I left my heart in Akko...

Well, we meet again, Blog world. I was gone for quite some time.

I have been yet again waxing and waning in my life's purpose and through the ups and downs and foggy days, a clear path is beginning to emerge again!

Photo by me!
Sometimes I forget how blogging has really helped me to clear my head. There are quite a few things flying around in there right now, so I thought I'd put my hand to typing again to organize my thoughts. Somehow it goes much better when I realize that someone out there is actually reading it, so I work harder to be more coherent and tangible. So here it goes!

My thoughts and even my dreams have all centered around Akko. It's where my heart is, it's where my passion is.

One reason I love this place so much. So many different people!
I was trying too hard to both find a job and apply for grants to return to Israel that it was ripping my heart in two. Last week I decided, no more job hunt. I am working full time, albeit with little money, but I do have an income - and a place to live and food to eat and a wonderful, amazing, loving, supportive family who won't let me fail. I am truly fortunate to have all of that in my life; it's more than many people have. With all that in mind, I had the realization after talking with my wonderful grammom - my heart and mind are in Akko; why am I wasting my time looking for jobs more related to my field of study or interests when I could actually be doing what I really want to do? It's strange because never in my life have I been so sure of something, and it feels weird and different. I MUST go back and finish my work.

Today, I had another realization that came in the form of an email from a lovely lady who shares my same name. The content was straightforward and professional, but the hidden message said: "We love you. We want you back. Here's how we're going to help you." And it came to me so powerfully that at first it scared me. Then I saw that it was going to help me and that they weren't going to give up on me, and I know that I cannot give up on myself. I need to work harder. I miss it. I miss it so much. I miss the people and the food and the generosity and the culture. It is my second home. My home away from home. I have two homes! How many people can say that?

Now, what do I need to do to make this happen?

1. Beef up my project proposal!
2. Apply to more grants!
3. Write my speech for the church in October!
Oh, I'm speaking to my congregation to take up a donation for the cemetery in Akko. I have to work on this.
Let's break it down:

1. Project Proposals:
I have never written one of these. I was starting to get really upset about this, but I am getting a lot of help from people who care about me and this is absolutely wonderful!

There are multiple scopes to my project.

  • Physical work
    • Restoring graves
    • Purchasing materials
    • Hiring professionals for survey
    • Training volunteers
  • Documentation & Geneology
    • Creating a monument survey
    • Creating an interactive website with survey information
      • Families will be able to add information about loved ones buried there
  • Community Involvement
    • Inviting the community to be a part of the documentation and physical work
    • Teaching about conservation
    • Listening to and incorporating concerns and ideas from the community
  • The People
    • From the Community
      • Priests
      • Community leaders (Abdu, Nzar, Salem, among others)
      • Youth (the scout groups and other youth)
    • Professional
      • Engineers/Architects/Conservators (at least initially)
The project will involve lecture days, training days, and work days. There will be more lecture and training in the beginning, but I imagine I will need more training and work days later as more people decide they want to get involved. Training will be more hands on at first but after some time, I will be able to remove myself completely from the project - my ultimate goal! - so that the project will be completely self-sustaining from the community.

My second goal is to unite the four church communities in this effort. I would like for each church to have a handful of volunteers working in the cemetery.

2. Grants
Um, yea. I think this is going to be my hardest part. I really have no idea where to look. BUT, I am getting some help from the wonderful people at the International Conservation Center! YAY! This is just going to take more research than I am putting into it now.

3. Church Speech
This is actually going to take some serious thought. I need to present the urgency of conserving this cemetery without making the people of Akko seem disrespectful, ignorant, or uncaring. Because they are none of these things. In fact, the reason I got into this project was because the people there are the exact opposite. They just need assistance.

I spoke with Nzar today and I think we're going to go with donating the money towards preparing the area for a cemetery chapel. As of right now, there is no place for services on the cemetery grounds, though there is a building that would  make a wonderful chapel. If preparations can be made towards cleaning it up to begin renovations, the community would see its importance and become more involved to make it happen. Perhaps then there would be more places to seek funding. Also, if there a single building where families and the community could go to pray, it might encourage more unity between the four churches.

Future location of cemetery chapel.

Yes, I think all of this is good. And now I feel better. YES!

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