This year, I spent Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, which is still a little strange for me to say. I attended Christmas Lutheran Church’s service, which included leaders and congregants from the Arabic, English, and German speaking congregations of the ELCJHL and guest, visitors, and pilgrims from all over the world. The service was beautiful and it was nice to be surrounded by new family and friends for the evening. However, the service was not all the evening had in store. After the service, I had made plans to go back to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem with a few friends to enjoying some time together, but there was just one little hitch.
I left the church with Abby and Steve, and we walked toward the main road called Bab Eskak between Bethlehem and Beit Jala, which is where Steve had parked his car. As we were walking, Steve started to look a little nervous and finally realized that the car was no longer where he had parked it. What now? It just so happened that this street was lined with soldiers and police officers on patrol for the local and foreign dignitaries who were making their way into Bethlehem. We stopped and talked to an officer who informed us that the car had been towed, simply to make room for the dignitaries. He told us to take a taxi to the Nissan Circle, which is where we would find the car. So as a group, we scrunched maybe one too many people into a taxi and took a six minute ride over to the car lot.
As we bailed like clowns out of a clown car at Nissan Circle, we were greeted by more officers and soldiers who were more than willing to help us. But as we looked around the lot, the white Chevy Aveo was no where to be seen. When we inquired about it, the gentleman who looked in charge got on his radio and told us that it was being towed in right now. Success! So we waited and a minute or two later, the flatbed pulled up with a white Chevy on the back. We all started rejoicing and the soldiers even stopped the tow truck for us so we could snap a good picture. But you know it can’t be this easy. It wasn’t until Steve walked up to the car and tried to unlock it with the remote that we noticed the “Middle East Car Rental” sticker on the side. This was not our white Chevy Aveo. The temperature was getting colder and we were now all wondering where the car was and how we would get back to Jerusalem.
At this point, it seemed like the entire fleet of soldiers at the car lot was gathered around us, trying to help. We eventually were led to a Palestinian police car, which we were told would take us to the car. We still didn’t have any idea where the car had disappeared to, but we got in, again in squishing one to many people, and the officer started driving back toward Beit Jala. We pulled onto Bab Eskak, and lo and behold we see the car! It had been moved into a small parking lot not 200 feet from where Steve had originally parked. And that my friends, is how I ended up riding in a police car on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. It was an absolutely hilarious way to end my Christmas Eve celebration and an experience I will never forget!