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.