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Sunday 21 October: THE ARAB WAY



Julia Complying with the Regulations


I am woken up at 7.00 a.m. by Julia pulling our bedroom curtains open and exclaiming (as she has done every morning since we have been in Israel), ‘Guess what? It’s hot and sunny again!’ I groan and roll over and put my head under the pillow! The party that was going on in the courtyard right outside our window last night when we went to bed was still going on at 1.45 a.m. with the band playing loud, joyful dance music! Somehow I managed to drop off to sleep, only to be woken again at 3.00 a.m. By the sound of a coach load of new guests arriving! I somehow fell asleep again only to be woken again at 4.30 a.m. by the various Imams of Nazareth calling the faithful to worship! Somehow I managed to fall asleep again, only to be woken again by the sunlight streaming through the window! Needless to say not many of our group made it to breakfast on time this morning?! Salim … who probably didn’t get a wink of sleep at all last night … brought us all yumacious cake to compensate!

Our group are all doing different things today. Julia and I are going back to the Baptist Church that meets in the Baptist School again, to worship. We have enjoyed simply worshiping with these lovely Arab Christians week by week. After breakfast Julia and I walk down the steep hill from Saint Margaret’s to Mary’s Well, and then along the road to the Baptist School where the breakaway Baptist Congregation meets. Another party of American tourists are worshipping with us this week. Their leader brings a greeting. He makes no mention of them coming to Israel-Palestine ‘to see the living stones as well as the ancient stones’ which is a relief to the congregation. I gather that they get told this repeatedly by visiting groups. It was good the first time they heard it … but after the umpteenth time it’s gets a bit boring?! There is a good congregation, and the worship includes a lot of lively singing, but to be honest I am so tired from lack of sleep last night that I am struggling somewhat.

We all join in the singing with gusto. By now we are all trying to sing the Arabic words rather than the English … I am not sure what these lovely Arab Christians must make of our pronunciation?! I don’t know who the preacher is this week. He expounds the next section of 1 Peter – we are on chapter four this week. It is pretty straightforward stuff, but there is not much light and shade in the Arab style of preaching. It is ‘the Arab way’ I guess. The most interesting section for me is the introduction explaining who Peter was, and mentioning a number of the places we have already visited, so we picture these places in our minds as the preacher speaks. I am trying so hard to concentrate on the translation – eyes closed, hand holding head set to ear so I can hear better, head bowed – that I nearly fall asleep and fall of my chair?!

Talking of ‘the Arab Way’, I was speaking with the Arab guide of the French group that have been staying here at Saint Margaret’s. He is a Palestinian and he told me that there are elections coming up. He supports the old Communist Party but will not be voting for them. He will be voting instead for his father-in-law who is standing as a candidate, because he is family and it is ‘the Arab way’ to put family first!

After the service Julia, Graham, David, Margi and myself struggle back up the steep hill to Saint Margaret’s. We were hoping to find a coffee shop open on the way … we feel we need a strong coffee before attempting the climb. But being Sunday, everything is closed … except a solitary gift shop where Julia buys a solitary postcard, much to the owner’s disappointment. He had probably been told about Julia and was hoping to sell her at least two scarves and a handbag?! We walk slowly up the hill and then collapse at a table in the shade in the courtyard at Saint Margaret’s. when we have sufficiently recovered we have lunch together … I upload some photos on to my Facebook page … and then retire to our room where Julia is already fast asleep. Ear plugs in, eye mask on, and its snoozeville for me for the rest of the afternoon!

I wake just in time for dinner. It’s chicken again, but of course you already knew that would be the case didn’t you? The waiter brings out a huge plate of chips so I know that we are going to have the chicken in the shape of fish tonight … and of course I am right. It tastes very nice though … perhaps I am getting used to chicken. After dinner Margi brings me a coffee … and more of that delicious cake Salim gave us this morning to compensate for all the noise last night. Coffee and cake … brought to the table where I am sitting … might just have to take Margi home with us as well as Grandma!

Jim Binney

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