Monday, August 14, 2006

A Dusty Day in Gaza

Gaza is never pretty in August. It hasn’t rained in months so everything is covered in dust. The heat makes everything look tired and dilapidated. People move slowly if at all. When I visited yesterday, everything seemed more forlorn than ever. However, the tension was not as palpable as it was last week.

I was able to arrive in time to worship with the small group who gathered. They seemed to be holding their own. The chaos has developed some predictability. They are without electricity 12-16 hours per day; if they have electricity during the day today, they will usually have it during the night tomorrow. Water remains a problem. Most people have pumps that push the water up to holding tanks on their roofs. Water is intermittent and electricity is intermittent. If the water doesn’t come when they have electricity, the water doesn’t reach the holding tanks. Most people use bottled gas for cooking like people in the U.S. use for gas grills. There is a shortage of gas and people can wait for days to get their bottles filled. I didn’t go into a grocery, but there seemed to be plenty of fruit and vegetables in the market. Of course, very few people have money to buy even basics.

Our food distribution project continues at full speed. We are really proud of our partners who are working very hard to minister to the needy people around them.

I talked with one friend who has been a surgeon for 30 years. He said that in the last few days they were seeing fewer injuries. In all his years of caring for victims of violence, he has never seen the kinds or degrees of injuries that they have treated recently. They have had to amputate many arms and legs because of the severity of the injuries.

I had planned to go with a friend to Deir al Bellah to visit a development project that we hope to jointly fund. My friend had a conflict and had to cancel. When the taxi picked me up to take me back to the border, the driver told me that Israeli tanks and bulldozers had just entered Deir al Bellah. Another example of God’s protection!

The war in the north has captured the attention of the media, but the ordinary people of Gaza continue to suffer. Please remember them in your prayers.

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