We need to break down walls

I met an Israeli nurse, and discussed visiting her country. I said I'd like to go to Bethlehem, and she looked appalled – but that's in the Arab area, they're our enemies! – and then agreed that it's only about 3 km away. Hard to imagine living like that?

A journalist interviewed Israeli teenagers at a camp in Canada. Although 25% of their population are Arabs, most of the Jewish teens spoke no arabic, had never visited any Arab area (within kilometres), and would indeed have felt very unpopular walking down an Arab street. The Arab teens all spoke Hebrew as well as arabic ...

Worship music is changing. The phase of kids-camp choruses (Jesus how we love you repeated 27 times) are ending, and the pendulum has REALLY swung, towards interesting prose which is totally unsingable! Try, for example, the one entitled “Consume Me From The Inside Out” (it's the refrain, rapidly repeated).

At our teen camp the Nurse inspects the cabins and gives marks “out of 10” – North-American style, marking very kindly. She actually apologized to one rather messy cabin “... so I'm sorry but you only get 10 out of 10 today.” How are kids supposed to learn? Our rules are not very clear: in a card game one boy was asked what colour the card he held was. He faltered, hesitated, and eventually blurted out “The non-red one”!

Sometimes one needs to speak out. At camp we sang the song that ends “... He gives and takes away, He gives and takes away.” That's just WRONG, Mr. Redman! God doesn't give you a child and then take it away, like some white-coated scientist experimenting on ants. He loves His children, and it hurts Him to see us suffer in this fallen world. So I complained. The teen next to me looked VERY thoughtful, nodded, and said slowly “I lost my father last year”.

Life's surprises continue. Friends Robin & Marilyn recounted being taken on a private tour of the Detroit Ford plant by a VP. Walking through the noise and confusion, they had to dodge a small flatbed trailer whipping round a corner carrying spare parts ... and a box fell off. The four-wheeler stopped. The VP obligingly popped the box back on. Whereupon union officials stopped the entire production line in protest, at astronomical cost. See, the VP can't pick up a box – he's not in the union.

Sitting stranded in a tiny remote airport, an older man leaned over and asked me if this was the right plane – and we got talking. He sounded a little grandiose – and ended by telling me he was the only person in the world that Muhammed Ali had never been able to knock down. I was sceptical. No plane so we went out to lunch – and the waitress recognized him! He is George Chuvalo, heavy-weight boxer, and did indeed survive two 15-round fights with Ali, losing only on points. Wow. He now tours schools giving motivational talks on drug abuse – bet he keeps them interested!