A Little Man in His Eye

Posted: 03/03/2008 in Philosophy, Semester in Israel
Tags: , , , , , ,

So maybe some of you have heard some news that there are some things going on in Israel. I first of all want to let all of you know that I am safe, and the school is undergoing guidelines to keep me safe. This upcoming weekend, we were planning on going to visit the site of Ashkelon, but seeing as a bomb just hit there the other day, we won’t be going there. So for those of you that may be worried about my safety, I want all of you to know that I am fine and Jerusalem has not felt any effects on what has been happening. I went into Bethlehem (in the West Bank) yesterday with a friend, and noticed all the shops were shut down. This typically booming town was entirely barren. I ran into a shopkeeper I’ve been developing a friendship with, Adnan, and he told me that the entire West Bank was on strike in protest/mourning for what happened in Gaza. Earlier that day, the whole town had a rally to speak out against what had happened, but later that day, I walked down a road that is normally the busy strip and I could literally see no one before me or behind me. It was an eerie feeling.

I’ve had some other interactions in the West Bank as well. Last Monday, I went to Jericho with a few friends (Andrew, Molly, and Karen) just to walk around and talk to shopkeepers (and because it’s somewhat of a tropical paradise… it kind of looks and feels like Florida). When we got there, we noticed a high amount of security everywhere and massive amounts of people all heading one direction. So we asked around to try to figure out what was going on, and we discovered that everyone was heading to the West Bank/Jordanian professional league Soccer Championship game. The match was between Jericho and Ramallah. Well, I got excited, because that just sounds awesome, and we decided to try to see if we could get into the game. Some people notice we were Americans, so we got escorted into the game for free, sat in a VIP section (midfield center) with at least 4 personal body guards standing right in front of us the entire time. It was an amazing experience. We only stayed for half of the game for safety reasons, but we later found out that Jericho won, who I think I was rooting for. It’s hard to tell when it’s all in Arabic.

I’ve been trying to learn some Arabic lately. I want to be able to learn some small conversational language, and I’m getting there. I know about 4 or 5 phrases… which is enough for a 10 second conversation if I speak slowly, but that’s a start. I’ve been volunteering at a school on a hill near Bethlehem called Beit Jala. The school is for all grades, but I’ve been helping teach 10th grade English and middle school gym. I’ve really been enjoying that so far, and some of the kids there are teaching me some basic Arabic since, for many of them, it is their primary language. They are also destroying me on the basketball court. Of course, many of them are taller than me too….

Some sites that I’ve seen that have been pretty cool are the tree the Zacchaeus climbed in Jericho to see Jesus (or at least the site where it happened), Old Testament and New Testament sites of Jericho, the oldest man-made structure still standing (a tower in Jericho that is dated as being 10,000 years old, which is several thousand years older than the pyramids – oh and I definitely climbed it!), some pretty remarkable Orthodox churches in Jericho and Jerusalem, the city of Shiloh (where the Tabernacle was first set up when Joshua and the Israelites came into the Promised Land), the church that marks the site where Jesus met the woman at the well, Mt. Ebal, Mt. Gerazim (where we met a Samaritan priest and saw their sacrificial altar where they still yearly practice animal sacrifice), and the ancient city of Samaria. This was all in the last two weeks, so as you can tell, they’re keeping us really busy.

I’ve been feeling and doing really well. I’ve been able to keep in at least some contact with quite a few of you, and that’s been so encouraging. I’m making good friends here, and have been overwhelmingly blessed, but please know that you are most definitely not forgotten and you are in my prayers.

I’m taking the next couple weeks to read through Psalms, and I came across a verse the other day that reminded me of something we’ve learned on our field study. It’s an amazing spiritual insight, and I’d love to share it with you. It’s from Psalm 17:8 and reads, “Keep me as the apple of your eye…”. We read this atop a hill overlooking the vast Judean wilderness a couple weeks ago. This phrase literally translates in the Hebrew as “Keep me as the little person of your eye”. If you are sitting near someone, look into their eyes. Do you see your reflection in their pupil? It almost looks as if a little person is in there. This is how close the Lord keeps us. It’s not simply that we are the object of his affection, it is that his gaze is on us. He’s watching over us and holds us so close as if we were little people within the pupil of his eye. This also shows us how little we are and how BIG God really is. This is really put into perceptive while looking across a hilly desert of nothingness. Seriously, when you are gazing straight into miles of nothing, you start getting a picture of God’s big-itude.

I just want to leave you with that in mind, knowing that God is watching over you. I pray you take courage in that. I love and miss you all. It’s amazing how fast a month can pass by!

By the way, I took the picture above on the hills of Gezer. They’re poppy flowers, and I thought they were really pretty, so I thought you should enjoy them too!SHALOM

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Comments
  1. Allie says:

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