Thursday, June 2, 2011

Israel and Ireland

Greetings friends and family!  Thanks for continuing to make this blog worthwhile.  These past few weeks have been filled with plans, prayers, and different countries.

Let me fill you in on outreach.  Our main outreach, or as we call "outreach phase" will be starting June 13 and go until the end of July.  I will be on a team going around the whole island of Ireland!  I was excited to stay here, even though the other options were South Africa or Israel/Palestine because I wanted to see more of this island.  I've had a heart to go to Ireland for many years and I wanted to stay true to that and see what else God had for me here.  Another reason I felt good about staying here is that I had an opportunity to do a 1 week trip to Israel and Palestine just a couple weeks ago for our mid-term outreach.  I was on a small team with Jonny Clark, the YWAM Ireland leader and our base leader, Erin Miller--a staff member here who is leading the team later this summer back to Israel, Kevin--a friend of Jonny's from Belfast, and Kimberly--a fellow DTS student.  It's interesting going to the middle east from America (via Ireland for a few months anyway), and it's also interesting going there with a team mostly not from America.  We tended to tell people we were from Ireland, since it's pretty neutral in the whole middle east saga.   

The point of this mid-term outreach was to understand both sides of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, and to bring a spirit of reconciliation wherever we went.  Regardless of what we all believe about Israel, there are lots of things there to work on in the areas of justice, Jesus, and poverty.  We spent the first 4 days in Bethlehem, staying in a small apartment down the road from a former YWAM-er who led us around during that time-frame.  We got to visit several past YWAM-ers and it was exciting to hear that their DTS inspired them to start ministries in that area, and in Israel.  The last 2 days we spent in Nazareth, with a family of a current DTS student here.  It was so fun to meet them!

We ate lots of falafel and schawarma, hummous and Arabic salad.  I would be okay with eating these things every single day!  My new favorite drink is fresh squeezed lemonade with crushed mint leaves in it, a drink common to them as well.

The sights we saw are. . . ready for this?  The Church of the Nativity, where Christ was born; the old city of Bethlehem; the old city of Jerusalem--the Via Dolorosa, the Church at the site where Jesus was crucified; the Wailing Wall; Nazareth; the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee and the Mount of Beatitudes. 

As far as ministry, we got to talk and pray with several people in the West Bank who are in some oppressive circumstances, and we prayed at the Wailing Wall for Jesus to be Lord of Jerusalem again.  We also prayed with all the leaders and YWAMers we met.  God is doing great things there.

Here are some pictures!
Love you all.

 The view from the apartment we stayed at in Bethlehem.

The birthplace of Jesus inside the Church of the Nativity--wait, I thought He was born in a manger!

 Outside view of the Church of the Nativity.

Wall dividing Israel and Palestine.

Greek Orthodox section of a church--most of the Orthodox churches has beautiful ornate chandeliers.  

The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
Us girls--me, Kimberly and Erin--at the Dead Sea.
Kimberly and I on top of a restaurant in Jerusalem.
Arabic Coffee--my new favorite thing ever.