Well, shit. The Gershon event was cancelled because anti-normalization activists threatened to demonstrate outside the hotel. But I guess they got Combatants for Peace (a respected organization here) confused with another one, I don't know....anyways, maybe it'll get re-scheduled, maybe not. I think this was a loss. Another headache for the Palestinian Authority, which is taking this stance on normalization and getting its own approved events shut down by activists.
But hey, I met my first Couch Surfers tonight, Marjorie from Switzerland and Ed from England. We had a beer in Pronto Cafe, coffee in Karameh cafe, and some more beers in the Sky Bar at Ankars hotel. I told them I was trying to culture-shock before their village stay. We'll bus up to Al Aqaba tomorrow with Dasha from the Czech Republic and Philip from Chile and Palden from....Bethlehem. Even though no one was able to make it from Tel Aviv, as originally planned, this came together quite nicely.
Today I taught English lessons in Ein 3rik and Ein Yabrud. The first village is one I always passed on my way to Bil'in, and the second is a village I always passed on my way to Deir Jareer. I never knew their names. Or, people told me when we passed them and I forgot. Now they have life, and meaning, and adorable children.
After the lesson, Olfat took me out for dinner with her friend. We talked about languages and customs and ate chicken sandwiches. On Monday I'll go to Beit Rema to have dinner with Olfat's family, then on Tuesday I'm going with Sulaiman and an international group to Nabi Saleh to meet with Bassem Tamimi's family.
For now, I'm enjoying my first Couch Hosting experience, even though the couch isn't technically mine.
This is the prayer sent out in the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer newsletter. In light of all this anti-this and that, I thought I'd share....
Spirit of the Living God, come afresh on your Holy Land.
Help your people to restore broken relationships.
Give them patience to break down barriers of suspicion and mistrust;
ability to discern personal prejudice and the courage to overcome fear.
Teach them to respect each other’s integrity and rights
so that your kingdom may be established on earth.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.