust people more than I think I do; or maybe just when the situation calls for that risk of trust. 

So after almost exactly 36 hours of traveling I made it here to Nazareth and as I walked through the streets toward the old city, it felt like I was returning to a second home. I knew the way without doubt and was welcomed with the same warmness as I had experienced a year ago (not the weather mind you)... It is just my luck that the weather has turned cold just as I arrive but being the end of April, I'm sure it won't last. It is nonetheless much warmer and greener than Vermont at present. 

My duties are still pretty unclear but I think that's just gonna be how it is. I'd rather not have any expectations; this whole experience will be much more satisfying I'm sure if I just don't know what's next: thanks Linford!

April 20, 2011

I'm Off Again

The time has come for me to once again follow this path that God has placed for me. I suspected during my previous journey to the Middle East that I would return someday down the road. Once I returned to the States about a year ago I immediately looked into all my options for returning. But it was not to be. I had been challenged in many ways: my faith, my opinions, my passions, my lifestyle, were all stretched and became ingrained inside. All contributing to the person I will become. My desire to return asap was something I had planned for myself which I'm confident is why it took another year before I could return. It is God's desire this time. There was a call, a last minute decision to be made, but it has all come together without glitches. In a total of about three weeks I decided to return, applied, got accepted, and bought a ticket. The last time I planned a trip for myself, it took about 2 months to get all the logistics figured out and expenses paid for. But God works quickly when need be.

I will be in Nazareth Israel for five weeks volunteering at the Fauzi Azar Inn. What that specifically looks like, I don't know. The position requires flexibility and versatility. The inn is a place I stayed for 2 weeks during my last experience there and is a lodging site along the Jesus Trail. More on that post arrival.

I am excited to see what changes have occurred there in the last year for better and for worse as I'm sure there are both. I would imagine too that those things that challenged me then will again challenge me now... Prayer? Religion? who is God and who is Jesus? We will never know the answers to it all but pondering and seeking understanding will only me closer to Him which is the ultimate goal. There were parts of my understanding of faith that were broken down a year ago and God has spent the last year rebuilding the rubble. Taking the broken and using the pieces to make it whole again. Am I whole again? Only with God at the base. Without that I am right back where I started in December of 2009.

Thankfully I am no longer rubble and am able once again to use my passions to make the world a better place in some small ways.