In Search Of Living Stones

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Month: October, 2012

Finding ‘family’ on the other side of the world

‘How long have you got left?’
is one of my most dreaded questions. I hate it, because then I have to think about leaving this place that has become my home. About leaving my friends, the people who have welcomed me into their lives.

I’m beginning to realize that leaving home, to go back home will be as hard, if not harder than leaving home. I have come to love this place and its people. I love the life I live here.When I think about this, I realize that my time here has been much more than just a visit, or an extended travel, but this has become my home. One of them anyway.

A tourist comes, looks at some stuff, buys some souvenirs eats at a restaurant and maybe talks to a few people. And this is great, I love travelling places and going to tourist sites.
But that is not what I am doing, I have friends here, I have a life here.

For instance, today, I went to church in Beit Jala. A small Baptist church in Arabic, translated for the foreigners by the Pastors son/my friend then we sit and drink coffee over conversations.
Afterwards my friend picked me up and we went to her in-laws for lunch, where we ate Maftool(a kind of couscous) and chicken. Then after hanging out with her son and husband for a while we went to her parents house to drink tea on the balcony.
The lovely thing about this is that I have done this many times, so now, instead of being given the special treatment that guests usually get, I am simply treated like family.
I sit and have conversations with Issa’s(her husband) family half in English half in Arabic over lunch.
And when I turn up at her parents house, I am greeted by her dad who hugs me asks me how I am and calls me ‘Amo’ which literally means Uncle, but is also used to address the niece or nephew(same with ‘mama’ and ‘baba’). And here you call any older family friend Aunt or Uncle, so for me to be called ‘Amo’ is a huge privilege.It means that I have become like a niece. So we sit outside and drink tea with mint while I talk to her nieces and joke about silly things.

And its for these reasons that I will find it incredibly hard to leave this place, this place that has caught my attention. Recently I’ve found myself getting a little depressed and sad.
Its hard to explain the connection and how I feel about leaving this place, but your prayers would be greatly appreciated. Prayers for encouragement, high-spirits and great time spent with those who mean the most to me here would be greatly appreciated.

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My normal day.

I wrote a HUGE blog about the HolyDays recently, but I can’t be bothered posting. If you want to know anything, ASK. And if you are anywhere around me within the next 6 months you’ll hear all about it anyway.

So I thought I’d post what my average day looks like(if I’m not travelling, at camp, or something else);

5:30– I try to wake up, but it doesn’t often happen. Usually I’m awake enough to turn on the hot water, then I crawl back into bed.

6am-7am-Shower-Dress-Read my Bible-Breakfast, if there is time

At 7 I leave to walk to the bus, my walk is usually filled with lots of smiles, morning greetings and sometimes the smell of burning rubbish from the night before.
If I haven’t managed to have breakfast I stop at the local Shrak bakery, where they insist on giving me my bread for free, sometimes stuffing a second into my bag. If I have eaten we exchange friendly waves as I walk past.

7:20 I board the bus,  with my bus driver greeting me;
‘Sabah Alkher'(Good morning)
‘Sabah Alnoor'(response)
Kif halik?(how are you?)
Mabsuta((I am) happy)
Humdillah(praise God)

Depending on the bus driver, the radio will be playing one of 2 things;
Fairuz or Anasheed
Usually I get the second.

7:35 we get to the checkpoint, the soldiers get on the bus and check your ID/Passports. Sometimes you get off the bus and line up outside.

8am I get to the office. At the moment my work is a lot of preparation work. Getting ready for some of our events and odd office jobs.
Often I’m sent to run errands, buying things from the supermarket or mall, this gives me great opportunities to practice my Hebrew.
If my boss is in the office, he will often come in teasing me. Today he told me I should be dancing instead of filing. Then he sang to me.

Between 4-5 I catch the bus back to Bethlehem, usually a lot fuller than in the morning as everyone is coming home from work. This is where most my interesting bus stories happen. Anything can happen, two old ladies can start yelling at each other or you could be given bags of fruit. (this is a common situation, and it is offensive to decline. I personally love it.)

Then I walk home from the bus, stopping to talk to my neighbours on the way.
Depending on what I have planned that night determines whether I make dinner or not. Once a week after work I have an Arabic Lesson at my house for 1 1/2 hours.
Usually, I will end up hanging out at a cafe with friends where we play cards/hang out/talk.

And that is a snapshot into my normal weekday!