Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Refrigerator Trouble

Our refrigerator has been making a terrible noise for the past few days. It is about 12 years old and has had a rough life. So for months we've been preparing ourselves mentally for the inevitable. But this is NOT a good time to have it go out. Next week my sister-in-law and niece are coming and then a volunteer group which includes my brother. We just don't have time right now to have it repaired nor time to shop for a new one. Sometimes the electricity in the area is around 160 volts instead of 220 like it should be. I thouhgt - hoped - that that might be the problem. Our friend and neighbor up the road has a voltmeter. She was coming by this morning so I asked her to bring it. It read 235 volts so that wasn't the problem. When we explained the problem she started looking around and found that the broom was leaning against the fridge back in the back. She move the broom and -- ta da -- the terrible noise stopped.

I hope the big problems you face today are as easily solved! I also hope you have a friend and that don't have to call the repairman to move the broom.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Gaza Today

I was in Gaza on Monday. The situation was quiet, but I did see both Palestinian Army (loyal to Fatah) and Hamas milita on the street. The Army wears regular army fatigues; the milita wore black T-shirts with army pants; all carry machine guns and look mean. Their presence certainly contributed to my feeling of unease. Friends told me that there were fewer milita on the streets than before and in fewer places. I asked a friend if the situation was better than it had been a week before when their was open conflict in the street -- 11 were wounded and a Jordanian diplomat was killed. He didn't really answer, but said that most people see the future as black. When I called him last week, he and his family (and neighbors, I'm sure) had been up most of the previous night because of shelling by Israel. The last few nights have been quieter. We did visit our friend who had been shot in that conflict. He lives in the Shati Refugee Camp and had just gotten out of the hospital the day before. He was standing near a window talking on the phone. when he was hit The bullet entered his back, but did not penetrate his lung. He is progressing slowly, but steadily.

The bright spot of my trip was a visit to the new Christian school. They are just completing their first year. God has really blessed them. The school is a haven for both students and staff. In spite of the conflict around them the school has been able to stay on course. They need some new staff next year. So, please pray for the leaders as they search for qualified Christians.

Another bright spot was Matouk's, my favorite restaurant. It hasn't changed although I was the only foreigner there.

I take a taxi from the border into Gaza city. The drivers take turns, but most of the time it seems we get the same driver. We've had some great conversations. Yesterday he asked, "Is there no hope for our situation?" I was able to share that indeed there was Hope. Please pray for K.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

What's Cooking?

In the fall of 2004, I was inspired to think of some way to get ladies into our home and each time it was thought about, cooking was what came to mind. We had a friend in the U.S. send us some old cookbooks that she had stored. Even though we haven't forgotten the cooking class, the idea has just now come to fruition NOT by us, but by HIM - a very obvious affirmation since HE let one of the students re-kindle the thought. Our first cooking class just met yesterday and was absolutely more exciting than we imagined it would be, beginning with luncheon, doing the specific cooking we came together for, and ending with cleaning the kitchen. During our "wait" periods for the cooking times, conversation was abundant and my heart quickened when one of the Jordanian ladies asked another lady, "Are you a Christian?" The response was "no". Talk about surprise! Just as usual, we humans THINK we KNOW how to do "it" and then HE takes over and DOES IT! From there, HE simply took over and I was able to share the Good News as it related to my own personal life more freely than before with these women. It came so naturally and in such a relaxed atmosphere that there was no doubt who was in control of the cooking class. We DID use the cookbooks intended for this purpose so many months (and miles) ago. What a happy, long afternoon! These times are so precious; very encouraging when there have been "dry" days when you cannot share as you would like.

After the ladies left, three young men who always include us in their "together" times for tea on University Street came over, had supper, stayed for fellowship and cards, and finally left well after midnight. These young men tell us "everything" and we do mean everything. They really "dumped" on us last night and we had lengthy conversations on several sensitive topics. Interestingly, things which perhaps would be taboo in other conversation groups seem to come up quite easily whenever they are with us and they appear to value our responses to their questions or comments with no embarrassment nor shock. These are professional men; one a medical doctor. They listen very intently to us and get both male/female perspectives. A friend recently gave us a Christian book and it was lying on the coffee table. One of the men had already looked it over carefully as we put the food on the table and later, one asked us if he could take that book with him to read stating that the English was not too difficult for him. Of course, the book went with him and we are now realizing more how important it is to have the right materials lying around as our students and friends come by to visit us.

Posted by GA in Jordan

Monday, May 22, 2006

Fortress Gate #4

We are back at home. We had a very good "first trip". We knew in advance that this would be a a challenge. There are over 400,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon. The vast majority is Muslim. Their opportunities for education and employment are severely restricted. They are politically isolated. As a result, most Palestinians live in dire poverty. Because of the history of political and ethnic division it is difficult to gain access to Palestinian areas. However, we are confident that God wants the best for these people. We hope to return to the area soon. In the mean time we will be mobilizing people to pray.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fortress Gate #3

A lot has happened since I posted last. We had a meeting on Monday morning that we hoped would be furitful. However, it was a big dead-end. We've been asking for direction and we took that as an answer to prayer. We did visit a refugee camp on the edge of Beirut to see another contact. This organization is working with special needs kids and doing a great job. They were more open to having our help in the future. PTL! Another answer.

On Tuesday we travelled to Sideon and Tyre. There are two camps in Sideon; both very near the center of the city. Lebanese army guards prevented us from entering, but we were able to pray for the Palestinians inside as we drove around the camp.

In Tyre, we visited an archeological site next to a camp. el Buss; again we could not enter, but we were able to pray.

Today we went to Baelbak; the is an archeolgical site in the Beqa Valley. There is also a Palestinian Camp near the site. We had a great day of touring and praying as we travelled.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Fortress Gate # 2

We had a good day on Sunday. After joining a local congregation for their Sunday morning worship we set off for Tripoli, a city in the north of Lebanon. We did the tourist thing; stopping in Juneh to ride the cable car to the top of the mountain to see the statue of the Virgin Mary. The view from the top was breathtaking. A bonus was a few Cedars around the statue. There are relatively few of them left and they only grow at high elevations. The way down was problematic because the line was so long to get on the cable car.

Because of the time, we scrapped our other plans and went directly to Tripoli. We toured an old castle and prayed over the city of Tripoli. Then we went down to the market. We were so late that most of the shops were closed. However, there was one soap shop open. Triopli is very proud that soap was first imported to Europe from Triopli and families have been the soap making business for generations. We had a delightful visit with a brother and sister at the one shop we found open. We realized that if we had carried out our time table we would not had the quality visit that we had.

Our real purpose in going to Tripoli was to visit the two Palestinian camps. Our driver said an Emphatic "NO" when we asked him to go there, but in the end agreed to drive us through El Baddawi, the smaller of the two camps. One interesting thing we noted: At the entrance to the camp there is a huge monument with the word "ALLAH". Our prayer is that it would truely be a place where God is honored.

We finally got home after 9 PM. Exhausted!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fortress Gate #1

We arrived in Lebanon yesterday with a group of 5. Our purpose here is to find out about the Palestinians living here and how we can work among them. It seems that it is difficult to find out much about them and even more difficult to gain access. So we named the project "Fortress Gate"; it is like the Palestinians are in a frotress, but God has a gate.

We just met two Palestinian brothers, Jamal and Ridda, from Sabra aged 14 and 16. They roam the street in West Beirut and shine shoes. We talked to them as they shined our shoes -- they are from a family of 10; 4 boys and 4 girls; neither had ever been to school; their father is unable to find work.

We have a meeting this afternoon with a friend that we hope will help us make contacts. We will also several contacts whom we will try to call to set up our schedule for the rest of the week.

One of our team shared this Bible vers this morning: Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up of you ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in. Who is he, this King of Glory? The lord Almighty - he is the King of Glory. (Ps 24:7 & 10)

Posted by PL

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gaza Humor

We had a great weekend in Gaza. We were able to accomplish several tasks on our to-do list and visited several old friends. One of our favorite Palestinian foods is waraq dawali or stuffed grape leaves. Our friends made it for us with the first leaves of the spring. Mmmmm!

When we entered Gaza Strip, Israel shooting missiles into the area. It is hard to describe; not only is there a loud boom in the distance, but the air shakes. Even though we knew the missiles weren’t aimed at populated areas, it was a bit disconcerting. Otherwise we did not feel any danger.

Our friends relate stories of ever worsening conditions. We visited in one home where the father had been in the hospital the week before. He said there were no medicines in the hospital. His doctor wrote a prescription and his son went to the pharmacy to buy the drugs for him to take while in the hospital. There did not seem to be a shortage of food on the shelves; just most people don’t have any money to buy. It has been two months since government workers were paid and they are the lucky ones – they have a job and some hope of eventually being paid.

We have to take a taxi from Erez, the crossing point from Israel, into Gaza. Our driver told us this joke:
Israel dropped a bomb on the main road in Gaza that made a big crater. Over the next few weeks cars kept driving into it and many people were injured. There were several deaths. So, those who were in charge of public safety had a meeting. There was a heated argument over what was the best solution. Some wanted to post an ambulance next to the crater so that injured people could be taken to the hospital immediately. In the end, it was decided that the crater would be moved next to the hospital so injuries could be treated even more quickly.

Sometimes you have to laugh so that you don’t cry.

Posted by PL