Although some time back now, the Micah68 July trip was another excellent and encouraging mission trip. I left for the region rather wiped out from a hard year of work at Cliff, and so not in the best of shape, needing a rest to be honest. But at least I was heading for sunshine!
Days in Jerusalem allowed me some space to reorientate, and visit friends across the Old City from old Highway Projects days. It was great to visit the Micah Project at The Princess Basma Centre, and talk with Betty Majaj (now only a few months away from retirement) about the new developments there. I was able to assure her that the Micah target of £1,000 for musical equipment was going to be achieved by the efforts of a Micah Supporter from Sheffield, Ruth Mason, who was swimming a mile for her centre. I was able to see the new sensory room – which even I found fun and had a play in (see touchy feely wall!).
A day in Bethelehem gave me time to catch up with Suzan and Lana at the Micah Project of Bethelehem Fair Trade Artisans. Again all very challenging to see the security wall surrounding Bethelehem, and realise the social and economic restrictions that this brings on ordinary life there.
The usual God moments and conversations happened during the whole trip. It really is amazing what happens when you are open to God’s leading, and allow conversations to happen. Dancing with Jewish men at the Wesdtern Wall, have a few meals with Muslim friends, and then meeting some pilgrims whilst staying in Ecce Homo in the Old City. Great. I really love this part of the Micah68 ministry and mission – a good opportunity to share something of the joy of the Christian life.
Heading north I met up with Rev Fuad, and the Micah Project work at St. Paul’s Sheferam. He really is one of the most positive priests I have ever worked with – and he was planning his summer camps as I was there. Again I was able to tell him that my own church (Greenhill Methodist) had made a £500.00 donation to his youth work. Great ice-cream was eaten! Staying with the wonderful Mazzawi family in Nazareth was a privilege before I headed across the border (thank you Israeli security for nothing) to Jordan, and to view the new work being built to support those with disabilities in Kremieh, as well as visit old friends in Jofeh – one of the Micah Projects. A highlight has got to be the Mansaf meal served by my favourite ladies – Amal & Wa’ed.
A day off in Amman, relaxing at a modern souk, and then back across the border to Israel, where I headed for Ibillin, and to stay witrh my old friend Sohil Haj and his family. This time I took part in the cooking, and wasn’t just served it! really good to be with them, and meet up with many of the young people who I worked with nearly 15 years ago on the village summer camp. Blimey – how they have grown up!
So, there we are in summary. 17 day trip and far too much to write, and too many meetings and conversations to write up. I guess there were three things I learnt as a result of the trip, aside from meeting all these great people across the region.
1. It was interesting to be able to record some of my thinking via the Micah Blog (www.micah6-8.org.uk/blog) on this trip for the first time. I hadn’t blogged before – and I won’t be making it a daily habit – but it really helped me to reflect on what was happening around me, and look at both the sublime and the ridiculous. It also gave me a better connection with folks back home in the UK, which I recognise I really needed during a solo trip. I’ll do more of that in the future. Look out for the Blog.
2. Another thing about the July trip was the realisation that after four Micah68 trips on my own, I am looking forward to travelling with others in the future, and so the next stage is to really develop the Micah Advocates idea – and get people travelling with me across the region. What about coming out with me?
3. Travelling for 17 days on your own, and trying to cover Israel, Palestine and Jordan all at once was too much. Rather than two longer trips each year, I will look to take three shorter trips to Egypt (Winter – 8 days), Jordan (Spring – 6 days) ,and Israel/Palestine (Summer – 12 days). This will make it easier for me, and also for future Micah Advocates.
As always, I value all your love, prayer and support, wherever you are across the globe. May God bless you, as you support me and the work of Micah68. Love & God Bless, Ian