We are considering establishing a new school in order to prepare those interested in taking their lives in their own hands by driving themselves around in Israel. We're thinking of calling it:
The Shalom School of Offensive Driving
Here you’ll receive hands-on field training to learn the essential skills necessary to peacefully and calmly drive while in Israel. You’ll learn where the edges of your vehicle are so you can safely, efficiently, and with precision, weave through traffic while traveling at high speeds down the freeway. Included is instruction on when and how to use the medians to avoid being caught in traffic snarls.
These skills will also apply while driving in city traffic when you suddenly need to turn left from the right-hand lane, forcefully merge between lanes, and dodge oncoming traffic while avoiding double-parked cars along a two-way street.
We’ll also have beginner through master classes on when and how to use your horn to express your impatience, or to protect nearby drivers by warning them of their mistakes due to their inexperience.
If your interest is in motorcycles, our class, Threading a Camel Through the Eye of a Needle, will teach you the essential basics in choosing which two lanes of vehicles to scoot between, how to judge the distance between them, which lane is likely moving the quickest, and when is the best time to take the sidewalk.
You’ll learn when and when not to close your eyes and hold your breath, that courage is your only option, and that every moment is an opportunity to pray for mercy and protection.
Finally, you’ll learn that a vehicle is merely a useful tool with which to move about and that dents and scratches are the Badges of Bravery that testify of your many successful arrivals to your destination.
If you’re interested in applying for admission to our school please phone our office at 1-800-DRV-ISRL.
I thought I'd be able to write every few days while here in Israel. It seems, however, that I haven't been able to get my thoughts together long enough to get them down.
Traveling with other people takes up a fair amount of space in my mind, not to mention all the different things and places we've experienced, leaving less time for ruminating. I want to tell you about where we've been, but I also want to try to express to you how it feels to be here.
For the first week and a half, it was pretty hot and humid ~ mid 80's, which is way out of the comfort zone for this cool weather Pacific North-westerner ~ but has cooled off into the mid 70's, thank goodness!
It didn't occur to me until this morning that we are at about 2500 feet in elevation here in Jerusalem, which also challenges my sea-level legs. All in all, I should be in better shape when I return home than when I arrived here.
This past Thursday we traveled to Itamar, a community just north of Jerusalem in Samaria, which was established in the mid-80's. We wanted to connect with Rabbi Moshe and Leah Goldsmith, who were one of the original families to establish the community. When we arrived, they embraced us with open arms, inviting us to enjoy snacks and drinks in their beautiful sukkah. Their hospitality was warm and generous.
When the community began, there was no water or electricity and they had to drive to Jerusalem for groceries. Over the years the families have developed their community to include raising chickens, organic gardening and a goat farm. Much of their abundant harvest is sold to markets in Tel Aviv. They have paid a dear price to redeem and hold on to this beautiful land, losing friends and families to various terrorist attacks.
Spreading over several hill tops, the highest point in the community is Mountain 866, named such because it is 866 meters, or 2841', feet above sea level. The military has placed a tower used to listen to cell activity all the way into Syria. This helps protect the county as a whole. At the top of 866, on a clear day - which for us it wasn't - one can see the Sea of Galilee to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Dead Sea to the south. Even though we were unable to see the seas, the view was wide open and spectacular looking over the stony hills, valley of olive trees and various communities.
Sitting here in our apartment this afternoon, the sliding door is open, a cool breeze flows through. Voices rise from the large sukkah below us, men singing in Hebrew, pounding the tables with enthusiasm and joy, jangling cutlery and dishes all part of the musical composition. I imagine they are songs of thankfulness for the blessings of this Holiday, provision from the Father, and the anticipation of their - and our - coming Messiah.
Blessings to all of you, as well... until next time!
It's been a while. Way too long. The last time I visited this blog I was pulling those pesky weeds - yet again!
Well, not today! Today, I sit in our lovely apartment cooling off and winding down after a long hot walk down to the Western Wall to join in with all the faithful prayer warriors during Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. A time for coming before our Father, pulling back the curtain of our hearts and asking Him show us the places that need His merciful cleansing.
Descending the stairs from Hurva Square, through the security check point to enter the Western Wall Plaza, we could see men and women dressed in white garments. It's traditional to wear white garments on Yom Kippur. The whole day is spent in fasting and prayer and white is a sort of reminder of the purity and solemnity of the day.
No pictures are allowed while at the Western Wall Plaza on this day, but Ron took this one from the top of the stairs before reaching the Plaza. You can just see people gathered to the left of the stairway leading up to the Temple Mount.
As Julia, Zelta and I sat on on the women's side, we could hear singing and shouting coming from the men's side, and listened as groups of men marched and sang as they ascended the walkway up to the Temple Mount.
It was quite the 36 hour trek from Seattle to Jerusalem but we're so thankful to be here. It's sometimes hard to grasp that I get to be again.
We can stand on our balcony, look over red tiled rooftops and see the Dome of the Rock, Mount of Olives with the Jewish cemetery just below. Right now, the city is quiet, no cars or trains running, only police cars are allowed. In the distance I hear the Muslim prayers mixed together with the laughter of Jewish children playing on a balcony in the apartment building next door. What a contrast.
Until next time... Shalom from Jerusalem!
The swimmers have returned.. splash and dive. Another beautiful day in paradise. Conversations with our brothers and sisters from the Netherlands. We were surrounded by them last evening at dinner. Ron and I were the only two Americans at a table of 10. Their Dutch accented voices sharing their hearts and perspectives...
"We don't want either! [Trump or Hillary]", with which we agreed.
"We are still bridge builders between our brothers and sisters at home and our Israel homeland." Again, we agreed.
"It's a difficult place to live, here in Israel. It's not time to invest in the land." Well... I'm praying this last statement is a translational issue. I believe if it were time to live in Israel, we would live in Israel. However, it is time to invest in the land to whatever degree we are able and allowed.
We did enjoy much talk and sharing about our families and learning how to say thank you in Dutch, "danke something"... I wish I could remember. And your welcome.. which I can't even remember a hint of how it goes.
Never the less, our hearts connected as much as possible during an hour and a half dinner time. It was so special - a stretch to understand each other, but so sweet. This is the land of prophesy. I can't seem to forget that. Our very presence here demonstrates that.
It's now lunch time on Shabbat (October 29, 2016). This morning we enjoyed reading the Torah together, all sitting in a huge double-ringed circle. Different people reading different sections. Here in Israel. Where it's all about that.
We have a rest time now, a Shabbat, and little pockets of people have gathered here and there for Bible study.
Julia and Ron have both been down with colds and feel pretty poor. It's a good day for them to rest and recuperate as much as possible. Zel and Julia are staying in a room near us and they will be down in a little bit so we can enjoy lunch together.
It's been hard to grasp all that I've experienced in the last 2.5 weeks. Hard to put into words. I can rattle off each event, each activity, but I'm finding it difficult to get down into the feeling of it all. It will take some processing. These are just odds and ends...
They shout, they holler, they wave their hands then it's all over. Shaloms are said and off they go on their way.
This is a land of passion and emotion, all worn on the outside, lived on the outside.
During our stay at the Eshel Ha'Shomron Hotel, in Ariel, Samaria, we had the opportunity to meet some of the writers and staff who run the Breaking Israel News website. They had many questions about what country/state we came from, how did we come to understand our Israelite heritage, how do our fellowships work, in essence, who we are and what we believe.
It was a sweet meeting of brothers and sisters, an inspiring visit. Though definitely not enough time to thoroughly explore each others hearts, I felt affirmed as their Ephraimite sister and gushed a bit, wanting to apologize,
"Please forgive our Ephraimite Crush. We are so glad to see you seeing us. Though we may still see each other through a glass darkly, we are so glad to be seen and to meet you and be in your midst."
Several days later, during the taxi ride from the Townhouse Tel Aviv Boutique Hotel in Tel Aviv, our driver, Daniel, was also interested in us Americans. We shared much conversation, including each of our opinions about our upcoming Presidential election. He was amazed at our love for and desire to support Israel and so eloquently expressed his heart stating that Israelis consider themselves as one of the stars in our flag. We didn't talk much about God or religion, but no matter, I was very touched and, again, felt affirmed by my Israeli brother.
In contrast, I sat next to a woman during our flight from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt. She slept almost the entire way, waking up in a very chatty mood just as we approached Frankfurt. She said she had been visiting in Israel for about a week and was so glad to be headed home to Chicago. Her opinion of Israel was that of a third-world country, very difficult living situations for the general public; strongly disliked the cats that are everywhere and disapproved of the governments decision to subsidize people in order to feed them. I hadn't heard of this, but apparently the government believes it is the humane thing to do.
I had to mostly agree with her on all but one point, the third-world view. And, I can mostly agree that it can be very difficult to live in Israel. But, with all of the security, military, technology and agricultural innovations, third world it is not.
Her opinions were her own, and I may even consider them to be a bad report, but my thoughts, which I kept to myself, were, "but if those (us Ephraimites), who love Israel were allowed in to live, we would bring good things to help improve conditions where necessary, and even fill the land pushing out those who hate Israel."
No, it is not America, with her spacious freedom. But, dare I say, we Americans could learn a lot from these strong, brave and tenacious people who are holding on to this incredible land in the face of unrestrained and unrepentant hatred directed toward them by most of the world. And, not least of all, they are building and improving, as they are able, in spite of it. And that needs an exclamation point after it!!
Photos: A diverse mosaic of paths walked by our ancestors, Ceasarea, Israel.
Prophesy is before our eyes...
Eshel Ha'Shomron Hotel. It's just as I remembered. Only cooler. What is Your plan for us this year, Father?
This lovely breeze blows, voices softly murmuring from neighboring balconies interspersed with joyous laughter. The splashing has ceased for now as the swimmers prepare for this evenings dinner, the roar of a lawnmower takes it's place.
In the distance I see from our ground-floor terrace the spikey fronds of a palm tree peeking above juniper trees woven through with deep pink bougainvillea. Situated next to a ramp leading from our group of 8 rooms to the pool area below, ours is a cute, rather public little terrace, and we see everyone coming and going.Thus, we must be the gate-keepers of our little enclave.
There are many such enclaves in this hotel. Perhaps the Lord has designated a gate-keeper for each one.
I must be forthright to say, though it feels somewhat isolated from the outside Israeli world with its necessary and excellent security, this hotel is a safe haven and a peaceful oasis in the middle of hills filled with an angry adversary.
The owners, Menachem and Tovah, shared with our group their stories of unbelievable personal encounters with suicide bombers inside their hotel lobby and just outside at the gas station. Both of them incurred major injuries, Menachem still carries metal pieces inside his body, and the lobby tiles are scarred and pitted where the bomber blew himself up. The entire lobby had to be rebuilt but Tovah left these tiles so she would not forget, and perhaps also, to always remember how good and protective God has been to them.
These two honored heroes stood before my eyes with smiles and jokes. I have no frame of reference so I must believe them. They are tenacious, determined to hang on to their hotel and this land. I believe we, B'ney Yosef, are here to support them with our prayers, our money, our very presence. May we help fill this land with love and helping hands. May we be worthy.
We are still getting to know each other, we members of Judah and Ephraim, and it will take some time. Definitely patience and perseverance will help make it happen. The Lord has said it will happen. Indeed, it is happening now.
I used to think that He would be the only One Who knows how and when we will all walk together again. But during this entire trip He's been urging me to look with my spiritual rather than my natural eyes. It is no longer if/when, but here/now. It is happening now. I, we, each one of us, are a part of it.
He is calling, has been calling, is calling still. Look with your spiritual eyes and see Him at work. Watch Him do what He says He will do.
If you've been following my blog during our wild ride in Israel you may have noticed a large gap in posts. Even I had to go back and read what I last wrote.
In any case, we are back in Sequim now. I could say we're back home, but really, our home is in Israel. We made our plea, knocked on a couple of Israeli doors, but it became very apparent that we have only been sent out as emissaries from our Israel home to this beautiful but far-away land.
And, in truth, I do see the Lord's hand in it as He's given me vision, and confirmation of vision, of what He wants us to put our hands to here. We've much to learn about how to go about it all but our prayers of direction have been submitted to our Master and King. I am sure He will show us when it's time. He usually works with us on a "need to know" basis.
One thing I know, my heart is so full of desire for restoration and revival for the First Nations Peoples in our area: the S'Klallam, Elwha, Makah, Quileutte, Chimakum, Skokomish and Hoh. My heart is broken for them and I pray our Heavenly Father would open their eyes to who they are as Israelites being restored to His ways.
It's been my observation that these Nations place such huge importance on ancestral wisdom and knowledge, this is a deep thing in their hearts, stories and ways. I desire to learn more about them and how they got from their ancient ways to their present ways, and I believe the Lord sent me here to share with them what He has given to me.
I would love to take a delegation of Olympic Peninsula First Nations Peoples to Israel for the next B'ney Yosef Congress in 2018!! That, of course, is up to Him.
Another thing both Ron and I desire to do is host another National Shabbat here in Sequim. And we want to get our website AtHomeIsrael, seriously up and running strong. We also plan to attend the B'ney Yosef North America congress in Mesa, AZ, in February. And, oh yeah, we have to be faithful to go to work to earn a living.
All this we desire to do, and there is much. We do submit our plans to Him believing He will direct our paths. We must put our hands only to what He has for us to do. May we know and see and hear what those things are.
Living life in amazing times, in a most beautiful land, on a missions trip sent by our King, requires our full attention. May we will be focused, faithful, and strong of heart.
"By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea..."
Who goes to Caesarea to see ruins of the ancient Roman city and then takes a boat out into the midst of one of three major sailing events in the country?
We walked upon ancient and worn stone pathways and mosaics surrounded by ancient stone walls which formed stables, homes, baths, public latrines and taverns, even a stone vault dedicated to the Persian god Mithra.
King Herod's Hippodrome is where horse and chariot races and gladiator games were held. This is also a place where Christian and Jewish prisoners were forced to fight to their deaths as gladiators themselves, or as prey for wild beasts. And all within view of the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea.
We spent about 2 hours in Caesarea, then were invited on a boat ride in a pontoon-type boat called a RIB-craft which took us out into the sea to watch the sailboat races. Weaving in and out of the different sailboats or running alongside them was the most amazing thing I've ever done. It was like we were a part of the race. Sitting pommel-horse style holding on to handles on the seats in front of us as well as gripping with our legs. It was over way too soon.
After a bite to eat at one of Caesarea's restaurants, a little shopping and a dip of our toes in the Mediterranean, we headed back to Jerusalem
A little wine, bread and fellowship at our neighbors, the Knudson's and the Gish's, in Apartment 2, we now line up for the shower to wash off the sea and then to bed. Another full day comes to an end.
Father says "Look over my city". I look. The city of Jerusalem. His city has already woken up. I see the sun rising, washing across the stone upon stone buildings. Illuminating. Bringing light, birthing light, through windows into the hearts of homes like he shines His light into us, illuminating our hearts of stone.
The light of His Son. His Son Rise. His Son Rises over His city. He says, "I will come. I will do what I say I will do. I will do what I say I will do."
Early morning street-sweepers, delivery trucks and construction jack hammers rattle their wake up calls through our walls, shake us, urge us to close our natural eyes, to see with our spiritual eyes.
This nitty-gritty city. Indeed, this land, strives not just to stay alive, but to thrive, to shine the brightest light it possesses to illuminate the world.
He calls from the roof tops of His city. He whistles for his children. All who have ears to hear let them hear. I say to you, all who have ears to hear, let them hear.
What a crazy time the last few days have been. After mostly recovering from a sinus infection, I feel almost human. I haven't done much the last day and a half, just laid around while the rest of the gang had various events they planned to attend.
Yesterday, Wednesday, Zel (zsewist.blogspot.com) and the Knudson's and Gish's went on a tour of the Old City with Hanoch Young; Ron (galuteron.wordpress.com) attended the priestly blessings at the Western Wall, all the while Julia (anotheradventureintheland.wordpress.com) and I hung around the apartment and did laundry. I must say it was nice to have a down day to recover a bit.
Today, Thursday, Ron marched in the Parade of Nations, bringing up the end of a very long line, while Julia and I stood along the curb, amazed at every sight.
The Parade of Nations is a yearly event in which people of nations from around the world gather to show their love and support for Israel and her people. Just a few that I can remember: Argentina, Norway, Ireland, Estonia, Britain, the Netherlands, Thailand, China, Fiji, Canada, Sweden, and I can't forget The Delegation of the Gypsy Nation of Hungary. There were many more countries represented totaling several thousand marching in the parade. Some dressed in their native costumes, some carrying flags of all colors, banners, tambourines, horns, guitars and some singing Israeli songs.
The crowds of people would press in toward the middle of the street, squeezing the marchers into a single-file line while little children would dash through the crowd to grab miniature flags and other handouts. Police on motorcycles cruised by pushing back the crowds, the crowds pushing back in as soon as they'd scoot away. Israelis standing on the sidelines would shake the participants hands and thank them for coming and marching to show support for Israel.
When I think about the spectacular display of beauty I witnessed today, it's incredible to see such a diverse world of people all in one place.
Don't forget to check out my traveling partners blogs, I think they are posting pictures and videos.