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  • July 2018
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Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

English: "(...) Entry of Pilgrims into Be...

English: “(…) Entry of Pilgrims into Bethlehem at Christmas time. It was taken in 1890.” (text from same source) Note: At the source of this picture, several pictures portray Christmas in Bethlehem in 1898 (not 1890). This picture seems to be the only exception. It could be that the indicated date is actually a typo… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza ...

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza of O Little Town of Bethlehem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 21st, our family will be gathering with others in worship for the seventh annual joint simulcast Christmas service with the people of Bethlehem at the Washington National Cathedral.

Prayers, readings, and hymns alternate between Washington, D.C., and Palestine via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages, and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.

In this age of turmoil and religious strife, it may be a surprise to some to know that Christians have religious freedom in Palestine and that Christmas and other Holy Days are celebrated vigorously!

The carol, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, was inspired by a pilgrim’s first visit to Bethlehem many years ago. This year it will acquire new meaning for me as we join in song with the “Living Stones”, as the descendents of the first followers of Jesus call themselves today. Let me encourage you to visit and attend church services in Palestine when you make your pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Inspiration awaits.

Learn more about the writer of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, Philip Brooks and his journey, below.



Exhaustion, Collapse and Arrival in Bethlehem

English: Bethlehem from the north including to...

City of Bethlehem, Palestine

English: Painting of Banksy at Bethlehem.

Banksy wall art 

Thanks to those of you who are still visiting my blog after my frequent lapses in writing. Just this past week, we took our large house in New York State from a state of partially painted chaos and terrible, unprecedented mess to beauty and peace so we could sell it at a reasonable price.

Realtors are visiting this week with good reports!

But, the big news is that we left for a trip to Palestine immediately after the last vacuuming, and my husband collapsed mid-Atlantic with barely a pulse. The three ER Doctors who “just happened” to be on board treated him on the galley floor, even administering an improvised IV using a coat hanger from first class. The entire plane was filled with pilgrims heading to the Holy Land for one reason or another and I believe they all prayed for Jon!

He came through with a diagnosis of “stress, exhaustion and dehydration”, but for about six hours no one really knew the outcome. We will be forever grateful for those three ER Docs, and I could tell they were actually having fun!

US Airways flight attendants were more than gracious as they did their normal jobs stepping over and around Jon most of the flight.  Can’t say enough thanks to everyone.

On arrival in Tel Aviv we were met by an Israeli Medic who asked Jon if he wanted to go to a hospital, (of course Jon who is not me, said “No!”), and we walked off the plane together as if nothing had happened.

English: Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Pa...

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Bethlehem Gate
Bethlehem Gate (Photo credit: almasudi)

We proceeded to Bethlehem where Jon’s pushing fluids and getting rest, and Bethlehem is sunny and warm this week. A perfect spot for our Conference and a vacation!

We’ve moved hotels and our second one is right across from the famous Banksy wall art on the upper left.

More later, but I wanted to let you know what was happening!

Christ at the Checkpoint Breakthrough

Stephen Sizer: Christ at the Checkpoint Breakthrough.

Five Days and Counting

English: Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, Ith...

Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport

I apologize for neglecting this blog. We have five days before several big events occur in our lives.

The interior of our house is being painted so we can put it up for sale in early March. Every room is in turmoil, with furniture moved away from the walls, pictures and books (thousands of books) being packed. We’re swamped with decisions, decisions, decisions.

Of course, we’ve been on this course for the past six months. We’d hoped it wouldn’t come down to the very last-minute, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the weather outside is frightful and we can’t shut the doors yet because our doorknobs are off due to wet paint. Well, maybe tonight!

Jon had a root canal after days of intense tooth ache, and our friend whom we’d sponsored seven years ago had a severe heart attack and several days recovering in ICU. He’s okay now, but it was a close call reminding us of what could have been.

We had planned everything so well, too, because the day we put our house on the market is the day we hit the airport for a trip half way around the world.  At this point, if we can remember our passports and our converter plugs, we’ll be feeling successful!

I think we can manage pretty well with a minimum of other non-essentials.

Soooo, all that to let you know why I’ve not been writing. I’d like to try to post from our location in the other country. I think if I can journal/blog it might be interesting. We’ll see how that works. I’ll be pretty busy with various things, but we’ll try to remember the computer. The key will be finding Wi-Fi and a safe place to hook it up!

More later.




Israel’s Sticky Passport Situation

Some countries in the world will not allow you to enter if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport. If you are Jewish, you are not welcome. The reverse is also true, you may be turned away from Israel if you are a Muslim, have a Muslim sounding
An Israeli foreigner's entry stamp in a passport

Image via Wikipedia

name or hold a passport from a Muslim country.

The last time I visited Israel/Palestine, I learned of the option to opt out of having my passport stamped. This is an option that many people, such as aid workers or journalists who travel broadly ask for, that passport officials stamp a separate piece of paper to be carried in the passport.

I just got my brand new passport.

In March, we plan to travel to Israel/Palestine and I was curious which countries would not allow me to enter with an Israeli stamp. These countries are listed below in the Wikipedia site.

Israeli passport – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

In the past, it wasn’t a problem for us to enter Israel, having traveled through various Muslim countries like Indonesia and Malaysia and even Tunisia…though we understandably received extensive questioning on entry.  One interesting question, “What is the origin of the name, “Perry?”

The real interrogation began on exiting Israel, when our baggage was checked and we were asked detailed questions about places we stayed and who we visited. Intrusive, yes, but I understand their reasoning. They are in the business of preventing terror.

So, I’m wondering if I should get an Israeli stamp in my fresh new passport.  I plan to travel in the future, and certainly to Malaysia and Indonesia now that our daughter and son-in-law are moving to South East Asia.

It might seem like a weighty decision, but I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity to travel and face this dilemma!

The Work of Being Happy


We’ve just had a glorious couple days in Central New York with sunshine and temperatures reaching the 80’s!

Leaves were at their peak and we were able to clean out our garage just before the gloom, drizzle and cold set in again today!

This afternoon I discovered a blog by Gretchen Rubin called, “The Happiness Project”. I  think it might be an encouraging place to visit during the long, dreary days leading toward winter.

Sometimes when I’m gloomy, I’ve found it helps me to switch my thinking by encouraging another person. One way I’ve done this is by asking them questions that interest me and others around us.

Many of us have friends who are travelers. Here are some good questions Gretchen suggests we might ask those friends.

Anyone who has traveled will always be grateful for more than a two minute conversation about their trip, unless they are with a secret agency, of course. Have fun!

9 Questions To Ask About Someone’s Big, Life-Changing Trip.


9 questions to ask about someone’s big, life-changing trip.

One of my resolutions is to Enter into the interests of other people’s lives. When you think of people getting along harmoniously – whether in a family, or among friends, or in an office – people make an effort to enter into the interests of each other’s lives.

My friend Michael Melcher (author of the terrific book The Creative Lawyer — which isn’t just for lawyers) pointed out to me an area where this is often an issue: with travels. It’s quite common for people to come back from big, life-changing trips, and feel let down because no one seems very interested in what they saw or thought or experienced.

Part of being a good friend, colleague, or family member is to show an interest, but this can be challenging. Often, people need help finding ways to talk about their travels in ways that are interesting to people who weren’t there.

I’m not much of a traveler, myself, but Michael is, and he suggested nine questions that you might ask, to enter into the interests of a newly returned traveler. The point, of course, is not to fake an interest, but rather to find a way to be sincerely interested.

1. What was the best moment of the entire trip?

2. What are two interesting things about China [or wherever] that the average person doesn’t know?

3. Tell me about one person you met.

4. Now that you’ve been there yourself, when you think of China, what’s the first image that comes into your head?

5. What was the hardest or most frustrating part of the trip?

6. Did anything go wrong that seems funny now? [I often remind myself of my Secret of Adulthood that “The things that go wrong often make the best memories.”]

7. What little, ordinary thing did you miss from your usual routine?

8. What did you learn about yourself?

9. Now that you’ve been to China, what are two other places you’d like to go?

What am I missing? Have you identified any questions that are good at invoking interesting conversation? And travelers, when you come home, what questions are interesting to answer, and that show interest in what you’ve experienced? Have you ever been frustrated by the fact that people don’t seem interested in hearing about a trip or adventure that was very significant to you? Because I’m not much of a traveler, myself, I know that I haven’t shown as much interest in people’s travels as I should have. Something to work on.


Speaking Of Palestine

Palestinian Christians celebrating the Eve of ...

Palestinian Christians

“When you visit Israel, we urge you to visit with Palestinian Christians and ask them what they want us, their fellow Christians, to support.

David Gushee ends his letter with these words. Nothing one can read, no media report, replaces real experience and conversation with people living in the situation.

Read his letter below.