Nov - Dec 2015 Some local churches

These are acolytes at Christ Church, the Anglican Church in Nazareth that was started in 1871.  The Arabic writing behind the altar is taken from Isaiah 61, quoted by Jesus in Luke 4, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me..." when he taught in the synagogue in Nazareth. 

The current priest there is a young Arab named Fr. Nile, who gives insightful sermons & does part of the service in English if he sees a Western person in attendance.

 


One of the Baptist churches in Nazareth.  (There are at least 3.) It's a larger congregation. They also have a school.  His PowerPoint is part Arabic/part English.  They offer an earpiece w/English translation of the sermon...& have a rock band.

St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem, headquarters of the Diocese of Jerusalem.  They have services in both Arabic & English...& a good organist.


This is a Melchite church in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve.  Lots of incense, chanting & bells.  It was all in Arabic & I felt like I was with the original Christians.


The Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve.  The service included a sermon by a learned visiting professor & some nice hymn singing.

 


Lastly, I wasn't there but some friends attended a church (better not be specific) where a lady dressed in Moslem clothing took Eucharist.  She's become a Christian but can't tell her family for fear of safety.  I hear there's a wave of Moslems converting to Christianity.  Please pray for them.

September 2016 - Back to the Nazareth Hospital

It's great to be back at the Nazareth Hospital.  This is the best spot that I know of in the world to hear many types of church bells regularly.  Add the Moslem calls to prayer & it's a pretty amazing feast for the ears!

One of the first things I did upon returning was walk part of The Jesus Trail with some people that were raising money for the SERVE program.  The Jesus Trail is a 65 km hiking & pilgrimage route in Galilee from Nazareth to Capernaum that traces where Jesus may have walked & connects many sites from His life & ministry.
 

Greetings from Jerusalem

On my way back to volunteer at the Nazareth Hospital, I spent a few days in Jerusalem.  Here are some photos from my time there.

More Photos:

November 9, 2015

The Roman Catholic side of Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
 

 

 

Chagall Window in the synagogue at the Hadassah University Medical Center.  Chagall made 12 windows, inspired by Jacob's blessings upon his 12 sons and Moses' blessings on the 12 tribes.  This one is Judah. "Your brothers shall praise you, your hand shall be upon your enemies' necks..."
 

 

 

 

 

 



"Naphtali is a deer running free; he delivers words of beauty."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


"This is my modest gift to the Jewish people who have always dreamt of biblical love, friendship and of peace among all peoples. This is my gift to that people which lived here thousands of years ago among the other Semitic people." - Marc Chagall, February 6, 1962



This painting hangs at The Temple Institute in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.  They have several paintings that show life in the 1st & 2nd temples; & display gold, silver & copper vessels that are ready for use in their planned 3rd temple.

I'm back in Bellingham with fond memories and plans to possibly return

It's hard to believe that 6 weeks have already passed and I am headed back to Bellingham.The highlight of my time here has been the people. A chief reason for my visit has been to encourage and support the Christian population in the Holy Land, which is now down to 2%. I'd like to share a little bit of the life here in my last post.

Family is huge here. Most people live in the same building with their extended family members. For example, grandparents are on the first floor, brother above with his family, then sister, uncle, etc. When someone has a baby or their child gets engaged, they bring special desserts to their co-workers to celebrate. Parents meet w/ parents of a potential spouse at the very beginning of a courtship to make sure all are compatible. There's little loneliness but also little privacy. Overall, their lives seem rich with family love and support.

With the significance of families here, schools seem to be more a major employer and in the forefront of daily life. The Christian private schools have been operating here for hundreds of years and also educate Muslims and those of other religions. I found that people educated at the private Christian schools knew better English and seemed to have a superior education to those that attended the public schools.

Right now something big is happening for them and they can use our prayers. The funding for the private schools comes partly from the Israeli government and partly from tuition paid by parents/families. The government funds the Jewish private school operations at 100%. The Christian school operation funds have been shrinking and are going to be at a record low (29%) this year. The government has also put a cap on how much tuition families can pay, squeezing the school budgets and threatening their existence. 

Some say that the Christians are being shoved out because a Jewish/Muslim religious conflict is desired over the status quo. The Christian population is less than 2% here now and seems to be declining as they immigrate to Canada and the West. The Christian private schools have taken a bold move and have been on strike since September 1st, when this school year was scheduled to begin. They're asking for funding equal to what the Jewish private schools receive. 11,000 people protested outside the prime minister's office in Jerusalem recently and protests continue in Nazareth.  May some agreement be found soon!  [UPDATE: An agreement was reached on September 27th and school is in session. Thanks be to God.]

This unique land contains palm trees next to pine trees. Outside my flat are lime trees, grape vines, pomegranate trees, olive trees, rosemary, lavender, thyme/hyssop, ...seemingly wild and prolific even in the most dry and hot part of summer.

My time was primarily with the Palestinian Christians whose main language is Arabic. Sometimes they turn to speak to me and forget to switch to English. They quickly realize it, apologize, and translate. Pretty amazing. Most people I know here speak at least 2 languages--some 4 or 5 (French, Russian, etc.). They answer the phone in English "hello," then converse in Arabic and end with "bye bye." The road signs are in 3 languages, Hebrew, Arabic and English. I enjoyed taking some Arabic lessons and having another bridge to my friends and coworkers. 

The photos are of how my milk comes in a plastic bag, a beautiful old arch I pass when walking downtown to the Basilica, the first fresh figs I've had, and examples of the buildings that are probably each occupied by a family with the different core family members on each floor.  

The last photo is a special farewell breakfast I had with Christine (in the middle) and Jane, the amazing ladies that run SERVE Nazareth. Christine is from England and Jane is from Nebraska.  They wear many hats and do it all well, with kindness and a smile.  I am grateful to them for the opportunity to be here and for taking such good care of me.

Nazareth Village

The Nazareth Trust owns and operates the hospital, the nursing school, the SERVE program I'm working with, and a unique place called Nazareth Village. It is a carefully researched, very authentic re-creation of the first century Nazareth where Jesus grew up.

People from all over the world visit and see living examples of life during these times and references from the Bible. A guide takes you thru the village and explains many biblical metaphors and stories used by Jesus. Such as  how a new shoot will grow from the roots of an olive tree, even if it's cut down, and many new olive trees are planted this way (Isaiah 11, and note the meaning of Nazareth in my earlier blogpost). They also toss wheat in the air to show how it separates from chaff, you can see a working plough and yoke, sheep and goats (which really are different), a rich man's tomb, the four types of soil Jesus refers to, a carpenter shop, weaving, a synagogue and more.  

A first century lunch is often served that includes many more biblical references: red lentil soup (for which Esau sold his birthright), flatbread baked over a fire, zaa'tar (which includes hyssop, which was used to put blood over the door posts at Passover), hummus, labaneh, olives, cabbage salad and fruit. 

Here is a photo of Zack Miller and a donkey. Zack is from Virginia and works at the Baptist school here with YoungLife. He volunteers at the Village, is pretty fluent in Arabic after being here for just a year, and is a great part of this Christian community. Also shown are some sheep and the brown lambs (born here--it's really a farm), an olive tree and 2 other volunteers. 

The people here are like a family.  It's been an honor to work with them and be warmly welcomed.

There's no place on Earth like the old city in Jerusalem.

I think it's the heart of the world.

My time there was very blessed.  I happened to be in the right place at the right time to see special services/chanting/incense/singing with Egyptian Copts, Catholic Franciscans, Ethiopians & Armenians. I started with prayer at the Western Wall.

The first photo gives you a perspective of how close the Jewish holy site is to the Muslim Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount. The next photo gives a flavor of the shops in that area. That's followed by some art and a beautiful cross on the wall of a staircase in the ancient Ethiopian Monastery.

The last photo is early morning light from the roof of the guesthouse where I stayed. It's on the Via Dolorosa, believed to be the route Jesus took with the cross to Calvary, which is now inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church is the 2 dark domes with crosses on top in the middle. 

I now return to Nazareth with a full and grateful heart.

My time Serving in the Dialysis Unit

Twice a week, I help out in the Dialysis Unit here in the hospital. There are about 20 stations and it takes three and a half to four hours (to filter the body's blood 12 times!) and there are 3 sets of patients per day. Some of them come for treatment three to four times each week. (What a life--bless their hearts!) Several of the patients have a catheter directly into their heart that the nurses use to hook them up to the machine. (This made me think about God's "catheter" into my heart.....am I keeping the tubes open? aiming in the right direction?)

Azmi is the male RN in the 1st photo.  My mnemonic to remember his name is "ask me." So I did, and he explained all about dialysis to me. The last photo is Dr. Mounir, Amer (a PhD research student) and Maha.  She is the head of the dept. and is married to a man that teaches sports at the Anglican school. She is the mother of three children and is a grad student at the univ. in Haifa. 

The people I know here work very hard. I take notes to remember their names as a small way to encourage them. My duties are to help clean and prepare the stations between patients, to replenish supplies, and serve meals. I also talk with the English-speaking patients and lightly massage their very dry hands and feet with lotion.

At first I only worked with the women patients in the unit, but some of the men were jealous and asked why, so I guess I'll be spending some time with them as well. The Tuesday group of patients includes a group of guys that talk loud and hold court in the ward. I discovered that most of them speak English, so we'll be talking about God, I hope, soon.

I heard a great story the other day: The first time they met, our volunteer asked if they could pray for their patient as they massaged her. The patient said no. The volunteer kept massaging every week and at their last visit together, the patient asked if they would pray for her.  God's love in action.

I'm off to Jerusalem for the weekend. Love to all, Laurie

Helping out at the Children's Summer Camp

Another ministry here at the hospital is a wonderful summer camp for the children of the hospital staff. 

This year they had 74 kids, so they needed all the help they could  get. Their ages seemed to range from elementary school to the teenagers that led the activities. They were quite creative and did a lot for the kids on a small budget. 

The gentleman that led the children was quite gifted. I loved watching him tell stories because he was so animated. After the camp, he told the adults a story of how he had taught a prior camp group some songs with movements. Some time later, he was driving his car, and a group of those kids saw him, waved, and started doing the song and dance on the side of the road.

That encouraged us that the campers might also remember some of the lessons they were taught about how God loves them and is there for them.

The Basilica of the Annunciation

The Basilica of the Annunciation is the spot where it is believed that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear Jesus. It is some ancient ruins with a church built around and over them.  It's partly ancient and partly modern---& it's quite beautiful. There are lovely mosaic Madonnas from all over the world inside and out.

This is my 4th year in a row to visit, but my first year to go alone. Every time I've entered the basilica this year, it's been surprisingly powerful. The words that come to mind are presence, holiness, longing, reverence and hope. 

Today I happened upon a scout troop from France that had a special service at the altar in the modern part of the basilica. I started filming right at the end of their beautiful singing:


One of the many special things I get to do here is accompany the chaplains to speak with people about God and their faith. Yesterday I joined a gentleman named Simon that is from here and ministers full time. Having me with him enabled him to visit women - and we spoke to several, including Christians, Moslems, Druze and Jews.

We started in the emergency room where they asked me to pray for some friends' mother that was very ill. Then we went to internal medicine, surgery and the psychiatric ward. We handed out booklets about Jesus that are available in Arabic, English, Hebrew or Russian. The patients seemed grateful. I got some hugs and even some chocolates.  Simon's 47-year-old brother died suddenly of a heart attack 10 days ago. He shared that with a couple of the patients.  One said, "Here you are visiting us when we should be visiting you."

One lady and her daughter had lights in their eyes. I asked if I could take their photo to send to my church and they said yes. Here it is.....

Greetings From Nazareth: A short history of the Nazareth Hospital EMMS

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Things continue to go well. There's lots to do here and I am kept pretty busy - which I like.  I'Il share more about my time and daily life soon.

The history of how this hospital came to be is a story worth telling. It's foundations are based upon and continue to be in love for Christ and fellow man.

Medical treatment here in the early 19th century was part folk remedies that worked & part procedures that didn't work & could even cause harm.   The Ottoman Empire offered little healthcare and allowed local religious institutions to operate fairly freely.

The American medical missionary, Peter Parker, served in China and traveled the world to raise funds and awareness. In 1941, he visited Edinburgh and inspired Dr. John Abercrombie to found the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society (EMMS).  Their aim was partly to "give intelligent proofs of the nature and practical operation of the spirit of love which, as the fruit of our holy religion, we desire to see diffused among all nations."

In 1835, Pakradooni Kaloost Vartan was born in Constantinople to an Armenian embroiderer and his wife. Upon the death of his father, P.K. Vartan trained to become a translator. That training led him to work with the Turkish army in the Crimean War (which incidentally began as a dispute over holy sites in Palestine).  Medical conditions were deplorable. Soldiers were left in their fighting clothes and most deaths were caused by hospital conditions rather than war wounds.  This is where Florence Nightingale first improved sanitation and greatly reduced the death rate. Perhaps these conditions and her example inspired Vartan to study medicine.

He chose the highly respected medical school in Edinburgh that was established in 1726.  Initial funding came from the wealthy aunt of a British Army general. Upon her death, EMMS paid for him to complete his schooling in 1861.  Following an invitation from the Anglican Episcopal Mission, he left for Nazareth.

In December, 1861, he rented a house and immediately began work on "the diagnosis and treatment of disease and the dealing with patients on the concern of the soul."  He was the first medical missionary for the EMMS and was assisted by the local Anglican priest.  In spite of local resistance to new medicine and Evangelical missionaries, Vartan saw 15,000 patients during his first five years there.

While on a fundraising trip to Britain, he married Mary Anne Stuart, a Scottish nurse. She was a fitting partner for his missionary and medical work. Immediately after their wedding, they left to serve in Nazareth. Their lives were not easy. Only five of their ten children survived.  Mrs. Vartan helped create "a neat, fastidiously clean, well-aired house, with admirable contrivances for protecting patients from noise, and the glaring rays of the sun."

By 1874, Vartan saw 50-60 outpatients daily, visited local villages on horseback twice/week and cared for 9-10 patients in the hospital that was also partly his home.  He dreamed of building a proper hospital but had many financial and governmental obstacles.  Eventually a location was secured largely with funds from a bazaar held in Edinburgh.  In 1904, Dr. John Scrimgeour came to assist, and ultimately succeed Vartan.

The "hospital on the hill" was taken over by Turkish authorities when they allied themselves with the Germans in WW1.  The hospital administration was restored in 1919 but the building had suffered greatly. Scrimgeour launched a restoration fund and the new hospital was inaugurated in 1924.  More building was completed in 1931 and electricity was installed in 1935. Patient numbers, building facilities and staff continued to increase.  Like today, they served Christians, Moslems, Jews, and anyone without regard to religion.

Nurse training had been part of the operations since early days.  The mission hospital was recognized in 1919 under the British government mandate as one of the 13 hospitals for training nurses.

Now, the "English Hospital," as it is called by locals, is the general hospital for the area.  The parking lot is full.  It thrives with all sorts of medical care and the support modern technology/quality standards require.  The chaplain and new spiritual director both seem to be kept very busy. There's a pilot program coming where patients can privately listen to solar-powered devices for health care tips and the Bible. This place continues to work for the health of both the body and the spirit.

Love to all, Laurie.
 

Greetings from Nazareth

Nazareth, in Galilee, on a hill overlooking the Jezreel Valley, is the town where Jesus grew up.

Nazareth, in Galilee, on a hill overlooking the Jezreel Valley, is the town where Jesus grew up.

Greetings From Nazareth!

My arrival and first few days have gone well. The driver from the airport treated me to a hot piece of flatbread filled with zatar for breakfast on the way. Then I received a warm welcome from Jane & Christine, the truly amazing women that run the SERVE Nazareth program. Since then, I've been getting settled, becoming familiar with how to get around, and helping out a bit. It's wonderful to be here.

The name Nazareth may originate from the Hebrew "netser" - sprout, branch or shoot - or from the verb " lintsor" - to guard, to watch.  The current population is approximately 82,000.  Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel and considered the "capital of Galilee."  Christians and Muslims live together here in relative unity and peace.

By the way, the name Jesus (in Hebrew - Yeshua) is derived from the verb "lehoshia" - to save.
 

Welcome to my BLOG

Laurie Parrish

Laurie Parrish

Over the next few months, I will be spending time in Israel, at The Nazareth Hospital which is run by the Nazareth Trust, founded in 1861 by the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society.

The Nazareth Trust is unlike any other Christian Service. For over 150 years they have been 'Healing in the Name of Jesus' in Nazareth. What started as a humble clinic with 4 beds has grown to become Nazareth's General Hospital sitting high on 25 acres of Nazarene hillside they have owned since 1906. For 90 years their School of Nursing has offered an open doorway to all young people from the Nazareth area, preparing them for a life of service and care for others. 

I hope to spend the next months serving in the life of the community there through the SERVE Nazareth program.

I will be working alongside local staff in a variety of areas in the Hospital, as well as in the community, supporting local churches and ministries. I will be posting reports from Nazareth here. Please pray for me and for this mission in Christ.