Day 9: Bethlehem Day 2 & Bethany
We began our day with a trip over to a nearby Settlement, Efrat, to meet with an American settler from Chicago named Ardie. Ardie toured us around his settlement and very passionately talked to us about why he believed he should live in a settlement. The group was happy to ask questions and learn from Ardie, but were left wondering if there was any hope for a resolution to the conflict after our conversation.
Left feeling a little discouraged, we made our way over to Lazarus' Tomb to celebrate Mass. We were thankful to hear Scripture readings focused on love, light, and new life. After Mass we made our way down to Lazarus' tomb inside Bethany, a very poor Palestinian town. The tomb was incredible - down 20 steps or so and then you have to crawl down low and suddenly you're inside a tomb, able to stand up and fit 10 or so people standing up. We had too much fun coming down!
Back at Bethlehem we sat together to discuss our observations of the day and our hopes for peace. Then we focused on the days to come, the climax of our trip: Jerusalem. Later that night we shopped and shopped and shopped, hoping to help out the local Bethlehem economy. We met new shop owners who shared their stories, olive wood, and deals with us! One pilgrim requested a special Arab meal from the front desk and they said, "This can only be made by an Arab mother." Guess what was waiting for her the next morning? The meal! Arab hospitality at its finest.