From Jerusalem, With Love

IMAX-Old-City

My friends and colleagues, Jeni and Collin Grangaard (and their sweet nearly 2yo, J) just up and moved to Jerusalem. Yes, that Jerusalem. They are working with Young Adults In Global Mission (YAGM)-which is a hope-filled program now in the hands of brilliant, skilled pastors. I'm guessing at some point, we will send off some of our own youth adults abroad for a year of service with YAGM. God-willing. In the meantime, people like the Grangaards are there--planning, mentoring, pastoring, receiving and walking with young adults. Jeni and Collin are some who have prayed for Humble Walk all along the way. They have also offered all sorts of other support to us. How about we do the same for them? Let's pray for Collin and Jeni. For the transition and the work they do on our behalf.

Below, is Jeni's latest post (with her permission). It's gorgeous.

A little update.

Today we went to the zoo. J's daycare is closed because of the Eid al-Fitr holiday. We have been so happy to have bonus family time, especially while so many are celebrating. The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo was fantastic. Elephants, all sorts of Monkeys, Tigers, Syrian Bears. We didn't get through all of it, but we will be back. They are even open on Saturdays, a big deal here. We made up a soundtrack as we walked and rolled through. Walter Martin's "We Like the Zoo Cause we are Animals Too," and "Colonel Hathi's March" from The Jungle Book were the most memorable. To be expanded.

I am also making a soundtrack of songs that do not make sense here. So far, I have Easy Like Sunday morning (as Sunday is really Monday), Manic Monday (again because Monday is Tuesday), and It's Friday I'm in Love, because Friday is prayer and family time. Suggestions welcomed.

Prayers have been ringing like music here in Jerusalem. We live close to a couple of mosques, so the call to prayer and mellifluous muezzins are resonant in the air. We walk by shrines and domes and walls and holy places on a daily basis. Isn't the whole world holy though? Here as there, we think of our friends and family and communities we have been and will be a part of, lifting up special prayers for some.

As mentioned above, it is Eid al-Fitr, the celebration marking the end of Ramadan. Ramadan brings a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. It is a pillar of the Islamic faith. We have bumped into many Muslim families as they celebrate the holiday, including our generous neighbors. They brought us flowers and we made them homemade chocolate chip cookies.

For Eid, and even a bit for Ramadan, many have been granted permission to travel out of the West Bank. That is a big, positive, deal. It means increased flying checkpoints and road closures, but it also means more access to places that are usually cut off, like family, places of prayer, and the sea.

Because Jerusalem closes down on Saturday for Shabbat, we headed to the sea. There we met many people celebrating life and Eid al-Fitr. We saw mamas in hijab wading in the waves with their toddlers. We saw swimmers and runners and paddle boarders and puppies and pda.

The best thing we saw, the most beautiful encounter of the day was coming upon a family of four, a mom and dad and two children. One child swaddled in mama's arms--an infant, too small for the flowing waves. Mama was in her hijab, protected from the sun. The other child, a boy, was in his father's arms, smiling through his soul. His dad picked his son up from his wheelchair and carried him and his smile down the craggy stairs, across the melting sand, and into the green-blue sea. He set his boy down in the water, holding him up under the arms so that the boy could use what muscles he had to walk in the water. Joy. Then as the waves got bigger and bigger the dad picked his boy up so he could feel the waves and jump over them. Beauty. Then, the father helped he boy float in the blue-green sea, feeling the water up to but not over his ears. Wonder. We sat and watched for ten minutes, engrossed in the gift of family and care and kindness and adaptability we can carry within us. I am telling you, it may be the best thing we see in this place, but it is too early to say.

On Sunday we were with the saints of the Lutheran Church of Beit Sahour, where we were warmly welcomed by every church member. Josie tried to climb on each and every pew, but was still doted on at coffee quarter-hour. We were prayed for in the prayers of the church, and, after a sermon on loaves and fishes and bread enough for all. We were served sweet anise bread at coffee quarter-hour. Seriously, it lasts for precisely 15 minutes and then everyone gets up. Introvert's dream. In that brief time, we shared bread, coffee or tea, greetings and some really nascent Arabic.

Tomorrow, we return to somewhat normal patterns, day care and planning. Our YAGM come in a little more than a month. Cannot wait!