Hannah and Je together

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.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Second Day – Two Shepherds’ Fields and Virgin Mary’s Well

I’ve been to Catholic (Franciscan) Shepherds’ Field twice, once with McCormick group last January, and the other by myself last month.  But there are three Shepherds’ fields in Beit Sahour – Franciscan, Greek Orthodox, and I think Baptists.  But everybody told me the third is not worth visiting, so I just gave up.

Before I left home this morning, I asked my hosting lady the way to Orthodox Shepherds’ field.  She explained me but I was not 100% sure, so I asked her to pick the point at the google maps.  And below is what happened:

Map is alien language to women

Map is alien language to women

Her verbal explanation was correct, but not her map picking.  I am wonder how she cannot read the map of her own town where she was born and lived for about fifty years.  She is now living in this house for eleven years and the Orthodox Shepherds’ field is about half mile.  And I remember that 80 per cent of the arguments with my wife are about the map reading.  Are women not supposed to read maps?  But women’s brains are better at linguistic abilities.  That makes even.

Greek Orthodox Shepherds' Field Gate

Greek Orthodox Shepherds’ Field Gate

When I was approaching the Orthodox Shepherds’ field, the gate was closed, but before I got there, a group of tourists went there and I was able to sneak in there with them.

Greek Orthodox Church Building

Greek Orthodox Church Building

This is the church building.

Ceiling of the Greek Orthodox Church

Ceiling of the Greek Orthodox Church

I am not 100% sure but all the Greek Orthodox church building I visited has a few things in common.  Among them, one thing interests me is that in the dome part of the sanctuary has the picture of Jesus looking down.

To the cave of Greek Orthodox Shepherds' Field

To the cave of Greek Orthodox Shepherds’ Field

Outside of the church building, there is a way to the cave.

Sanctuary in the cave

Sanctuary in the cave

When I went down the stairs, it was another sanctuary.

Shepherds' skulls

Shepherds’ skulls

And there were skulls displayed.  There is a sign saying that this is the tomb of the shepherds.  The cave and the floor mosaics are from 5th century.

Barbarian Destruction

Barbarian Destruction

Above and around the cave, you can see the ruins of the three ancient church buildings.

To the Virgin Mary's Well

To the Virgin Mary’s Well

Then I tried to go to the Franciscan Shepherds’ field.  I followed the street sign, but I’ve got lost and I went to around the downtown Beit Sahour.  I am wonder if I can call it downtown.  It is kind of city centre, and old city.  But it is higher on the hill.  Anyway, I realised that I am quite close to the Virgin Mary’s Well, so I decided to visit there first.  I asked a few people mixed with Arabic and English.  “Bti’araf wen Virgin Mary’s Well?”  People did not understand my English part – Virgin Mary’s Well.  So I used google translator.  Still people did not understand.  Finally I showed the picture of the street sign of Virgin Mary’s well.  “Bti’araf wen hada?” (Do you know where is this?)  Then people showed me with finger and it was just right there.  I checked the google translator, and noticed that it shows quite different Arabic from the street sign.  Google may translated literally and Arabic name may not be exact translation.  Jerusalem in Arabic is il-Quds which means “The Holy.”  And Damascus gate is Bab il-‘amud which means “Gate of the pillar.”

Virgin Mary's Well

Virgin Mary’s Well

There were several ladies (probably volunteers from a church) and one of them told me that Virgin Mary drank from this water.  The water is not from the rain, but from the spring underground.  They used to have full of water, but now they drained it for maintenance.

Entrance to the Franciscan Shepherds' Field

Entrance to the Franciscan Shepherds’ Field

Then I walked back and went to Franciscan Shepherds’ field.  I actually asked several people on the way there.  I’ve already been there twice, so I was not interested actually in seeing it again.  But the reason I went there is to know where exactly it is.  When you go there by taxi or bus, you may not really know where it is, but I walked there, and I know the location on the map in my brain.

To the Excavation site

To the Excavation site

I went inside and right before I left there, the sign above drew my eyes – the archaeological excavation site!

Ruin of the Ancient Church

Ruin of the Ancient Church

There are some ruins and remains of ancient church.

Deep Caves in excavation site

Deep Caves in excavation site

And there are more caves down there.

Ruth Restaurant

Ruth Restaurant

This is the restaurant near the Franciscan Shepherds’ field.  McCormick group may recognise it because we ate lunch there when we visited the shepherds’ field.  The land around the Franciscan Shepherds’ field is believed to be the Boaz’s field, the grandfather of King David.  And consequently the restaurant’s name is Ruth.

To my impression after seeing both Shepherds’ Field,  I think the Franciscan knows what the tourists expect to see.

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.

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.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Israel Trip Eleventh Day: Ramallah, Shechem, and Samaria

Today we moved from Bethlehem to Nazareth.

Israel Checkpoint

Israel Checkpoint

We had to go through the checkpoint because we were going out into Palestinian area. These checkpoints are horrible. But the worst is yet to come. We went to Ramallah to meet Mrs. Jean Zaru. Ramallah is founded by Christians, and still Christians are dominant. And it is rule that the mayor must be Christians from the old days. Ramallah also has many industrial and commercial businesses. Ramallah also works as the de facto capital of Palestine. It is not one of the tourist attraction, so people there gave us very curious eyes. Ram means high place and Allah is God. So Ramallah is Divine Heights.

Jean Zaru

Jean Zaru

Mrs. Jean Zaru is a Quaker. She is very active for the human rights of Palestinians, and also for the Palestinian women. In that way, she is kind of unique. People we met so far work for the general Palestinian, none for the specifically women. But as we all know, women tend to be weaker in many ways including physically and sexually. Consequently if women are exposed to same level of violence as men, they are way more vulnerable. And that is way we need to protect and help them more. Some people believe providing numerically same thing is fair, but I do not. Providing different things so that everybody can live equally is fair and that is my social justice. I would like to write about it later.

Land of Gibeon

Land of Gibeon

When we passed by on the bus, our local guide George identified us many different places. This one is land of Gibeon. It comes in Joshua 9. The people here deceived Joshua as if they were from the land of far far away.

Bethel

Bethel

This is Bethel. Bethel means house of God, and the story comes in Genesis when Jacob fled from his brother, he slept here and saw a ladder or stairway reaching to the heaven and the angels up and down.

Shiloh

Shiloh

This is Shiloh where Samuel stayed and ordained two first kings; Saul and David. And most importantly this is where the ark of covenant stayed. Shiloh means ‘his’ in Hebrew, and was dedicated place to God.

Mount Blessing and Cursing

Mount Blessing and Cursing

This is two mountains of Blessing (on the left) and Cursing (on the right) which Joshua summoned and arrayed people there and asked them to choose which God they would serve. This is in the land of Shechem. Ancient or Biblical Shechem is now called Nablus. Romans built this city at A.D. 70 after they conquered Jerusalem and named it Neopolice, new city. And the name became Nablus.

Jacobs Well Church

Jacobs Well Church

In the place where the Jacob’s well is, there is a Greek Orthodox Church and is so beautiful.

Jacob's Well

Jacob’s Well

Under the Church, we found the Jacob’s well. And just in case you may not know, the photo-shooting is forbidden. And again, our McCormick group got special permit again. I think God is really with us. I drew some water myself and tasted. It was good and I was amazed the well is functioning well even after 4,000 years of time. As you may know this is the well that Jesus met a Samaritan woman and talked.

Joseph's Tomb

Joseph’s Tomb

Then we went to Joseph’s tomb. There is no archaeological evidence on this as usual for holy places. But it is said by tradition. And the tomb itself is covered with nice stone, and nobody knows what is in there. The stone is supposedly built by Muslims because its direction is toward Mecca.

Town Kids

Town Kids in Samaria

Then we drove to Samaria, the capital city of Northern Kingdom of Israel. The original capital was another place, but the famous evil king Omri moved the capital to Samaria, and Ahab also reigned here. Our group had lunch there but I skipped the lunch and walked around the village. And I sat there and thought watching the mountains around: Some place are identified and marked as holy, and some not. Why and what makes the difference? The holy rock does not made up of some holy molecule. I think that is holy because someone did some holy action. We people makes some place holy or evil. Our action and our deed is most important thing.

Roman Basilica

Roman Basilica

Herod the great built a roman city in Samaria and named it sebaste – August in Greek. This is roman style Basilica where people gathers and do some business.

Theatre built by Herod

Theatre built by Herod

This is theatre. And there is ancient horse racing track built again by Herod (not in this photo). The track is now just a flat field.

John the Baptist Church

John the Baptist Church

By tradition, it is believed that John the Baptist’s head is buried here, and crusaders built a Church for him.

Palace of Omri and Ahab

Palace of Omri and Ahab

This is part of the Palace where the evil kings of Omri and Ahab lived.

View from the Samaria Top

View from the Samaria Top

We went to the top of Samaria so that we can have some nice view. According to a boy from the village, we can even see the Mediterranean sea on clear days. In biblical times, all and every important place is always the highest point in the whole area.

August Temple

August Temple

This is the August temple which Herod built to flatter August, the roman emperor. August is a god, and a son of god (which is Caesar).

Where Jesus met ten lepers

Where Jesus met ten lepers

After the Samaria, we moved to Nazareth. And at some point, our local guide said that we are running on the same road where Jesus met ten lepers.

Traffic Jam caused by Israeli checkpoint

Traffic Jam caused by Israeli checkpoint

Until now we were in the West Bank, and Nazareth is in Israeli land. And there is a checkpoint (we may say it border). And it was horrible experience waiting and stuck in the traffic. And when we got there finally, three soldiers with machine guns came up on the bus. They asked our local guide and Ted many questions in separate place. And they also checked everybody’s passport with actual face. They were not that kind, but I believe it was their maximum kindness. They would act way more horribly to Palestinians. I am glad that I experienced this at least once and I cannot imagine the lives of Palestinians who go through this everyday and even twice a day.

Israel Trip Tenth Day: Church of Nativity, Refugee Camp

Today was another lecture day.

Stars and Bucks

Stars and Bucks

We walked to the Nativity Church from the bus terminal, and I thought I found on the way ‘Starbucks.’ But it was not.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

In front of, or between the Bethlehem Peace Centre and the Nativity Church, there was a huge Christmas tree. I wonder if it lights up at night. I saw so many tourists here from all over the world; I could recognise some of their languages such as Chinese, Korean, English, French, Spanish. And there were more languages that I could not recognise. I just thought how much Jesus has been contributing to local economy just by being born here.

Church of Nativity

Church of Nativity

This is the Church of Nativity, basically built by Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great (Personally, I don’t like ‘the Great’ part). Helena built this Church, and later Persians came and destroyed all the Churches over 95% of them. When they came to this Church, they saw a paining – three magi offering to Baby Jesus. And the magi were dressed as typical Persians. And the army thought, ‘Wait a minute… this building must have something to do with our ancestors.’ And they left it. This story reminds me how cultural diversity is important.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

If you see the three pictures, you can see the original huge gate at first picture. And then little bit smaller but still cargos can go in and out. Last one is current door and is low so that everyone bows down whenever they go in and to be humble.

Church of Nativity Catholic Sanctuary

Church of Nativity Catholic Sanctuary

The original place built by Helena and repaired by Crusaders is owned by Greek Orthodox. And next to it, Catholic Church is attached.

Jerome translated here the Bible into Latin Vulgate with the help of Paula and her daughter

Jerome translated here the Bible into Latin Vulgate with the help of Paula and her daughter

Catholic Church is of course commemorate the birth place of Jesus. But they also has another purpose – Jerome. If you go down to the basement, you can see the rooms where Jerome stayed and worked. In the picture, Left two persons are Paula and her daughter, the helper of Jerome. Jerome is the only Church Father who studied Hebrew in order to translate the Bible into Latin. And to help him, Paula and her daughter also learned Hebrew and Greek, and eventually they became or fluent in both language than Jerome.

Key to Home

Key to Home

This is one of the refugee camp. The key on top of it means the key to going back home.

Graffiti on Separation Wall

Graffiti on Separation Wall

On the wall, there are lots of graffiti. And the streets are so dirty with overflowing garbage.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

On the wall, along with other graffiti, I found John 3:16 in Korean. It struck my head. Yes, God loves them so much. God loves these persecuted people so much so that He sent his only Son so that they can live.

Lajee Centre

Lajee Centre

There is Lajee Centre. I don’t know what exactly is this, but they have a library for children (where we were sitting), and computer lab, and a few more.

American History

American History

Surprisingly, they have whole volume of American history.

Blocking Entanglement

Blocking Entanglement

They are surrounded by separation wall. Out of the wall used to be their farming field, and work place. But they most of them lost their job. To Jerusalem it used to take 10-15 minutes and now it takes more than 2 hours thanks to the Israeli checkpoint.

Bethlehem University

Bethlehem University

We went to Bethlehem university. It has beautiful buildings.

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh spoke about his perspective of Palestine’s future and history. Interestingly, he is biologist and biology professor. He said if American government moves in the right way, the illegal occupation of Israel would end within two weeks. Well, that might be true since US government give about 2 million dollars to Israel every single day. But the thing is American politicians cannot live without the money from the Jewish lobbyists. And if Obama calls Israel to stop it, he may not be a president the next day.

Lawyer Raffoul Rofa

Lawyer Raffoul Rofa

After lunch where we had before on the day of Shepherds’ field, we came back to school for another session. Mr. Raffoul Rofa is a lawyer, working at St. Yves, a Catholic centre for human rights where 20 staffs working including 8 lawyers. They’ve been working for people with family reunion issues and house demolitions, and the likes. For house demolitions, they’ve got only one permit so far for fifteen years with thousands cases. And even the one was a school building built by US Aid. US Aid pressured the US federal government, and US government told Israel government. This is why they’ve got permit not because they fought in the court.

Rimon Kando Shop

Rimon Kando Shop

And then we had some time in the souvenir shop. I also bought something.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.