a time for peace

– standing against occupation

a bit of fun

Every once in a while, something fun surprises us here is the West Bank.  Thursday night was one of those times.  My teammate from Norway had met a Town Council member from Al Khader, a small town outside Bethlehem, who invited us to a football game (that’s soccer over here).  At the last minute we found we had time, so we took advantage of the invitation to have some fun. I expected it to be a small town event, so imagine my surprise when we arrived at a full-size stadium for semi-pro players!

It turns out that this adult league had been a big part of the life of Palestinians until it was stopped eight years ago because of the Second Intifada.  Then two months ago, it was re-started, and the people are very excited to have these sporting events happening all over the West Bank. Instead of watching what I thought would be high school rivals, we got to see Al Khalil (Hebron) vs Abu Dis (a large town outside of Jerusalem) play a great game!

But there were a couple more surprises along the way.  Because of our schedule that evening, the game was already in progress when we arrived and as Dirk, Susan (an EA from Jayyous who was visiting us) and I entered the stadium and scrambled up the cement bleachers looking for seats, it became apparent to us that this was a “guys event.”  It turns out, Susan and I were the only women in the crowd of 4-5000 men (though I did see one little girl with her dad)!  At first, it was a bit unnerving and we considered leaving – but pretty soon we were too wrapped up in the action to worry about it.  Later, we were told that at first lots of women attended the games, but the crude and abusive language used by the men toward the ref and the players had offended the women, so they no longer came. Luckily for Susan and me, we didn’t understand what was actually being shouted!

Our final surprise came after the game.  We were slow leaving the stadium at the end of the game, so we were not quick enough to get a taxi or service (shared taxi).  As we stood and talked about how we would get back to Bethlehem, one final service in the very front corner of the lot started up and we rushed over to see if there was room for three of us. Imagine our surprise (one more time!) when we discovered we were hitching a ride with a service hired by three of the soccer players!  Two were from the winning team (Al Khalil) and one was their friend from the Ramallah Team.  

They were nice and fun and when they stopped to drop us off, they even posed for pictures with us.  I think they enjoyed having “adoring fans” as much as we enjoyed the serendipitous surprise of the whole evening.  We have a saying we use a lot here: “Nothing is normal.”  Thursday night we repeated it over and over – but this time it was with joy and delight!

Surprising bits of fun like this sure refresh our hearts and souls – and we thanked God as we walked home, feeing once again what we used to say a lot at my former church, “God is good… All the time!”  

Peace/Salaam – Pastor Pat

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October 11, 2008 - Posted by | Occupation, Palestine, peace

7 Comments »

  1. Pastor Pat,
    It was nice to sit here and smile the entire time I read your post tonite. As I enjoy a day off of work, I feel better knowing you also had some time for fun. I especially liked your closing. What a sweet reminder!!

    Comment by Laura | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  2. Pat, It was nice to hear that some things are safe over there. Keep up the good work and know that you are touching many people with these reports. All the time.

    Comment by woods | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  3. Thanks for the story of soccer serendipity! I half-expected to read that the miraculous appearance of two religious women in the stadium made a vast wave of soccer fans repent of their bad language, and that in symbolic penance for past sins they gave you all box seats by the pressbox and publically committed to invite their wives to the next game. But sharing a taxi with soccer stars sounds way more unlikely–and fun! PS. Hi, Woods!

    Comment by Dan | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  4. Pr. Pat; It was so good to hear something ‘normal’, and fun also happens there. The soccer episode sounded like such fun, once you got into the game and forgot that you were ‘oddities’ there. The accompanying picture was great also, with all the smiles! Keep up the good work, and stay safe! pAT F.

    Comment by Pat F. | October 14, 2008 | Reply

  5. Hi Pat. I’m glad you got a tiny respite from witnessing the daily ugliness. Stay safe. Miss you everyday.

    Comment by MaryW | October 14, 2008 | Reply

  6. Oh what fun! Glad you were able to get out and enjoy the evening…keep up the GREAT work!

    Comment by Sue | October 15, 2008 | Reply

  7. thanks so much for all the support! I was feeling a bit guilty about having so much fun! But in so many ways this really is a place filled with grace and hope so, of course, there would be fun along the way!

    Comment by patwoods | October 15, 2008 | Reply


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