I'm in Zman Cafe, organizing my vids and reading the news. I've had my double cappuccino (thanks Blogger spell check) and I'm thinking about all the Christmas treats at the counter downstairs. I could go for a cream puff, or a chocolate-covered strawberry.
My dad got me in touch with the pastor at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem, Fred Strickert, who e-mailed me the same day. I'll be meeting him at the Christmas Eve service in Bethlehem tomorrow, and going to the Christmas Day brunch at his house in Jerusalem. I did the touristy thing in Bethlehem last year, so it's really nice to have a local connection and I'm looking forward to meeting the congregation in Jerusalem. I miss First Grace in New Orleans. I remember bringing my mom and dad to my choir practice when they visited me for Christmas, and we all sang up front in the Christmas Eve service. This is my first Christmas without the family (even last year I was traveling with my brother), so I'm so thankful to have these things to look forward to. On Christmas evening, there's also the Shepherd's Night festival, with the candle-lit procession and dance troupe performance. It was so beautiful!
My first glimpse of Bethlehem
Dance performance at the Shepherd's Night Festival
Scout marching band on Christmas Day
After the Christmas Eve service, I'll be joining Sulaiman and two of my girlfriends from Jaffa, also American volunteers for Christmas night festivities at some club or hotel. Who knows. Ana 3rif. Bethlehem will be party city.
I've been photographing and filming and learning all this intense stuff about settlers and soldiers and occupation and I'm really not in the mood to post about it right now. Even though the information weighs me down and I feel responsible for relaying everything I see. I'm good at traveling and absorbing and keeping cool, but there's no other place where I feel this alternating combination of overloaded and desensitized and inspired and despairing.
At our Mid-Year conference for AmeriCorps, one of our speakers said, "if you're not outraged and in despair, you're not paying attention."
these girls at the booth behind me are playing rihanna's "we found love in a hopeless place" from their cell phones.