Friday, August 22, 2008


Last Wednesday I had the pleasure and honor of attending the funeral of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. It was the first state funeral to be held in the occupied Palestinian territories since the passing of Yasser Arafat - absolutely incredible experience; thousands of people and state vehicles. We watched from a third-floor coffee shop in Ramallah before walking down to join the procession. I only have a few photos (didn't bring my camera) - my friend Reanna took some great shots:
Friday was my last meeting with all parties involved with the playground process. For the new, sustainable, Palestine-built designs we've decided to go with a local contractor who is also a physics teacher at a Bethlehem high school. Hopefully we will see these new designs implemented over the next few months in several different locations. Hopefully I can return to assist with these new playgrounds before too long. When photos arrive, I will post them to this blog.

I had my last day with the Palestine Red Crescent Society - I'm going to miss those guys - we became so close over the past two months. We celebrated with a final barbecue at Osh Ghorab park and I was even able to spend an evening in Tel Aviv with the family of my sister-in-law. They were incredibly hospitable - Tel Aviv is a beautiful city - I thoroughly enjoyed the beach.

I flew to France then on to Atlanta for a three-day retreat for the FTE Ministry Fellows - the FTE being the organization that helped me begin this undertaking in the first place.

Finally, I am home. I spent yesterday unpacking, today tying up a few loose ends and tonight I should be on stage at the Division Area Arts Collective rocking out with my band. Home at last!

Until I can return, my prayers will continue unabated for the nation of Palestine and her inhabitants. For anyone reading this, if you have questions, please contact me and I will make time to speak with you about the region. My email is dannison (at) gmail (dot) com - otherwise, give me a call some time - I'm excited to be home and begin talking to people about the Holy Land and the steps that must be taken to ensure a lasting and just peace.

Thank you for your support this summer.
Blessings and Peace to all of you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Wow I'm exhausted.

I've added the Palestine Pics Part Two slideshow with photos from the secondish(ish) half of my trip. Included are some pictures taken by my friend Rami Rishmawi at the Osh Ghorab worship service.

Also find some photos of my hiking adventure across the Judean Desert. My three friends and I hiked for three days - journeying from Bethlehem across the desert to the Dead Sea, then down to Ein Gedi and continued on to Masada.

Here's a goofy little map I made:

The first leg of the desert was ok... the heat is something profound. I echo the sentiments of my good friend Tom when I say that my entire relationship with the sun has changed. We each left with around 8 liters of water (not quite enough, but we were ok). I brought the inside shell from my tent to keep the mosquitos away - even in the most barren desert there are flies a plenty.

When we finally reached Masada we elected to camp in the nearby wadi - it's really a runoff limestone valley - water passes through once every year or so for a few days and deposits heaps of lime dust. The lime is quite soft and powdery and is the color of snow. Walking through these surreal heaps of powder I felt that the sun was completely surrounding me - amazing and terrifying. We climbed Masada under the light of a trillion stars and watched the spectacle of the Dead Sea sunrise from the peaks.

The new playground designs are coming together quite well - I'm preparing to transfer the project to my replacement here on the ground from ANERA. Overall, I think we've made some amazing progress here in the West Bank. More importantly, though, is the experience I have gained and the new insights with which I will approach my future ministry in this incredible country. There is so much work to be done - so much to talk about - I return to Atlanta on Sunday and I will be back in Michigan a week from this Thursday, on August 21.

Friday, August 8, 2008

News coverage

There have been a couple articles about the worship service we held on Wednesday:

Settlers scuffle with peaceful worshippers at abandoned military base in Beit Sahour

Israeli settlers assault worshippers

I have some additional photos to put up later that actually show the service itself. In the second (translated) article you can see my friend Robbie getting shove around a bit.

This weekend I'm hiking to Masada so I'll be out of touch for a couple days - but I love you all and miss you - I'll be home in two weeks.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ush Ghrab is safe again!

We held the hill. I'm sure there will be some news tomorrow and I'll link to it then - but we held fast on the hilltop and did not move. The settlers attacked us - punching and kicking, spitting and throwing rocks, but we remained steadfast. We knelt in prayer and were not defeated. We had a full ecumenical worship service, we sang songs, we prayed and danced and celebrated the children's hospital that will be built on the hilltop. They will not steal this hill!
At one point, we were singing 'the vine and figtree' and the settlers attacked us very violently all at once - but we remained as a group, praying and singing, moving people from the front line to the back and meeting their violence, hatred and racism with love, gentleness and song. It worked! It really worked! I'll write more tomorrow - but today brought us one step closer to the children's hospital and sent the settlers back to Har Homa and Gilo - if only for a short time.

This is one hilltop they will not steal!

Praying for a children's hospital.

In a few hours I'm going to walk down to Ush Ghrab park to participate in an ecumenical worship service. Ush Ghrab is the site of an abandoned military base that has been transferred to the Beit Sahour municipality - which currently has funds allocated from international non-profit agencies to construct a children's hospital on the site.

Please watch this video (it's only 7 minutes long)

The settlers are coming to the park tonight. It is my intention to remain their and pray without ceasing that Ush Ghrab remain a public park for the people of Beit Sahour, and that a children's hospital, and not a settlement, is the future of this space.

The settlers have left their message on the walls in spray paint - in bright red letters. "Death to all Arabs," and "Arabs into the fire." They have come from Efrat - they are originally from Brooklyn. They have left the sign of the Kach painted on the wall.

The settlers saw the beautiful park that had been created by the people of Beit Sahour and the non-profit agencies here in Palestine. They decided that they wanted it. So now, like thieves, they are attempting to steal it. If they succeed, the hopes and dreams of the people who are looking forward toward a new children's hospital - the first of its kind in the West Bank - will be dashed.

There are hundreds of settlements in the West Bank. There is nothing like Ush Ghrab. Thankfully, we have been given the gospel for a time such as this - and the power of God's eternal ambassador, the Holy Spirit, will attend to all things - the praying people of Beit Sahour, myself included.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New photos - a wedding, my homes, Nablus

Hi everyone - I uploaded new photos to a new album, Palestine Part Two.
I've included some pictures of where I'm staying (with the Salsas and also at Bustan Qaraaqa.)
Also, I realized that I don't really have any photos of people, so I've made a concerted effort to photograph more humans. Also, a dog and a cat. :D
I tried to add it as a slideshow on this blog but Google is failing me, so click here to go to the new photos.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Beit Sahour!

I have quite a few new photos and updates to post - I'm swamped with meetings today but I'll try to get some new videos and information up tonight.

In the meantime, please enjoy this completely awesome video about the town I live in, Beit Sahour, featuring the chart-topping local hit, "Beit Sahour."

beit sahour is awesome.