Dangerously Daydreaming

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence

My Palestinian Family

BethlehemFinally! At long last over the weekend I sorted through the “mound” of digital photos from my trip to Israel last month. So here’s a post about Israel, as promised.

One of things I enjoyed about the trip was that we got to see so many of the historical and tourist sites but we also got to be immersed in the culture, meet the people, and see how they really live. People who come as Holy Land tourists don’t get that experience and I feel that they’ve lost out because of it. The culture is so rich – beyond the extensive history, beyond the great food, beyond the holy sites. One of my favorite things was staying with one of the ladies on my team in Bethlehem for two nights with a Palestinian woman.

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

Teresa has lived in Bethlehem all of her life. She was the consummate hostess, greeting us tentatively with the little English she could speak and I used my broken Arabic to fill in the gaps. She seemed so excited to have us come to her home and kept graciously warning us of how small her house was. We followed her through the city streets in the deepening darkness until we reached her flat – a home that has belonged to her family for 5 generations.

Teresa's Home

Teresa’s Home

Her sister, Georgette, greeted us at the door. Georgette’s mastery of English allowed us to all communicate more easily. Georgette is trained as a nurse but didn’t have any work available at the time. She has never married and never had children. She told us how Teresa became a widow 5 years ago and lost her oldest son in a car accident not long after. Teresa works for the school system as an aid for school bus drivers. Her remaining son and daughter are grown and married with families of their own so she lives alone now.

Both of these women were so lovely, wonderful to spend time with, and treated us like we were members of their own family. We showed each other photos of our loved ones, our homes. We laughed often and became friends in an instant. We spoke frankly and honestly about the conflict going on within their country and learned how the building of the Separation Wall by the Israelis to wall off the Palestinians from the rest of Israel had harmed their economy, degraded their health care, and hurt their families.

Teresa’s husband had owned a restaurant years ago. He worked at it every day until the Separation Wall was built. The wall was constructed right around his restaurant and forced him to undergo a security inspection at the checkpoint just to go to his business each day. Because his Palestinian compatriots couldn’t easily go to his restaurant any more his business started to fail. The strain and despair of this led to depression and he passed away shortly after.

Heartbreaking as it is, it’s a common enough story in the region. Because a few extremists hailing from Palestinian heritage would go out and bomb Israelis, a wall was built to keep them all together in one area. It gave me a better understanding of the conflict in the Middle East to stay with these women and learn from them. It is a situation where no one wins. One side wishing to protect it’s people, the other side largely peaceable but suffering because they’re now separated from the world at large.

This isn’t the kind of story we see in our western media, but it’s the real story. It goes beyond the bombings to see the heart of people who wish and hope for reconciliation with their neighbors, who want only to be free to live where they want, free to work for a livable wage, and to be treated as equals.

What I loved about these women was the joy and hope they had despite their circumstances. They continued to pray for peace between Palestinians and Jews. They hoped that one day all people could live together peaceably. And they gave me hope for that too.

Teresa

Teresa

My sweet “Mama Teresa” remains on my heart and in my prayers. I cherish the time we got to spend with her – laughing over her fantastic meals (she’s a great cook!) and chatting in the mornings on her patio over a cup of Arabic coffee.

Arabic coffee on the patio in the morning.

Arabic coffee on the patio in the morning.

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9 comments on “My Palestinian Family

  1. Angelia Sims
    December 10, 2012

    That is so cool! Love the photos. Such a beautiful place. 🙂

    • Audrey
      December 11, 2012

      Thank you! It was probably the most eye-opening international trip I’ve been on so far. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend! 🙂

  2. betunada
    December 11, 2012

    you are an intrepid lady — good writer, good photographs, AND “to go out in the trenches” of the real world like you do.

    • Audrey
      December 11, 2012

      Thank you, that’s a huge encouragement to me. Really my hope is that all of this inspires other people to get out and live big. Its so rewarding to help others, to broaden our worldview, and to forge bonds with people everywhere and I’m just honored for the opportunity to do so. 🙂

  3. ethelthedean
    December 11, 2012

    Seriously, stories like this just rip me to shreds. These women are tough as nails and yet somehow, still manage to be the most loving, wondering individuals. Have you read Joe Sacco’s “Palestine”? It’s a truly groundbreaking graphic novel and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in this area of the world.

    Big love to you lady. We too need more of you in our world. x

    • Audrey
      December 15, 2012

      I know what you mean, these ladies are incredible for their strength of character and still being such nurturing, loving women. I haven’t read “Palestine” but it sounds like something I’d better check out!

      It’s been really cool to come back and feel that the best thing I can do is to tell their stories, share about the side of things that the mass media leaves out. Thanks for the encouragement in this. ❤

  4. storiesbywilliams
    December 18, 2012

    This is beautiful, and I thank you for posting it. I hear so much of the other side of this, the official side that tries to take the position that the violence and separation are somehow just, or necessary for reasons of security. It warms my heart to see that people who actually live there and have been there are able to point out the flaws in this appraisal.

    • Audrey
      December 19, 2012

      Thank you! It’s true, our media is so one sided about all of this. And even if they aren’t, they never tell the story from this perspective. Having seen it for myself the burden is there to tell the world. How can we not be a voice for the voiceless? There will be more of this to come!!

      • storiesbywilliams
        December 19, 2012

        Good. I follow your stuff to, some of it with baited breath! 😉

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