Unheralded

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Holy Land, Day 10

It’s loud at our lodging tonight as I write this. Children are running around, yelling joyfully, riding on scooters and playing with each other as parents mill about, sipping on wine. Toto, we aren’t in Palestine anymore. Tonight is our first evening in Israel, as we are staying in Galilee to see the places where Jesus grew up and where …


Unheralded

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Holy Land, Day 9

A story in four acts. The first act involves the land and nature. We visited the Environmental Education Center, a ministry of the Lutheran Church, on the campus of the Talitha Kumi Lutheran School. Michael, the very knowledgeable and passionate ornithologist on staff, showed us around their wonderful center. There we saw the botanical garden with only indigenous plants, tasted …


PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Holy Land, Day 8, Old Hebron

I have traveled the world and been in all sorts of situations. But I never experienced what I did today in Hebron. I walked through what felt like a war zone on a tense truce as I saw a town gasping for its own survival. This story, which is the story of Old Hebron, began in 1979 when a group …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Holy Land, Day 7

Today we journeyed to Bethlehem (pictured above). No star to guide us, but walls to divide us, and to divide the Palestinian people. Once we passed through the wall, we headed to the Shepherd’s Field, where shepherds kept their watching o’er silent flocks by night. This was without a doubt my favorite place we have visited so far in terms …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Holy Land, Day 6

Our day began venturing into the West Bank. I am slowly beginning to understand the wall in the West Bank. It is not like the Berlin Wall or the wall some people think is a good idea on our borders, but rather a wall that separates Palestinian from Palestinian. It was created because each of the areas in the West …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Holy Land, Day 5

After doing a photo essay yesterday on Facebook, it is back to blogging today, to sort out what was a day of intense emotion. As it is Sunday, and we are a group from the New England Synod visiting our Companion Synod, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land, we set off early for worship. Our group …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Holy Land, Day 3

Although over the years I have read articles and books about the situation in Palestine and Israel, today as we drove through the West Bank and East Jerusalem on a tour led by Jeff Halper, the founder of the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions, a nonprofit, direct action group dedicated to opposing and resisting the demolition of Palestinian homes, it …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Holy Land, Day 2

Our group is staying at the Lutheran World Federation Guesthouse, which is located at the top of the Mount of Olives. The land was given to Kaiser Wilhelm when he visited Jerusalem in 1898, and the compound was named for his wife, Augusta Victoria. Since my grandfather fought in the Boxer Rebellion for the Kaiser’s army and my middle name …

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Inhumane Sanctions Reflect A Cold, Callous Heart

The word “humanity” is often tossed around, but I wonder if the term is understood. Definitions abound. Here’s how Merriam-Webster explains it: A) the quality or state of being human; B) the quality or state of being kind to other people or to animals. Another word that also seems to be understood is “sanctions.” Again, the dictionary’s definition: A) a …

CHRIS ALLEN: Dubai Journal — What Is Dubai?

What is Dubai? Dubai is planted firmly in the Middle East. It is the most famous of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a founding member of the once-powerful cartel OPEC, which controlled oil prices for nearly 40 years. It is now weakened by in-fighting and by a defiant Saudi Arabia, which is …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — A Summer Night

Thursday is the end of the workweek in the Arab world. Friday is the Sabbath. The sidewalks on Souk Street (Market Street) in Al Khoud are almost empty this Thursday night. Usually on Thursday night, the plastic tables and chairs outside the restaurants and coffee shops that line Souk Street are filled with men gathering to eat and talk. Moms, …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — Two People Who Matter

The great British writer and poet Rudyard Kippling wrote a book in 1901 titled “Kim.” In it, Kim, the young orphan of Irish parents, who has grown up among Indian playmates in old Lehore, is called “Friend of All the World” by an old Muslim horse trader who uses Kim to run errands. The modern-day Friend of All the World …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — A Tradition Of Hospitality

Elaine and I left Oman on June 20, 2012, after living there 9½ months. We had come to the country with five suitcases. We were leaving with nine. Everything was packed, we had wedged each last item into the bulging bags and were sitting in the flat until it was time to go to the airport. One of my students …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — From Near Death To New Life

I almost killed my class Thursday. Not in the way a teacher may say that after a difficult day. I really almost killed them. Understand that I really like students. I rely on a steady and abundant supply of them for my living, and I do truly like students. Have I mentioned how hot is here in Oman? I mean, …