On October 7, 2009 Heather dropped me off at the Hashimi Hostel, in the old city of Jerusalem, for our first night of the delegation. I was anxious and felt very much out of my comfort zone as I was not and would not be in control of my life for the next 12 days. I had prayed again just that morning that the Lord would go before me and prepare the way, giving me His strength for whatever I would have to face in this journey. I can now say He did this exceedingly beyond anything I could imagine that first evening. There were seven members from three different countries, USA, Canada and the Netherlands, represented in our delegation plus our leader who is from Scotland. There were two women age 70, 3 women in their 60’s and 3 young people in their mid 20’s, 2 guys & one girl. We met as a group on the roof top of the hostel where there is a great view of the old city. We each shared why we there and what were our expectations. Again, that has changed since beginning to process the past two weeks. I had one reason for coming but the Lord had another. I am still working through this process & expect it will take many months. There were assignments given out such as; someone in charge of scheduling each person to write a daily log of our activities for our group journal, picture taking, accessor of the groups interaction with each other, and someone in charge of purchasing any food for lunches we took with us and any meals we needed to cook, also preparing those meals. Also purchasing any needed supplies. I was asked to volunteer for that job which I did reluctantly but it went very well. Cooking with limited resources and extremely limited cooking equipment for 11 people was very challenging but the task was accomplished.
That evening we ate at a local restaurant in the old city. We had swarma made of small seasoned chicken pieces, marinated cabbage, pickles and any other prepared salad they make. This is put in a pita or a flatbread. They are delicious. Our delegation leader, Maureen had shishtouk which is chicken steak pieces. She had all the same salads but her chicken was different. That night she got very ill and could not join us until the following Tuesday evening. She had food poisoning. She was able to travel with us to Hebron the following day but went to bed immediately and another leader took her place for the next 6 days. She recovered and did well the remainder of the delegation.
From that night on we never sleep with less than 3 persons to a room and one night all 7 of us slept in one room with the hissy bugs. These little critters bite & pinch but do respond to insect repellant, but that on top of much sweat & dirt was just one more layer on the body.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hostel. The usual breakfast which we ate most mornings was; hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, olives from the area, humus, laughing cow cheese, pita, & tea or coffee. Eggs are never refrigerated here either before or after cooking. If they are not cleaned with water no bacteria can enter the egg so when you buy the eggs they are usually pretty dirty. They are not refrigerated even after cooking them. It was a little disconcerting at first but I did eat them and did not get sick.
Most mornings we had devotions as a group with each person taking their turn. We had a number of different denominations represented; Mennonite, Church of the Brethren, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Church of Scotland and a nonbeliever. Our devotions were varied but excellent.
Most days were spent listening to various nonviolence resistant groups who are working with the Palestinians to help improve their life. We also visited sites were they are working & met with several families. The facts of the occupation are the same but the stories maybe a different. Each one seemed unbelievable but we viewed many videos showing the realities of the occupation and the evil it produces.