I'm sorry I have't written more times, but our days are very full. It's 10:30 pm and I had to wait for the computer - not as convenient as home, but a minor matter in this land where even the most ordinary tasks can take hours for Palestinians.
Yesterday two people were killed in Nablus.
Nablus is one of the Palestinian towns that has been given over to the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. But that does not mean that Israeli soldiers do not enter every day or two, looking for someone - usually young men, aged 15-18. That's what happened yesterday and will probably happen tomorrow and the next day. The city is full of posters of the martyrs - these are not suicide bombers, but those who have been killed without cause, without any weapons, usually those young men/children.
Two of the members of our group went to Nablus for a day last week and tonight they told us the story of their visit. The man they were to visit, who heads a non-profit organization (NGO) that provides health services to the residents of Nablus, had gone early in the morning to the local Israeli office to get papers to travel outside Nablus and ended up spending the day there. So my friends did not get to meet with him, but others showed them the work he is doing to provide support for the residents of Nablus, who suffer from the stress of living every day not knowing what is coming next - when the soldiers will come for them or for their children. As the price of gas and rice goes up all over the world, it makes life especially difficult for the residents of Nablus, a very poor Palestinian community, whose residents cannot get out for work or trade.
Two other members of our group went to Bethlehem early Monday morning to meet our tour guide and go through the checkpoint at Bethlehem with him. Read their story on Jeanne Boland's blog: http://sacredofspace.blogspot.com. I'll try to add a link.
Today we saw the first century boat that was taken out of the mud at the edge of the Sea of Galilee in the 1980s and then we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Then we visited the sites where it is likely that Jesus taught - the Mount of the Beattitudes, Capernaum, Tabgha (seven springs, where Jesus is said to have multiplied the loaves and fishes). We visited Nazareth and then Cana, where we not only visited the church, but were invited by our bus driver Nael for juice, sweets and coffee at his home. He didnt' turn any water into wine, but his mother and sister had prepared a beautiful dessert - a Palestinian specialty made with cheese, very fine noodles and honey. He just graduated from college and is prepared to teach physical education. His sister Menal is a special education teacher and Helen, who is on our tour and also teaches special education, had a great conversation with her about their students and the common problems they deal with. This is the second invitation we have had. Our guide invited us to his home in Bethlehem last week - his wife made us two cakes and mint tea.
Everywhere we go the Arabs are very friendly and want to show us hospitality - nothing is done without a conversation and even mint tea if we wish. We feel very welcome! There is so much to write and so little time. More when I return....