One woman I spoke to translated for a youth service we did in Bethlehem. She was upbeat and positive, but upon truly getting to know her it was apparent that her life is full of pain. She is a member of what we call the persecuted church. She doesn't fit in with the Muslims for obvious reasons but also cannot get along with traditional Christians. Her kids get in verbal fights at their catholic school until they finally silence themselves about their faith. She can't let her kids play at the park because the other kids won't accept them. Her kids aren't allowed to run two minutes away to the store for candy because the streets aren't safe for them. I cannot imagine trying to explain to my children why they cannot live like the others around them. She lives in fear of Isis mere hours and checkpoints away. I had the honor of praying for her that day, and I continue to keep her and the rest of her church family in my thoughts and prayers.
At a block party hosted by a church, I sat down to have what turned into the most insightful conversation of my life with a 90-year-old man. He was charming and had kind eyes and became like a father to me. What I thought would be five minutes of chatting turned into two hours of learning about his past joys and pains. He was originally from Jerusalem but was made into a refugee and relocated to Bethlehem after Israel was reestablished as a nation. He went by Abu Jonny because his oldest son's name was Jonny. My dad's name in that regard is Abu Jonny too, so we connected on that fact. His son Jonny passed away, which he told me while holding back tears. He has lost so much, yet his love of life and love for God shine through it all. He taught me the value of family. Yes, he told me about his past job as a judge and bus driver instructor, but the only thing that really mattered to him was his loved ones. It reminded me that when everything is said and done, family will be all that is left.
I'm sorry that I could only scratch the surface on what these two showed me. I can't fit into one blog post what was said and how it changed me.