The big event this week was a faculty in-service. Kevin Lawson, Ed.D., Prof. of Christian Education from Talbot Theological Seminary, led the faculty of Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) through some thoughts about Christian education in the church and in the college. Kevin is on a whirlwind tour through a handful of Christian schools in the Middle East. I was fortunate to be asked to go to dinner Monday night along with Kevin and the president of BBC, Bishara Awad. We enjoyed good conversation at a very nice restaurant in Bethlehem called Al Khoukh ("the hut"). We met a number of people there. One was Bishara's son, Sami Awad. He heads up an organization called Holy Land Trust.
Holy Land Trust (HLT) seeks to empower the community through mobilizing its strengths and resources in order to address the challenges of the present and the future. This is done by working with the Palestinian community through developing nonviolent approaches which aim to end the Israeli occupation and by building a future that is founded on the principles of nonviolence, equality, justice, and peaceful coexistence.
I would also recommend Sami's blog "Never Give Up."
I also met Jonathan Kuttab. He is the cousin of Bishara and Alex Awad. Jonathan is a lawyer and Palestinian activist, as well as the chair of the board of Bethlehem Bible College. I became aware of Jonathan's work in the spring of 08 after I had had lunch with his son, who attends Earlham College. So I was very happy to finally get to shake hands with him.
Tuesday evening I was again asked to go to dinner along with our guest. This time we went into Beit Sahour for a traditional Arab meal. I hadn't yet visited Beit Sahour or the religious site there, the Shepherd's Field. The restaurant was called in English, Ruth's Field, on Shepherd's Field St. I recommend it. They are expanding; it's a very friendly place, very clean, great food.
We were surprised when we arrived back at BBC to find Israeli military vehicles blocking Hebron Rd. a few hundred feet from the college. Over the next several hours I heard loud booming noises from nearby. I didn't know if it was the sound of missiles being shot or what. I knew they were not exploding on the ground, since there was no sensation of a shock wave. As you might imagine, we were a bit nervous not knowing what was happening. I am registered with the State Department, so I would hope to receive warnings if anything big was happening. For the next few nights I would hear occasional sounds. I read online that someone or some people had thrown Molotov cocktails at the barrier wall or guard tower. The Israeli military was focusing their search for the culprit(s) in the refugee camps nearby. For people who live here, this was probably just a mild instance of what they have lived with for many years. This is the most recent local news report .
This is a report about what happened earlier in the week.
In the former report there is mention of Cinema Street. That's the street lined with shops where I would go for my Arabic class.
I failed my real live test of Arabic. Thursday evening I walked down Hebron Rd. to get a couple of Falafel sandwiches. At the first intersection a couple of young men came walking around the corner. I looked at them, smiled, and nodded my head to them. I wasn't prepared for the guy to actually say something to me. It sounded like he said, "Bitchy Arabee." I was so surprised I just said, "What?" Was he asking me if I knew any angry Arab women? I kept thinking about it, wanting to remember what he said so I could look it up when I got back to my room. By that time it suddenly dawned on me what he said, "Bihki Arabee," "Do you speak Arabic?" To which I should have said, "bahki Arabee shway," "I speak Arabic a little bit."
Today was my class day. I set my cell phone's alarm to wake me up at 7am. I showered, dressed, and ate some breakfast. I looked over my material carefully for the day. Then I started listening to the Mosaic news from the Middle East. I heard my cell phone going off. It was my interpreter, Rami, calling me. He was very patient with me asking about class today. To my utter surprise, I discovered the clock on my laptop was now an hour behind. I had missed the first half-hour of class. For the past month I've not had any problem. I rushed upstairs to class. I had been working hard to prepare for class hoping to get through chapter six of Hebrews. Instead, I was late getting started and we didn't finish the first section of chapter six.