Monday, May 7, 2018

May Update

Here is a link to my May Newsletter:[UNIQID]


April Update

Hello everyone!

This past month, I had the privilege of having my mother visit me! It was extremely fun for me to show her around the Holy Land and have her meet my host community. During her time here, we were able to share Holy Week and celebrate Easter together. I will share some of the highlights of her visit below.

On the first morning, after my mom arrived, we went on a school field trip to Jericho. It was at an amusement park called Banana Land. At Banana Land, students rode rides, played games, and each grade organized their own BBQ. It was very fun to see all of my students working together to prepare the meal (the youngest students were in 6th grade, so it was very impressive to see). My mom and I benefited from visiting each class. We were offered more delicious food than we could possibly eat. Both of us were so full that we passed on getting waffles and ice cream on the way home. It was a fun introduction for my mom to meet my students. She also visited school two days-one day with preschoolers and one day shadowing me.
Holy Week was filled with highlights. They include a Palm Sunday processional from the Mt. of Olives to Jerusalem, a Maundy Thursday service that ended with a walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, and a walk on the Via Dolorosa for the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. They were rich experiences as there were people from all over the world singing and speaking in their own languages, yet we were all worshiping together. It was very powerful to feel that bond. We opted out of attending the sunrise service in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday to experience Easter Sunday at my home congregation in the Lutheran Church of Beit Sahour.

My host community showed my mom the same love that they've shown me throughout the year. My mother returned the love as well. My highlight of her time here was seeing how my mother and host community embraced each other. My mom was overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality she received during her stay. She now has a better understanding and insight into my year of service. I know that I've said this many times before during my YAGM year, but I will cherish the memories from the past two weeks with my mom, for the rest of my life.

Thank you again for deciding to support me. This experience has been the most transformative experience I’ve had in my life and it wouldn’t have been possible without support from you.


March Update

Here is a link to my March newsletter:[UNIQID


February Update

Hello everyone,

It’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve reached my halfway point here.  Throughout my time in the Holy Land, I've grown a great deal. I've met people that I love and care about. I've learned about a new place and culture that I've become passionate about. Deciding to participate in YAGM this year has easily been the BEST decision that I've made in my life. I don't think that I can find words to describe how transformative my time here has been. I’m looking forward to seeing where the rest of the year takes me.

Next week, I will be going on my mid-year retreat to Jordan. I’m excited to learn more about what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) is doing there. Additionally, I’m excited to have the opportunity to spend time with a Bedouin community, see Petra, and reflect on my time here. It will be a nice opportunity to recharge for the second half of my YAGM year.

The best way that I can describe this part of the year is routine. It’s a gap between Christmas celebrations and Easter. Consequently, there haven’t been too many exciting events for me to share. However, I’ve been asked to be one of the judges for the ELCJHL Schools Spelling Bee and I have helped coach students for a speech competition. This weekend I’ve been asked to help chaperone my school’s Valentine’s Dance.

I’m very safe and happy here and I cherish each moment that I get to spend with my host community.

Thank you for your continued support.


January Update

Here is a link to my January Newsletter:[UNIQID]


December Update

Season’s Greetings!
Hello everyone, a lot has happened since my last update. The Christmas season is in full swing
here. I have had the privilege of attending tree lightings in both Bethlehem and Beit Sahour.
Each of these experiences were exciting and included live music and speakers. The
atmosphere was electric and did a great job of generating excitement around the upcoming
Ho, ho, ho. I was selected to be Santa Claus (Baba Noel) at my school. On two separate days, I
wore the red and white costume and interacted with both the students and staff here. The first
time I was Santa, was during my school’s Christmas Bazar. There were stations around the
school where students and visitors could visit and do crafts, purchase items, or take pictures
with Santa.
The second time that I was Santa, I passed out chocolates to the students and staff at the
Lutheran School in Beit Sahour. I thoroughly enjoyed this role because the younger students
were in total awe of my presence. Additionally, the older students and staff members were
extremely joyful to see me. Being Santa for my host community was an amazing experience
that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
This past week I helped to set-up the Christmas tree at my church. The event was a fun way to
spend time with my congregation outside of my Sunday services. The tree decorating part was
filled with Christmas music, laughter, and a social once we had finished with the tree.
Overall, I am continuously amazed by the people here. My host community takes great care of
me and makes sure that all of my needs are met. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here
and to meet so many incredible people. I know that I am building relationships here that will
continue to grow throughout my lifetime.
Thank you to everyone that baked and sent me cookies to share here! They have been a major
hit with my host community. They have been a great treat and a way for all of you to contribute
to my year here. So, thanks again for the cookies and all of the other ways that you are
supporting me this year.
Look for a more in-depth description of my Christmas celebration soon.


November Update

Here is a link to my November Newsletter:[UNIQID]