Hannah and Je together

Monday, 1 September 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Seventh Day – Last Day

There was no class on the last day.  The school always told us that the last class is Thursday, but the day before, the secretary of the language centre told us that there would be no class on the last day.  But we just had small ceremony.

I left the house around 10:30 in the morning because the ceremony was at 11.  I asked the family to call a cab, and I paid 20 shekels from home to school.  Do you remember the cab driver on my first day in Bethlehem who yelled at us and dropped us in the middle of the way to the Siraj centre because we refused to give him 25 shekels?  Home-Bethlehem University is 3/4 longer than Siraj-Bethlehem University, and today’s driver charged me 20 shekels.

Classmates.  Lina from Germany, me, Cletos from Ghana, Mateo from Italy.  Anna from Switcherland is not here

Classmates. Lina from Germany, me, Cletos from Ghana, Mateo from Italy. Anna from Switzerland is not here

The ceremony was simple, and I’ve got a certificate.  Anna from Switzerland could not attend the ceremony because her airline emailed her that her flight is changed one day earlier, which is Thursday.  So she went to the airport.  And the Spoken Arabic Level 1 teacher did not show up too.  Anna is from Switzerland, but working in Germany.  She is very nice girl, but also very strong in her opinion and people must agree with her.  Once we were talking about the war, and she was demonising Israel with the number of death in Gaza.  I do not deny that many people were killed in Gaza by the Israeli attack.  I told her that Hamas also tried to attack, they just did not succeed.  Then she mentioned the number of deaths on both sides and said “how can it be the same!”  I also told her it is because Israel has defensive technology and successfully defended its citizens, not because Hamas was better in spirit and mind and refused to attack the other.  Then she became so mad.  I do not understand why so many people especially from Europe think Palestinians are good, but Israelis are pure evil?

A few days before the talk, our classmates, including Anna and I, were talking about airlines.  I said that I am flying with SWISS (Anna was happy), but I think Lufthansa is slightly better than SWISS.  At this point, she became so offended with that.  And yesterday, we were talking again in the class about the airlines.  I told her that SWISS is one of the top airlines.  Then she said with still little bit angry voice, “SWISS air is NOT one of the top airlines.  It is the ONLY TOP airline!  I am not saying this because I am from Switzerland.  It is just the FACT!”  I wanted to ask her to prove it with the numbers and evidences, but I just said, “OK” to avoid her anger.

Gemma from Spain

Gemma from Spain

After the ceremony, some of the students had lunch together.  And there were three people going to the airport including me.  Edward Fox, middle-aged guy from England wanted to join me but was not sure.  And Zoey from rural Illinois wanted to go to the airport with me and she asked me to wait for her in the bus stop for an hour.  Actually she came to the bus stop in two hours.  She is very spoiled daughter, and her father does everything for her even for now when she is in college, and consequently she does not know to do anything.

While I was standing next to the bus stop, the taxi drivers came to me to ask the taxi ride.  I told them that I am waiting for my friend, then they found that I speak Arabic, and became very curious about me.  So I was surrounded by them and talked two hours.  I found that Christians and Muslims have different greetings in Arabic.  Some of the people I talked have multiple wives (the maximum number is four).  Later, they began to shout “Fucking America” surrounding me as if they protest in front of the Embassy.  It was half joke and half serious.  They said no Palestinians like America and they hate it more than Israel.  Later, one of them advised me not to say I am from America but just say that I am a Korean because identifying oneself as an American is not wise in Palestine.

After waiting two hours, Zoey came to the bus stop, and I also found Edward too.  So we three journeyed to the airport together.  The bus was full of Students of Bethlehem University, Palestinians living in Jerusalem.  At the checkpoint, everybody got off the bus, and walked through the soldiers showing the permits and passports.  It was my first time getting off the bus for the checking.  Every time, the soldiers got on the bus.  And because of this, I lost my seat.

Edward’s flight was 9pm, Zoey’s 11pm, and mine was 5am next morning.  From Jerusalem, there are two ways to go to the airport.  Getting a sherut (or shared taxi), and using the public transportation.  The best and fastest way is to use the sherut.  I explained them about both ways, and I recommended the sherut.  But somehow, Edward insisted on the public transportation.  It was about 5pm, and I was kind of worried about his flight, but he insisted.  From the Damascus gate, we used light railway to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.  ANd we waited an hour and got on the bus to the Haifa, and got off at the airport city.  There we were supposed to get on the free shuttle, or any public bus to the airport terminals, but we did not see anything.  And finally we got on a cab all together.  It was about 8pm when we got to the airport terminal.  He ran as fast as he can.  Zoey went through the security check right away  because the security check begins three hours prior to the flight.  Later I met Edward again.  He told me that he missed the flight.  We spent three hours on the public transportation system when we could have just spent 45 minutes on sherut.

Ilaria from Italy

Ilaria from Italy

Here comes small stories from the trip.

My hosting family in Bethlehem has a Hyundai Tucson.  I do not know how they got this, but it must be from Korea.  The owner’s manual is in Korea.  The car speaks Korean (voice activated features and instructions).  The navigation systems also shows and speaks Korean.  And they cannot use any of the advanced features of the car including Bluetooth, multimedia features and navigation.  They just drive.  And they said that they suffer from Korean language.

The family has a daughter, and two sons.  And I stayed in the daughter’s room, and every night she slept on the couch in the living room (she graduated college).  I did not feel happy and comfortable about that.  Except, the hosting family was very good.  They are super nice people.

In Palestine (and probably all the Arab world), mother does everything.  Father cannot do anything about house chores, and children are the same.  once I wanted to do my laundry and asked the daughter where the washing machine is, and she asked me back if they have one.  Five minutes later I found it in front of her room.  The family do not even gather the laundry for their mother.  She goes everywhere to collect the laundry.  When I told another lady that men do half (or more) of the house chores in Canada and America, she was shocked.  And she said complaining about the house chore is not possible and if one does, then she is considered as an evil mother and evil woman.

In Palestine, people live in peace between them, not like in other areas of middle east where they kill each other.  Even Christians and Muslims have no problem living together in Bethlehem.  But in my perception, it is just because they face bigger problem of Israel.

As I wrote above, Palestinians hate America.  Then how about Israelis?  I was told many times from the Israelis that “Do you know we hate Obama?  All Israelis hate Obama”  when I told them that I am from Chicago.  America is fool, spends a lot of money and effort on both sides and being hated from both.

On the trip to Hebron together, the so-called tour guide was talking about Hamas. I was not actually listening because he has no logic in his speech. But Lina, the girl from Germany, told him that it is not 100% that she agrees. Then the guy began to yell at her. She was freaked out, and she stopped talking with him. I think that attitude will never work to make friends. And they need friends.

Yesterday when I was sitting on a bench in the school yard, an old gentleman (he is a professor at Bethlehem University) came to me and asked if I am a Korean.  I said that I am a Korea but I am from Chicago.  He told me that they have two exchange students from Korea every year, and he thought I am one of them.  We talked a bit more.  Suddenly he asked me if I fell in love with a Palestinian girl.  I said no.  He, then, pointing two girls sitting beside me, asked me again “Don’t you think the Palestinians girls are beautiful?”  I told him that I am married.  Well, this is third time that people tried to connect me with someone.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Sixth Day – Fakes

The famous Stars & Bucks in Bethlehem

The famous Stars & Bucks in Bethlehem

This is very famous fake Starbucks in Bethlehem.  All the McCormick January Travel group saw this on the street when we were walking from the Bus Station to the Nativity Church.  The colour and font are same as the Starbucks’ but the name is slightly different (Stars & Bucks) and the logo is different, so we can easily tell this is not the real Starbucks and kind of joke.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S in Bethlehem

F.R.I.E.N.D.S in Bethlehem

This is a store in front of the Bethlehem University.  Most people would know where the sign is from.  This place has multi-function.  They have computers with internet connected, printers and photo-copiers are there too.  They also have several billiard tables, so that the students pay and play.

Toast-R-Us in Bethlehem

Toast-R-Us in Bethlehem

How about this?  This is also kind of joke or parody about the famous US brands of “Toys R Us” or “Babies R Us.”  Only one mistake is that they should have written it “Toasts-R-Us” in plural, not singular.

There are so many more parodies in Bethlehem, which draw attention of the tourists and make them laugh.  I believe that would also help their marketing.

Starbucks in Bethlehem. Really?

Starbucks in Bethlehem. Really?

In the old market next to the Nativity church, I found this Starbucks.  Unlike the other fake “Stars & Bucks” on the way to the Nativity church, it has exactly same spelling, and the logo is identical.  So I became curious if it is actual Starbucks franchisee.

Starbucks mug sales in Bethlehem

Starbucks mug sales in Bethlehem

They also sell the coffee mugs.  I asked the guy working there if they are the actual franchisee of real Starbucks from Seattle.  And he did not understand the word “franchisee.”  I explained it with easier English for about one minute, and finally he confessed that it is not the Starbucks from America.  I just wonder if it is OK to use the same name, not a parody, and also the identical logo.  But it would be OK here where the copyright is treated as a dog’s name on the street.  When I told them that I buy CDs and music files, local people here could not understand that.  And when I told them that we buy musics and movies in America, now they think Americans are so dumb and stupid spending money on where you don’t need to.

KFC Bethlehem. Hmm...

KFC Bethlehem. Hmm…

This is the KFC sign on the bus station building in Bethlehem where our bus was parked last January.  Some people may remember this KFC.  Now I wonder if this KFC is actual franchisee of real KFC or not.

Two licence plates coexist in Palestine

Two licence plates coexist in Palestine

Professor Ted Hiebert told us that the Palestinians would stone the car with Israel licence plate when they are parked in the Palestinian area.  So people took the licence plates with them so that their cars would not be stoned.  I think it was twenty or thirty years ago when he and Paula stayed in Israel for a year.  Well, that is not true any more.  I see so many cars with Israel licence plates in Palestinians areas in Israel or in West Bank too.  Actually the Palestinians in West Bank try and wish to get the Israel licence plates because they can drive into Israel with Israel licence while the Palestinians licensed vehicles are not allowed in Israel.  And the Palestinians know that all the Israel licensed vehicles in Palestine are owned by the Palestinians – their friends, neighbours, or family.  So they do not stone them any more.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Third Day – Baraka Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem

The first day I came here, I found the sign of Presbyterian Church in front of the house where I am staying.  But my hosting family told me that they have not seen them worship on Sundays.

Church Entrance

Church Entrance

My hosting family told me that they heard of bigger Presbyterian church in Bethlehem, not do not know the exact location.  As a favour to me, the father of the family called his neighbour this morning who is in the Beit Sahour Presbyterian Church (the official name is Shepherds’ Field Presbyterian Church), and asked the location.  It was on the Hebron street, and he gave me ride there.

Church Building

Church Building

The church was on the down-side of the road (everywhere here is hill).  So the ground floor from my side (west) is underground level 1 from the other side (east).

Common Room in the church with pingpong table

Common Room in the church with ping-pong table

When you go in, you get to the back of the sanctuary.  And on the right, there is a door to the common room for after service refreshments.  There is a ping-pong table for the youth activities.

Simultaneous Translator Receiver

Simultaneous Translator Receiver

From the common room, you can enter the tech room where they control the overhead projector and computer, sound mixer and everything.  Even they have simultaneous translator equipment.  Today, a guy was translating in the tech room only for me.

Christmas Year Round

Christmas Year Round

In Bethlehem, it is Christmas year round.

Childrens' Story Time

Children’s Story Time

The service was much like ours in Canada or America (I mean PCC or PCUSA).  And there were about or little more than fifty people including children.  There was a Children’s story time, and then they went for Sunday School.  Though the service was much like ours, the demographic was quite different.  They are mostly young parents, probably around 20s and 30s.  I think that is good sign because even here, the church goers are mostly seniors for Greek Orthodox.  And the service was about hour and half (thank God it is not three hours like Greek Orthodox).

Back to School Gift

Back to School Gift

All the children were given a gift package at the Sunday school because the school begins tomorrow.

Playground at Church

Playground at Church

I know the churches in North America usually have yards and some rich Churches (like my church which is Knox Presbyterian Church in Naperville) have even its own playground.  That is not true for churches in Korea.  I also haven’t seen any playground at Greek Orthodox Churches.  But this Presbyterian church has its own small playground.  I love it!

Olive Everywhere

Olive Everywhere

And it is kind of law in Palestine and Israel that where there is yard, there are olive trees.

I found that the Presbyterian church in Beit Sahour comes here to join the Sunday service because they do not have a lot of people, and it is the daughter church of Baraka Bethlehem Presbyterian Church.  They also have a day-care and education centre in Beit Sahour.  So instead of walking back hour and twenty minutes, I got a ride back home.  And thank God that the Beit Sahour Presbyterian church is literally right next door!

In the refreshments, people asked me a few questions such as if I am alone.  I guess they meant if I am single because they also told me that they have good Christian girls.  So I told them “Ana mit-jawiz,” which means I am married.  Another lady asked me how long I’ve been here.  I asked her back, “in Palestine?”  Then she said, “Thank you for saying Palestine.”  To give you an advice who wants to travel West Bank later, it is not safe to call there “Israel,” and they do not really like to be called “West Bank” either.  They are happy when they hear “Palestine.”

Who knows this?

Who remembers this?

They sell some souvenirs in the church along with some Christian music.  Some of them are in cassette tape.  I cannot really remember when was the last time that I listened to the cassette tape.  And I don’t have a cassette tape player, so I could not buy this one even though it was cheaper.  But does not the sales mean people actually listens to it?

Arabic Gospel CD

Arabic Gospel CD

Instead of the cassette tape, I bought a gospel music CD in Arabic.  I can borrow this CD if you are my neighbour and you want it.  The church was selling it for 30 shekels.  And I found later that it is cheaper if you buy it at Amazon.  But that is OK, it is just 5 shekels (which is about $2), and I may think I helped the church.

It is not related to today’s topic, but: the father of this hosting family installed an alarm app from the Israeli government that warns the location and sounds the siren when the missile launch was detected from Gaza so that people can run to the shelter. And it sounds the siren twice every minute, literally.  But the location is mostly southern Israel, so we don’t have to run.  Well, actually we don’t have a shelter to run in Beit Sahour or any Palestinian area in West Bank.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty First Day – Cheese Pickle and L’abri Cafe

When I came home, the father of my hosting family was making something.  It is in Arabic “imchalal filfel ma’a jibna,” but I would call it just cheese filled pickle, or cheese pickle.

Cheese Pickle

Cheese Pickle

First, they emptied the seed and everything from inside the hot pepper, and let them stay for a while in the water to make it less spicy and hot.  Then they fill the pepper with white cheese.  He said it must be white cheese only, no cheddar nor mozzarella.  Then they put them in a big jar, and they fill the jar with salty water.  They leave it in the room temperature at least ten days.  Then they eat it.  It is very spicy, salty, and cheesy.  Because of the salty water, it does not go bad for about a year in the room temperature.  For your information, room temperature here is about 85 degree.

L'abri Cafe Gate

L’abri Cafe Gate

The daughter in the family now works at the L’abri cafe whose other name is Bethlehem Study Centre.  But for some reason, they were always call it “International student’s centre and library.”  This family told me many times that there are lots of books and a lot of international students, so I can talk and mingle with them.  But when I was there, there were only Palestinian students.

Library Area

Library Area

When she was going to work, around 5pm, she asked me if I want to go together and see.  So I went there together.  The mother always gives her daughter the ride to and from the house.  I think it is about 10 minutes driving, but it farther than 10 minutes driving in Chicago, because there is NO signal lights and almost no traffic at that time.

Well, there are not that many books, and for now I am not interested books because I am barely catching up the Arabic class.

Walkway after the gate

Walkway after the gate

After you enter the gate, you walk a little bit.  And as you see, there are stars everywhere here, but they are not Star of David, but the Bethlehem or Christmas Star.

Growing Veggies

Growing Veggies

They planted many different veggies on both sides of the road after the gate.

Grows fish as well

Grows fish as well

And on a corner, they have a fish tank.  They grew fish not to see and enjoy, but to eat and enjoy.

Cafe Area

Cafe Area

This is the Cafe area where the daughter of the family works.  I ordered Mango Smoothie for 14 shekels.  Even though they used real mango, it was not that great.  First, the smoothie was lukewarm while it is supposed to be cold.  Second, it had too much hair in it (mango has lots of hair around the seed area).

Usually she comes home around 9:30 or 10 in the evening.  I expected the same today.  So I waited her to finish her work.  Then around 10pm, her younger brother came, so I thought her mother came to pick her up.  Her brother and I sat together for about ten minutes, then he suddenly told me as if he just realised that they would not go until midnight, so I might go by myself now.

I did not want to wait until midnight.  There was nothing I can do more.  So I just walked home.  I was a bit unpleasant.  Why didn’t they tell me in the first place?  And why did they choose this day for me?  Well, it is weekend, happy weekend.  So I will try to make myself happy.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fiftieth Day – Separation Wall in Bethlehem

Mosquito bites on my leg

Mosquito bites on my leg

During this trip, I was free of mosquitoes in hotels, hostels, and in this family house.  But four days ago, suddenly I began to have mosquito bites.

Mosquito bites on my foot

Mosquito bites on my foot

I could not bear this.  Even I could not get to sleep.  So I asked my host family, and they gave me some electronic vaporizing mosquito scent.  And I was OK last night.

Separation Wall - Jesus Wept

Separation Wall – Jesus Wept

After I had fighting with the teacher yesterday, she was behaving today.  She was not angry at all today, and became nice.  Yesterday, all the dean and the teacher were worrying about was if I would drop the course.  Of course I would not.  Maybe she realised after she talked to the dean that there are so many replacement for her position, and she needs to behave herself.  The unemployment rate is pretty high here and it is quite easy to get Arabic teacher here in Palestine.

Separation Wall Painting

Separation Wall Painting

Anyway, after the class, the school told me that we would have lunch with all the Arabic students at a restaurant.  But many students did not join it including me.  I have free lunch home, then why would I pay for lunch?  Instead, I walked to the separation wall.

Wall surrounded House

Wall surrounded House

The wall is not just go straight.  It is bent crazy and I have no idea who and why drew the wall plan on the map like this.  One of the horrible thing is the house in the picture above.  The house is surrounded by the wall on its three sides.  Why the Israelis built the wall like that?

Wall becomes canvas

Wall becomes canvas

The wall is so horrible, and some Palestinians cannot go to Jerusalem which is within fifteen minutes driving, and some can go, but they also experience great inconvenience.  But the Palestinians turn the wall into the huge canvas for art.

Smiling Lady with rifle

Smiling Lady with rifle

This picture gave me some grief, because I am against the violence for both sides.  The lady is smiling with rifle.  I hope to see a smiling lady with flowers.

Make Hummus Not Walls

Make Hummus Not Walls

How funny it is.  Some pictures and writings are very humourous.  “Make Hummus Not Walls.”  I hope so too!

John Paul 2 Foundation

John Paul 2 Foundation

On the way back, I saw a building with the name of “John Paul 2 Foundation.”  Pope John Paul II was the 264th Pope of Catholic Church until 2005.  Even though we have two more Popes after him, when I think of Pope, I always imagine him in my head.  The building is on the Hebron Street.

I’d like to talk about the Palestinians and travel freedom because I am posting about the separation wall.  People tend to think the Palestinians cannot travel at all.  But that is not true.  We need to know that there are many different Palestinian groups in different situations.

  1. Palestinians in Israel having Israel citizenship.
  2. Palestinians in Israel having permanent resident.
  3. Palestinians in West Bank, having Israel entering permit
  4. Palestinians in West Bank, without Israel visiting permit
  5. Palestinians in Gaza

The Palestinians in Israel side having Israel citizenship has equal right as Israeli Jews.  They can travel within Israel and Palestine, and any other part of the world.  The McCormick’s January trip tour guide, George Filmon is in this group.  People in this group can use Ben Gurion International Airport.

Palestinians having permanent resident in Israel can travel within Israel and Palestine.  But they are not allowed to travel to other countries because they do not have a passport.

Palestinians in West Bank with Israel entering permit can travel within Israel and Palestine.  They also can travel the whole world since they have Palestinian passport.  But they are not allowed to use Ben Gurion International Airport, so they must go to Jordan first, and use the Airport in Amman.  The father of my hosting family, Hamdi Bannoura, is in this Group.

Palestinians in West Bank without Israel entering permit can travel within Palestine, and cannot go to Israel.  But they can still travel the whole world with Palestinian passport.  Actually they can travel more countries than Israelis including Israeli Palestinians.  Because most of the Muslim countries do not allow the Israelis to come except Egypt and Jordan.  The Israelis cannot even go to Bali because Indonesia is a Muslim country and they ban the Israelis.  The mother of my hosting family, Ilham Bannoura, and her three children are in this group.  She really wishes to visit Jerusalem and Nazareth as a Christian, so she applied a few times for the Israel entering permit in vain.  Her daughter studied in Germany, and her son will go to Germany next school year.  And her cousin goes to Washington state, USA to study.  They do not have any problem travelling the world, just they cannot use the nearest Ben Gurion International Airport.

Palestinians in Gaza cannot travel anywhere in the world except a few political leaders.  They cannot travel in Israel nor in West Bank.  It is mostly because of Israel, but Egypt is not free from the blame.  Egypt has border with Gaza, but they do not allow anyone to cross over.  When the Gazans did not have Palestinian passport, Egypt issued them the Egyptian passport.  But even at that time Egyptian government did not allow any Gazans to come over to Egypt even though they had Egyptian passport!

So except Gazans, Palestinians do not have any problem travelling the world (but still it is not convenient).  It is some of them cannot travel to Israel side.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Forty Third Day – Bethlehem and Beit Sahour

I study in Bethlehem University in Bethlehem, and I stay in a family house in Beit Sahour.  I walk back and forth everyday.  One way takes about 50 minutes.  Both Bethlehem and Beit Sahour are very small town, and it would be more natural if they are one city.  The house where I stay is located in the other edge of Beit Sahour which made my walking longer, but if I walk from downtown Beit Sahour to downtown Bethlehem, it takes around or less than 30 minutes.  You can imagine how tiny those towns are.

Christians are easily found in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour

Christians are easily found in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour

Because of the close vicinity, there are many similarities in both towns, and they make one economic zone with Beit Zala, which is located on the other side of Bethlehem.

But there are quite many differences between the two towns – much more than I expected.

The both towns have huge amount of Christians.  It is mainly because of the special location.  Bethlehem is the birth place of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of Christian religion.  Beit Sahour is where the shepherd’s fields are – the place where the angels appeared to the shepherds and noticed the birth of the Saviour.  But the Catholic is the majority among Christians in Bethlehem while Greek Orthodox is the majority in Beit Sahour.

They both speak Arabic, but they speak in different ways.  Their pronunciations are different, and words and expressions are also different.  People say that they can tell 100% if a person is from Bethlehem or Beit Sahour when they hear his or her speaking.

For example, kalb is dog and qalib is heart in Bethlehem.  But the pronunciations are opposite in Beit Sahour.  So if Sahouri (people of Beit Sahour) says, “take my heart,” it sounds like “take my dog” in Bethlehemite’s ear, and vice versa.  Even the verb conjugation is different.  For 2nd person masculine singular of the verb “baqol,” one says “btoqil” and the other says “btaqol.”  When they say “I don’t know,” Sahouri says “Ma baraf,” while Bethlehemite says “barafish.”

Because of this language variation, they say that they have different dialect even in those close towns – just thirty minutes of walking distance.  This means there were very few moving between those two towns in the history.  As you may know, it is Bethlehemites who makes fun of Sahouri, not the other way.  If you think about it, it is crazy – people in Hyde Park and in Woodlawn speaks different English.

And they both have very clear identity of their own as Sahouri and as Bethlehemite.  Not to mention that they both have very strong identity as Palestinian.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fortieth Day – Walking in Beit Sahour

The class is supposed to be from Monday to Thursday.  But this week only the class will be from Tuesday to Friday because our teacher has to go to the court for the parking and traffic ticket.  She has to pay several hundred shekels, but she expects to lower it until two or three hundred shekels.

Glass Bead

Glass Bead

I found this glass bead on the street.  The Palestinian kids must play with those.  I also played with those when I was young.  It had so much fun, and I was glad to find the same thing in different country.

Damaged Hosue

Damaged House

Then I went to the house where they got rocket the other day.  The debris were all cleared on the street, and the owner was repairing the house.  I wanted to ask him who pays for the repair, but I could not because he does not speak English, and my Arabic is just beginning – all I can say is greetings and introduction of myself.  After I took this picture and about to leave the site, I heard the children’s laughing from upstairs.  When I looked up again, I saw a young girl, around seven or eight years old, was waving at me with big beautiful smile.  And that smile broke my heart and made me deeply sad.  People tried to kill that beautiful little girl, whichever the rocket is from either Hamas or Israel.  What kind of crazy thing we the people are doing?

PalPay, not PayPal

PalPay, not PayPal

Then I found this.  Many people already know about the “Stars & Bucks,” but maybe not this.  There is Paypal in America, and Palestinians have PalPay.

Beit Sahour Hospital

Beit Sahour Hospital

And it really looks like a Walk-in clinic, but this is Beit Sahour hospital.  And this is even built by Japanese Embassy, not by the Palestinians.  I hope there would be better and bigger general hospital in Bethlehem or in Ramallah, because they need it.

LOL Retaurant

LOL Restaurant

And there is a restaurant named LOL.  I think we read it El-Oh-El in America, but they read it loll here in Beit Sahour.  And later my hosting family told me that this restaurant is owned and run by their relative.  But they said they do not go there because it is too expensive.  It would cost around 40 shekels per person, which is less than $15 which I think not too bad.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Ninth Day – Back to Beit Sahour

After I had breakfast at the hostel (I saw huge Korean teen group from a church), I asked the reception about the bus schedule to Jerusalem.  The lady told me 7am, 10am, 2pm, and the last one is 5pm.  I decided to go to the central bus station earlier so I got there 8:50am.  I thought I need to wait about an hour.  But when I purchased the ticket, the clerk said “The bus is now leaving.”  The bus to Jerusalem was at 9am.  If I had been ten minutes later, I would have waited a couple of hours.

My seat was 13, but before the bus departed, two soldiers got on, and asked me a favour.  A girl and boy soldiers were a couple, and their seat were 14 and 20.  They wanted to sit together.  So I moved to seat 20.  And I found that soldiers get free ride.  It takes about five hours from Eilat to Jerusalem, and throughout all five hours, the soldier couple were licking each other.

At the beginning, I sat alone having two seats which was very comfortable.  But before I got to the Dead Sea, a girl in early 20s got on the bus and sat next to me.  Then she farted, and the smell was so gross – the worst fart smell I’ve ever experienced.  I looked at her face, but she closed her eyes and pretended sleeping.

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Now the travelling is easy because I already know how.  From the Jerusalem central bus station to Damascus gate by light railway.  And then to Bethlehem by Arab bus 21.  And this time, I walked home, about an hour.

Shps close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

The market behind the Nativity Church was open and there were people, but fewer people than usual.  And quite many of the shops were closed also.  But out of that area, almost all shops were closed and nobody on the streets.

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Because it is Sunday, and there are huge Christian population in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour.  Jews rest on Saturday, Christians on Sunday.  It is said that Muslims on Friday, but most of them still work.  Unlike other places, there are huge Christian population here and also Ramallah, even though the majority is Muslim now.  Bethlehem and Beit Sahour is neighbour cities and quite small.  I walk between the two cities and it takes not even an hour.  But still the two cities have many differences.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Sixth Day – Car Accident

After school, I was studying at my room when I heard the loud crash sound and people screaming.

Accident Happened!

Accident Happened!

I went out and saw a car upside down and people around the car.  And I also went there.

Upside Down

Upside Down

The car is a KIA.  This photo is after the people were sent to a hospital by an ambulance.

I do not exactly know how the accident happened.  The two girls in middle twenties were in the car.  They are sisters.  The driver looks like broke her two legs, and the passenger was able to walk but hurt her right leg.

Palestinian Ambulance

Palestinian Ambulance

This is Palestinian ambulance, and it came quite late – about 25 minutes after people reported by their cellphones.  If you know how small Bethlehem and Beit Sahour are, it is amazingly late.  The driver also said that he lost.  Aren’t the police and ambulance drivers supposed to know the roads?  Even it is a very small town which you can walk from one end to the other in half hour.

Dangerous Road

Dangerous Road

When I walk by the road, I always wondered if it is safe.  As you see in the picture above, there is no fence or guard rail.  And I was told that the same accidents happens once or twice every month.  Thank God this was not fatal accident.  But I want the roads to be fixed to be safer with guard rails.

People were blaming Israel about this accident and the bad roads.  I do not know if I should agree with them or not.  People were also blaming Israel about the ambulance being late.  They said that Israel do not allow the GPS to be installed in the ambulance so that they can be lost.  Well, that might be true, but I think the ambulance driver must know all the roads in the town, especially this is very small town.

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Fifth Day – Walking to School

Since I had bad experience with the Palestinian taxi driver, I avoid taxi ride as much as possible.  And from the hosting house to Bethlehem University, it takes 50 minutes to walk.  And from Beit Sahour to Bethlehem is always uphill, sometimes very steep.  And I am walking twice everyday.

Sheep? Goat? on the street

Sheep on the street

On the way to school, I encounter the herds of sheep and goats a couple of times.

Sidewalk in Beit Sahour

Sidewalk in Beit Sahour

The overall walking experience is not good.  First, the sidewalk is very narrow.  And even many cars blocked the sidewalk by parking on it.  The sidewalk discontinues several times.  Some places, the trees are planted on the sidewalk which take all the room on the sidewalk.  The streets in Palestine is not the cleanest but it is much better than in Cairo, Egypt.

Peaceful Protest

Peaceful Protest

While walking in Beit Sahour, I found my favourite wall painting.  I believe, hope, and pray that peaceful protest would work eventually.

Bethlehem Peace Centre in Manger Square

Bethlehem Peace Centre in Manger Square

This is manger square where the Nativity church is.  Many of the McCormick travel group may remember this building, and there is “Stars & Bucks” nearby.

Star of Bethlehem

Star of Bethlehem

From the manger square, I walk up to the market, and there is small plaza with the star of Bethlehem.

Then I need to make a right turn and then left to go to the Bethlehem University, but I was a bit confused at first day walking.  So I asked a Tourist Police on the street, where the Bethlehem University is.  And he said, “What?  Do we have a university in Bethlehem?  Really?”  Well, I walked straight another minute, and found very small sign of Bethlehem University with arrow mark.

View from classroom

View from classroom

This is the view from my classroom.

Korean-Palestinian Friendship Street

Korean-Palestinian Friendship Street

I walked the same road on the way back home.  My hosting family lives on “Korean – Palestinian Friendship Street.”  How nice the street name is.  I heard that this road is sponsored by Korean embassy.

Korean Cultural Centre

Korean Cultural Centre

And down on the street, the Korean Cultural Centre is under construction.  This building is located on the lowest corner of the street.  In Israel/Palestine, good buildings and rich people live on the mountain top and high places.  In Korea, poor people live on the mountain top and high places.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Fourth Day – Palestinian Christian’s Baptism

After class, my hosting family asked me if I was interested in watching baptism.  Of course I was.  So I went to their church with the hosting family.

Palestinian Christian Church in Beit Sahour

Palestinian Christian Church in Beit Sahour

This is the 300 years old building.  They said that they built this church upon their old church, and still they use the older church now.  There are a couple of doors leading to downstairs or underground.

Baby Baptismal Tub

Baby Baptismal Tub

This is the baptismal tub for babies.  Baptism is processed by at least two priests.  One priest fill the tub with water and bless the water with prayers and continuously cutting the water in cross shape with his hand.  The other priest is next to him with the parents of the baby.  He blesses the baby with prayers and the Bible, and the put the olive oil on the baby in cross shape.  Now the baby is dressed in normal baby suit.

Baby Baptism

Baby Baptism

The other priest pours out the olive oil in the tub.  And the parents prepare the baby naked and also the priest put on a towel around his waist.  Before he puts the baby in the water, he lifts the baby high so that everybody can see it.  Then he puts the baby completely into the water three times.  And everybody in the church shouts for joy and makes loud happy noise.  And the priest put some special mixed oil onto the baby in cross shape.  Now, of course the baby is naked.

Procession of the Baby

Procession of the Baby

Then the priests go up to the pupil, and the baby is dressed in white (wedding) dress no matter the baby is boy or girl.  And the whole family processes to the front.

Merry Go Round?

Merry Go Round?

Then the baby’s family stands one side of the table, and the priests opposite side.  They go around the table and blesses the baby.  One of the priests shakes the incense case continually.  They do it for a while.

Bow to the Bible

Bow to the Bible

Then another priest come with the open Bible, and touches the baby’s head.  At this time, the whole family must bow down their heads.  And through all the ceremony, the people in the pew remain standing if possible.  And the baby gets the very first communion.

Then the family recess to the outside, and they stand in a row.  Then the whole crowd follow them and greet them with happy congratulation.  The baby baptism is not part of the Sunday service, but separate ceremony, and it is much like wedding.

There were about 80 people in the church, so I asked my hosting family if they are the congregation of this church.  And I was told that this is family event, so only the close relatives/kins came.

Christmas Year Round

Christmas Year Round

In Bethlehem and Beit Sahour, we have Christmas year round.

Fresh Figs

Fresh Figs

I had dried figs in Canada couple of times, but I’ve never had fresh figs before.  Fig is kind of unique fruit.  For apple, we do not eat the core part where there are seeds.  For orange, we do not eat the peel.  But for the fig, we eat everything, literally everything.  And it is very sweet.  If you eat two, you may feel happy.  I understand why Jesus was looking for fig tree when He was hungry.  And this is home-grown figs.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Third Day – Rocket from Hamas

This is my first morning in the house in Beit Sahour, neighbouring city of Bethlehem.  I was having breakfast with the hosting family when the house shook and heard the huge explosion sound.

Building Attacked by a rocket

Building Attacked by a rocket

Everybody was very surprised and stunned, and we went out of the house.  All the neighbours also came out.  We saw black smoke was rising up from the downtown of Beit Sahour.  Because of the lady in this house went to downtown earlier, the host family and I went to the spot right away.  She was not there.  She was safe in other place.  And thank God that no one was killed.

Broken Building Pieces

Broken Building Pieces

There were lots of people and they were a bit angry, and about to be outrageous.  People were asking each other where the rockets are from – Israel or Hamas.  The Palestinian authority took the remain of the rockets, and later I was told from the Palestinian police officer that the rocket is Arabic, and most probably from Hamas.  Then everybody became calm, and they were not angry any longer.  People kept quiet about it, and no one was talking about it.  I saw a Palestinian guy who writes online about the Palestinian life and Israeli oppression on them.  He took a lot of photos, and after he heard that it is from Hamas, he deleted the photos on the street.

It is cease-fire from today which Israel announced one-way.  And I guess Hamas does not want toe cease-fire even though more than 1,800 people of their own were killed.

Palestinian authority officially said it is Arabic rocket, and all the news say the same thing.  And I found that some people began to say that the rocket is Israeli in the evening.  Personally it does not make sense to me because Israel wants to finish the war with Gaza, and why would they want another brand new war with West Bank?  And there is no terrorist organisation in West Bank such as Hamas, consequently Israel has no excuse making war in West Bank.

Last night, I talked with some Palestinians.  They said many Palestinians were killed by Israeli attack, but only a few were killed in Israel.  And also they said it is OK for Gazans to fire rocket because it is not powerful and home-made.  I think that does not make sense as well.  It is not OK for both sides to attack each other no matter how weak the weapons are.  I do not know the owner of the building where it got rocket, but if possible I want to talk to him to ask if it is really OK to get rocket because the rocket is weak and did not kill any.

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