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Simply Living in the Holy Land


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by Lissa Scott Lissa was part of the first Holy Land IMMERSION team in the summer of 2016. Her team traveled to Israel and Palestine, spending extensive time in and around Bethlehem.

Ala’ rounded the corner, bags in hand. Quickly, he delegated tasks to us: “Get the cups. Turn on the porch light. Bring the chairs.” We dispersed to do our duties and reconvened on the front porch patio. Ala’ carried out the table and before I knew it, we were sitting at a card table with the juice and cookies Ala’ bought for us. We opened two decks of cards and played Uno, Snaps and Black Jack for hours until we were too tired to continue.

For the majority of this month, I have been comfortably uncomfortable. The barriers, constraints and nuances were expected and while different than my normal environment, I’ve felt capable to navigating them and adapting. Sitting on the porch, playing cards with Ala’, however, I felt genuinely comfortable.

While we played, the barriers disappeared. It didn’t matter where we were, where we were from, what we did... we were simply four people laughing about silly mistakes and teaching each other new games. I became less concerned with managing the interpersonal dynamics at the table and more concerned with laughing and playing. I exhaled and let go, trusting that grace was present in our relationships and understanding it was not a time for hard questions or deep conversation but it was a time for friends to play with one another.

I can’t get over how normal this night felt compared to other nights at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s.

This IMMERSION program has thrown me into the local life here—doing as the locals do while trying to learn what shapes and impacts the local perspective and learn the local narrative. This goal often leads to lengthy conversations about complicated topics.

While learning and listening is vital to this experience, I’m reminded of another crucial part of living like a local: simply living.

More IMMERSION Stories

Roof Climbing for Figs
Grandma's intimidating, direct, and sassy, but man, when she smiles, the room feels lighter. She's pushing us outside our comfort zones and leading the way to find the best fruit.
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Beautiful & Enchanting
There's many different power dynamics at play here in the Holy Land. In the midst of the tensions, however, I'm reminded of how similar we all are.
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