Saturday, September 24, 2011

Olive Orchard Retreat

Njoud and I spent the weekend at her family's holiday home in the countryside this past weekend, reading, napping, walking through the olive orchard, and eating Maqluba. It was a retreat from our busy city life.

Meanwhile the world watched as Mahmoud Abbas petitioned the UN for a Palestinian state. Though we didn't have exposure to the latest news via TV or internet, the subject was on our hearts and we could see Palestine over the tops of the olive trees. Olive trees are everywhere- in orchards waiting to be harvested, city sidewalks, and down into the valley past the border into Palestine. They grow as a symbol of peace and fruitfulness and righteousness, but its a symbol not yet experienced in this region.

Njoud's neighbor, a sweet Palestinian girl came for tea one evening and described the oppression of her family. "My people have no peace," she explained. I was reminded of a Palestinian man I met in Bethlehem last winter who suffers under the oppression but told me something different, "We have no political peace, but we have Peace in our hearts that enables us to love our oppressors."

My desire for Palestine is not only that it might become a sovereign state, but that one day the oil and fruit of eternal Peace and abiding Righteousness will flow into and from the hearts of the people as the pastor in Bethlehem, no matter the political circumstances.

The olive trees are a sign of encouragement to me, that the Creator would choose a place with HARD soil to plant a fruit tree that symbolizes peace and righteousness.

In front of Njoud's home- this girl is a BLESSING and awesome friend!!!

An olive tree in her orchard... its almost time for harvesting!

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Arab Hospitality

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.." 1 Pe 4:9

The past several months I have been reading about about hospitality and what it means to welcome others and offer them a place to be themselves. In the midst my search, I found myself a recipient of Arab hopsitality this past Eid.

By the third day of Eid (the holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan), I was shaking from countless cups of tea and coffee and sick from the trays of fig cookies that had been served to Judy and me as we went from home to home, but my heart was glad.

During these three days, families and friends visit one another, drinking coffee and tea, eating sweets, and handing out money and gifts to children and single women. While we didn't receive any money, we received sweets and drinks and kisses! Hospitality here extends beyond just gifts and food. Guests are given seats of honor... so we were seated farthest from the door. Throughout the visit, our hosts continually ensured our comfort and urged their guests to remain longer. We loved every minute!

I hope that my appreciation for the hospitality of this culture will also develop in me a hospitable heart.

Here are friends and I enjoying a traditional Eid sweet.