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Fond Farewells

Friday, March 4: Our last day of work dawned upon us with a forecast of thunderstorms. But thankfully it was still warm! Once we arrived at the work site, everyone was determined to make this last day our best day of work. Most of us continued to work on nailing wooden planks together, while making sure they were flush, of course. We split up into a few small groups because it would take about three or four people to get them just right. It eventually began to rain and Don announced that we would decide after lunch whether or not to continue. Some of the group members decided to try a local...

Bruises, Birds and BBQ

Thursday, March 3: Work day number three begins! Like yesterday, we were blessed with the hard-working souls from Montana to keep this house moving along. Before work started, we enjoyed a moving speech from Don. He told us about how his daughter was driving home one night and got into a car accident because she was texting. Thankfully, she was okay, but that did not prevent Don and his wife from a nerve-racking, two-hour car drive to the hospital. Don spoke so passionately about his daughter and how life is a gift we cannot throw away. Lesson learned: do NOT text and drive. After Don’s great...

Guidance from the Elders

Wednesday, March 2: As our second work day started, we learned that our groups would be switched up at our work sites. At our site, there are two Habitat houses being built next to each other; one house is being built by a Habitat group from a Montana church, the other by us. Don, the head supervisor, informed us today that the two groups would join together to work. The group from Montana has many experienced workers, so Don thought it would help us to have some people move us along a little faster. We no longer would have the blind leading the blind. Everyone got a chance to work with some...

The Things That Bring Us Together

One week in Israel. We have seen and done so much, it’s almost impossible to put it into perspective. From the packed streets of Jerusalem and Bethlehem to sleeping in a Bedouin village to shopping in street markets for local spices to the grandeur of Masada to a glimpse of life on a kibbutz – this is definitely a country of diversity and variety. Today’s bundle of experiences was particularly interesting and rich. After visiting many Christian, Jewish and Moslem sacred spaces, we began this morning in Haifa at the famed Baha’i Gardens, and I agree with our excellent guide David that it may...

“Come Tuesday, We Are Going to Be Served a Piece of Humble Pie”

Tuesday, March 1: We woke up at the crack of dawn (6:30 a.m.) to eat breakfast and get our lunches together. Everyone ate quickly because we were all excited to get to the site and start working! The NDC students receive instructions on their first day working at Habitat in Biloxi, Miss. Naturally, before we reached the site we got a little lost but were still able to make it there in time. Once there, we met Don, our self-proclaimed “hippie supervisor.” Don is the head supervisor of the site; we also have an assistant AmeriCorps supervisor named Chris, who all the girls are swooning over...

A Picnic on the Jordan

Much of modern Israel, with its freeways, shopping plazas and palm trees, feels a lot like California -- until you come across a soldier in uniform sitting at a bus stop. This is a country in a constant state of alert. Today we saw why. We drove up to the Golan Heights northeast of the sea of Galilee for a spectacular view of the rolling hills west of the Jordan River. This is the site of two hard-fought battles with Israel's neighbor, Syria, which prior to the Six-Day War in 1967, continually shelled Jewish kibbutzim on the other side of the Jordan River. Twice -- in 1967 and 1973 -- the...

Greetings from Galilee

Greetings from Galilee, The refrain from the hymn "Holy Ground" is always playing in my head. ”This is holy ground, we are standing on holy ground.” The NDC travelers took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Photo by George Leggiero One does not easily describe this sacred place, but this morning as we were getting off the boat after a sail on the Galilee Sea, I read an inscription by the Israeli General Yigal Allon. He said, “I believe in the driving force of man’s spirit and in his willpower.” We have been surrounded by the manifestation of both God’s spirit and of the spirit of all those...

Welcome to the Big Easy

Monday, Feb. 28: Today was our day off so we decided to take the hour-long trip to New Orleans, La. It was everyone’s first trip to New Orleans, so we were all very excited to explore a new city. When we first arrived, we did a lot of driving around to find parking. This was a good way to take a look at some of the houses, buildings and shops. Entering the city, we could see some devastation that was still left by Hurricane Katrina. One of the craziest things we saw was a play set that was completely twisted through an entire tree. Also, houses we thought were part of the slums were actually...

Meditation on Masada

On Sunday I made the journey to Masada, the mountain-top site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. Thankfully, the cable car made it possible to avoid the winding snake path to the top of the mountain. The NDC travelers are exploring the Judean Desert on camels. I had already heard the Masada story from my husband. I thought about the battle with the Romans and murder and suicide and was prepared to go on a meditative journey amongst the ruins. I stopped at one of King David’s rooms and sat and watched the valley of shadows and light. While I...

Saturday in Jerusalem

Michael and Roz insisted I do this! Actually, I am only too happy to add my thoughts to Michael’s and Mark’s and Sr. Carol’s. This has been an outstanding experience! In addition to the obvious (or maybe not so obvious) value of a journey through Israel and the Holy Land, the trip has been planned with great precision and creativity by Roz. This is my first trip with Roz and I must say it has been superb. Judy and I enjoy it immensely! Possibly the most gratifying (relaxing) aspect is being on “auto pilot” – having no decisions to make!! More seriously, the trip has been both very...

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