After an amazingly wonderful week – a week of preparation, a week of family and friends – I arrived in Jerusalem yesterday. The flight from Toronto was long but uneventful. I was met at the Tel Aviv airport and driven to our hotel here in East Jerusalem where I have met many members of the incoming EAPPI Team 41, each of whom will be serving in one of 7 teams located in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank.
Last Sunday night was my commissioning service in our home congregation of Clearwater United Church. It was, first and foremost, an amazingly wonderful worship service, including a celebration of all of our ministeries, with of course a commissioning of myself into the EAPPI ministry. You couldn’t help but feel the presence and strength of our ecumenical faith community as Mennonites and Anglicans from around our area joined us United church folk to praise and worship God. Through the music, the prayers, the scripture and the spoken and unspoken words, you couldn’t help but feel the palpable presence of God in us and among us. I give thanks for, and feel so very blessed by, the care and the prayers of my family, friends, and community as I embark upon this form of ministry. I also am very thankful for the blessing of living where I do, amongst the people I do, as part of a welcoming and inclusive community that stretches beyond Clearwater to encompass our neighbouring towns and region. I also give thanks for the work of the United Church of Canada as they serve God in partnership with others, both in Canada and around the world in a wide variety of ministeries. Sometimes, in the busy-ness of life, we take all of this for granted. Over this past week, and today in Jerusalem, it feels right to acknowledge these important elements of life, these important elements of God`s presence in our lives.
Today will be spent in Jerusalem, with a tour of the city later this afternoon and a Team 41 dinner this evening. Tomorrow will begin our offical training here and then we will be going out to our placements late tomorrow afternoon, returning to Jerusalem on Saturday. Last night over dinner I met the 3 people I will be living and working with in Yatta as part of the South Hebron Hills EAPPI Team 41. We are all pleased to be here and eager to be part of this ongoing work.
One can feel the presence of the 3 Abrahamic faiths here in Jerusalem – Christian, Islam and Judaism. As I sign off, I do so with the words of peace in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
Peace, Salaam, Shalom