Saturday, October 22, 2011

Scratch that.. Land flowing with olives

Its Saturday night Time has completely flown by. The past 36 or so hours have been crazy and amazing. 

Friday travelling went really well. The hostel manager loaned me his bell boy to help me drag my luggage out of the crowded old city. That was a huge blessing and cut the time by like 75%. One the way to the bus station Israeli cops stopped us for like 5 min to check his ID...even though they asked me if he was with me. The bus to Ramallah was fairly short. I met an American on the bus who helped me find the shared cabs to take me to Nablus. Yet again, another huge blessing. When I got to Nablus, I called a guy who the hostel owner had told me to call. He walked over and caught a cab for me...I didnt really need the help, but I didn't want to refuse the good will. I got to the private school and met a few of the teachers I will be teaching with. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. Most of the teachers are relatively young, recent or near recent grads from America (one from Ireland and Australia and a couple from the UK). 

They dropped me off at my new apartment which I currently share with one American girl named Lindsey, but I think another new teacher might be moving in soon. The apartment is actually in a refugee "camp," beneath the house of a doctor who runs a partner organization. Refugee camps here aren't what you might picture. They're more like little sections of town on the outskirts. I'm really glad I'll be living there because I'll be closer to the classes I teach in the afternoons, and also you get to kind of live with a family, even though we don't interact with them on an everyday basis.

I was alone on the apartment for a while settling in. Then a neighbor boy invited me over for tea. His family was all sitting around sorting through olives they had just picked. Baskets filled with olives!! I joined them in sorting and we chatted until Lindsey got home. Then she joined us and they served us dinner. They are sooo friendly and inviting. One of the boys is almost 21, one is 17 or 18 and the other 2 are younger. It was definitely the perfect welcome evening to a new home in a far away place.

The next day we woke up really early to go olive picking outside a village called Sabastiya. It was me, Lindsey, a couple other teacher ex-pats from various different schools and organizations in Nablus, a masters student from Portugal named Joau (he was super fun to talk to) and a Palestinian named Khair who was really knowledgeable on a bunch of different things.
 Its valuable to have foreigners because 1) we lighten the load and its A LOT LOT LOT of work and 2) our presence keeps Israeli settlers from harassing them. In fact, we were supposed to go to another grove of olive trees to help a different family but apparently the Israelis had blocked off the road and wouldn't let ANYONE without a permit in. We saw the area from a mount top later, and you can see where the settlement and military base were in relation to the villagers's trees. They showed us a HUGE area that USED to be filled with olive trees but were literally BURNED DOWN by the settlers. So the families would have to do all the work themselves, which mean even the elderly members would have to toil in the hot sun and dust whacking the trees with sticks and picking up traps full of olives (our method of extraction and collection). I will refrain from inserting my analysis of all this....I'm just laying out the facts....if you would like my analysis shoot me a message, but I will try to keep this blog non-political but definitely present what happens. Also, for the record, I am neither anti-Israeli nor anti-Palestinian. Just putting it out there.

Anyway, we had fun climbing into the trees and whacking the olives off the branches (or at least I did!). I got to talk with some of the brothers who I think owned the olives or at least were related to the owners...or something. The oldest Mahmoud is a science teacher in Nablus, and the younger Ahmed...18 I think he a student in university. He didn't speak English so I got to really stretch my Arabic (I've been using it a lot for small things, but we actually managed to have a full conversation).We also worked together picking up the tarps and climbing trees so we had to practically communicate in Arabic too. I really enjoyed that. We got SUPERBLY dirty and dusty, so much so I could not run my hand through my was so matted with dust. But I enjoyed getting down and dirty, and sharing water bottles with all 10 or so of us working on the trees. Great way to bond.

Afterwards they showed us some old Roman ruins at the top of the mount where we also got an incredible view! Pictures soon to come :) They also showed us an old church where the only Christian family left in the village worships...pretty cool.

After that we drove back to Nablus and watched the Japanese women's team play the Palestinian women's team, (in shorts which was unbelievable..although most skin was still covered). The women sat on one side of the stadium and the men on the other. We got swarmed by little girls asking us questions and taking pictures with us. I think the other girls who have been here longer were a little tired of it, but it didnt bother me, AND I got a little Palestinian flag out of the deal. After the game we chilled for a little and I met some more expats including a guy from Latvia. 

Then Lindsey and I came home and relaxed for a little while, since we have to leave in the morning for school.
We really are hitting it off right away which is ANOTHER huge blessing. I really thank God for all His provision in this. There are some moments (especially on the bus to Ramallah and ride to Nablus) where I suddenly realize I just MOVED to Palestine...and for a second I think I'm crazy...but then I just get really excited about being here and think about how much I love it already. The land is beautiful, people are so friendly, and it just feels right being here. I am definitely intimidated about teaching. I will shadow for a few days and then by the end of the week start taking over classes. I'm definitely super intimidated. But if God wants me here, then I know He'll give me what I need to do a good job. 

There's a lot of little things to think about that are kind of overwhelming...things I need to to in order to settle in, and then things I need to do once I settle in. But, I'm stoked for whats to come. Bring it on

1 comment:

  1. Case, this is so awesome and brings a huge smile to my face!
    God is so good. and he loves you so much!
    and i love you so much!