A busy busy day, full of hopeful tours, historic sites as well as disturbing news. Our day began with a tour around the Lutheran center here in Bethlehem, where we have been staying. Many helpful, hopeful resources are offered here for the people of Palestine. Dr. Mitri Raheb spoke to us at length about their programs and their hope for the future. They understand the need to fight the depression that is so prevalent here among these refugees and offer hope, which they are doing through various kinds of education.
Our group then strolled down winding narrow streets to Manger Square, where we ate a wonderful lunch at Afteem's. Hummus, felafel, masabacha and fatteh (soupy hummus with submerged pieces of pita and toasted pine nuts) yum! We then visited the Church of the Nativity and the Milk Grotto Shrine.
We heard the very disturbing news about the Gaza attack as it developed during the day. Tonight, the latest we have heard is that 19 are dead on the peacemaking flotilla and that some nations are already recalling their Israeli ambassadors. There may be a general strike here in the near future - but as of now we look forward to our trip tomorrow to Masada, Qumran and
a swim in the Dead Sea. Temperature forecast is at least 100.