Gather ’round and I’ll tell you a tale today of a boy named George who came to stay. From Palestine, yes, and a Christian, too; but about him that was all we knew. At the airport we met him and the HCEF crew. We were eager and anxious and a bit nervous, too. Who was this new boy, our new son and brother? How would it work out? Would we like one another?
The Beginnings of the Children’s Peace Project
Realizing the need for a more personal connection between Western Christians and the Holy Land Christians and to build lasting bridges of peace between the two communities, HCEF began the Children’s Peace Project. This Project allows an American parish or school to share their lives with Christian youth from the Holy Land in their homes and schools.
The Children’s Peace Project had its inaugural year in 2003 when St. Andrew’s Parish in Ohio collaborated with HCEF in hosting five children from the Holy Land. This year six children from different regions in the Holy Land along with a teacher were hosted by families in Ohio and Washington D.C.
Both the children and their host families have touched the lives of each other in countless ways. A mother of one of the host families last year commented that she was afraid at first to host a Palestinian “terrorist” in her home, but that after having a chance to share her life with that child for a month, she now has a Palestinian son.
Below is a poem written by a mother who hosted a child this year in Washington, D.C.
“For George, with love, from Mom”
Gather ’round and I’ll tell you a tale today
of a boy named George who came to stay.
From Palestine, yes, and a Christian, too;
but about him that was all we knew.
At the airport we met him and the HCEF crew.
We were eager and anxious and a bit nervous, too.
Who was this new boy, our new son and brother?
How would it work out? Would we like one another?
His English was good and his smile was quick;
his hair — black and gelled up and spiky and thick.
He seemed fairly quiet; we were strangers I knew.
And I’m sure he, like us, wondered just what to do.
We got to our house and showed him around;
the boys, acting like a new toy they had found.
We moved in his things and, before very long,
that thing about “quiet,” I discovered, was wrong.
He comes from a family of boys, I soon learned.
And from “quiet” to “quite at home” he soon turned.
George fit right in, with the chaos and noise
which is just part of life in a house full of boys.
He lived on McDonald’s for about the first week,
’til one day he “supersized” himself, so to speak.
Six double cheeseburgers proved to be more
than his Arabic-food-loving gut could endure.
He got used to my cooking and I must admit
I think once or twice he enjoyed it a bit.
He doesn’t eat broccoli, or anything green,
except salad and Skittles, though he loves Mr. Bean.
He taught me to say “mar-haba” and I taught him to say
“Please beautiful mother” when he wanted his way.
And of course when he’d say that I couldn’t say no,
whether he wanted a snack or to play Xbox Halo.
George discovered baseball, a sport we all love.
It’s hard to believe he’s never had his own glove.
He can field, he can pitch and boy, can he hit!
And like any good ballplayer, of course, he can spit.
He’d tickle Danny and wrestle with Dom;
borrow Jack’s Game Boy and try to charm Mom.
With Dad he’d play football, with Joe, hoops he’d shoot,
and help himself freely to all Halloween loot.
We had a great time, and we laughed a lot, too.
And I regularly had to reassure dear Ms. Sue
that really, George was behaving, he was listening to me.
It was going just fine, just as fine as could be.
But what George brought us was more than just fun.
He taught us that from different lands, we are one.
One family in Christ, spread across many miles.
We can’t help but share in his struggles and trials.
My hope is that he’s heard our message, too.
And that we’ve touched his heart in a way that is new.
That he knows that we hope and we pray for the peace
that the Holy Land needs, that all fighting will cease.
And I want him to know that we love and we care
So much about him and everyone there.
But especially know that this mother of four
will feel like a mother of five evermore.
November 15, 2004