On Wednesday it will be my 3 month aniversary of being here. Tomorrow will be 3 months since I left everything, and everyone I know.
I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d make it this far, but now, faced with the idea of going home, I know I’m not ready. As much as I miss my family(And boy do I miss them!), I still have things to do and people to see here. And I know I have a lot more growing to do.
Already I have grown and learnt so much. In fact, when I look at this photo I literally don’t recognize myself.
This month my flatmate went back to the UK for 3 weeks, which left me at home in Bethlehem by myself. Surprisingly I really enjoyed this time.
I have always been independent, and even though I moved out of home almost two years ago, I am amazed at HOW independent I am here. The small things like catching taxi’s by myself, paying rent, and doing almost everything by myself. Remember that I do all of this in another language.
I also have become more laid back, taking on the spirit of Arabic time(the time you’re given +25-30 minutes) and ‘Inshallah'(God willing). Here, if you are asked a question you don’t want to answer or don’t know, simply reply ‘inshallah’. This effectively leaves everything up to God and clears you of all responsibility. Usually, at home I get stressed about things like plans, and how things are going to work out. Here, I’ve accepted the spirit of inshallah. If I didn’t I think I probably would go crazy.
On Monday I went swimming in the ocean with a woman from the office and her daughter. I have missed the ocean. We ended up missing the last bus and staying at her friends house.
Wednesday I went to Safa’s house for lunch. Safa’ is a friend come family, on the way to her house she made sure I was free for the day. Just as well I was, because she then informed that she had already told her mother that I would be attending her parents wedding anniversary dinner. I spent the day at her house eating amazing food, baking cupcakes and playing card games. It was like therapy for my homesick soul. Then we went to her parents house where I ate my weight in sweets.
Friday I caught up with my Israeli friend, Bat’el. Bat’el is one of the many people who has stayed with us in Australia and seeing her for a few hours was really nice. This was the first time since being here that I have seen any of my Jewish friends and I was quite apprehensive about some of her reactions to me living in Bethlehem. After her initial shock and usual questions, ‘is it safe?’, ‘Are there nice people there?’ she seemed to be okay. This was so nice to hear, and I love being able show people from both sides that the other is not a monster.
After that I had a few hours to kill in Jerusalem before church, so made the brave decision to go into the Old City. It was worth it. I sat at the wailing wall as the sun went down watching the Jews mark the beginning of Shabbat. I then fought my way(going the ‘wrong way’) through the thousands of Muslims making their way to Al-Asqa mosque to break their fast and have Iftar(the evening meal). It was such a contrast to the peacefulness at the Wailing Wall, but just as beautiful.
Saturday morning I woke early and walked to Manger Square to catch my bus to the Jordanian border. I still can’t get my head around it, I just drove to a different country! Because its Ramadan everything is closed during the day, but evenings becomes like a party! But this also means that if I want to drink or eat anything I have to hide away in my hotel room or go to the one cafe that is open, it is so hot here that not being able to openly drink water is difficult. I also am doing touristy things, but doing them alone just feels different. I like having my dad around to explain things and be amazed at things with me.
I am learning to enjoy being by myself and discovering things by myself.
I am learning to listen to other people and their stories.
I am learning to walk slowly and enjoy the journey.
I am learning to smile(but not too much, boys here will take ANYTHING as a hint).
I am learning that saying one word in Arabic will have everyone convinced(or at least telling you they are convinced) that you are now fluent.
I hope you have a fantastic week and see God’s hand in everything.