What a day. I don't even know how to fit all this in to one short blog, but I will try...
This morning I went to the hospital where many of our patients have their surgeries. Part of my job includes photographing and blogging on the patients from Gaza. The Kurdish patients get to stay at Shevet when the kids are not having surgery, but the Gaza patients are only allowed to go from Gaza to the hospital and back. So in order to meet the kids, assist the mothers, and tell their stories, we visit them every Tuesday and Friday. Today was my first visit. We currently have three Gaza babies in the hospital: Monsour, Addel Kareem, and Rahaf. All of them have had or will have intense heart surgeries. The longer I'm here the more I realize, surviving these surgeries is not guaranteed. At all. When we ask for prayer for these kids, there is a good reason for it. Thankfully, two Monsour and Addel Kareem have both had surgery, Rahaf is still waiting for hers.
Documenting their stories, I had the privilege and curse of acting as a journalist. I got to take pictures of the precious moments and the emotions, as well as talk to the doctor and get a status update. But the whole time I felt like an intruder. When you see amazing pictures that capture in the moment emotion, it is always amazing. What I often forget is that someone had to hold up a camera and capture that moment. I'm grateful they did, but now I understand how that can feel awkward.
Continue to pray for all three kids, especially Monsour. He has been in and out of ICU since December. I can't honestly tell you if this child will make it, but I know there are a lot of people praying for God's will to be done. (If you want to know more about his and the other kid's stories check out http://shevet.org/childrennowinisrael.html)
So that was one adventure of today. The other came on our way home... I'm telling this as long as you promise not to freak out! Continue to pray for my safety here, but no, I'm not getting on a plane and coming home.
We were driving through the city and were on our way to drop off one of our Christian Arab workers at her house. Everything was completely normal and then we turned down a street... All of a sudden I look up and see two men with hoods covering their heads running toward our car (well the line up of cars we were in) with large rocks in their hand. Then I realize there are probably a couple dozen of these guys. In the distance I see logs pulled across the road blocking our way and cars trying to quickly turn around. Our driver is Russian and speaks a little English and a decent amount of Hebrew. Two of the boys ran up to the car and started yelling and pointing back the way we had come. I think they were speaking Arabic because the woman we were dropping off opened the backseat door and had a two second conversation with them before turning to our driver, "Gaddy, turn around now!"
That wasn't really an option at the moment. We were in a line up of cars and couldn't back up and there were cars speeding the other way so we couldn't pull out and join them. The five seconds we sat there felt much longer. Then there was a break and Gaddy quickly pulled out and sped back the way we came. It was at this point I saw the flash of a gun. The police had arrived! They had large shields, guns, and armored cars. We were able to get out of there quickly before the confrontation between the police and protesters began.
As we were driving away, the Arab woman told us: "No problem. No big deal. In an hour, half an hour, it will be all gone." No problem? Ok... If you say so. The rest of the city was quiet, but needless to say I'll be spending the next couple days away from that part of the city. May 15th is "Nakba" or catastrophe. It is the day the state of Israel was created in 1948. Over the next few days there will probably be more demonstrations as the Arabs protest the Israeli takeover of their state and the atrocities that have been committed against them. Thankfully, where we are located in the city, we can get to the non-Arab areas which are much more safe during this time.
So for now.. No problem! I'm ok and God is still in control.