Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey everyone -- Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a restful day with family and friends.

Thanksgiving in Israel was a little strange, since it's not a holiday here. I had a final exam in the morning, and then I ran in the first annual JUC 5K Turkey Trot. I had Arabic class in the afternoon. As I entered Bethlehem, I was shocked to see tons of Palestinian Special Forces vehicles speeding down the street, tires squealing and everything. Men with the guns pointed out the windows stared me down.
When I turned onto the street that the college is on, there were armed soldiers with their guns locked and loaded on both sides of the street, about one every twenty feet or so. It was quite intimidating to walk through. I laughed to myself and thought, What a Thanksgiving parade...I mean, really, who needs Macy's? Later, I found out it was because the president of Palestine was coming to meet with the prime minister of Italy.

Anyway...when I got back I talked with my family, which was good, and then it was time for dinner. The dining room was decorated really nice, and I couldn't believe all the good food we had! We had all volunteered to make different dishes, and people were so thoughtful in modifying things so that they were gluten-free for me. :-) It was so refreshing to eat a slow dinner and enjoy talking with each other.

The past few weeks have been pretty busy here, full of studying and writing term papers. In the Eastern world, education is very self-motivated; your whole grade is usually based on one huge exam or term paper at the end of the class. However, I have still managed to have some adventures. Ashleigh, Naomi, and I visited the Dome of the Rock (see pictures below). Last Saturday, I went to Hebron (south of Bethlehem in the West Bank) and visited some friends who run an Arab school. I sat in on some English classes and some classes for hearing-impaired children. They were learning their numbers and colors in Arabic, so I learned right along with them! :-)

In other news, my friend Marwa (who I teach English to at the Domari Center) got engaged last week! I am going to her engagement party this afternoon. She is 17, and her brother helped arrange the marriage to one of his 27-year-old friends. This seems so strange to us, but in this culture it is the norm.

The countdown in 17 days I will be home! I'm looking forward to see you all.

"For I know that my Redeemer lives..." (Job 19:25)

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