Journey to the Holy Land – Day 3

by Elaine Wiatr

October 26, 2010

There seems so much to write that it is difficult to know where to begin.  I will start with a reflection from yesterday which I forgot to include in my blog.

When Tony, my driver, and I crossed into the West Bank, Palestine I noticed Palestinian Security personnel on almost every street corner as we drove through Bethlehem.  They wore green camouflage uniforms with red berets and carried rifles of some sort.  At first I was a bit concerned and asked what was going on.  Tony said that Palestinian President Abbas was coming to Bethlehem for an important meeting with some business people who are planning economic development in the town.  He was also attending a football (soccer) match today.  As I thought about the security activity I witnessed, I realized that it really is not much different than the security that surrounds a U.S. president.  The uniform of the U.S. security force is a suit and tie–we all recognize it, and we all know that they, too, are carrying weapons—only hidden from view.  So the question might be “Is the protected person in less danger of attack when weapons are visible or hidden?”  Just a point to ponder.

Today I learned something very important—don’t close the darkening bedroom blinds so that the morning light cannot shine in!  I had expected that the Muslim “call to prayer” at 4:30 a.m, which is broadcast over a loudspeaker, would awaken me so that I could go out for an early morning walk.  Well, I didn’t hear the call and I woke up at 7:55 a.m.  I am supposed to be at work at 8 a.m.  A bit late to say the least but I only had to walk down two flights of stairs to the office.

For the most part of today, I worked on editing brochures and documents that will be used when people and organizations rent the facilities at the HCEF building.  The HCEF employees all take lunch from 1-2 p.m. and since it was a beautiful day, I decided to go out and get my bearings.  I walked to the Church of the Nativity which is not more than a 10 minute walk—mostly uphill!  I was amazed at what I saw upon entering the building.  There was scaffolding everywhere and the tourists could only move around the perimeter of the room to gain access to the Nativity Grotto.  The roof is under repair from now until March and is being funded by President Abbas.

At the information center I noticed a sign advertising a Hungarian choir concert in St. Catherine’s church which is part of the Church of the Nativity complex.  It will be tomorrow night at 6 p.m. and I am planning to attend.  The traditional midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is broadcast around the world from this church.

On the way back from my walk, a very nice woman asked about my visit and invited me into her home for coffee.  Unfortunately, I had to decline as my lunch hour was almost up.  Perhaps I will see her another day when I have more time.

Until tomorrow,  may God grant you peace.

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