Dear Friends – Greetings from the Tent of Nations!
Once again here is a short update of our situation; what has been going on over the past few months and our future plans.
It is sad to say that the news that is coming out from our region is still very bad. We are in this Dark Tomb, but we still have the hope of resurrection and we will see the sun of justice rising again.
On the 18th of April I had a meeting with our Lawyer Sani Khoury. He informed me that the military representatives had their meeting in the military court without informing our Lawyer and decided that the reason for not giving us a building permit for our renovations is that those renovations will be close to a road the Israelis are planning to build in our area. We don’t know anything about this plan. Our Lawyer will appeal to the military court on the 27th of April against that. This Appeal will be, as usual, refused by the military court, which means that we have to bring it to the Israeli Supreme Court.
We are contacting human rights organizations to find out about this new plan in order to react and appeal against it very soon. We will keep you updated and inform you about any development, and we will ask you to act in terms of emergency.
Nature is like our mother. With this deep connection to nature and to our land, we planted more than 600 new trees: pine, almond, apricot, olive and grapevines. The land is very rocky and hilly so it is necessary to build terraces using the backhoe, tractor and the hands of many volunteers to move rocks and build walls to support the terraces. Thanks to all volunteers who helped in preparing the fields and in planting the trees. We have to start watering the new planted trees in May using the water from the cisterns.
Planting trees is important for the sustainability. A grandfather was planting an olive tree, his grandson was asking him, “Why are you planting this tree when you can’t eat from its fruits?”
The grandfather smiled and answered his grandson, “My grandparents and parents had planted those olive trees and we are eating from their fruits now. We have also to do the same, to plant new trees in order for you to harvest and eat the fruits.”
Also, it’s always important to make the land more productive and to come closer in a step by step process towards self-sufficiency. Our goal is to sell our products in a little Vineyard-Shop.
We had a strong wind and it damaged the plastic cover of our greenhouse. We have to buy a new cover and plant the greenhouse with vegetables again.
The first cedar tree was planted at Tent of Nations in the beginning of March with the Tree of Life group from USA. This tree was planted in memory of Jiries Atrash’s mother who died recently. This tree was planted in the middle of a star made out of stones, “the star of Bethlehem.” The cedar tree from Lebanon is a sign of eternity.
We celebrated the Land Day on Wednesday, the 30th of March. Bishara Nassar, my father died on land day 1976. His dream was to make from his farm a place of encounter and peace. We are still working on achieving my father’s dream and vision with the Tent of Nations project.
A French group joined us on that special day, Bishop Crudup from USA closed the ceremony around the memorial stone with a prayer. On the stone, we wrote the biblical text from Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Our solar system is functioning well, and we installed it two and a half years ago. With this solar system we were able to save $22,000 as diesel expense for the generator.
We are planning to install a small wind turbine to be combined with the solar system. This is in order to continue our steps towards self-sufficiency and also to raise awareness regarding the issue of alternative energy. Our vision is to establish a vocational training center focusing on alternative energy and farming.
We renovated caves to be used for accommodations for guests and volunteers as well as for storage of tools and machinery. We are in the last stages of having our Vineyard shop and a small café. The Vineyard shop will offer to our visitors products from the farm, like sage, grape syrup, dried apricots, figs, raisins, almonds, olive oil soap, Satar and others.
We want to encourage our friends all over the world to support our Vineyard shop and buy our products. This will help make the farm self-supportive and bring it into self-sufficiency. We are ready to send you the Tent of Nations package of products the farm is producing.
We already built a new rain water collection for about 45 cubic meters of water. Our 12 cisterns have a capacity to collect about 700 cubic meters of water. This year it didn’t rain much, our cisterns are not full which means that we have to buy water this coming summer.
We are thinking of filtering the gray water to be reused again for watering the plants and trees. Any kind of support for this project is appreciated.
From April 4th to the 10th we had the women’s week. We had different activities and workshops focusing on women’s health. Pease contact us for more information about the women’s week and the Bent Al Reef women project.
We are very happy to see the number of visitors to the Tent of Nations is increasing year by year. From January to March we had a total of 1529 guests from: Africa – 2, USA – 591, Belgium – 1, Canada – 15, Germany – 345, England – 13, France – 57, Holland – 24, Israel – 54, Italy – 173, Japan – 1, Norway – 6, Austria – 158, Palestine – 59, Sweden – 2, Switzerland – 28.
An Austrian group of wheelchair bound guests visited us in March.
It is wonderful to see people from different countries, backgrounds, and religions coming to visit the Tent of Nations. Those visits are a big encouragement for us to keep looking forward and focus on our vision.
We are happy to see the increased number of volunteers who are coming to help and support the project from different countries. Our special thanks for all the volunteers who invest their time and energy in helping at the Tent of Nations. A statement from two Americans who lived and worked here for 3 weeks: “My wife Irene and I (Nicholas) traveled to Palestine to support and show our solidarity with the Palestinian people while working to end global injustice and colonization.”
It is important to keep the spirit high, to focus on the positives (even if they are few), and with determination to try to overcome the obstacles
It is a big sign of hope to see that the Dark Tomb was not the end but the path into a new life. This message of hope surrounded by this shining light is living with us day by day. We want to share that with you all.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support.
Blessings and Salaam in this very special time,
Tent of Nations – People Building Bridges-
Tent of Nations
-People Building Bridges-
P.O.Box 28, Bethlehem
Tel: +972 (0)2 274 30 71
Fax: +972 (0)2 276 74 46
Mobile: +972 (0)522 975 985