Friday, March 17, 2017

Our Holy Land Experience: West Bank, Palestine and Jacob's Well

Monday we left our hotel in Tiberius and journeyed to the West Bank of Palestine. I confess prior to this trip, my preconceived notions about Palestinians was almost entirely based on the media images of angry young men with headscarfs shouting and tossing objects in protest to the boundary lines with Israel.

As we journeyed through the checkpoint (which was a non-event in our tour bus) the reality of the landscape was quite different than I expected.

We were scheduled to visit a group of Palestinian Christians in a small village, so our drive took us through a very agrarian area. Rolling green hills were dotted with crops of strawberries and shepherds tending their flocks.

Palestine did seem much simpler, like a step back in time, cut off from many of the modern advances in infrastructure.
The people who greeted us (both planned and those we encountered as we walked through the village) were kind and welcoming. We had to quickly switch gears from the Hebrew words and phrases we were using in Israel to Arabic words and phrases in this area, especially when one of my children had an urgent need for a bathroom.

A local family hosted our entire group of 26 on the porch of their modest home for coffee and conversation about their lives. The women and college students spoke to us about the challenges of being a Christian in Palestine-- they are minorities--making up only 1-2% of the population. Their joy and courage were palpable and left quite an impression upon me.

Our time together concluded with a delicious lunch and a fresh perspective on the subsets of real people behind sweeping headlines and assumptions. One of the challenges our tour guide, Andre, had issued at the beginning of our journey was to experience not just the ancient stones of the Middle East, but the 'living stones' as well. I felt as if this day had been a powerful experience in that regard.

Our next stop was Jacob's Well (within the walls of an Eastern Orthodox monastery).  It is believed to be the place where Jesus encountered the Samaritan Woman at the well. (See John 4.)

Photos were not allowed inside, but I borrowed this one from google images for context. The well is still functioning after all these years! We were able to lower the pail and retrieve water--135 feet down. Outside we met these boys selling olive oil soaps to the Westerners in the big tour bus for "one dolla, one dolla."

From here we traveled to Mount Zion, where we would spend the next three nights with a glorious view of Jerusalem. 
Shalom indeed. 

1 comment:

Denise Ross said...

It is amazing how our preconceived ideas in people places and situations are often turned on their heads when we encounter the reality.
This trip is truly a gift not just fir you but fir us who are reading your story. To have the places come alive and the people to be real , gives me more understanding and connection between past and present. Thank you