Won’t you please come to Chicago…?

Elizabeth took me out to eat last night at a restaurant near where I am staying at the Ramallah Friends School.   I was very weary from a long journey from Kigali and from lack of sleep.  I was hungry though and the walk down the street was quite stimulating.  It is great to be here and to hear how Elizabeth is doing and what is going on here at the school.  The restaurant was busy and I glanced admiringly at several tables, seeing some really good looking food.  The man who greeted us recognized Elizabeth and he warmly greeted me and seated us.  Elizabeth had a sandwich (a wrap) with lamb, I had a pita sandwich with falafel. The food was fresh and tasty.  It was very good.  The greeter/waiter appeared to be the owner.  I told him I was from Oregon, USA and I thanked him for the wonderful meal. He told me he has learned to cook in France and then was a chef in Chicago for a time.  I suggested to him that Americans would love the type of food he was serving in his restaurant here in Ramallah.

2014-02-08 11.38.17 This is a large city of about 300,000.  There has been a Friends school here since about 1900.  Essentially this school was established at about the same time as George Fox University. I begin my interactions with school personnel shortly and greatly look forward to it.

I am grateful to be here and to have this opportunity to see Elizabeth Todd again.  She is serving as a Friend in residence here at this school.  Last summer, she issued an invitation to me to come and visit and I am glad that I was able to coordinate this visit by adding it on to my trip to Rwanda.  What is interesting about that is that she has worked with a number of the Quaker leaders and pastors who were participants in the training that we did last week at the Rwanda Friends Theological College in Musanze.  Several of them, when they found out that I was coming to see her, asked me to send their greetings to Elizabeth.

I cannot quite make sense out of all the different impressions I have so far.  The combination of weariness, lack of sleep, wonder at being in a new place, amazement at the contrasts in the landscape, similarities to rural Kenya and the warmness of the people I have met, have made my first day and night in the West Bank a truly amazing experience.  This morning as I prepare for my day, I remembered a couple of lines from a Graham Nash song from 1971: “We can change the world, rearrange the world, its dying- to get better.” I pray, with God’s help that I can change myself, rearrange myself.  I cannot help change the world if I cannot change my own life.  I am so thankful to Christ, my Present Teacher, for his patient shaping of my life.

Won’t you please come to Chicago, no one else can take your place.

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