Archive for the ‘Bethlehem’ Category

Peace

“There will be no peace until they love their children more than they hate us” ~Golda Meir

A friend recently said he liked Miss Meir because of this quote.  When I read it, I had the opposite reaction – I cringed on the inside and my heart broke just a little bit more.  Let’s discuss!

The History
Let’s start out with a short history lesson about Israel.  Israel – the modern country – was created in 1948 after the Israeli-Arab Conflict.  This resulted in many hundreds of thousands of Arabs being forcibly removed from the only homes they had ever known and their land and livelihoods given to Zionists.  Unfortunately for everyone, the conflict didn’t stop in 1948.  Arabs wanted their land back and the Zionists wanted more of the land the Arabs had so in 1967 there was another “conflict.”  Once again, Israel took the offensive position and removed Arabs from their homes and lands with force and took control of all of the area known as Judea and Samaria (to the Zionists) or Palestine (to the Arabs).  This land became known as the Occupied Territories and is still under Israeli control today.  The Arabs living in the Occupied Territories, or West Bank, are treated poorly on a daily basis.  To many in Israel, the West Bank Palestinians are subhuman.  This conflict will continue as long as the Zionists refuse to see their role in the action.

The Woman
Golda Mabovitch was born May 3, 1898 in Kiev to Ukrainian parents.  In 1906, Golda and her family moved to the United States.  At the age of 14, Golda moved to Denver, Colorado in rebellion against her mother’s desire for her to quit school and marry.  In Denver, Golda lived with her married sister and was exposed to intellectual debates on many things, but most importantly Zionism.  At the age of 19, she married Morris Meyerson on December 24, 1917.  In 1916 and 1917, Golda came into close contact with the ideals of Labor Zionism.  In 1921, Golda and Morris left the United States and joined a kibbutz in Palestine.

In 1924, Morris and Golda left the kibbutz and eventually settled in Jerusalem.  There they had two children (a third was aborted while still in the US).  Golda began her political career as a member of the Working Women’s Council.  Golda and Morris would grow apart but never divorce.  Morris died in 1951.  Golda would spend the rest of her life in the political world.  She was the Ambassador to Moscow and was issued the first Israeli passport for this position.  In 1949, Golda became the Labour Minister.  In 1956, she became the Foreign Minister and shortened her last name to Meir.  In January 1966, Golda retired from the Foreign Ministry because she was diagnosed with lymphoma.  However, on March 17, 1969, Golda came out of retirement to replace Prime Minister Levi Eshkol who had died suddenly.  She had been voted his successor by the Knesset.  She became the first female Prime Minister of Israel (the 4th PM in Israel’s history).  She united divisions within the Knesset and Israel’s politics.  She traveled the world to promote her peace ideas.  She was in power when the Yom Kippur War took place.  After this war, the Israeli government under Golda became plagued with in-fighting and questions of the leadership.  Golda resigned on April 11, 1974.

Her autobiography was published in 1975.  Golda Meir died of lymphatic cancer on December 8, 1978.  She was buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on December 12, 1978.

The People
Zionism is a (in my opinion and definition of the term) a terrorist organization and movement bent on the destruction of peace for the fulfillment of power and the idea of security.  Zionism’s broadest definition is the support and promotion of Jewish self-determination for a sovereign Jewish homeland.  They take it much farther than that by making that homeland exclusively found in Palestine – a land said to be without people (even though Arabs had been living there for generations).  They continue their ideology to include removing all Arabs from the land they possess so that Jews can take it over.  When they received the land now known as Israel, they decided that it was not sufficient and have continued to fight and destroy and manipulate in order to expand their borders.  They use the Torah to justify their actions and they blame everything on the Palestinians.

The Quote
This quote is no exception to that.  Golda is implying that peace would come to the Holy Land if and only if the Palestinians (and other surrounding Arabs) could see that their priorities are out of place.  If the Palestinians, Golda implies, could understand love more than hate then peace would be upon us.  It’s as if she’s saying, “See, we do what we do because of the evil and hatred around us.  It isn’t our fault.”  This frustrates me because in most cases (not all) it has been Israel who had the power, the might, the weaponry, and the opportunities to stop the violence.

The Conclusion
Everyone has the opportunity for greatness and I will not sit back and say that Golda Meir was great.  But she was small sighted.  She did not see the bigger picture of her actions, thoughts, and statements.  She had opportunity for much more than just greatness.  We need to stand up and fight for justice and peace, but not at the expense of others.  No one deserves to be punished for the sins of another and no one deserves to be treated as subhuman.  Golda should have sought to understand the Palestinian instead of just passing judgment on them.  I do not support Zionism or any of its ideals and one of the most important reasons for that is the ideology behind this Golda Meir quote and others just like it.

Peace Now – Palestine Forever!

A Walk

I think the first thing I’m going to do when I return to the Middle East will be to walk the entire length of THE Wall.  I will photograph and document it as I go and use this journey as a new start to my new life.

I love walking.  I feel it frees the mind and the heart.  I’m really excited for this enterprise – this freedom that will come in the midst of such oppression and imprisonment.

I hope this journey comes soon!

Peace Talks

Before the Peace Talks
Palestinians need to understand that they cannot demand a nation that goes back to a pre-Israel concept.  Israel is here.  Permanently.  Forever.  Done.  In the same breath, Israel cannot expect the Palestinians to kowtow and just graciously accept the “leftovers” of the land they and their ancestors have inhabited for millennia.

There was a war in 1967 and the Arabs lost.  This must play a part in the negotiations.  It needs to be acknowledged that Israel does not have to negotiate any changes to the status quo.  It needs to be clear from the Palestinian leadership down through to the smallest Palestinian child, that Israel is a legitimate and welcome nation.  And it must be presented from the Israeli Prime Minister down through all the ranks of Israeli citizen that the Palestinians were on the land before 1948 and therefore have a right to it now.

I think that a single-state solution would be an easier and faster enterprise than the two-state solution but I will discuss my thoughts on both.

Single-State Solution
There are many positive outcomes to a single-state solution, but there are also negatives involved with this plan.

Israel and the West Bank* could become one secular, democratic nation.  This nation should be called Judea and Samaria because then either the Israelis or the West Bank Palestinians will feel they have won or lost.  The nation’s borders would go from the Mediterranean Sea in the east, the Jordan River in the west, the Negev desert and Sinai Peninsula in the south, and the Golan Heights/mountains to the north.  Palestinians and Israelis alike would gain citizenship (ie: passports, IDs, and travel documents) from Judea and Samaria.  Palestinians would gain the right of return they were promised back in 1948 and Israelis would gain the “Promised land.”  Palestinians would gain access to sites they have been banned from for a generation and Israelis would gain the safety they feel they haven’t yet accomplished.  Both people groups would have all the rights and responsibilities under this new nation and its government – including (but not limited to) voting, driver’s license, jury duty, running for elected offices, military service, and free enterprise.

As for the things they would lose.  Israelis would lose a distinctly Jewish state.  Palestinians would lose a distinctly Islamic state.  Both would lose the death and fighting that has plagued them for so long.  Both would lose a small piece of their identity – but they would gain a new identity in the new nation of Judea and Samaria.

Two-State Solution
There are many more difficulties to surpass with a two-state solution than the above proposal of a single-state, but they are not insurmountable.

For the Palestinians: they will have to give up their right of return.  This is the first thing that must happen.  They will have to concede the idea of returning to the villages and land of their ancestors.  They may still not be able to easily travel in and out of Israel.  They will also have to give up Jerusalem.

For the Israelis: they will have to give up their dream of controlling all of biblical Judea and Samaria.  This means giving up their settlements in the green zone and the West Bank.  They will have to give up the idea of total domination in the area.  They would have to go back to the pre-1967 borders.  They will also have to give up Jerusalem.

What would happen: Israel would remain a democratic, Jewish state with distinct borders.  Palestine would become a democratic state with distinct borders.  These boarders would return land won during the Six-Day War to the West Bank Palestinians.  The wall would come down and the West Bank would regain land they held after 1948 and the creation of Israel.  All West Bank settlements would have two options.  Option 1: become citizens of Palestine; giving up their Israeli citizenship and willingly aligning themselves with the rights and goals of a new nation or, Option 2: move back within the borders of Israel.  All Arabs/Palestinians living in Israel would also have two options.  Option 1: become citizens of Israel; giving up their claim to Palestine and willingly aligning themselves with the rights and goals of a nation or, Option 2: move within the borders of Palestine.

Both nations would not be able to deny citizenship to anyone who could prove their identity, their residency within that nation’s borders, and prove a proficiency in that nation’s official language.  Citizenship would include all the rights and responsibilities of democratic nations; including, but not limited to, voting, land ownership, constitutional rights, jury duty, running for elected office, driver’s license, ID, passport, military service, and free enterprise.

Jerusalem: would become international territory with its own flag as well as its own place and voting rights within the UN.  It would not belong to either Israel or Palestine.  It would be run by a committee made up of the Grand Mufti, Chief Rabbinate, Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Latin Catholic Patriarch, Armenian Patriarch, and two secular appointed leaders (one from Israel and one from Palestine).  These leaders would run Jerusalem from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  They would have an elected committee of fourteen (five from Israel, five from Palestine, and four from Jerusalem) who work with them as representatives for the people.  The committee would be elected for three-year terms and could be reelected no more than five times.  Every two years, at least three members would come up for reelection.

Residents of Jerusalem would be given international identification and paperwork.  They would have a separate Jerusalem passport and would not claim Israel or Palestine as their home country but would have all the rights and responsibilities of a citizen of an international territory (ie: see the rights and responsibilities above).

*My Peace Talks purposely leave out the Gaza Strip.  I think that Gaza is a separate entity from the West Bank (for good or ill) and should be treated as such.  It has its own leadership and that leadership needs to head into their own peace talks with Israel.

Thoughts on Gaza
I think Israel uses Gaza as a way to say “See, we NEED our walls and electric fences … they all hate us.”

The number one, most important thing that needs to be addressed for Gaza is the legitimacy of Israel.  They need to stop trying to destroy their neighbor and accept them.  They also need to stop trying to use force to gain an “upper hand.”  This change will never come if they continue to move toward violence.  Once these two stipulations have been negotiated I believe that things for Gaza would greatly and rapidly improve.

Gaza doesn’t have to worry about settlements or Israelis on their land.  They have to worry about having land and the Israeli blockades that have been put into place.  I truly think that once Gaza accepts Israel and ceases the violence Israel will lighten their hold on the area.  Trade will resume and blockades will diminish – if not disappear completely.

After a trust has been built, I think the electric fence surrounding Gaza as well as the IDF soldiers will be removed.  As for land issues, I think Gaza would have an easier time working with Egypt.  The Gazans may be able to claim part or all of the Sinai Peninsula.  With more land they would be able to move millions of people out of the refugee camps and the cramped quarters in which they are currently living.  After that, a government could be put in place – whether elected or appointed – and Gaza could become an independent nation.

Honestly, I think becoming an independent nation will be more difficult than negotiating lasting peace with Israel.  I do not think democracy would suit Gaza well but could see a parliamentary monarchy put into place within its government.  Hamas would need to cease to be a political entity and could possibly become the military unit of Gaza.

Again, the citizens of Gaza would gain land, rights, passports, travel opportunities, and responsibilities within their new nation.  And Israel would gain more safety and another ally.

Life Without Bethlehem

I left Bethlehem at the end of February and I’ve thought of nothing but that place since then.  I miss it.  I don’t know how else to say it.  I miss my home.  I miss my friends.  I miss my students.  I miss teaching.  I miss being happy.  I miss it all.

School starts in a couple of days and I don’t get to be there and it’s killing me.  It’s killing me that I messed up the best thing that had ever happened to me.

I blamed God for a long time but I can’t blame Him anymore.  He did what I had promised myself I would do many years before.  And now I’m left without my dream – because of my choices, not God’s.

I miss my life.  Life without Bethlehem is not a life I like at all.

In Class

Right now my 8th graders are working on model volcanoes and earthquakes so I thought I would take this time to update my blog again.  I realized that in order to update this regularly I needed to take any time I could!  So here we go! : )

Lot’s goes on in the day-to-day life of a teacher but it’s hard sometimes to put it into words or to see how it all fits into the “grand scheme” of being in Bethlehem.

Today is our last day of school before Thanksgiving break and the Eid Al Adha.  I think the teachers are more excited than the students about this 5-day weekend!  I’m finally going to get to see the tourist sites in Jerusalem – the garden tomb, the ramparts of the old city, and enshallah the Dome of the Rock!

This is what I see everymorning from my bedroom window!

Every day I get up at 6 am and watch the sunrise.  I don’t get up just for the sunrise, but it is beautiful and worth watching.  From there I check my facebook (which usually has no activity) and my email (which has even less activity).  Then I get dressed for school and start collecting my books and papers or finish any last minute planning I may have for the day.  I’m downstairs by 7 each morning.  I organize my classroom – straighten the desks, get my books in order, pick up any trash – before going outside to greet the students and other teachers as they come in for the day.  Some students get hugs, some get high-5s.  Some I talk to in my broken Arabic.  Most get English!  The bell rings at 8 and the day officially begins.

My first period class is probably my favorite to teach.  Not necessarily because I love them more but because the combination of subject matter, time of day, and personalities of students creates a fun environment to teach in.  This is the 8th grade class that is with me right now.  They seems to enjoy learning more than any other class I teach and they seem to enjoy me more regularly than any other class I teach.

They also include some of my closest students and some who make me laugh a lot.  There’s Lucy (because she treats her little brother like Lucy treats Charlie Brown) who was the first “student-friend” I had here.  She is a sweetheart and I enjoy talking to her.  Sometimes she’s dark in her humor but that just adds to her charm and character.  She thinks differently than most of my other students (and most of the people I know) – deeper, more complex – and this gives her an air of maturity that other kids her age just do not possess.  Plus she’s super cute!  Then there’s Zac (because he’s the Zac Efron of the 8th grade class).  He makes me laugh a lot because he’s so completely random and carefree.  And that’s just two of them!  I have one student in the 8th grade who has a baby face and he’s fun to smack (a very Arab thing).  And the girl whom I think is the smartest person I have ever met (and one of the hardest workers too) is in this class.  She and I have had a few deep conversations about life and education and things like that.

My second period is my only prep period but instead of using that time for school stuff, I attend the 9th grade Bible class.  This is fun because I’m seen differently in this class as I am in the classes I teach.  They also like to comment on their science during Bible just for my benefit!

Third period is my 10th grade class.  What I like about this class is they are older so I can trust them with more responsibility.  So they get to eat in class and sit wherever they want and things like that.  This is, unfortunately, my least favorite subject to teach.  : /  But this class also has some great students whom I enjoy hanging out with.  This is considered the basketball class since half of the class is on the basketball team (both boys and girls).  One student in particular did not like me at first, but we have since become “friends.”  She still isn’t ready to admit that but I do and I tell her that as often as possible.  She and I talk online most every night for a few hours (or more).  She is an amazing girl who has a bright and beautiful future ahead of her.  God has something extra special planned for this one because she is trying so hard to derail Him and failing in most cases.

After that we have break (kind of like lunch without a cafeteria).  We sell snacks in a canteen and play basketball or soccer in the courtyard.

Fourth period is my first of two classes with 6th grade.  They are a … lively bunch of students but mostly good kids.  There are a few of them that really make me laugh and there are a few who really make me yell.  This class does not enjoy learning and are already trying hard to get out of everything they can.  They are also the class with the most amount of “Miss, somebody did this to me” whining.  It’s annoying!  I’ve been taking their desks away when they get in trouble (that’s their first warning) and if they get kicked out of class they miss their break.  I have also scolded them often enough for their whining that now all I have to say is, “Are you whining?” and they stop and say, “No Miss!”

Then I have afternoon break with the elementary school.  More snacks and much more playing and running!

Fifth period is … *sigh* 9th grade.  These are the laziest kids I have EVER worked with!  Instead of studying and using their time wisely, they scheme and manipulate to get out of things.  Today they have a BIG test over the entire periodic table of elements.  Most of this class is already failing and this test will just put the final nail in their coffins.  7aram!  Well actually, I don’t feel that sorry for them because I’ve done everything I can to help them learn it, but they refuse!  I can’t MAKE them do it … all I can do is give them the opportunity.

There are a few students in this class that aren’t like this.  Baby Sister is my adopted sister (her and her two older sisters … and their parents are my adopted parents).  She is a leader in the classroom and a caring friend to her classmates.  Baby Sister acts very different at home and school … which is fun for me.  I also (since I’m the oldest sister) get to ground her and give other punishments if I feel they are fit.  Right now she’s grounded from facebook and MSN/email for three weeks (I even changed her passwords)!  Then there’s Roxanne (because she looks like the character from A Goofy Movie).  She is a sweet girl of about 5 feet 2 inches who is a great ball of obsession.  She obsesses over boys and movies and music and … school (but it’s different).  She’s a great student but her voice is almost always a perpetual whine.  She gets mad easily and quickly at me but we can usually work it out in a day or less.  But she’s a dear sweet girl who makes me giggle!

Sixth period (always makes me think of the song from the Evens Stevens Musical Episode) is my second class with 6th grade.  They are … worse in this class than in the previous one with them.  They enjoy the subject though and bombard me with answers to questions I haven’t even asked yet.

In all my classes I have a system.  The students earn brownie points when they impress me (they are kind of like the points on Who’s Line Is It Anyway … they are arbitrary and almost pointless).  These points can be earned by treating each other with kindness, helping someone, getting good grades, standing up for “the underdog,” good behavior – really anything can earn you points.  But points can be lost by the opposite of all those things.  Once a class gets to 1000 points they have a party.  So far my 8th and 10th graders have had a party and are well on their ways to party #2.

After school I have tutoring, drama, basketball, or small group depending on the day of the week.  These last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.  All (except tutoring – which I call Teacher Detention) bring joy to my heart and ache to my head.  But I love them!

After this my day involves individual time with students (usually on MSN), time with my adopted family, and time working on the next day or grading that days work.  All in all about 75% of my time is spent doing something school related.  And I wouldn’t change it for all the riches in the world!

You may wonder: How is God moving here?  My answer would be, “How is He not?!”

God moves and stirs in these kids hearts every day.  I have students who have gone from troublemaker to sweetheart.  In some classes the kids who were failing are now succeeding.  And in others I have found new ways to interact with the tough kids to get them out of their shell.

One student loves Jesus but is in a very powerful Muslim family but he can’t help himself from participating in Bible class and talking about Jesus!

One kid can’t stop smiling because Jesus lives inside him (he, too, is from a Muslim family) and it is Jesus’ sweetness that permeates from him.

One girl can’t stop asking questions about God and the Bible.  She’s extremely curious saying that she wants to make sure she believes the right thing – the Truth.

One girl (whom I don’t teach) came up to me just yesterday to tell me that she wants to talk to me.  When we briefly spoke she told me how she feels about herself and then said, “No one knows this Miss Laura but I knew you would care.”  I just hugged her and told her we needed to get together soon to talk more.

I could continue telling stories of students like these who may not recognize God moving in their lives but know that something is changing.  It’s AWESOME to see!

Well I think that’s about it for today!

Prayer Requests – 1. That my students desire to learn! 2. SLEEP 3. More creativity in the classroom to pick up the students who are falling behind 4. Even more love! 5. More supporters both praying for me and financially sustaining me.

Arabic

My students are teaching me Arabic.  I’m really excited about this.  I can have a very short and very slow conversation in Arabic now.  This is a great accomplishment for me since I came here with absolutely no Arabic in my head.  : D  Some of my students are taking more of an interest with this educational need and are helping me learn a new Arabic word each day.  Even some of the Arab teachers are getting in on the act and helping me learn my numbers and giving me worksheets for the letters (I’m still very illiterate in Arabic).

So now I have a notebook where I write all my new Arabic words and phrases.  Then I study them and try to use them as often as I can.  Some of my students are even giving me deadlines to learn certain words or phrases.  It’s fun because they get to be the expert on something and it also helps some of the kids who grew up in America learn their Arabic better.

Here is my problem:  I can’t role my ‘r’ and I can’t get the throat sounds correct.  See, there’s certain numbers they use in their English writing of the words and they mean different sounds that can’t be expressed with letters.  So 2, 3, 5, and 7 all have specific sounds and the only one I’m good at is 5.  The greater problem is that the kids know this and this it’s funny.  They like to continue saying the sound over and over again until I get it but when I hear it, it sounds the same to me!  They also have no confidence in my ability to learn these sounds or my ‘r’ rolling.

I also have a few students who just want to teach me all the curse words and other inappropriate phrases.  Unfortunately, those words are easy to learn so I know them now.  This does help me in class because I can recognize them when the kids are using them so they get away with less now.  But I think they thought I’d get all upset or weird or whatever about learning these words but I don’t.  It’s actually really funny because they’ll write them down for me and then say, “Read them to me!”  So I read them and they smack my face when I say the words stating, “My mom can hear you!”  To which I respond by laughing and saying, “You’re the one teaching me!”

I can understand more Arabic than I can speak and I’m learning more and more every day.  It really is one of the hardest languages to learn.  But I am determined to succeed in knowing this language well enough to hold a real conversation or watch an Arabic TV show.

Well, wish me luck.  I’m off to work on my Arabic!

Homework #2

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?

Nada – 6th Grade History

If I could live anywhere in the world I would live in America.  I would live in American because it is really beautiful.  There isn’t garbage thrown on the streets everywhere you look, or old houses everywhere.  Another part of its beautifulness is that there is many playgrounds, water parks, malls (etc.).  It is really fun.

Another reason is that it is a free country.  I like free countries the most because I can go anywhere whenever I want.  I can go places faster.  Also, I can go anywhere I want without going through a checkpoint.  Schools are closer and the weather is not as hot or cold.

The last reason is because I have relatives in Minnesota around my age.  They are boys but they are still fun.  We play many games with them.  When we visit them we usually go to places like Mall of America.  There we usually play on the rides together.  This is why I would like to live in America.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?

Qamar – 6th Grade History

In all the world where would you live in and why?

In all the world I would live in America.  I would live there because it’s a nice place to live.  America is a history place.  It was also discovered by many people.  It’s a wonderful place to grow in.

America was all farms that are full of many thing and no it’s full of people.  In America I would live in the United States of America.  I would also live in California.  California is a really nice state and it’s very famous.  California was the 27th state to be discovered in the U.S.A.

United States of America is a really neat place to live in.  I choose that country because it’s beautiful and wonderful.  I would also live there because we take care of animals will.  America is my top 1 country in the world.  That’s why I choose American to live in.

Write a Skit about Something that happens in Matthew 1-7

Anton – 6th Grade Bible

Narrator – Jesus was born in a cave where farm animals lived.  Three wise men came to Jesus and game Him gifts.  At that night, Joseph had a strange dream including an Angel.

Angel – Flee to Egypt for Harod will kill all boys under two years old.

Joseph – We should leave to Egypt to save the life of the baby.

Mary – What threats the life of the baby?

Joseph – Herod asks to take his life.

Narrator – The next day Mary and Joseph talked about it and packed up their things and fled to Egypt on a donkey.  Herod told his soldiers to kill all boys under two years old.

Herod – Go and kill all boys under two years in this entire land.

Narrator – The soldiers killed all the boys and Herod was satisfied because he thought that Jesus was killed, but Jesus wasn’t killed.  Jesus and his parents stayed in Eygpt  until Herod died, and after a while Jesus and his parents went back homje.  Jesus grew and was wise enough to teach the teachers of religion.

Jesus – I am the way the light and the life.

Write about one part of the Sermon on the Mount

Ramzi – 6th Grade Bible

Oaths – What means oaths?  He said do not breake your oaths and prays the Lord the earth is his footstool.  We shouldn’t swear by our heads all you need to say is yes or no anything else is from evil or somebody bad.  I don’t know something about oaths but I now it something for God or for Bible.  I would like to learn about oaths and something else Jesus made everything in 6 days and if oaths is of God I will like it because its Good.

Write about one part of the Sermon on the Mount

Meroon – 6th Grade Bible

Ask, Seek, Knock – At the beginning I thought the passage is too small to write about, but then when I understood the meaning I noticed that it makde me feel so close to God as if I will ask hi will never turn me back.  And if I search for the real meaning of giving I will find that I am so little as I have to give more and more.  I know now if I knock the door means if I ask and pray our dear Lord will answer me and open the door for me.  In everything we do to others we will receive the same as the verse Matthew 6:33 “Put God’s kingdom first.  Do what he want s you to do.  Then all of those things will also be given to you.”  As we are the children of God who can be against us.

Write a Skit about Something from Matthew 1-7

Victor – 6th Grade Bible

Act 1

Angel Gabriel – Don’t be afraid I come with good nus yhou will have a child that is the holy spirit you will name him Jesus.

Mary – how can this be I am a vergin?

Gabriel – You have found favor in the Lord and the holy spirit will com apon you.

Mary – I am the Lords servent

Act 2

Joseph is sleeping and in his dreem an angel came.

Angel – you will keep Mary as your wife and you wil name the child Jesus.

Act 3 – In Bethlehem

Joseph – Do you have a place in your in for me and my wife.

Inkeeper – I’m sory for I wer is full but I have a stable.

Act 4 – The Berth of Jesus

Mary wraps baby in blanket.  Las him in a manger an sas: His name shal be Jesus.

Write a Skit about Something in Matthew 1-7

Meroon – 6th Grade Bible

John The Baptist said, “Move away from your sins!  The kingdom of heaven is coming.”  Isaiah said, “A messenger is called out in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord.  Make straight pathes for him.”

John the Baptist said, “You are like a cave of prosnoise snakes.”

John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water calling you to move away from your sines.  But after me, one will come who is more powerfull than I am.  And I’m not able to carry his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirity and with fire.  His pitchfork is in hand to clean the straw from his threshing floor.  He will gather his wheat into the storeroom.  But he will hurn up the dry seed with fire that can’t be put out.”

Write A Skit about Something In Matthew 1-7

Ramzi – 6th Grade Bible

Jesus – Jesus came to John and said baptize me

John – No man, I can’t baptize you

Jesus – you should

John – you should baptize me.

Jesus – let it be so now

John – ok

Dove – Came and said this is the son of God

People – we want to be baptized

Isn’t it cool to see God through the lenses of children and through the thoughts of kids who haven’t grown up with the Bible or Christianity?!  I hope you enjoyed this as much as I!

Laura Again

So my kids have been complete terrors recently.  I’ve been yelling and disciplining and yelling some more.  I’ve been confused and upset with them.  I want so much to show them love but this week I have had a tough time loving them.

IMG_4050

It's Me!

But things are changing.  I simply (well not simply) decided to just let it go!  I’m starting over.  I’m going to discipline them in ways they will recognize (detentions) and I will love them in ways that they will recognize (time spent with them in friendship).  So this week we’re working on that.  I’m going to be happy again – because I can.

I can be happy because God loves me.  I can be happy because God loves these kids.  I can be happy because life is great and because I am different and changed and new.  I can love because love was given – freely to me.  Who am I to keep it for myself?

So this week’s lesson for me is patience and love.  Continuing to love and show grace even when it isn’t deserved.  I had a conversation with a student the other day about letting something go because grace is the point of it all.  “We were given grace even though it wasn’t what we deserved so how can you keep it from someone else.  If you do, you don’t hurt her, you hurt yourself.  You allow her to keep control over your heart and you will destroy your joy.  So give grace because who you are is joyous and loving and I don’t want to see you lose that.”  After that I had to swallow I big piece of humble pie.  Sheesh.  God definitely hit me with a 2×4!

So anyway, we’re starting over.  We’re loving and caring and encouraging again!  We’re Laura again.

Jerusalem Trip on 9/11

The Gang

The Gang

Last weekend one of the other teachers and I took three of our students to Jerusalem.  This is a big deal because they aren’t actually allowed to go into Israel since they are Palestinians, but since they are under 16 it is easier to get them through the check point.  Here is what happened:

My teacher friend – Big Red – met me at the school and we hailed a taxi to go get one student.

Big Red Leading The Way

Big Red Leading The Way

She wasn’t ready – teenage girls!  We waited and she finally came upstairs then it was off to get the other two students in Beit Sahour.  When we finally got back to the first student’s house (her father was driving us to the check point), the taxi driver tried to get 60 shekels from me!  This is because we were speaking English and he thought he could rip us off!  But Super Dad came to the rescue and told the driver you can take 20 shekels or you can take nothing so the driver left with nothing!  It was awesome!

We finally make it to the checkpoint and met back up with Big Red who’d gone ahead of us to scope

Check Point

Check Point

things out.  Things being scoped where … interesting.  You see, it was Ramadan Friday (every three years every Muslim has to go pray at the Dome of the Rock) so it was PACKED!  We finally decided to just push our way through the pack to get to the check point.  The goal was to make the students look very American so Big Red took the passports from everyone (theirs don’t have VISAs) and act like we were clueless to our task.  We told the girls not to speak and to act like they didn’t know Arabic.  This was easier said than done!  Big Red led and I made sure all three girls stayed with him and weren’t touched by the men around us.  Once we made it through the mob we quickly were escorted by soldiers to the “right line for us.”  And very soon we were on Israeli soil.  The girls didn’t even realize we’d made it through.  : )

Once on the other side we had to find a taxi or bus to get us from the check point to our destination … the mall.  We walked and walked and walked and then stopped at a monastery to take pictures thus starting the taking of over 275 photos!  I told the girls, “Go

We Made It!

We Made It!

frolic around those rocks and I’ll take your picture!”  Only one frolicked but we got some great photos of them laughing and playing around.

We quickly got bored of the frolicking so we started walking again and finally flagged a taxi and convinced him to carry all 5 of us.  This was “fine” … until we were stopped by the police.  Oops.  They made Big Red get out and walk the rest of the way – only like 5-10 more minutes.  I took the girls on into the mall once we were dropped off and we met back up with Big Red in the food court.  McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut.  What “American” food did I want?  Still wish I’d have chosen Burger King!

After lunch we did the mall crawl.  Taking pictures throughout the trek.

One store didn’t like that we were trying on their hats, taking pictures, and singing along with the radio so we soon left there without

Hats!

Hats!

too much trouble.  You know, I didn’t want to have to bust some people up!

After walking for another couple hours, we were presented with our next challenge.  Shabbat.   That is the Jewish Sabbath.  It starts Friday at sunset and ends Saturday at sunset.  The stores were closing at 1 so everyone could get home before Shabbat started.  We also needed to go because the Jewish buses would soon stop and no Arab buses came to where we were.  So we decided to go to the old city next – if nothing else the Muslim quarter would be hopping with all the excess folks in the city to pray.

Big Red and I decided to keep our destination from the girls.  Heeheehee.  That makes anything more fun!  We even convinced one girl that we were going to Tel Aviv!  She was so disappointed when we arrived at the Damascus Gate!  We walked some more.  I do love walking!  We decided to take the kids to the roof of a school we knew where we could see an amazing view of Jerusalem.  On the way we were stopped by something extraordinarily beautiful.

It does exist here!

It does exist here!

Grass.

Lush green grass.  I couldn’t stop myself from running to it and laying face down in it!  It was heaven!  This caused the group to stop and even more pictures were taken.  Gotta love digital cameras.

When we finally left the grass I had to take one last look.  *sigh*

We made it to the school and the roof – but not without a lot of complaining about the walking and the stairs and the lack of information about the destination.  But when we finally got to the roof the girls Hellwere amazed by what they saw.

Big Red started telling them about the area including the Valley of Hinnom, right next to the school ,that used to be Gehenna.  AKA Hell.  So we started calling it hell and taking pictures of it … and ourselves and our shadows and … well you get the picture.  No pun intended.

We left the school then and went down into hell and … took more pictures!  And laughed and laughed and laughed some more.  It was ironic to be laughing so much in … hell.

Laughing in Hell

Laughing in Hell

We then caught a taxi back to the check point since the Arab buses were packed from the folks who were finished praying.  And since it was Ramadan the buses were rapidly diminishing because the drivers wanted to go home to eat!  The taxi again was okay with taking all 5 of us and we made it back to the check point without the interference of the police.

We then walked back to our side of the wall, took pictures of the wall, almost got shot by an Israeli

Graffiti on THE WALL

Graffiti on THE WALL

soldier for taking the wall photos, and finally walked back to the school.  Shortly after arriving, rides came to get kids and I went upstairs to crash.

It was a great day!

Life, Highlights, HAHAHAHA

So it’s been way too long since I’ve had a chance to tell the world about my new life in Bethlehem. So, in case I haven’t told you yet, I actually don’t live in Bethlehem. I live in Beit Jala which is right next to Bethlehem (the towns are separated by a road – when you cross the street you chance towns). Anyway, Beit Jala is amazing! The town is set in a hill so it involves a ton of huffing and puffing to get up the hill and down the hill and up the other hill and down again. It definitely is a good thing because the food here is super delicious and there is lots of it so the hills help me keep my girlish figure.

JerusalemSo many people keep asking me if I’ve gone sightseeing. The answer is no … I simply don’t have the time or the money to do it. But I will – eventually. I promise. And I promise to post pictures when I finally see the sights.

So the reason that I haven’t been out gallivanting around the area is time – being a teacher takes a lot of time but even more than that I’m a youth pastor/friend too. So I’m teacher Laura from 7:00am until 3:00pm, then I’m youth pastor Laura from about 3:00pm until 5:00pm, then I’m friend Laura the rest of the night. My kids have me over to their houses, they hang out after school, they come over on the weekends, and they MSN message me all night! I love it but it definitely cuts into … everything else! HA.

The other teachers were saying today that I’m like 3 people in 1! I’m not sure if I agree but I do love being around these kids. So here’s some of what I do and some stories for you!

I am now the Girls Soccer Coach. The problem is I don’t have enough girls for a team. : ( I need at least 10 more girls in order to play!

GOAL!

GOAL!

We haven’t had an official practice yet. We’ll see if this actually gets off the ground.

I am still helping a little with Girls Basketball too. I practice with the girls and yell at them to hurry up or work hard or keep going. I also am trying to help a few of the girls have the confidence and ability to drive to the hoop and score – no matter how big the defender is! It’s fun to finally be seen as a “great” basketball player! HA.

I am mentoring one of my students. She wants to know more about who God is and how to have a real relationship with Him so we’ve been talking about that. It’s really good because we don’t just talk about spiritual stuff. We talk about boys and friends and boundaries and the Bible and the future and discernment and so much more. It’s great. I feel like I have a little sister to look after. I even played the “I’ll kill you if you hurt her” card with her new boyfriend. : D This girl’s little sister has also adopted me as a big sister and I just spent my Saturday afternoon and evening with the family – mostly playing with the little sister and brother of my student/mentee. She even left for about 4 hours while I was over. It was great though. I’d forgotten how much I missed playing with little kids and I got to do that with these kids. We watched the SpongeBob movie, played Store, played Jungle Fury, and they simply let me chase them around the house tickling them too. When their older sister got home we had a snack and sat around the kitchen table playing Telephone and laughing so hard we couldn’t speak! It was a great night!

I am also directing a drama group that met for the first time this Saturday after school. I am definitely looking forward to imparting my love of acting on to these kids. I just hope they get it quickly. Most of them have very little experience acting – and their experience is one skit as a small child. So we’re really starting at the beginning here! This week we tried a few ad lib exercises that didn’t really work and then worked on a few skits. Next week the goal is facial expressions and a few more skits. The difficult thing will be time. We only meet once a week for 90 minutes and if the students don’t get there on time or talk during it we lose precious time that we’ll wish we had later! I love drama though so I’m excited about this group!

Cheese!I get in trouble a lot about the noise at the school. The neighbors haven’t figured out that they live near a school and that means that students will be there … all the time. Apparently we are too loud at 7:00pm! I mean I would get it if we were talking about 11:30pm or something but it’s barely getting dark at 7:00! It’s a little ridiculous but I’m tired of getting in trouble so we’re looking for a new place to hang out! We have found a place we just need the landlord to say, “yes” to our proposal. Pray she does! It would be the perfect place for it and it could be something we use with the community an d not just our students – this would cut down on boredom! The hardest thing for me is that everyone keeps saying things like, “I’m so glad you came here because these kids have needed someone who can do what you do and create what you create but then I get scolded for basketballs being dribbled or kids yelling or laughter – etc. If we’re to combat the boredom found here it will cause noise! The elementary school principal is – I think – really upset so I get to have a meeting with her when we get back from break. Here’s my thing – she never told me anything that she’s going to scold me about … all of my information was second hand and I don’t listen to or like second hand information. Eh, such is life in youth works!

Well, I would write another hundred paragraphs of fun stories but this is already too long. I’ll try to post more often though so you can read some of the great stories from my kids!