Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Half a Day with Hani

This morning I woke up shaking off the failure of a filming attempt from the previous day. Pastor Hanna and I had spent two really hot hours the day before in the sun of a Sea-of-Galilean shore trying to film a devotion. Having on mind the troubles of the day before, I tried to put together more compact gear, convincing myself of the things I will and will not be needing. I walked out the door and to the bus station to catch a bus to Cana. Arriving at the church in Cana, which is below Pastor Hani’s house, I found he was not there; after all I did show up a little early. But, as always, there was coffee on the table outside ready to be enjoyed by anyone who’s willing to drink it. Actually, it was for the women once they were done with their prayer meeting, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind making another pot. I drank my coffee, enjoyed the tranquility of the place, apart from the women’s fervent prayers, and thought of how the filming will go. Little did I know that I will be spending more time with Hani than I thought.

Hani arrived a few minutes later wearing his friendly smile. As any good husband would, he was running an errand for Shifa, his wife, making sure the home has every need fulfilled before he could go out and fulfill needs of others. We drank more coffee, my second, third, and fourth cup already before we sat down and discussed the devotion he will be filming as well as the location we will be filming at. Then we packed it up and headed toward the Wedding Church.

Sitting in the church yard was a monk, he was reading a book when he caught a glimpse of his next two nuisances. We asked him, fingers crossed, if we could film in the church. Looking back at his book, torn between the answer he should give and the one that will get him back to his book the fastest, he said, “make it quick.” I got Hani's mic on quickly, put on what I thought would be the best lens for the location and on we went. We jumped from one corner to another trying to dodge tourists, and about an hour later “quick” was over. By this point Hani was a bit late to another appointment; he was meeting the guy who brings the food supplies for the benevolence packages. I’ve heard of the “warehouse” before but I’ve never been to it. I asked Hani, “can I come along?” He said, “let’s go.”

There it was—not what I had imagined, but not disappointed either—and I was impressed. A truck waited outside; the driver stepped out and gave Hani a very warm greeting which was met by another. Foolishly, I forgot to replace the battery in my camera so I missed getting that on tape. I got the camera up and running, and I was introduced to Father Christmas who works all year round. He backed up the truck and unloaded two big loads of food supply. Inside the warehouse are two long tables which were made by the CHLF Team members. One had the food supply on it, and another had packaged food supply. There were names on the walls of the different villages. Under every name were the packages that were put together to be distributed in that village to families in need.

Getting ready to leave the place, Hani’s phone rang. I heard him say, “I’ll be there in two minutes.” Then he looked to me and said, “Do you want to come with me to visit someone.” I said, “sure!” After a short drive we arrived at a house with a nice garden where a tall person waited to greet us. We sat in his living room as he told us about the bizarre experience he’s had. Shortly after he told us the story Ibraheem arrived with his merry personality. The story was told again. For the first time I got to witness the dynamic of these visits. I have heard about the “visits;” an important part of the Team members’ ministry. However, due to the sensitivity most visits deal with, rarely does an outsider get to sit in on one of them. This is where my day slowed down for reflection.

I was able to review the events of the day thus far in slow motion while our host talked, and he talked a lot. I knew what the challenge was so far in terms of reporting about the ministry that is being done. However, the majority of the work being done cannot be hung out on a clothes line. One of the things I will never be able to communicate enough is the importance of the work the Team are doing. Hani’s words from the shooting earlier that day resonated as he addressed the soon-to-be viewers who are also supporters: “you are our partners in the work being done here.”

The work at hand is not one that can be done within church walls. It is done with people who will most likely never be within church walls. But walls are there to be leapt over. I could almost physically see the string that runs from the hand of the supporter to the hand that does the actual work. It is the giving hands of those obedient to His calling that makes ministry possible through the CHLF Team members; making them partners in the work. While I might be in better shape than some of the Team members, I could only hope that one day I’ll be able to leap over walls like they do! 

That was some half a day.

A frame from the shoot outside the Wedding Church in Cana

A frame from the shoot inside the Wedding Church in Cana

The food supply truck outside the warehouse

Hani telling me about the modern Cana of Galilee on our way to visit with some people

For discretion purposes, I cannot show you pictures of the people we visited, so here are some flowers from their garden

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