Wasteful walks

July 30, 2010


Last year, John Brown and I walked up the Mount of Temptations with the Palestinian young people only to be denied entry by a bolshy orthodox priest who wouldn’t let us in because some of us were Roman Catholics, protestants or, worst of all, Episcopalians

I was not happy to see that the walk was on the programme again… and argued against us doing it.

But Alex Hawwad (one of the Palestinian young people) had a cunning plan… whilst in Bethlehem he visited the local orthodox church, he attends an orthodox church in Jerusalem, and bought a great big flag 🙂 So, we walked up the Mount behind this flag and, Lo and behold, we were granted entry. As it turned out, the flag wasn’t needed – it was a different priest who could not have been more kind and generous, but top marks to Alex for using his initiative in trying to ensure that the walk (more of a climb really!) wasn’t wasteful.

I didn’t take any photos from the top – I get dizzy! But, trust me, it’s quite a height and, in 39 degree midday sun, there’s quite a sense of achievement when the summit finally levels out.


Living in the shadows..

July 29, 2010





Whilst in Bethlehem, although staying at the Casa Nova, we’ve been meeting at the convent if the Sisters of Emmanuel (although, as nuns, I’m not sure it’s legal to be a bride of Christ AND a sister of Emmanuel!)

This Greek Catholic order have their convent in the shadow of the Separation Wall. There are only 3 nuns here now, offering help and support to local women with activities, education and prayer.


As for us, well, we had some newspaper left over from K4H… you can guess the rest!

As part of the encounter sessions, I asked each group to teach the other a phrase that would be useful should they ever visit the other country… there are now 9 German young women who know the Arabic for “get your hands off my ass” 🙂

Final preparations

July 28, 2010


The table is set out with tee-shirts, name badges and bags… all we need now are some young people!

Impossibly tall priests

July 27, 2010


Now that I have a wireless connection again, I thought I’d better post the picture of Fr Julian from Notre Dame. Honestly, he had to bend down to put his hand on my shoulder in a condescending way… 🙂

Goodbyes and hellos

July 27, 2010




So, the kids have been dropped back at the Kalandia checkpoint where they were collected by parents or older brothers and sisters. The camp was very successful – surprisingly, their favourite part was not my training but the parachute games we played 🙂 the ‘chute took up a lot of space in my suitcase, but it was well worth it!

And then Fayez gave me a lift to Bethlehem where the Youth4Hope programme starts tomorrow. Staying at the Francisco Casa Nova Palace hotel on Manger Square I took the opportunity of an afternoon to myself to visit my old friend Jack Giacomman at his new shop in Milk Grotto Street. The shop is fantastic and Jack has managed to keep 6 olive wood careers employed since the old family business was split up. We shared a beer and caught up with family news. It was good to hear that his eldest daughter (who’s now 6!) is still clear of her health problems.

A couple if years ago, Jack acted as tourist guide and taxi to my daughter and 2 FURY friends, Lizzie and Zoey. He is a good, and honest, man – and a good friend.

Tomorrow morning the West Bank young people arrive, as do the German young people. It is a busy programme of visits, training and cultural exchanges… I can’t wait 🙂

Programme (provisional) for tomorrow

July 24, 2010

Breakfast at 7:15 to be on the coach to get to Mass for 8:30 (hoping we don’t crash en route this year, eh Cutler!)

Then to Neve Shalom for a swim before transferring to Bet Gemal for the remainder of the programme. That’s Bet Gemal where the nuns are Russian, fierce and unbribe-able so I hope anyone who’s reading this will forgive me if there’s something of a hiatus!

Out of the mouths of babes…

July 24, 2010

I was trying to do some impromptu Bible explorations as we visited just about every church in Jerusalem this afternoon.

They came up with some interesting ideas but my favourite, by far, was in the church of St Peter In Gallicantu, where tradition has it that Peter denied Jesus three times.

To the question “why do you think Peter denied Jesus?” One suggestion was “because yesterday at Capernaum you said that Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law”

Was Peter just getting back at the boss? 🙂