Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Keeping shop in the Old City of Jerusalem

Today I left Bethlehem about 8:15 am and caught a Palestinian bus from there to Joppa Gate in Jerusalem. I walked down (with my suitcase and backpack) to Christian Quarter road to see some of my old friends only to discover that because of Ramadan (Muslim month-long festival) no one got to their shops very early!
9 am and only the bread man is about. My luggage is in front of Ali Baba Souvenir Shop owned by Shabaan.
Close by to where I was waiting was a small food shop so I had a tea and Turkish Delight with nuts. The owner is recently from California so we had a good talk. He insisted I sit in his chair and with my suitcase beside me I had a relaxed hour and a half before things began to come alive in this part of the city. Although it is the "Christian Quarter" many shopkeepers are Arab Muslims. It is called the Christian Quarter because it is where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (traditional place of Christ's crucifixion and burial) is located (today there are other churches and pilgrim rest places etc. in this part of the Old City).
Glad this shop was open for some "breakfast" of Turkish Delight with nuts!
During the month of Ramadan every good Muslim is to fast from sunup to sundown. This fast is not only to include food but water and cigarettes! (I think I noticed that some were especially grumpy by the afternoon!) After sunset they celebrate with eating and drinking and then get up early to have a big breakfast. Apparently, after eating breakfast my shopkeeper friends took another sleep! I was invited to a home tonight which is planning for 100 guests but I had to leave for the airport. I was really disappointed because it would have been quite a honor to be a guest in a home during Ramadan.
Later in the day I became a shop-keeper in the Old City of Jerusalem! Well, it was only for about 1/2 hour, and I wasn't too busy, but I helped some people, and I only accepted one shipment that the owner hadn't ordered! My 22 year long friendship with Shabaan (a Muslim who is celebrating Ramadan these days) resulted in Shabaan asking me to watch his shop while he took some people to another part of the city. I will record this as one of my accomplishments during this sabbatical year from DTS!
Shopkeeper in the Old City of Jerusalem!
I also spent much of my day with my good friend Zack who owns an antiquity shop at 24 Christian Quarter Rd. We drank mint tea (Zack is a Christian believer so he was not fasting, PTL) which is my favorite drink while sitting in the shops of the Old City. If you are ever in Jerusalem part of your experience so be to visit with Zack (and Shabaan)! Tell them Dr. Stephen sent you and they will treat you well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stars over Bethlehem!

"Stars over Bethlehem" — I've never been able to write or say that before but tonight I can. Tonight I went for a walk (with my good friend Charles Savelle who just arrived this afternoon) and I looked out over the town of Bethlehem from the neighboring, slightly higher in elevation, town of Beit Jala. The stars were just coming out as well as a sliver of the moon. And I stood there — realizing that over 2,000 years ago the wise men from the east had come here to Bethlehem to worship King Jesus. Nights don't get much better!

Tomorrow morning I leave this part of the country to spend the day in Jerusalem with some long-time friends and then I'll head to the airport for my flight home.
The modern city of Bethlehem (the church steeples [top center] mark the place of Christ's birth. Yesterday I was in Nazareth looking at the church that marked where Mary was told the Holy Spirit would put the Christ-child in her womb.
 On Saturday I'll be at the funeral of my very good friend Stan Johnson. I'm so thankful I can be home in time to honor him but I miss him so very much already. Glad he is home with Jesus.