Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Tent in the Desert

Arabian Nights, Ali Baba....these bring to mind desert nights, tents, bazaars, floor cushions, camels, jewels, lanterns, flowing fabrics, gold, sheiks.....

In Hevron we were invited to spend some time with the Sheik in his tent.
He is a gracious man and tribal leader of his clan. His voice carries the ultimate authority for his people. He is Arab living next to the Jewish people in this ancient town. The two have begun to reach out to one another and instead of fighting are beginning to work together. 

And what might be on the sheik's table? For some reason this intrigued me. 
There were wet wipes on hand, apples, knives and an ashtray. 
Man, haven't seen one of those in a while.

After removing our shoes we walked across the carpets and settled on the many cushions lining the side of the tent. The Sheik sat in the middle facing us. Immediately we are served Turkish coffee. It is thick, black and bitter. I just drink it and become accustomed to the strong drink over my time in Israel.

With the help of our interpreter we introduced ourselves and gave a brief bio on what we do in the U.S. The Sheik asks us to join with him being Ambassadors for the area to help spread word of what they are doing to build and repair relations among the people of the region.

Coffee and tea.

The hot tea was "knock you down" sweet and I liked it.
To me, it was like our Southern ice tea...just hot.

Read my socks? No Nonsense.
We were warned to be mindful of the direction of the bottoms of our feet.
It is an insult to let the bottoms of your feet face the Sheik. Remember the man throwing his shoe at Pres. Bush? Um hmm. He was doing it as insult. And Obama propping up his feet on his desk
in a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu?? um hmm, insult.  I think if we knew more about other cultures, especially the East, we might understand a few things like these customs and be more careful.

The Sheik stands to invite us to lunch. His suit jacket is like most any man's suit coat but instead of pants, it is flowy.

We were hungry and this meal was superb and very typical of Middle Eastern fare. The meat was a whole chicken, split and grilled. 
We had fresh pita, hummus, tahini, olives and more. Sprite and Coke were the beverages when we weren't being served coffee and tea. Which, by the way we had two rounds each.

Fresh olive oil poured on the hummus.

It was a delightfully fun lunch. 

A toast: coke of course. The Coke is amazing in Israel.

Yes, we lounged on the cushions. Most of the time we sat Indian style until after our lunch.
You will notice brilliant colors covering the walls and cushions and the floor is completely covered in rugs. Let your mind wander back to ancient days of tents in the desert and rugs on the floor.
I really wanted to spend a night here   : )
Below you see Matthew, Maureen, Cheryl and me.

Once outside we gaze over the fields surrounding the area and take a short tour.

The work has begun to cultivate the land and grow new crops.

God is blessing. These plants were tiny when planted 6 weeks before.
I can't express to you how gigantic they are in person. It is beautiful to see
how the land is bursting forth with many different crops.

The Sheik proudly shows us the fruits of labor.

In these dirt piles are treasure. You can just look down and see broken pieces of pottery or tile.
I found a bit of a handle here. It's all old. Everything here is old and it makes me want
to take a whole day and just dig. I would love to work on a dig.
Chris explains to Maureen what we're seeing......"history".

Mohammed was a beautiful picture of servanthood, ultimate respect and reverence for his employer.
His shoes slipped off and on as he came in and out of the tent serving us. He humbly smiled through lips with no teeth. He would bow and nod, head bent down. As I watched him it reminded me the picture of Jesus and how He came and served those he loved. We are to serve one another in love.
It will stir up questions from those who don't have the Hope we possess, it will raise up jealousy for them to own for themselves what gives us peace in a time and place that lacks peace.

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