Dear Friend,

Living here in the West Bank has been both wonderful and depressing. We are currently living with host families in Beit Sahour, which neighbors Bethlehem, for a total of three weeks. The people here are amazing and I’ve never experienced hospitality like this before. I feel as though I eat decent sized portions only to have my host mom try and get me to eat more as though she’s worried I’m going to starve (not possible). Tea is everywhere. I LOVE tea, and love that it is part of every meal we have at home. I probably have a minimum of three cups of tea per day which is good because it helps keeps me hydrated! To be honest, I struggle to soak in the copious amounts of information we hear on a daily basis. There absolutely no way to put into words the feelings, questions, and struggles I’ve been experiencing here. For such loving people to be treated like this just doesn’t make sense to me, and I’ve especially struggled with understanding what brings people to treat others the way people here in Palestine (especially in Hebron) are treated. While here we’ve been studying Arabic language, Palestinian literature, Palestinian history, current issues and non-violent resistance in Palestine, Islamic fundamentalism, Christian Zionism, Christianity in Palestine and the Kairos document, and taking day trips around the West Bank to see biblical and historical sites or interest. One of my favorite activities here was visiting the Tent of Nations to plant olive trees as a form of nonviolent resistance and solidarity with the family living there. I’ve particularly loved getting to know my host family as well as strengthening my friendship with my roommate, Maddie. As we prepare to leave the West Bank for “Israel proper” I look forward to rounding out my understanding of the conflict here, but am also saddened that we must leave behind these wonderful people.

Lots of Love, Mandi Jo

Ps. Don’t forget to check out pictures from my trip at Faerie Umbrellas