Do you have places that feel like home even when you know there is no rational reason for them to? I have a few and Israel is one of them. I am completely out of place here. The culture, language, history, etc. is so different from my own, I know I don't truly belong. But somehow I feel completely at home here. There is something about this place, something I'll never be able to explain.
I can't believe it was only a year ago that I was here. It feels like a lifetime. I am once again volunteering for Shevet Achim. This organization brings children from the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq and the Gaza Strip into Israel for open heart surgery. It is amazing work. In a world where Muslims, Jews, and Christians are usually bitter enemies, this organization unites them to heal hearts. Check them out at http://shevet.org/.
As for me, I'm just excited to be back here helping out again. I'll try to keep this blog updated with stories. Thanks to all of you who read it last year and asked me to write it again. It is somewhat therapeutic to process the hectic days by sharing snapshots of them with you.
So far things have been mostly uneventful. The most exciting part of my flight yesterday was getting to spend some extra time talking to security. Who knew I looked like such a security threat? Note to self: if you pack an Arabic translation book, throw in a Hebrew one as well when traveling to Israel. But other than that minor hiccup, not too bad. I landed early in the morning and was met by a friend from last year at the airport. In true Shevet style, rather than head back to the house to unpack and rest, we headed straight to the hospital to pick up one of the kids. It was great to dive right back into things. Thankfully the handful of Kurdish I was able to pick up last summer came back quickly. We played an exciting game of Uno while waiting for his discharge papers and finally made it home in time for lunch.
Since it is Shabbat here, everything on the Jewish side of town shuts down starting yesterday evening until tonight. I woke up early (thank you jet lag) so a friend and I wandered over to the things that are open- tourists sites. We climbed the Mount of Olives and visited a couple of the many churches along the hillside, wandered through the Old City and still made it back before 11. It was a wonderful reintroduction to the city.
So like I said, nothing too epic thus far. But I'm sure all that will change starting tomorrow. For now, I'm content to sit in our garden and reflect on this past year. Shabbat Shalom, my friends!