Oh the wonders!
On Monday I set off to go to Jerusalem to start volunteering with Musalaha. But first I had to make it through the check point. Up until now I had only used a car check point where you stop at a gate, wave your passport and they open the gate. The pedestrian checkpoint is not so different, except there are a lot more people, only 1 terminal for about 150 trying to get to work. Because they’re all so eager to get across they end up pushing and piling about 4 to a turnstyle, which brings a command over the loud speaker of ‘Akhat! Akhat! Wahid! Wahid!'(One! One! In Hebrew and Arabic). It took me 1 1/4 hours to get through in the end. I took the bus home
The bus takes about 35 minutes and costs 7.3 Sheckles ($1.94AUD $2.51 NZD) but is faster and less frustrating. On the bus we go through a different check point where the soldiers just come and check your passport/permit.(only a few Palestinians can go into Israel and they need to hold working Permits) The comments I get from soldiers always make me laugh and usually run along the lines of, ‘Woooow NEW ZEALANDA!’.
This week I have given the task of creating a kids program for a family conference they’re holding in Germany as well as small admin jobs. Salim has taken to calling me Benjamin and when introducing me to people I am ‘the trouble maker’. The rest of the week has been quite boring(well for you anyway) because its just me going to work everyday.
Friday was Micah’s birthday so I skyped him and sang happy birthday. Was a little sad, but not too much. Friday night I went through the check point, it took me all of 5 minutes, and caught the bus into Jerusalem for church. It was so good, the message was about the Desert Fathers and living so others are impacted. So good.
Saturday I went on a hiking/caving trip in the desert with some young adults from Musalaha. I wore shorts out of my house for the first time in two weeks. Such a strange feeling. It was really hot. And really fun. There were 15 of us in total, 3 Palestinians, 11 Israelis and me. We met in Area C(a place where its legal for both Israelis and Palestinians) and hiked for an hour(downside of wearing shorts, your legs get ATTACKED) before coming to a labyrinth of caves. The caves were awesome! There was some parts where you needed to crawl on your belly and other parts where you could stand up. When it came to a loop that was all crawling I decided to stay behind. If anyone has been in a small cave with me(Cassia, Cherish and Shayna) you will know that I probably am not the best at coping with them. So we all got out after about an hour and had a delicious lunch of pita, hummus, and tuna and I was privy to some of the most amazing, honest conversations that arose as they each tried to understand the other side.
I walked, ignoring the mean plants vying for a piece of my skin as I listened to one guy trying to explain how he feels as a Palestinian Christian at the checkpoint and the other try to explain how he feels about how he feels about joining the army as a Messianic Jew. So incredible.
Afterwards we all went to a park and ate Kanafeh. Two years in the waiting, and it was SO worth it.
Today I am going to clean my house, cook some meals for the week and be sunburnt. Thrilling!