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!