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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    My Trip to the Holy Land: Spending time with a family in Palestine

    November 7, 2017 / By Theresa Eggleston

    I couldn’t eat another bite of fresh falafel. I sat back in my chair and my belly expanded with delicious homemade Mediterranean food. The owner of our tour guide services had invited our group over for dinner in his home. It was the night before we left and my heart felt a joyful heaviness.

    During our time in the Holy Land we had learned about the injustice of the Palestinian people. We had learned about the prejudice that came with years of oppression. I had seen how Israeli soldiers carried blind fear against the Palestinian people. I had experienced the daily struggle of what it took to cross the wall between Israel and Palestine. I had learned so much I did not know and my heart broke for the Palestinian people. As I toured parts of Jerusalem I constantly asked myself, where could the Palestinian people find hope?

    Hope was there. I just had the take the time to see it. As we sat on the back porch filing our bellies in Bethlehem, Palestine I felt a secure hope. Despite the intimidating Israeli fighter jets flying overhead, our host continued to eat and tell jokes. Being oppressed or intimidated by Israel did not stop him from living life. We laughed and dug into a second plate for fresh baklava. The jets overhead roared while just kilometers away from his home stood intimidating check points. Check points that were ready to question anyone’s purpose for crossing; and yet here we were surpassing language barriers, telling stories and jokes, watching young children dance and sing songs from school.

    Yes, the family knew they were still oppressed by the state of Israel but it didn’t take their joy. Oppression never robbed them of their lives. “These are my people too. I love them,” God spoke. I looked at this family, their fresh food filling my belly. How blessed was I to be a guest in the house of such compassion and joy in the middle of strife and oppression. This is the loving Spirit, the living God.

    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 86 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."