08/04/2017 - 08/04/2017
It's actually early on Saturday morning (day 5) as I'm writing this. On my way to meet the kids for breakfast. We're now in Jerusalem proper at St George's College.
We started the day yesterday bright and early with breakfast at 6:15 and on the bus by 7am We passed through our first military checkpoint as we entered the West Bank. First stop was the church at Burqin where Jesus healed the lepers. We all had the chance to climb into the cistern where the lepers would've lived and received food and water lowered to them from a hole in the ground above them. I'll post photos of this in the following post, or you can check them out in the photo gallery.
Second stop was the church at the site of Jacobs Well where we drew water and drank from the well. We met Fr Justinius, who blessed us. He painted all of the icons in the church, including an icon for his predecessor who was brutally murdered defending his church.
Next stop was in Nablus, where we watched sweets being made. While we were there, some people drove up to the store next to us with a sheep in the car. They let the sheep out of the car and made a sacrifice using the sheep right there in the parking lot as a way of saying thank you and celebrating their new car.
There was a visit to the ruins of a Byzantine church in the city of Taybeh, one of the few Christian cities left in the area. We also visited the Taybeh Brewery where we heard first hand accounts from the owners about what it is like to be an American Palestinian Christian living in Israeli occupied Palestine. We're starting to get an understanding of the politics in this region. It's mind blowing.
We ended the day with a night walk into old town to the Holy Sepulcher where we explored the site in silence and then watched the ritual of the closing and locking up the site for the night.
It was an emotional day for the kids. They are all tired and feeling lots of things. Being in Jerusalem requires much more vigilance and being able to really listen to our guide and follow directions the first time. For a few of them, this is hard because it is so different from their life in the US. They are also being bombarded with the sight of many different religious groups/people and practices. It's a challenge for a lot of them and they are uncomfortable. I can almost see the little seeds of personal faith and understanding and intimate relationship with God being planted in our kids and it is an honor to witness their processes as they experience this.