My blog would not be complete without featuring Sister Najah, who oversees the Evangelical Home at the school - a home for childen from broken families or in other trying situations. Sr. Najah came to the home when she herself was three years old after her mother passed away. While studying at Bible College in Swansea UK, Sr. Najah discerned that God was calling her back to Ramallah to serve the children in the Home. Shortly thereafter, the founders of the school re-dedicated their lives to God and formed a religious order, the Emmanuel Sisters to which Sr. Najah belongs. While initially they wore habits, the sisters decided it was nicer for the children to see colourful clothes and so they reverted back to 'street clothes'. The only outward symbol of their dedication to God is a small cross pin that Sr. Najah wears daily without fail. From providing me with a cell phone when I discovered my mobile does not work here to lending me a thicker winter jacket when the weather turned, she has been a saving grace for me, always looking out for me. And she has an incredible love and care for the children - even when we are out and about, enjoying a treat at the local ice-cream parlour, she will suddenly think of one of the children and place a call. She is a second mother to many of the kids and my time here would not have been the same without her. Words and pictures can not properly capture the amazing essence of her personhood!
And then there is Brother Andrew, a brother from the Order of the Holy Cross, who lives in Salt, Jordan and works at the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf (http://www.allah-kariem.org), a center for the education and training of deaf, deaf/blind and hard-of-hearing children. I met Br. Andrew at the Diocese of Jerusalem's annual synod. He is originally from Holland, so we had an instint kinship, being of Dutch origins myself. In his younger days, while traveling in the Middle East, he stumbled upon the brotherhood of the Holy Cross. While not actually seeking to be a monk, Br. Andrew felt that joining the brotherhood was the right answer for him and he has never looked back since. Like Sr. Najah, he is the only one from his Order in the Middle East. It appears the world over that the call to the religious life is becoming a harder call to answer.