Saturday, June 23, 2012

Alabama Volunteers - Camp is Over

Marhaba, ya'll!!

Sadly, the camp drew to a close today.  These beautiful children hold special places in each of our hearts.  We are told that they will always remember the week the foreigners came town; well, these foreigners will never forget the week we got to serve them.

We held an extended closing session at the end where we reviewed all that the kids have learned and it was mighty impressive what all they did consume during this short time.  They were on top of the songs and not only did they grasp some of the English, they even spoke in complete sentences which shows their desire to learn.

Words cannot express just how touched we were not only by these children, but also the local village adults that helped out.  After feeling us out on the first day, the smiles on these men and women increased with each day.  Whats more, after dismissal they were quick to grab their cell phones and ask for pictures with some of us.

In conclusion, we believe as a team that we have accomplished the mission God called us here to do.  We made a huge dent removing the rocks of this field so that it can be harvested.  However, there are still plenty more stones to be broken up and removed.  In other words, there is plenty of work for this new partnership with the Alabama team and the PAL team.

Since there is work still here, we (Alabama Volunteers and supporters back home) cannot become lax in our prayers for this people group.  These are VERY loving people who have had it rough and simply thirst for hope; the hope that will quench them only comes from Christ and the cup that pours the hope is the PAL team and volunteers that give of their time to assist in reaching this people group.

This camp ending is bittersweet.  While we will miss the people we had the pleasure of serving along with the PAL people, we must return home.  The Alabama Volunteer team cannot thank each and every one of you enough for your prayers and support.  Although our tour is complete, we have only scratched the surface.  Please continue to offer your prayers and support to this much needed ministry.

All day tomorrow and most of the day on Monday we will be touring more of the holy land, departing from the area Monday night.  Pray for a smooth sailing throughout the airports as well as safe flights while we return.

Shukkran, shukkran, shukkran (Thank you , thank you, thank you)

The Alabama Volunteer Team

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Alabama Volunteers - Camp Days 3-4

Marhaba from the West Bank!!!

Day's 3 and 4 are complete and we get a much needed break tomorrow.  These kids are beautiful and we love them very much.  God really has his hands on all that is going on with the camp.  Each day brings increased interest from the locals in their desire for more help.  The adults around town have really been appreciative of everything and have began to inquire about furthering the relationship with the PAL team.  Folks this is an answered prayer...elhamdulilah!!! (Praise be to God)

During the classes the adults have really begun to become interactive as well.  They sing all the songs, they do all the motions, they participate with the kids doing crafts, and yes they get out and shame us playing "futbol"

The local social worker that got us into the village and set this camp up pulled our leader aside today and was inquisitive about each of the team members.  She wanted to know more about our schooling and if we studied the crafts, music and teaching, etc.  We didn't go to school for these things; they are seeing that the love we are sharing is very genuine.

If there was a better Internet connection, we would post some of the videos of the children singing the songs that are being taught.  Seeing and hearing them sing "This is the day" in both English and Arabic is very heartwarming.  What is cool is that when asked to make a song request during opening/closing assembly, they seem to always go to "Father Abraham".

Please pray for every one of these children.  Please pray for this people group.  They live oppressive lives with oftentimes no hope other than the hope found in Christ Jesus.  Pray for these local adults and that their inquisitiveness doesn't stop when we leave.  Pray that God opens the door for more visits in particular to the homes.

If you are wandering about us, we are doing fine. We are physically very tired from being on the go constantly.  Tomorrows break cannot get here fast enough.  In the morning we are taking the bus and going to tour the garden tomb.  After this and a bite to eat it is on to The Dead Sea for some much needed floating time, with a pass through Jericho at some point.

Thanks again to all of you prayer warriors out there.  We really mean it when we say that there is no way we are here doing this work if not for you, so shuukran (thank you).  But, the work doesn't stop when we leave.  Continue to pray for the PAL team, especially the two "newbie" families as they continue their adjustment period while getting to work.

Love you all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Alabama Volunteers - Camp Day 2

Marhaba (hello)!  After experiencing the ease of the first day of camp and seeing the joy in the children's eyes we had no clue what we were walking into this morning.   Elhamdulilah (Praise be to God), this pretty much sums it up.  

For years the Pal team hasn't made any head way in the village that we are conducting the camp.  Well, just after these first two days it is evident that progress is being made and the work being done now will serve as a catalyst for the future.  God is piercing hearts in this community, He is softening even the adults that are helping.  Just yesterday you could see the skepticism in their eyes.  Today, they jumped right on in and sang with us, did crafts with us and even kicked the 'futball' around.

The children all showed up this morning in their red camp shirts we handed out yesterday at the close of the day. The girls that wear head scarfs showed up today wearing red ones to match their shirt.  This goes to show that they are going home to mom and dad and sharing of their experience.

These kids truly have a thirst for genuine love that only Christ can give using us as the cup.  They are smelling the pleasing aroma of Christ from this group of volunteers as well as Pal staff.  This is solely the work of God.  We cannot take any of the credit.

If you are wondering what to pray for, let us toss a few at you.  Pray for God's favor with the work being done this week, pray for the continued softening in the hearts of those participating and even helping.  Pray that these people like the taste from the cup of Christ and begin to ask questions as to what it is.  These are beautiful people living oppressive lives not even knowing that they have freedom through Christ.  Their view on Christianity is so skewed and that is slowly being changed because of your prayer and the work being done here.

As for us - we are tired and hot, but, our spirit remains extremely high.  Thanks again for your support and prayers; we cannot do this without you.  If you are wondering about the food and how we are eating, well look below.  We are NOT going hungry!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Alabama Volunteers - Camp Day 1

Boys taking shade while playing "futbol"

Girls painting canvas bags during crafts

These guys are a hoot.

Some of the children's artwork
Marhaba!! So we began the camp today and as you can see we got to meet some wonderful children.  The boys and girls enjoyed the arts and crafts, music, recreation (man it is hot), and ultimately the English class.  One thing we picked up on early in the day was how eager these kids were for interaction.  

Immediately as we pulled into the school and got out of the car we were greeted by several of the boys walking up saying "what is your name", "what is your name"?  It didn't stop there;  the whole time during the recreation periods these kids were constantly asking that same question repeatedly as well as reciting some of the things they were taught.    

During the music periods we found that they picked up on the songs quite well and surprisingly quick.  We had planned on just a few songs for the entire week only to find ourselves teaching 5 songs to one of the classes and 3 to another,  and so on.  

While at crafts we were able to really sit down and talk with them and ask them questions.  The theme for today was "family" so we were constantly asking "do you have any brother's/sisters?".  Each time a child reached for a splotch of paint for their brush we repeated the color in English and encouraged them to do the same.

The biggest takeaway was just how much they thirsted for the loving interaction, and this is something you can definitely pray for.  These are beautiful children with heart-wrenching stories.  Each one has gone though so much in their short lives; more than any of us will ever imagine.  Please keep them fervently in your prayers.  

How are we doing? HOT HOT HOT...LOL.  Encouraged is a good word to describe the group.  This first day went off soooo much better than any of us expected and it is due to only one thing - God!   

Thank you again for your support and prayers.  There is no way we can do this without each of you.  

The Alabama team. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

First Full Day - Alabama Volunteers

After a long flight over here and a full night of rest we had the day to sight see the "Old City" of Jerusalem. It is amazing to walk the streets that our Lord and Savior walked.  Visiting here and learning as you go puts new perspective on what one has learned by reading their Bible; the pages come to life.

We cannot thank you enough for your prayers and support and ask that you continue praying as tomorrow we begin the real work venturing into new places and meeting new people to lead this camp.  

God Bless

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Alabama Volunteers

Praise the Lord!!  They arrived.  No problems on any flight.  Their seats were together.  All their suitcases arrived with them.  They were exhausted, but excited to be here.  We feed them and put them to bed.  On Sunday, we'll do some planning for the project, have a worship time with all the team here and tour the city. 

Keep praying.  The project starts Monday.

The Team

The volunteer team from the States should be arriving within the next few hours.  We are excited to have them coming and we have been praying for the week ahead.  We wanted to update with some specific requests before we head to the airport to pick them up.  Please join us in lifting them up to the Father!

* Please pray for grace going through the airport.  For favor with the security personnel and an easy entrance into the country.
* As the team spends the day trying to stay awake and touring, pray that the Father would grant them love for each other, a restful night of sleep tonight and easy adjustment to the time difference.
* Many on the team have had sick children or have been sick themselves.  Please pray for strength and endurance for the week ahead.

We trust that the Father is going to do great things this week, some that we see and some we may never see.  We look forward to reporting on His faithfulness throughout the week!

"For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds."
Psalm 108:4

Friday, June 08, 2012

We're Back!

Wow!  It has certainly been a long time since our last post, in fact it has been over 4 years!  However, that does not mean the work has not continued and the Lord has not been faithful.  Thank you for your prayers on our behalf.

The purpose of this blog is to update you on teams that come to visit, cultural moments experienced by various workers and to proclaim the faithfulness of our Savior.  We look forward to updating regularly as well as hearing from you!  If you would like to receive an update when we update please enter your email address in the right sidebar.

Check back soon as a team will arrive in the coming weeks ahead.

We hope this blog gives you a glimpse into the work that is going on with the Pals on this side of the water and spurs you onto praying for these peoples.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tn Team 10/17/08

Hello friends, today we visited the girl’s orphanage in what used to be Bethany. Bethany is where Lazarus lived and died and was raised from the dead! Such sweet girls, (and two little guys). CH brought canvas bags for them to paint and she and Ms. BB and Fee brought lots of stuff to put in the bags. It was a great project and the kids loved making them. Two of the girls sang for us and they had such sweet clear voices, and then Fee and S---t told a Bible story. Before we left, we played one of their favorite games . . . “sea and shore” or “barha and bar”. B---n was the first one out, but they called it a practice run and let us start over. He was in the final three the second time (and it saved his pride!). When it was time to take group photos at the end, we were told to say “habeeb”, which we did very loudly, and very often, until everyone was laughing. We totally had a blast. There are some sad stories about a few of the children, but they are bright and intelligent and cheerful. The house mothers we met were very kind. We were glad to see them again this year and will be honored to keep them in our thoughts, trusting God with their futures.
There will be no blog tomorrow. We are going to spend the day at the Sea of Galilee around Tiberius and Capernaum (can you imagine!?) before we board our plane to come home. Please keep us in your thoughts that there are no delays going through security or customs. We will see you Sunday morning for the 11:00 service!

TN Team 10/16/08

Marhaba! Hello! Today we delivered food and jackets to several homes. It was really cool. We were, again, graciously welcomed into the homes of the people we met. In fact, we had some very interesting conversations and a couple of new doors are now opened for our resident friends to follow-up on. And that’s a very good thing. B---n bought a soccer ball to take specifically to the home of the man with all the children. The older children were in school, but he was a hit with the younger boys . . . and they could really play! When we left, B---n gave the ball to one of the boys and S---t told him whenever he played with the ball, he should think of B. It was a good day. When we were finished with home visits, we went to the Garden Tomb and shared the Lord’s Supper. If that weren’t enough, after that, we visited the Baptist Prayer House. The purpose of the prayer house is to “praise, pray and proclaim.” We were invited to the prayer room and let me say it was quite an experience. Everything in the room is designed to draw you into prayer. We were grateful for the experience. Tomorrow, we’re off to the orphanage. Thanks for thinking of us. We love you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

TN Team 10/15/08

Hello friends! Today we visited the West Wall and prayed for every “As You Go” name that has been submitted. It is really something to stand there, realizing that Jesus saw that very wall. And then, when you begin to pray it becomes even more special because God inhabits the prayers of His people. The jackets came in today so we’ll distribute them tomorrow to the family with 60 children. B---n is hoping to play soccer with the kids. It rained today, so hopefully it’ll be dry enough. We’re also going to distribute food and make home visits. That’s always good because we get to meet and spend time with people. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

WB 10/14/08

Marhaba! Kayef Haleik? We hope you are all doing well. We are. Today was an easy day but we did visit the olivewood man in Bethlehem and picked out the Christmas ornaments we’ll sell this year so we can continue to support our six children at the Lighthouse School in Gaza. You’re going to love them so plan to save some of your Christmas shopping dollars because they’ll make beautiful gifts! After Bethlehem, we made our way to the Dead Sea. B---n, CH and Ms. BB got in the water to see how much their scratches from the olive harvest would burn. According to B---n the answer was “a LOT!” He found scratches he didn’t know he had. The 60 jackets ordered for the family we visited the other day are supposed to come in tomorrow and we’re supposed to deliver them. Keep that in your thoughts, please, as we really want the opportunity to go back there. We miss you and look forward to seeing you soon.

Monday, October 13, 2008

TN Team 10/13/08

Today was an exceptional day. We picked about 300 pounds of olives from 16 trees in Beirzeit. We worked with the family who leased the trees. It was very hard work and we are very tired, but it was an eventful day and much was accomplished. We’re thankful for the opportunity and are grateful you are thinking of us. As an aside, S---t, the one who has experienced a hot shower the last two days is extra grateful. The rest of us are refreshingly chilled!

TN Team 10/12/08

Hello everyone. It’s late Sunday evening and we’re just finishing our day. We visited the First Baptist Bible Church this morning. CH and Fee made a craft with the children during Sunday School while the rest of us attended the worship service. It was really cool. Of course, it was all in Arabic, but one of the members told us the speaker would be preaching about the parable of the ten virgins from Matthew 25, about how we need to be prepared because we don’t know the time and place. We felt very welcome there. After service, we were invited to lunch at the home of Jad and Cynthia. It’s an understatement to say we enjoyed visiting with Jad and hearing his stories. He’s quite an amazing person to get to know. We were especially gratified to get to meet and sing for Cynthia. She has been a major influence in this area for over 50 years. She suffers from MS and Alzheimer. Jad says the Alzheimer’s is a blessing from God because she doesn’t realize she’s suffering the debilitation of the MS. That kind of shook me. It shook me more when he took us back to meet her and from the room we heard him say, “Cynthia, it’s me, Jad, your husband.” I thought about how much he loved her and how hard it must be for him. We all went in and sang to her. When we sang “Jesus Loves Me” her face broke into the sweetest grin. She couldn’t remember that Jad was her husband, but she recognized the name of Jesus. B---n questioned what would be the one thing he remembered when he couldn’t remember anything else. That may ultimately be our testimony. Definitely something worth thinking about.

We miss you and we’ll see you soon. Tomorrow we’ll be helping a local family harvest their olive trees. That should be quite an experience.

TN Team 10/11/08

Marhaba from your friends from Tennessee! We arrived yesterday afternoon about 5:30ish. It was exciting for the three of us who have been here before because we recognized so much and feel so comfortable. It was more so for the others who are visiting for the first time and seeing the land with fresh eyes. The apartment hasn’t changed. . . it’s still 72 steps up! But the view, once you’re up there is way worth it. We got up early this morning and went to the falafel stand. It was as delicious as we remembered and even B---n tried one. I think we shamed him into it, but he actually liked it and I was proud of him! Unfortunately, Mike, the stand owner, was not there. Apparently, he’s been traveling stateside, but is due back any time. I’m hoping we get to see him before our visit is over.
Today we delivered food to and visited with some very nice families. A lovely young woman was especially intrigued by Fee. She came and sat beside her and the two of them chatted for about 30-40 minutes (without knowing each other’s language beyond a few words!). It was sweet to watch. It was especially gratifying to watch S---t interact with the men in the villages. His ability to communicate seemed to really put them at ease and the men were very glad to have the chance to talk with him. In one of his more colorful conversations there was great discussion about Noah and Moses. We’re reminded of the things we have in common and that at the end of the day, there is only one major difference between us.
Think about our field personnel, P & L, that God will give them discernment and wisdom as they lead us. Also that the families we visited families we visited will not suffer any negative consequences from local authorities because of our visits.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Say Jibna (Cheese)

Last week several of our team members participated in a picture project. They took pictures of the children and then helped them make a frame to give to their parents. It must have been quite an experience for all involved. A couple of them tell about their experience below.

Last week’s photo project was fun and tiring, and although cutting things out of foam isn’t my forte, I got pretty good at making hearts and letters and Palestinian flags.

The project seemed simple enough: go to local school, take photos of all the children and teachers, and make frames for the photos. The first day taking the photos went fairly smoothly, although many children were absent due to some confusion about a national holiday. It was fun taking photos and hanging out with kids that day. The second day, making frames, was when the fun really started. Glue, scissors and lots of children is always an exciting combination. The stickers went fast, and in spite of our “one sticker per child” rule, I continued to notice frames with several stickers on them. Teachers tended to be particularly frustrating as we would assume they’d know better, and yet they persisted in defying our one-child-one-sticker rule, helpfully putting several stickers on a favorite child’s frame. Still, each day we learned how better to perfect our system, and we ended up making lots of new friends. In just a few days we helped hundreds of thousands of children…or maybe a little less…maybe just a couple of hundred…but I could swear that I cut out a hundred thousand little hearts.

While we were at the school, the principal told us that when we come and help them, they feel as if we are sharing their burden with them. I was able to tell him a little about the reason why we want to help bear their burdens. Another teacher at the school smiled for a picture that I took of him. He told me that he almost never smiles, but that “there is just something about you that makes me smile”. He is one of the teachers who invited us to dinner, so inshalla, I’ll will be able to talk more with him.

Monday, June 02, 2008

God love the Palestinians ... and so do we

Team members in Lebanon shared this story.

One thing that is amazing to us is that no one can understand why we want to help Palestinians, including Pals themselves. At the center where we teach English on Thursday mornings, one girl argued with us for about 10 minutes trying to convince us that we can’t possibly REALLY love Palestinians and want to work with them. She just couldn’t understand why we would work with them “of all people,” and she kept saying “but we can’t pay you.” We kept telling her that God has placed a love for Pals on our hearts and we want to help them as much as possible. I think we convinced her we were serious, but she still didn’t understand. She said “I’ll have to go and ask God why He would do that.” Hopefully as we go back week after week she’ll see that the love really does come from God and not from us!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

From Mlouquiya to Jesus

One of our team members in Jordan tells about a couple of recent visits she had with friends. For more about grape leaves and mlouquiya see the note at the end.

I went to visit an old friend and found her sitting with her friends and neighbors rolling grape leaves on the porch. I sat and visited with them for a while and then my friend asked me and another friend to go inside to eat mlouquiya ( greens). So we were sitting and eating and soon got into a conversation about life. I was able to share with her. This is one of many experiences I have had as I spend time with old friends who are also “People of Peace” and always have lots of visitors and family in their homes.

I was also invited to visit a new student’s family that lives in the Jordan Valley. This was an answer to prayer because I have been praying that I would meet a new family this term. My friend, Fatin and another friend of hers went with me for the first visit. The student’s family asked me to come back for another visit and stay all day. I’m going to go in two weeks and help them make grape leaves. I am looking forward to getting to know the whole family. I have 3 students who are members of this Palestinian family.

Both stuffed grape leaves and mlouquiya are very common Palestinian dishes. This is the best time of year for stuffed grape leaves because the leaves are new and tender. The leaves are washed. Then a small amount of rice, cooked meat and spices are placed on the leaf and rolled up. Usually they are cooked with a tomato sauce, but every family does it a little differently. Mlouquiya is a little difficult to explain. It is small green leave that is boiled. If it is boiled a long time, it has the consistency of boiled okra.