Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Busy Day in Bethlehem

by Peg Forbes

Today was an amazing day. It began with the whole group's first look at the new Dar al Kalima College building, a very impressive and in many ways state of the art institution for applied and performance arts. Our guide was one of the students Jim and I met the last time we were here, 20 year old Wala, a 2nd year Authentic Tourism major.  She was very poised and patient as we oohed over the art on the walls and asked her questions. She led us through the art studios where we got to see students working on ceramics and jewelry making, by offices and the library, and the open second floor central space for large meetings and convocations, where the dedication ceremony took place. We posed by the First Presbyterian Church of Evanston plaque at the Reception Area door and Brian Cox, our videographer got lots of pictures, including Caryl turning over the dozen cameras FPCE members donated to the college along with several music CDs.  The highlight for me was seeing the brand new state of the art 187seat theater now completed.  It is beautiful and Dave Urban says their sound system is top notch as well. 
    Then we were on the bus to Hebron to meet with Art, a member of the Christian Peacekeeping Team there. We got to hear his stories and ask him questions (go to their website to get the big picture). We visited the mosque said to be built over the tombs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Neat experience. Also got in some shopping for ceramics and scarves. 

    Back to Bethlehem mid afternoon and then an amazing hour with Munther Isaac, Palestinian Christian instructor at the Bethlehem Bible College and director of the very successful Christ at the Checkpoint conference this past March, bringing together Christian leaders and speakers from many nations to talk and workshop about what Christ would think and say and do about the current situation in Israel and Palestine. See www.christatthecheckpoint.com for videos of the workshops.
    On to what was for me the most challenging and exciting presentation of the day...hearing Sami Awad of the Holy Land Trust tell his story of growing up under the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and his gradual transformation from anger to non-violence to taking Christ's words to "Love your neighbor" to an even higher place of healing, coexistence and transformation.  I have four pages of notes for anyone who's interested. Go to holylandtrust.org.

As we walked through Hebron, we encountered friendly salesmen and women who loved not only sales, but photos!

 Enough for tonight....

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