Originally, we were anticipating housing in a location on the Mount of Olives...a very cool location Biblically but one of some concern in modern day. As in most places, there's a good and bad "side of the tracks," and the Mount of Olives is no exception. Our previous housing was, well, not on the good side of the tracks.
All that to say, our anticipation of this venture went way up (and our stress level way down) when that housing fell through and we found out we were going to be living at Tantur Ecumenical Institute instead. We found out the week before we left the States about this housing switch and are still running on the adrenaline of overwhelming gratefulness as we get to know our new "home."
Tantur Ecumenical Institute rests on a hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem, walking distance from Bethlehem. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of "ecumenical," they sum it up nicely in this excerpt from their website:
with greater diversity and differences reflecting the history of the
Christian church with all of its debates and divisions,
yet nonetheless expressing a desire for greater
understanding of these divisions finding
the essential core of a shared life in Christ."
Map of Tantur Ecumenical Institute Location (aka: us)
Tantur is one of the top locations in Jerusalem, and the world, for inter-faith dialogue between Jewish, Islamic, and Christian communities in a region of the world where civil dialogue of any kind between these religions is a feat. As a Christian-based organization, they promote this dialogue especially among "themselves," striving to create a safe place for conversation and worship for those from a variety of denominational or other backgrounds. I love this. There are just no words to express the joy I feel not only knowing a place like this exists, but also that I get to be a part of it for a small time. Check out their website to learn more about their intentionality in community and hospitality.
The apartment came fully furnished, with awesome vintage couches and my favorite...a bathtub. Oh, and did I mention they have hot water? THEY HAVE HOT WATER! Woooohoooo! Such a splurge, in the grand scheme, but one I am so thankful to enjoy. Most of those coming to Tantur stay for 3 weeks to a month, in dorms or other apartments while on sabbatical, study trips, etc. We are able to join the community meal on Sunday nights (or any other night...if we wanted to pay) and have enjoyed being able to do that twice thus far.
Below is a slideshow of pics we've taken around Tantur, to give you a glimpse of our daily views:
To the right is a video from Tantur's site for a different view...if you're up for that sort of thing.
Again, we are so thankful to be a part of this community. As written on their site, sometimes "instead of enjoying a common meal together, we in fact eat each other in our vain struggle to survive." I grieve over how often I have witnessed this, both in organized church and cultural interactions. Worse, I have not only witnessed it, but joined in myself when others' actions or convictions differ from my own.
I forget that we are all seeking the same Truth. For now, I am learning to rest in the assurance of GOD's Redeeming Love, that He will reveal His TRUTH to all who truly seek to find, no matter what the journey looks like.