NO Zones

In a land where “haram” means “not allowed or ‘inappropriate behavior'” there are many ‘no zones’. So after this short play on words regarding people’s actions and manner of dressing, notice in the pictures how there is no such thing as ZONING in a land recovering from war. Most of the time I am unaware of what has taken place here. I can’t imagine what Gaza must have been like—before missiles, before occupation, before the terror that even haunts many children’s nightmares.

There is evidence of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in many children in the schools. The Society for the deaf where I volunteer has such a different atmosphere. It is place—a community—where young and adults (hearing and deaf) come together and share life as a family—working and playing together, communicating and sharing their hearts. There IS a school there but more than a school it is a SOCIETY within the society here in Gaza. It seems sheltered from some problems the rest of the school system faces.

For instance, overall there is not enough classroom space so half of the school age children go to school in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. It makes long days for teachers and many mothers have taken on the role of ‘teacher’ at home without the resources afforded most trained teachers. And yet, education is very important and valued by most people in Gaza.

My “Penthouse” apartment is also a very sheltered area. When I asked for my new address, I was told, “There are no street names here. This is war time.” Also—there is no mail delivery. That spurred a whole lot of mind twisting questions that I thought more wise to just “ponder” than to ask. But in my sheltered corner, fresh herbs, roses, organic vegetables like onions, lemons, squash (and more to come as the season progresses) and duck eggs delivered to my door by the owner’s servant/gardener.

The Penthouse. View toward the sea. Arches remain.

It sounds like an easy life and believe me, I am very thankful for this season. I have not forgotten the nights I spent when I first got here (under many heavy blankets trying to stay warm) telling God I had no idea it was going to be THIS hard.

The poor families on the corner who are still picking up the pieces of their lives are a constant reminder of the strength I saw in people when I first met mothers from Gaza in the hospitals in Tel Aviv. I see donkey carts and horse carts coming and going on the same streets with cars of all makes and conditions. I am reminded of the perseverance necessary to continue to find a means to overcome the obstacles of a lack of fuel and electric and often also water. The fuel for cooking is also often scarce, which makes it a major problem for women to feed their families. While in the Aayad household I saw Sumar get up during the night more than once to make bread because the electric was off during the day. (Pita bread is baked one piece at a time in a very hot electric “appliance”.)

A donkey cart in Gaza. A limousine in Gaza.

So long for now. I encourage you to count your blessings and pray for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. I am learning day by day, you can’t believe everything we have been told about the situation here and there are two sides to every story. God has a good plan for ALL people. May we each find our place in that plan.

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