Wednesday, September 07, 2005
celestial blue, reporting from Jerusalem

Another day, another adventure. Yay!
Today we did some community service, which was simply fabulous. Nothing like volunteering to really help put life in perspective.

We started the day by having a class after breakfast to discuss the poverty situation in Israel. Something like 1 in 5 people live below the poverty line here, many of which are children and the elderly. Devastating numbers if you think about it.

After the class we all loaded up onto a bus and headed out to a local soup kitchen type of place called Hazon Yeshaya to help prepare lunch. Our group peeled cucumbers, onions, sweet potatoes, and other such activities as we prepared for the droves of hungry folks looking for a hot meal. As they began to arrive I helped carry the tray out to the waiting group and had mixed experiences. Some were grateful, others were demanding. For example, I had set a tray down in front of one woman and she quickly said something to me in Hebrew. I replied "Ani lo medeberet Ivrit" ('I don't speak Hebrew') and so another woman translated and said "She doesn't want that" and I looked back at the first woman and saw that she was pointing to the beans on the plate. I looked at her and said "So..... don't eat them then! That's all we have though, I have nothing else to give you". Coz hey... this wasn't a *restaurant* for Pete's sake! And the meal was good, too! Soup, salad, beans, pita.. and something else, I can't recall. Not too shabby! So what? You want me to whip up something else just because you don't like a handful of beans?? hahaha.... crazy lady.

Overall it was a very rewarding experience and very emotionally challenging. One girl was so overwhelmed she had a bit of a cry near the end of our time there. So many people who need help and so few of us and so little money to do it. I very much enjoyed my time volunteering and look forward to doing it again later in the program.

After we returned and had lunch we had another class. It was sort of philosophical in nature as we examined the age old question "Who am I?". We did a number of exercises together and dug deep to find some answers... or at least to ask more questions that might lead us to some answers. Sometimes we worked all together and sometimes we worked in pairs. It was a three hour exercise that was also quite rewarding if you put your all into it. We learned a lot about each other and though this is only our 3rd day together we already have a strong group bond. If we know each other this well I can't imagine what we'll be like after 5 months together!

Before I go a few notes:
- I have seen a couple of lizards and a teeny tiny little red snake (at first the guys thought it was a worm it was so tiny!). I went to pick it up and decided not to. Note to self: read up on Israeli snakes.
- I have two big blisters on my right foot. Ow. Thank you Dr. Scholl, you are the best.
- my feet just never seem to be too clean when I am in this country. Sandals are like that.
- buying the camel pack for water was the best investment I made. Sipping water straight from my backpack was a blessing while hiking.
- the fact that this program has us hopping from 7am until 10pm or later everyday means I don't get to blog like I'd like to and I certainly don't get to upload pictures like I'd like to. And worst of all, I can't read everyone else's blogs like I am dying too. *pout*
- hold the phones..... I think I may be getting a very light tan. *eek!*
- what the HELL is with this country's love affair with coloured toilet paper?? And the colour of choice seems to be PINK. This sounds like a bad bad idea to me.
- speaking of toilets, I said it before and I'll say it again..... the toilets here are *brilliant*. The half flush (to save water) and the full flush (for bigger jobs) are just genius for water conservation. Why are we not using this in North America??

Ok, I'm outta here. People look like they are going to beat me up for the computer soon. I'll write again soon! Thanks for your comments and lovin'... you guys rock, as always.