Monday, November 06, 2006

Texas Volunteers - Monday

Today the team divided. The men went to Ayn Kinya to paint a couple of rooms for a family there. Three families live in a 6 room house - two brothers with their wives and sons and the grandparents. Another day of hard work, but again we were blessed by the new friendships formed. The family tried hard to offer us hospitality by serving tea and coffee four times. We stopped around noon to eat our sandwiches, but they also cooked chicken and rice for us to eat around 3PM.

The ladies went to the senior center in Ramallah. They had a great time with about 25 senior adult women making things by hand. It was a day that everyone will long remember.

Comments about her experience by Courtney:
If I could sum up my experience so far I would describe it as an awakening. It has made me come to a new understanding on a couple of different levels both intellectual and spiritual.

When I first arrived in Israel I noticed that everything seemed Westernized and modern. It was all so beautiful;even more so that I expected. Conversely, upon entering the West Bank, I was shocked at the impoverished conditions. The conditions were that of a third world country, completely different from the ones I had just witnessed.

It was amazing to me how inaccurate the media portrays the situation here. The popular opinion (especially among evangelicals) is that the Israelis are the ones being persecuted and the Palestinians are the cause of all the evil. That just does not seem to be the case. The portrayal of the Palestinians as radicals and extremists does seem to represent the vast majority of the people. They seem to be warm gracious and hospitable, trying to survive the conditions they are in.

The second "Great Awakening" I've had is personal and spiritual. I am currently working on a Master's of Theology and work as a youth associate minister at our church. In these environments, it is easy for me to base my spirituality on how well I am doing in school and my achievement in the ministry. I came to a point where I felt that I was in the Christian rat race only tiring myself out and not feeling like I was getting anywhere spiritually. I was looking to the fruit of my labor rather than the God who called me.

Being here has brought a new light to James 1:27, a verse I memorized long ago. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." I have seen this in the little I have done here and especially in the lives of our denominational representatives. I feel that I am doing the Lord's work, not in my studies or in the youth programming, but by meeting people where they are at and trying to show Christ's love through my actions. The amazing thing is how I am not looking to whether I was "successful" but rather to whether I was obedient. This has brought more joy and fulfillment than I could ever imagine. My joy in found in Christ alone. Praise God for what He is doing in the Holy Land and for allowing me to experience a tiny part of it. My prayer is that I may be able to take back all I learn and apply it in the States. I pray that I will not taint my religion by faulting and looking to my won achievement, but instead seek to serve, expecting nothing in return other than that God would use my obedience for His glory.

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