Oh, my dear ones. I am still here. And I apologise for being such a terrible blogger and correspondent. A special apology goes to members of my partnering presbyteries who have taken the time to get in touch and not yet had a response from me. I PROMISE I will write soon.

This is woefully dramatic, I know, but I feel like I’m drowning in words at the moment. Since I got back from holiday, I’ve done so. much. writing.

There were emails to catch up on. And you know what’s wrong with emails? Once you reply, the recipient more often than not writes back! Which means more emails. And some of these emails need a diplomatic response. Which takes ages to compose and I do my normal thing of over-thinking every single word…. And I still manage to say the wrong thing.

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There were reports to write. Reports for committee meetings back in Scotland. Reports on my priorities and how I see my work here. Reports on the church renovation project. Reports on meetings with our partners.

I was asked months ago to write a reflection for the YWCA of Palestine on my vocation here. And I kept forgetting. I am grateful for the patience of a friend who sent such gentle reminders until I finally got it done.

The Scots Hotel is renovating its Visitors’ Centre, and one wall is to be a display of the Church of Scotland’s presence here in Israel-Palestine and a short introduction to some of the work of our partners, especially here in the north. It’s another project I’ve been sitting on for far too long. Let me just say: anyone who tells you it’s easier to write a short piece than a long essay is a liar. It would be far easier to write 10,000 words than 100 on the history of the CofS in the Holy Land (but please don’t ask me to do that because my ignorance would be all too quickly revealed).

I’ve also redesigned the St Andrew’s church brochure to highlight again our links with organisations here in the north. If 100 word intros are tough, distilling their work down into one sentence was nearly impossible.

This week I’ve been tweeting over on Church of Scotland Voices. Great fun. But MORE WORDS.

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And Sundays just won’t stop coming. And with them the relentless preparation of service sheets and sermons.

I love words. I always have. I love writing. It’s as important to me as breathing.

And it’s been good to write out my priorities, to reflect on what I’m doing here and what I could be doing more of, to be in contact with our partners about the Visitors’ Centre and future projects.

But last week in particular, the constant shift between different styles of writing on different subjects for different audiences left me in near meltdown. So Thursday I turned off my computer, put my phone into flight-mode (so I could listen to music but not pick up calls or texts), took myself down to the hotel pool and stared into space for about four hours. It wasn’t just gloriously indulgent; it was also the only way my sermon for Sunday was going to get written.

Thus has been the life of the mission partner in Tiberias recently. (And no, the irony of writing more words about drowning in words is not lost on me.) To be honest, it’s too hot to do much else but stay inside. However, by next week, I will have accomplished rather a lot and cleared my desk of some things that have been hanging over me pretty much since I arrived. And I shall celebrate this minor victory with a trip with some friends to Ramallah for a wedding!

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