I served as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer in Kerala, India, from 2010-2011, and blogged about the experience here. Blogging, during that time, was an important thing for me. With infrequent internet access, it was a way to keep in touch with those back home. With few English speakers to talk to, it was a way to vent, process, and share the things I was going through. Now, it’s a record that I sometimes look back on, and remember with deep gladness that place and those people who I love so much. I remember the details, and my favorite memories from that year—the awkward, the heartwarming, the quotidian, the difficult, the annoying, the humorous, the surprising, the infuriating, the small-insignificant-important moments--everything, all wonderful.
I enjoy writing, that’s for sure. Coming back from India, I began to feel two voids in my life: one, the pang of missing that which was there, and was no longer, and two, the absence of the exercise of writing. I often considered—and was encouraged by others to consider—continuing blogging, but I kept coming up short at the question: about what?? What is there to write about when one is no longer somewhere different and fascinating, like India? Of course, life itself is different and fascinating—I know that. But for whatever reason, for better or for worse, I didn’t start writing again.
Now I am on the brink of something new. In October, I will be going to Israel/Palestine for 3 weeks as part of a group called Keep Hope Alive. Perhaps I will write more about the serendipitous way in which this came to be in the future, but for now, we’ll stick with some basics about what I’ll be doing. Keep Hope Alive is an organization that uses olive trees for peacemaking efforts in Israel/Palestine. This is made possible through the Joint Advocacy Initiative of the East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine.
The Joint Advocacy Initiative hosts two international groups per year. The February delegation plants olive trees for Palestinian farmers whose trees have been destroyed. My dear friend Marietta and I are going on the October delegation, which helps harvest olives from trees that are still standing, but that may be difficult for Palestinians to access due to checkpoints and other restrictions. In addition to harvesting olives, we’ll meet with and learn from groups working for peace in the area, and do a bit of sightseeing, too.
So, what does this mean? First and foremost, it means that I am fulfilling a lifelong dream of visiting the Holy Land—and am hopefully doing some good and becoming more educated—thus, enabling myself to educate others—in the process. It also means that I have a reason to write again. I want to document this experience for me, personally, and also for you, whoever you may be. I want you to learn what I learn, and see what I see, even if just through the lens of this little blog, and perhaps a few photos here and there. In addition to being for my personal use/record/reflection, this blog is part of an Independent Study I am doing for school in conjunction with the Keep Hope Alive experience (but that’s by choice—I created the syllabus myself and purposely included the blog in it). The class has an extensive bibliography, and I will have to write several ‘reflection’ papers in the coming weeks based on the readings, and I will probably post those here, too, for anyone who is interested in learning more about the context of the conflict in Israel/Palestine. These are important issues that affect real people—not only in the Middle East, but in the world at large. We all have a responsibility to be informed.
I suppose this is just a long introduction of what’s to come. I realize that Israel/Palestine is a very polemic, polarizing topic for many, and I don’t mean to offend anyone by expressing my views or the things I learn here. I expect that the experiences I blog about will probably be much less ‘rainbows and butterflies’ than most of what I wrote about in India, but this will be an important processing tool for me, nonetheless. Thanks for being on this journey with me. Welcome back, faithful readers ;)
“What does the Lord require of you but to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God?” –Micah 6:8