Hospitality that Overflows

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As we entered Galilee, we encountered rolling dessert hills, palm trees, flowers of all colors, which eventually turned into grassy mountains with livestock and olive trees. Pictures cannot even begin to capture it’s beauty. After all, it is the land of milk and honey. Despite the beauty of the country, it is very much divided and unjust. A Palestinian woman describes her story: ‘The children ask me, “Mamma, we want to have fun, why can’t we go (to the other side of the wall)?” I tell them we cannot go because we are living in a prison and do not have permission to leave. We cannot go because we are controlled by the Israelis.’ (Mira from Bethlehem.)

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The Three “A’s” of Peace Not Walls

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The three A’s of Peace Not Walls are Awareness, Accompaniment, and Advocacy. Throughout our time in the Holy Land thus far, we’ve taken time to define as a group what these words mean to us and discuss how we can embody them. On Wednesday morning, we got a taste of all three A’s, thanks in large part to the Lutheran World Federation. Continue reading

A Trip Leader’s Reflection

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Growing together with this group has been a wonderful experience. We have seen the harsh realities of Hebron, walking through streets filled with soldiers, and hearing stories of what it means to live under occupation. We have traveled to Galilee to see holy sites and ponder on the meaning of holiness. Tomorrow we will visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum, and end the day in Bethlehem to stay in Palestinian homes for the next few nights. So much to soak in, so much to learn. We continue to grow together as we talk about issues of injustice, and share stories of our faith. Thankful for a group of young adults who are wanting to engage and accompany the people here, listening to the realities of the land.

~ Anna Sloss

The City of Hebron

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Today we visited Hebron; a city that that truly exemplifies this place as the “holy and broken land.” I am not quite sure exactly where to start because, no matter what I write, there is no way I can fully express to you the impact that this city has had on my outlook of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Much of what we have seen so far has been Palestine. The people in the places we have seen have been all Palestinians and they are completely separate from the Israelis. However Hebron is different. Continue reading

Surrounded by History

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Top of the morning on our first full day in Israel, we went to the Evangelical Church of the Redeemer in Old City. When we got there, Rev. Carrie Smith greeted us warmly, she gave a beautiful sermon about how righteousness will conquer, and evilness will perish. And also the Palestinian concept of Sumud, which was told to me through the her sermon as, “Sumud is translated to something like ‘steadfastness in the face of oppression.’ Sumud is what you have when your roots go deep into the soil. It is the kind of strength that comes, not from being the tallest or the strongest or the fastest growing, but from being close to the source of water and of life.” I thought this applies very effortlessly to the reason and meaning of our trip. We look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with different views and opinions and it is just so interesting to hear the Palestinian side and think they have to live their life in this situation but to try to survive in such an elegant and thoughtful way is exceptionally mind-blowing. Continue reading

Packing Up and Getting Ready to Go

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As I type this bags are being packed, itineraries are being checked and double checked, and a few last minute plans are coming together. This week 13 young adults from Indiana, Colorado and California will head off to meet in person for the first time on the ground in Israel and Palestine.

Our trip will explore what it means to be a pilgrim, what it means to live and work in the midst of conflict and occupation and what it means to follow in the steps of Jesus in a land where everything you do is a political act.

Keep an eye on this page as our trip sets off. We will be using it to post photos, reflections, and questions as we journey through the Holy Land on this trip.

Blessings!

~ Ben