Spirits are high among the the Holy Land Team as the half way point for our time in Palestine came and went last week. The high point this week is that the work project on the school classrooms is showing some visible signs of an end in sight. When the classrooms are finished there will be a dark yellow color on the bottom and white on the ceiling and upper part of the wall. The team has two of the classrooms completely finished with five others in various stages of completion. The entire team has grasped the concept of learning how to paint, doing a good job, and completing it all with a cheerful attitude, surprisingly well. Some of the challenges that the team ran into was that after the room was prepped by one of the local painters, the old paint would fall off of the wall while they were painting. The solution was to stop and spend an extra day scraping the old plaster off and applying new drywall mud in it’s place. Another difficulty was that in one of the classrooms there had been a leak in the roof and had left splotches in the plaster and old paint that was covering the concrete wall. This solution involved scraping and sanding the entire wall and applying a concrete sealant before drywall mud could be used to smooth out the rough surface. All this being said, the whole team will walk away having learned a few essential tools about having a finished paint job that looks good and proper.
One of the other projects that was recently finished was a portion of the external wall that was being made into a privacy fence. The entire property is enclosed by a five foot concrete wall with a four foot chain link fence atop of that. The team had been working on placing roofing metal alongside the chain link to act as a privacy barrier along the sidewalk. The problem was that passerby’s would poke their unwanted trash threw the the chain link creating a litter infested soccer field. This was one of the top priorities of the staff here at Hope School.
Sunday the team got the opportunity to visit Jerusalem once again to attend church and experience a walk threw Hezekiah’s tunnel. The church we attended was East Jerusalem Baptist Church, located only about 3 blocks from the Garden Tomb. The eary tomb that gives much evidence to point toward the fact that this could be the place there Jesus was buried. The church service was very refreshing since the service was entirely in English. The congregation (of about 40, including the team), sang out of an actual hymnal and even the preacher spoke in understandable English. About the halfway through the service, the pastor asked the team to share a song or two. This caught them by total surprise, perhaps a near panic for a couple of the team members, but thanks to the evening worship times enjoyed by all of us, they got up front and sang their hearts out and sounded incredibly well. One comment was made afterward that they sounded like a regular choir team. After the service, we were surprised to find that there were people visiting form Holland, South Africa and Beit Jala (the town in Palestine where Hope School is located). After the church service, we went to the City of David so that we could traverse through Hezekiahs tunnel. It was built during the reign of Hezekiah (727 B.C. to 697 B.C) to protect the city’s water supply during a siege. The tunnel, which is about 550 yards long, brings water from the Gihon Springs, located about 300 yards outside the walls of old Jerusalem. The team walked the length of the tunnel in water that was ankle deep and in some places up to about three feet. The entire experience was one of those times where you say, “pinch me, am I dreaming?” and then you would feel your toes turning numb from the cold spring water and realize that, yes indeed, you were very much awake, and yes, you were who knows how far underground, with a flashlight in your hand, in a tunnel that was hand carved through solid rock 2,700 years ago with a chisel and a hammer.
One of the other cool things the team got a hint of was, the potential power of the Gospel when we are bold to proclaim it. At the beginning of our time in Palestine, each of the team members were given a few Gospel coins to hand out. Each of the coins are about the size of a 50 cent piece and have John 3:16 inscribed in Arabic on one side and John 3:36 which says, “where will you spend eternity?” on the reverse side. Since no one on the team knows Arabic this is about the only way we have to share the Gospel while we are here. While we were traveling through the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem, we stopped alongside a shoe shop and handed one of the coins to a boy running the shop. As we left, we turned back to see a commotion and about 5 guys gathered around the boy with the coin all reading what the coin had to tell them. Please pray that these guys would take the Gospel message to heart and think about what they saw and read.
Our adventure continues…