Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

It’s been almost a week since I’ve been home and I’ve given myself a little time to let it all sink in and reflect upon my experience. There is no place in the world like Jerusalem, for better or for worse. It’s a city of paradoxes, a city of collided ideologies, a city in which there exists a fragile balance between these ideologies. I have seen with my own eyes how this city exists, and on a smaller level, how the nation of Israel exists. I have seen with my own eyes the extent of interaction and also the lack of interaction among these varying ideologies. There is an unspoken uneasiness in the city, and it can spill over into something much bigger at any given time.

I came to Israel firstly because I felt an urge, or a call, to come and build upon my faith. To see the where and the how can sometimes help with the why. I didn’t come to “find God” but I did come to experience God in a way I hadn’t before. And experience God I did,  in my talks to monks, cab drivers, Beduins, and more personally in my time alone by the Sea of Galilee. Cliche as it may seem I did have a spiritual experience that I will carry with me forever and the memories of who and what I encountered will also remain, just as the image of the vine growing in the desert will. 

I also came because I am looking for the common ground. I consider myself something of a universalist in that I believe God is for everyone, race or creed aside, and that God is much larger than the boxes we put him in called religion. I am a follower and believer in Christ, yet I won’t subscribe to the idea that only those who are Christian in this life will have the blessings of God in the end. I have seen the spirit of God in others enough to know that God is universal, and just as a parent who loves their child will do anything to take care of and bless their child, I believe God in his infinite wisdom and love has a similar plan for us. I believe that for those that seek God, God will find them and meet them where they are at. So I sleep easy at night knowing things are in much more capable hands than mine. 

Another reason I came to Israel was to see with my own eyes the true state of affairs between my Jewish and Muslim brothers. For a long time now I have had the suspicion that the political and social problem between them was not humanly reparable, that the hatred that goes back thousands of years could not be fixed by diplomacy or political processes. I am convinced now more than ever that this is the case. I do not believe the problem can be fixed by human means. The hatred is too old and too ingrained and neither side is really willing to compromise. In the end, only God in God’s timing will be the solution, and unfortunately, I think that things will get much worse before that happens.  

The ironic thing in all of this is that the 3 of us, Jew, Christian, and Muslim, are all waiting for the same thing. Christians are looking for the return of Christ, which I also see as what the Jews are waiting for, the arrival of Meshiach (Messiah). Muslims are also looking for the return of Christ in not too disimilar ways the Christians are. What I see happening in the end is the 3 separate paths converging into one, uniting them all.    

In the end my experience there has opened my eyes in both spiritual and political ways. There is good to be seen there, but there is also alot of bad. I have seen the open and giving spirit of Christ in people and I have seen the exclusive, self-righteous, legalistic Pharisaical spirit as well, and have been on the receiving end of both. As I stood on the Mt. of Olives and looked down on the city of 3 colliding ideologies, where a struggle for primacy is still going on today, the only words that come to mind are the words Christ spoke long ago in the temple, the place where the Dome of the Rock now stands:

Matthew 23:37-39
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”


Goodbye Israel

Posted: December 16, 2006 in christianity, Israel, jerusalem

I woke up early because it was FREEZING and the wind was howling. It was Saturday and Rafa and I were leaving that evening. I looked over at Rafa’s bunk and I was not too surprised to find it the way he left it the day before. I got up, showered and then went walking down to the beach seeing what I could find.

I had a hot dog for breakfast. I took a few photos and that’s it. Most of the stores were still closed so I just wandered around until I got a text message from Rafa about meeting up at 1PM. We finally met up and had lunch on the beach. We saw a crafts flea market and were looking around. Some old guy was selling his old stuff and he had personalized signed photos of Ella Fitzgerald and Mahalia Jackson. I bargained with him and got them both for 70 bucks! Now I have something to take to the Antiques Roadshow! We spent the day roaming around and talking. Evening was approaching and on the advice of everyone I spoke to I said we should get to the airport 3-4 hours early, becasue of security checks.

Not to my suprise Rafa said he was going to stay until after Christmas so he could get to know Zohar more and maybe go to Egypt. A part of me was jealous about Egypt, but for me, it’s time to go home to my wife. Egypt will be there next time. It’s been waiting thousands of years for me already. I could tell Zohar was happy about and I was happy for him. Maybe she’ll be Mrs. Rafa someday. She is a sweet girl and they clicked really well. So about 6 PM I gave them both a hug and told him to be careful, god bless and take care! I’m terrible with goodbyes and I always get sad, if not a little teary..why? I don’t know. So it was with a little sadness that I jumped into the cab and rode to the airport in silence, just taking in my last glimpses of Israel.

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Sabbath in the Big City

Posted: December 15, 2006 in christianity, Israel

In the morning we got up and had breakfast and did a little bit of shopping before we left with Ros and Lottie to go to Tel Aviv. I was a little sad to be leaving Jerusalem. My trip was coming to its end and I had experienced so much. I was ready to go home and to see my wife whom I missed dearly, but somehow this place had also worked its way under my skin.

Around 1 PM we got in the car and drove the hour or so to Tel Aviv. We were to meet up with Zohar and spend the day with her. After getting lost a few times, we finally got dropped off at the right train station. Today was the first day of Hanukkah as well so the atmosphere was a little festive. At the train station these Orthodox guys jumped in front of us with a big warm smile and gave us some candy and a booklet in Hebrew. I needed that warmth from an Orthodox after what happened on the bus.

We finally hooked up with Zohar who wanted to show us that not all Israel is like Jerusalem. She wanted us to spend more time in Tel Aviv to get a well rounded view of the country, understandably. Tel Aviv is just like any big city in the US. Except that it more or less shuts down every Friday night through Saturday night. Tel Aviv reminded me of LA a little and SF a little as well. We booked in at a hostel 2 blocks from the beach. Zohar took us around and showed us a little bit of the city, took us too an arts and crafts open air market, and we talked a long time about Israel, the Orthodox, the Arabs and the political situation in general. Zohar is something of a secular Jew with Iraqi background. She’s educated and would fit in easily in a place like SF or Berkeley. I definitely got an insight on how the non Orthodox jew thinks and feels.

A number of times she pointed out places that had been struck by suicide bombers. One was a coffee shop near our hostel and another one was a blues bar by the beach. She said the strikes came from Jaffa, which was within walking distance and was primarily Arab. She said that during the intifada, the Arabs in Jaffa hit the streets and threw rocks and messed up alot of property in Tel Aviv.

We then walked down into old Jaffa, which has alot of old historical buildings still, and was actually pretty nice. After a few hours of walking and talking Zohar invited us to her house to meet her family. We caught a cab and went up into their place. It was a warm house and her parents were very nice and polite hosts. We chatted with her father for awhile and ended up listening to music. I introduced them to Mariachi’s and Ranchero music from Mexico and they actually liked it. Zohar said it reminded her of the gypsy music she likes alot. This went on for awhile until I started to feel like the third wheel, what with Zohar and Rafa doing the whole “back rub” thing, so I said I was tired and that I’d better go back to the hostel. I’m sure they were thankful. I wished them a good night and said good night to her family as well. Her aunt said something unusual to me. She said that kindness emanated from me. I said she didn’t know me yet, just ask my wife. They all laughed and I ducked out into the chilly night.

Back at the hostel the wind was really picking up but I fell right to sleep.

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Of Camels and Buses

Posted: December 14, 2006 in christianity, Israel, jerusalem, petra

I woke up just before sunrise to Rafa getting up. He asked me if I wanted to see the sun come up and I said hell no it’s too warm in my bed. He got up and left and after a few minutes I couldn’t fall back to sleep so I got up and went out to see the sunrise as well. It was beautiful as expected, and the light felt good on the skin.

The camels were waiting for us so after a breakfast of fruit, pita and jam, we mounted the camels, waved goodbye to everyone at camp and began the 12K trek back to Wadi Rum. Camel riding is like horse riding except that your’e alot higher and the up down rhythm is more pronounced on a camel. We trudged along and the camels tried to stop and eat everytime they saw a bush but their keeper kept moving them along. The morning was warm but then we hit a cross current of wind and it was a chilly wind. It didn’t help when the camels walked into the shadow of the mountain next to us either, but we got back into sun and warmth a few minutes afterward.

After about 2 hours of riding the camels the town materialized in the distance and we arrived finally after passing a few goat herds and other camels. We met at Mohammeds house again and after some tea and a little computer help with his email, he gave us both a big hearty hug, and invited us to come again. Our cab back to the border was ready and we jumped in and were on our way back to the Aqaba border crossing station.

Back on the Israeli side Rafa got questioned alot (as usual) by their security but we got through and caught a cab to the bus station. After just an hour or so of being back in Israel I mentioned to Rafa that I already felt a difference in the people and that I missed the warmth and open heartedness of the Beduins. He said he noticed the same thing. Our bus finally arrived and we got on.

What happened next on the bus was something that caused alot of emotion in me and I spent alot of time thinking about the situation and reminding myself that I didn’t know the exact details of what happened so it may not actually be how I perceived it. However it looked extremely ugly to me and made my stomach churn. I will attempt to tell it as objectively as I can.

As we were pulling away this young Orthodox and his wife ran up and got on the bus almost missing it. They got on the bus and were looking for seats. The bus from Eilat to Jerusalem had assigned seating so we had no choice where we sat. The front of the bus was mostly filled. Each 2 seat row had at least one person in it. There were a couple of rows where the aisle seats were both empty, which would have allowed a couple to sit together, just across the aisle from each other. The couple scanned the seats then went to a pair of seats that were filled by 2 darker men, presumably Arab. These were the only 2 Arabs in the front of the bus, the rest were light skinned and many wearing yarmulkes. The Bus was already down the road five minutes and the couple kept standing next to the Arabs, talking to them. I saw the Arabs shake their heads a number of times, and then I saw some other passengers say a few things to them until they finally got up, and one came to the back of the bus the other sat in another empty seat. The look on his face was frustrated embarrassment. As he sat down some of the other guys in the front of the bus kept looking back at him giving him hard stares like he wanted to fight him, which made me think to myself that if they were such gentlemen, why didn’t they offer their seats up themselves! Now I don’t know the details of what happened, whether the Arabs were in the wrong seats or whether the Orthodox just picked their seats because they were Arabs or just random picking, but it felt all wrong and made me mad. It made me think of the USA circa 40 years ago. For a long time I sat and stewed over it and when the bus stopped for a 15 minute break, I approached the Arab guy to try and get his view, since he was obviously the minority in the situation. I asked him if he knew English and he shook his head and walked away. I can understand why he lied. I should have asked the Orthodox their side but didn’t. We finally got back to Jerusalem and I was happy to be off the bus.

We booked a night at the Hebron Hostel in old city and Rafa met these two British girls named Ros and Lottie who offered us a ride to Tel Aviv the next day. We had dinner with them and then called it a night. I was glad to be back and happy to be able to shower again.

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Video of us on camels

Shadows of the camels

Rafa writing on camelback

Passing camels

Return to Ein Gedi

Posted: December 11, 2006 in Israel, jerusalem

We tried to get up early to catch the bus to Eilat, but basically missed it by a mere few minutes, so we decided to catch the next bus to Ein Gedi, spend the day there, then catch the last bus to Eilat and find a place to stay for the night. Rafa really wanted to go back to Ein Gedi and I wasn’t too jazzed about going, since I didn’t think there was much to do there, but I’m glad we did.

The plan was to go swimming in the Dead Sea, then go check out Nahal David or David’s Spring. This is the spring that David hid from Saul in when Saul was trying to kill him. We caught the bus and after about an hour or so, were back in the Dead Sea region. I hit the button for the driver to stop at the first Ein Gedi stop and as he did so I got up and looked back to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I guess I took too much time in turning my head because the driver hit the gas and took off, causing me to fall back into my seat. Rafa and I looked at each other like “What the hell?”. The driver then blew through the next stop and then finally stopped at the third one. I was annoyed and so was Rafa.

We got off the bus to find ourselves at some Dead Sea spa with lots of rich old snooty people that looked through us instead of at us. They were all getting onto a tour bus and Rafa wanted to ask the driver if they were going back towards the beach, but before he could get a single word out the driver waved him off. I was pissed already and didn’t want to ask for a ride and was already heading down the road for the 2 mile walk. Rafa then wanted to hitchhike but I said “No way, I don’t want a ride from these snooty bastards. Eff them, I’ll walk”. It was hot but I didn’t care. We walked along the desert highway and finally reached the beach.

We got changed and went down shoreside. It was rocky, not sandy, and hurt when you walked on it. What was worse though was when you stepped into the water and wade in to about knee high depth, the water being so dense actually moves you more so than normal water, so you are thrown off balance and stepping on sharp rocks trying to regain it. Being that the water is 33% mineral and salt it’s thicker than normal water, in fact it feels like baby oil. And the ripples don’t look like normal ripples, they look kind of alien or like computer generated. When you finally get about waist deep, you start to float and either you fall over and struggle trying to adjust to this new experience or you just lay back and roll with it. Because the water is so dense you literally float at or close to the surface, like a piece of wood or paper. You can lay flat and stiff as a board and you will still float. There is, however, a drawback to swimming in this water. If you have a cut or a rash anywhere on your body, you’re literally putting salt in your wound so it stings like a mother! Additionally you can drink the water or let it get in your eyes because it will burn your eyes and throat and possibly make you wretch. However it is pretty neat to float so buoyantly. I joked to Rafa that being the lifeguard here must be the most boring job ever, being that it seems impossible to drown here.

When we were done with the beach we rinsed off and made our way up to Nahal David. The only sign of a spring in the middle of this desert mountain range are a few palm trees by the road. As we walked up to the entrance we saw an Ibex a mere 40 or 50 feet from us. An Ibex is like a mountain goat with these long horns that arc back towards it’s back. It’s a majestic animal to see. We pay the park entrance fee and start the hike up the hill. As we go up the trail we notice in the trees some kind of desert rodent about the size of a cat. Kind of like a big fat squirrel without the tail. They are in the trees and on the ground. There’s a whole bunch of them scurrying around. As we continue to follow the path up the side of hte mountain, we turn a corner past a boulder and to our surprise find a pool of turquoise water being fed by a small waterfall, surrounded by lush green plants, in stark contrast to the dry desert terrain around it. we continue down the path and find more pools with waterfalls. We continue on up the path and find a larger pool with a 10 foot waterfall above it. We climb down off the path and go in the water. We had to climb down past this boulder that was partially concealing it, and the bottom of the boulder was either cut or eroded so as to allow one to duck down and pass underneath it and get to the pool. The water was cool and refreshing, feeling great on the skin. The waterfall felt great too. Here and at Ein Gedi beach were the only places I exposed my tattoos my whole trip, and I noticed a few looks from people at the beach.

While in the pool we noticed an Ibex sitting in the sahde of a boulder not 20 feet away. After getting dried off I climbed up the other side of the boulder to try and get good photo of it. I managed to get pretty close but I did hold back so as to not cause the animal to charge. We continued up the hill finidng more small falls until we came out into a larger crevice cut by a waterfall about 50-60 feet high. It’s cascading water fell into a large pool at the bottom where we were and what was really interesting was that 2/3rd’s the way up there was a large cave partially obscured by the falling water. I only noticed it because of the angle the sun was hitting it.

This spring was like a hidden oasis out here. You have no clue this is here from the highway below. We enjoyed the beauty of our surroundings a little longer and began the trek back down to catch the last bus Eilat. Eilat is still a few hours south so it’s not until about 10PM that we arrive.

The second we step off the bus we are assaulted by people with rooms to rent and this one crazy lady fully gets in our faces insistent we go to her house, causing a scene and ends up freaking Rafa out. We just jumped into a taxi to get away from her, and told the cabbie we wanted to go to the border to cross into Jordan. Unfortunately the border is closed already so we find the Shelter Hostel. The Shelter Hostel is cool in that it’s run by a Christian family and is open to travellers, pilgrims and I believe they give the homeless a place to sleep as well, and it’s not affiliated with any organization or church. It’s just a family doing what they feel God has called them to do.

There we met a guy from Southern California named Josh who has been in Israel for a month or so, basically doing the extended version of what we are doing. After talking to him and to some of the other guests and the family that runs the hostel I got this unusual feeling that I’ll attempt to put into words. Here we were, two Christian “Pilgrims” in the southern tip of Israel between Egypt and Jordan, where although our faith was born in this land, it is a great minority, particularly in the places not affiliated with the faith. We just so happen to stumble upon a place for travellers like us and meet other travellers doing the same thing we are doing, doing a spiritual journey. It just made me think that this is how it could have been in the old days, like the first century when the faith was spreading by people travelling, word of mouth etc., and it makes you feel like your’e a part of something much bigger than yourself. The image that keeps coming to mind is a grapevine growing slowly in the desert.

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Video of Rafa in the Dead Sea

Video of Nahal David by the Dead Sea

By the Sea of Galilee

Posted: December 10, 2006 in faith, Israel

Everywhere we go I notice that we get funny looks and I always assumed it was due to Rafa having long hair but I am rethinking that. I think it’s because Rafa looks like the traditional accepted image of Jesus and naturally him being in Jerusalem, people definitely do a double take.

Today we went to the northern part of Israel, more specifically to the Sea of Galilee region, via the city of Tiberias. Tiberias is right on the shore of the sea. The trip took about 3 hours.Along the way we drove past a number of walled in areas like Bethlehem, so we must have been driving along the border of the West Bank. Passing many towns I saw mosque minarets but did not notice any churches or synagogues, so it must have been Palestinian territory. We passed Nablus, Jenin, Nazareth, Mt. Tabor, Haifa and Megiddo. The land progressively grew more fertile the further north we went and we started ascending the hills again. It actually reminded me of the northern California/Oregon area a little. We slid around a curve of a hill and there before us down the mountainside was the Sea of Galilee at the bottom of the valley. This area is important in Christianity because this is where Jesus started his work, and to be frank, this is where I had my spiritual experience while on this journey.

The bus slowly wound its way down the hillside and descended upon Tiberias. We got off at the central bus station without knowing where to go so we just went down towards the water. We got down to the promenade that goes along the shore and we just relaxed a little bit looking at the water. The weather was perfect, the water looked inviting, and the surrounding area was gorgeous. We watched a small rickety old two man fishing boat sputter up not too far from us and the two fishermen began pulling up a net. It was surreal to me, because that’s the exact same way the apostles, who were fishermen by vocation, fished. Rafa and I watched them for awhile as they pulled this incredibly long net up from the sea, pulling the fish out of it and tossing them at the bottom of theboat. We decided to walk along the shore for a bit more and chatted with a young teenage Hassidic kid from LA who was here now proselytizing. We asked him what the yarmulke meant and he said that it reminds them that God is always above them. And that the sideburns and wide brimmed hats were so that in older times the Jews could physically separate themselves from the locals and be able to recognize other Jews better. It was mid afternoon now and we wanted to go up the coast to the Mount of Beatitudes and maybe hit Capernaum so we jumped a bus going north.

The bus took us up a hill overlooking the sea, and let us off not too far from a town called Tabgha. The driver pointed us to a point on the hill about a mile or so away where the Mt. Beatitudes Church was. We walked from there and it was pure pleasure. The hills were green and rolling, not rocky and coarse like in Jerusalem. There was a field of banana trees on our right and just empty land on our left. All you could hear was a slight breeze, hardly any cars on the road behind us and none on the road we were walking on.

As we approached the Mt. I noticed on the side of the road these large thornbushes. They were basically long skinny branches with these long thorns every few inches. It struck me when I saw them that these thorn branches look exactly like the ones in the images of Christ with the crown of thorns. All one would have to do is cut a branch off, roll it up and you would have yourself a crown. I asked Rafa if he wanted to try it. He declined. I had never seen this kind of thornbush before.

We arrived at the Church which was on the downslope but was placed perfectly overlooking the entire sea and general region of Galilee. This site is said to be both the site of the feeding of the 5000 and where Jesus gave the Beatitudes. The Church was very small, beautiful in a quaint way. Nothing fancy, just a small church. Outside the church is a garden and observation area overlooking the sea. I felt a great sense of peace here as I watched the sun going down over the hills on the other side of the sea. I looked down towards the shore and wondered if that could where Christ first called to the fishermen who would become his disciples. I thought about the things that happened here, what they represent and what they ultimately mean to me. I felt humbled, peaceful and settled within myself and yet also a sense sadness. I was alone at this point and spent some time talking to God.

The sun was quickly setting and and the church was closing soon so Rafa and I started trekking back to the main road to catch the bus back to Tiberias. When we got to the main road we saw the bus coming around the turn so we ran to catch it. Just in time.

It was dark when we arrived back in Tiberias and I wanted to swing by the shore one more time before leaving. Walking down to the promenade again we heard this continuous ringing of an old bell, and it was coming from the shore area, so we went down to find the source. Through an old stone wall we looked and saw an older lady pulling the rope that rang the bell. She wouldn’t stop ringing it so I went in and asked her why she was ringing it, and she replied in a Scottish accent that it’s the bell letting people in the are know that service was going to begin soon. I asked her how long she had to ring it and she said for 15 minutes. She invited us in for the service. We were at the Church of Scotland in Galilee and she was the pastor. It was Sunday evening and I wanted to share in the service so we went in. She presided over myself, Rafa and 3 other people from different parts of the world. The service was traditional with old hymns and all. The subject matter was Advent and she asked us to think about the places that are most important to us and the people in them. I thought about home, my wife, my family and friends and missed them. In closing the service she prayed for peace, for our leaders that they rule with peace as a goal and for the healing of the world and relations between people. It was a beautiful service and I felt blessed to have been able to share in it. To share faith and prayer with people who I don’t know from other parts of the world, is something special and to me it represents what we as humanity need more of. Coming together in peace and unity regardless of race or religion.

After service I asked the pastor Jane how many people she gets each sunday. She said it was mostly visitors like us and that it could be as few as 1 or as many as 10. She has been in Galilee for almost 2 years now and feels blessed to be here. The Church of Scotland has been here for over 100 years she said and they work together with the Jewish and Muslim organizations in the area to provide for the poor etc. She was a sweet lady and was very Grandmotherly in that you almost don’t want to leave, but it was time for us to go. We thanked her for inviting us in and headed down to the shore.

We saw a place called “The Galilee Experience” and checked it out. It was a museum/gift shop of the history of the region. Working in the store was a young man named Zev who was from Pleasanton, not far from San Jose, but who now lived in Tiberias. He was a Jewish convert to Christianity. He said his whole family had moved to Israel and that while here they converted to Christianity through some friends they had made. I asked if that has been a problem for them, converting while being Jews in Israel, and he said yes and no. It didn’t matter to anyone while he served in the IDF, but that there had been problems with some of the local Orthodox. His mother had apparently been sharing her faith with some local Orthodox and some of them converted. When the Orthodox community found out they started picketing their house, yelling at them and trying to get them to leave. He said that it doesn’t happen as much anymore but the Orthodox don’t like them much. It was interesting to get the insight of a Jewish Christian. After a little more chatting we shook hands and headed back to the bus station. We caught our bus and I slept all the way back to Jerusalem. It was a peaceful sleep.

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Video by the Sea of Galilee

A Day Off….Sort Of.

Posted: December 9, 2006 in islam, Israel, jerusalem

Saturday is a day of rest for the Jews and so it was kind of for us as well, being that travel was shut down, so we just kind of hung arod  town. I snacked in the morning and discovered this awesome Arabic delight. It was a cheese pastry soaked in sweet syrup. It was SOOOO good. and SOOOO rich! On Zohar’s recommendation we went to a suburb of Jerusalem called En Kerem. It’s a beautiful hillside town tucked away in a green corner of a mountain. It reminded me alot of the old European towns. Beautiful, tranquil, with old euro style architecture. Apparently Mary the mother of Christ lived in this area as well and so on the hillside there lies the Church of the Annunciation, where it is said that the Angel Gabriel gave her the good news. The church is the most beautiful Marian church I have ever seen, replete with an enormous portrait of Mary on the back wall of the church. I really love Mary themed religious art. Like most Mexicans, I have a special place for her in my heart, just maybe not in the same way they do. Sundown was coming on so we thought we’d catch a movie. I was tired actually but consented to Rafa’s idea anyway.

Our cabbie was an Arab who, on the way, asked us point blank if we believed Jesus was going to come back. We said yes and the said he did too and that he hoped he could live to see the day when he returns. I asked him if he was a Christian and he said no, that he was a Muslim, and that Muslims believe that Jesus will return to bring peace as well. I think that’s something alot of people don’t know about Muslims, that they believe Christ will return too. We ended up having a nice chat with the cabbie about religion, David Copperfield, and ghosts then he left us at the cinema. Kind of funny how sometimes the lines of our perceptions and prejudices get blurred….and how you never know where you will find another believer. Which reminds me, while we were seated at breakfast at the sidewalk cafe this morning, a young Muslim man came up to us and asked if he could give us some literature. We said yes and he asked us if we knew about Islam and I replied yes, that my brother has been Muslim for over 20 years. We spoke briefly but I definitely sensed an earnest spirit and desire to see and experience God in life. It made me glad for him and I even felt a sense of brotherhood with him, even though we are not of the same race or religion. I felt the same kinship I feel when I meet anyone who is looking to grow in God. It was a positive experience.

So anyways, back to the movie. The cinema was closed because shabbat wasn’t over so Rafa ends up finding out that the mall is going to open at sundown and that they have a theater too. We catch a bus for Jerusalem Mall. This was the worst mistake of the trip.

I don’t know if it was a special day or what, but it seemed like the whole city was there. All the stores were selling off of tables in the mall aisles and it was jam packed with people. I mean JAM PACKED. And it seemed like everyone was rude, pushing and pulling. We still had like 2 hours to kill before the movies and I was dead tired so I went to sleep in the food court surrounded by hyper 14 years olds. It was a nightmare. When we finally got into the movie, the screen was slightly larger than my TV, the sound was horrible and the seats were crappy. We also didn’t know that they assigned seats so we got kicked out of our chairs. Then I slept through a terrible movie. How can a Morgan Freeman/John Cusack movie be bad? but it was. I was so happy to finally get out and back on the bus going back to my bed at the convent. On the way I called my wife and told her I loved and missed her then got to my bed and slept like the dead.  

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