I hope those of you who live in the US had a great Independence day weekend. This weekend was supposed to be longer, but it didn't feel so to me. I tried to do everything I needed to do so that I can catch up and not have a crazy week, but I accomplished very little. I am so busy these days and trying hard to finish writing my final exam to submit it this week. I also have an exam this week that I have to grade. I have one student that has put in so much effort and pulled his grade up. I am amazed now at his understanding and how well he is doing in the class. People like that really make teaching rewarding. But, I have 6 students who have completely given up on passing and simply stopped coming to class. Seems like I'll have a lot of F's. What can I do?
I tried to join the celebrations of Independence day around town. On Saturday I went to the parade in Rexburg. Everyone lined up on the sidewalks of main street and as the parade walked by each float (participant) threw candy to the kids that were on the side of the road. Some even threw T-shirts, balls and other toys. The kids gathered up so much candy.
This was an interesting parade. For many reasons...
I have never seen so many tractors! I guess only in a small town like Rexburg would you have tractors as part of the parade.
Broulim's is the largest grocery store in Rexburg, they had a big shopping cart that was moving on top of a car...very funny:
And loan mowers!!! Ya, would you ever expect to see lawn mowers as part of a parade?? Maybe only in Rexburg! They even had a team of 8 lawn mowers that were doing things together and doing organized moves...interesting!
At night I went to a nearby park where they had a rodeo. This was the first time I watch a live rodeo. I tried to take pictures, but none of those riders lasted more than 5 seconds on the bull, so they were too quick for me. Mostly I have fuzzy pictures of them falling off. One of them was actually hurt. What I never saw before was how they actually got the bull back in the barn. They had cowboys on horses with ropes trying to catch it to make it go in. But, often times it was the bull chasing the horses instead of the other way around.
After the rodeo they had fireworks for a few minutes which was nice. However, amazing enough, I still jump at the sound of explosions. There are some fireworks that sound like fireworks, but some can't be distinguished from missiles or gun shots. Those still make me jump and bring back memories of injured people, demolished houses, and sadness.
Throughout this day I kept wondering what it would feel like for these celebrations to have been for my country. What it would feel like to have those people in the parade holding Palestinian flags instead of American flags? What it would feel like to finally celebrate being free?
As much as I honor the Palestinian flag and long to have a country, somehow the corrupt officials that now control the PA makes me wonder what a Palestinian state would actually be like. It seems that even the hope and desire for change is being taken away from me.
I remember the days of the uprising when raising our flag in Bethlehem and other areas was forbidden. We all stood in amazement when we saw a Palestinian flag raised high--such as when the young men would tie it to a rock and post it on the telephone pole. Or when a courageous person would climb to the top of the dome of the rock and hang a Palestinian flag. It often did not stay up long...the Israeli soldiers would shortly come and make people take the flag down and burn it. That amazement and joy at seeing my flag raised up high is there, but not to that extent. Maybe because subconsciously I associate the flag with our corrupt Palestinian officials.
Last night, I tried...I tried hard to feel and imagine what it would be like to belong to a country, to have a flag raised up high and to have a just government...but I failed. I have no idea what that feeling is like! I never will! Even my efforts in trying to imagine the feeling failed. I watched the fireworks in tears last night longing for the feeling that the hundreds of people around me felt. I wanted to grab some of them and ask them what it felt like for them...I wanted to beg them to explain to me what it feels to be free, to have a nationality, to have an identity.
Will I ever know? probably not...I hang on to the fact that I do feel a sense of belonging in God's kingdom. I do know that I have a just king (even the Lord Jesus Christ) who loves me. I know I not only have a just king, but a merciful king. My identity as a child of God is what keeps me going.
When I gave a devotional on Sunday a woman there asked me how I deal with trials. I told her that as long as you really believe Heavenly Father loves you, then nothing else would matter. Because if you believe God has all power, and has power to remove your trials, but chooses not to, then He must know in His wisdom that these trials will help you become stronger and become more like Him. I testify that we do have a loving, just, merciful king and that we are all children of God, precious in His sight.