Saturday, June 30, 2012

Israel Day 13

On this day, I was assigned to a team (led by John) that would visit three different survivors of the Holocaust.  Before the visits, however, we had some shopping to do.  John purchased a gift for a little girl who would be part of our visits because it was her birthday.  We also made a stop at a music store to purchase instruments for several students at Yuval School of Music in Jerusalem - a school for budding messianic musicians of all ages.
Israeli music store

We then headed out for our visits. The first stop was at the apartment of a lovely woman named Erika.  She was delighted to be our hostess and created a delicious spread of homemade berry and cream crepes for us to enjoy.  We had such a nice visit with her, and John invited her to a reception at the Jerusalem Assembly the following night, offering her a ride, which she gladly accepted.

Our team with Erika

Our next stop was with a family that had four generations living in the apartment.  Great-grandma had survived the Holocaust, and was living with her daughter Paula; Paula's son and daughter, and Paula's granddaughter (who was the recipient of the gift purchased by John in the morning).  Again, they were very gracious and had prepared tea and crumpets for us.  We were getting very full at this point!  So much wonderful hospitality.

With Paula and her mom

Our final stop was with an older Ukrainian immigrant man named Mikhail, who lived in a 12 by 12 foot apartment by himself.  He didn't have food prepared for us, and we were more than fine with that.  He appreciated the company and we appreciated spending time with him getting to know him.

With Mikhail

After dinner, we walked down to the Old City (a few blocks away) and went to the Night Spectacular Show at the Tower of David Citadel, an outdoor presentation of the history of Jerusalem all done in lights and computer technology.  Fantastic!  But bittersweet as well, knowing that this would be our last night in Israel.

Outside the Jaffa Gate at night

Old City, from David's Citadel

Friday, June 29, 2012

Israel Day 12

Assignment for the day:  painting!

Gordon was part of a team that helped paint the apartment of a lovely lady named Marcelle.  She was a quadripeligic who had a live-in caregiver, but she was such an encouragement!  She always had a smile on her face, and her love for the Lord was so apparent.
Painting at Marcelle's

At the same time, another lady and I went to help paint the apartment of a Russian immigrant lady, Zoya.  We didn't get to meet her, but we met her cat.  This particular kitty was not a people-cat.  It hissed and hacked at us - good thing it was locked up in a caged area while we were there.
View from Zoya's apartment

Zoya's kitty

After we finished with the painting, we went and fetched lunch for the rest of the crew at Marcelle's.  We stopped at a Shawarma-and-Falafel place, which is the typical Israeli fast food joint.  Did I mention that we ate a lot of shawarma and falafel while we were in Israel?
Falafel, or shawarma?  (That's Hebrew for cheeseburger cheeseburger cheeseburger Pepsi!)

After finishing up at Marcelle's place, we headed over to the Jerusalem Assembly, where a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception for the kids was scheduled.  They were kicking off the new grassy rooftop, which the children now will have access to for playtime and lesson time during services, instead of always being cooped up indoors.
Rooftop before carpeting

Rooftop after carpeting

Reception for the kids

After the reception, we were free for the evening.   After dinner at the hotel, Gordon and I had an opportunity to meet with a wonderful couple - his boss's nephew and nephew's wife - who live in Jerusalem.  They were so sweet, and we spent several hours with them just getting to know them.

Later, several of us decided to venture out for a walk, and we strolled to the Melech David (King David) Hotel which was a half a block away.  This is the hotel where dignitaries stay (with rooms going for $2700 a night, they are very effective at keeping the riff-raff such as myself out of them).  They had a long walkway inside that had signatures on it... from Winston Churchill to Billy Graham to Barak Obama. 
1934 signature of Winston Churchill on the hotel's walkway of fame
The beautiful back terrace at the King David Hotel

We then walked out onto the lovely back terrace.  We could hear the strains of the Hava Nagila coming from some distance away, so we decided to check it out.  A bar mitzvah celebration was underway on a remote patio area for a young man named Daniel.  We were fascinated, so we stood at a distance and watched the festivities.  Suddenly, a hip lady in a white dress invited us to come in for a drink to help celebrate her grandson's bar mitzvah.  So cautiously, we entered the event and tried to blend in...  ha ha... we did such a good job that the event planners descended upon us with the hotel management, declaring that this was a private party.  We assured them that Daniel's grandmother had invited us in.  We didn't stay much longer, but it was really fun to see that event.

Daniel's bar mitzvah at the King David

The  buffet (King David Hotel in background)

Dessert buffet - yum!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Israel Day 11

Our mornings begin with a gathering in the hotel lobby after breakfast for our assignments for the day.  On this day, I was sent to the ministry's safe house, where we helped cook a large meal, to be delivered and served later in Tel Aviv to hundreds of refugees from Ethiopia, Sudan, and Eritrea. 
The Safe House kitchen

Lunch at the Safe House

The Safe House is in East Jerusalem, and overlooks a new settlement; which the government has suspended building due to pressure from the United States and the international community

The West Bank wall in the distance

The refugees were all men, and they lived in a park in Tel Aviv.  The ministry serves them four dinners per week, and another group serves them breakfast.  It was heartbreaking... men without a country.  Tony, our leader, helped bandage the leg of a man who was wounded while escaping across Egypt.

Preparing to treat a wounded man in Tel Aviv

We were gone all day, and got back to our hotel pretty late and pretty tired.  Gordon was also tired from installing outdoor carpet all day.

Installing outdoor carpet on the rooftop terrace at Jerusalem Assembly

Sunset while enroute back to Jerusalem

Snack stop with Tony

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Israel Day 10

On the first day of the week, we gathered together to get busy!  But first we had to say goodbye to part of our team who was not staying behind for the second week.

Our morning started with a tour of the Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption; the congregation that we would be working with during the week.  As a congregation started by Jewish people, they met for years in various places until pressure from the Orthodox community would force them to find another location.  They were told they would never be able to buy a place of their own.  Our tour was of the place they were able to purchase by the grace of God.  They own the entire top floor of a five-story building, including a very large outside terrace.

Jerusalem Assembly is on top floor

On the rooftop during our tour

After the tour, our first job was to assemble hundreds of food packages that will be delivered throughout the week to various places.  Each bag had to weigh at least 50 pounds.

Assembly line

Part of the finished bags

When we were finished working for the day, we moved to a different hotel in Jerusalem... one that was closer to Jerusalem Assembly.  It was also very conveniently located near the King David Hotel, and the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City.  On this night, we walked to a nearby Baptist church, where Marv had been invited to preach.

Baptist church in Jerusalem

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Israel Day 9

This is the day that we wrapped up our Israel tour and then shifted gears for the Servant's Heart portion of the trip. 

We started the day on the Mount of Olives, and then walked down to the Garden of Gethsemene at the bottom of the hill.  There are rows and rows and rows of Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives.  Across from Gethsemene is the Eastern Gate (also called the Golden Gate) that the Messiah is supposed to enter.  Knowing this, the Muslim Turkish sultan Suleiman sealed it shut in the 1517, and also put a Muslim graveyard in front of it, knowing that a Jewish person would not defile himself by walking through it.  Suleiman unwittingly fulfilled Ezekiel 44, which delcares that the gate will be closed - and will not open until Messiah comes again!

Cemetary on the Mt. of Olives

Garden of Gethsemene
Church of the Holy Sepulcher

We then went to the old city and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  I was not impressed with this landmark, which was claimed and built by Constantine's mother in the 4th century as the death and burial site of Jesus.  It was filled with idolatrous images, and people were worshipping a marble slab stone.  There are eight religious groups that fight over the place.  I lasted ten minutes and had to get out of there.

We stayed in the Old City for awhile, and then had lunch on top of a building.

Old City Market, Christian Quarter

Guys sitting around smoking hash pipes near the market
Muslim spice shop in Arab Quarter

After a quick walk through the Arab Quarter marketplace (and I mean quick), our group then took us to the Garden Tomb, which is another of the supposed death and burial sites for Jesus.  I found that place to be much more plausible.  There was a tomb hewn in the rock, a cliff that looked like a skull, and they even found a giant underground cistern which would have belonged to a wealthy man.  More importantly, it was on a major intersection from the ancient world... the Romans found it necessary to crucify their victims in full view of as many people as possible.

Meeting Kay Arthur at the Garden Tomb

The beautiful surroundings at the Garden Tomb

It was a sweet place to end our tour.  Our group sang worship songs and had communion together.  The exact location is not the important thing... the important thing is that Yeshua our Passover Lamb was crucified to pay for our sins, buried in the ground as our Unleavened (sin-free) Bread, and that He rose again on the Feast of Firstfruits.

Later at the hotel, our Servant's Heart portion of the trip was kicked off as we met some of the amazing servants of the Lord that we would be working with during the week.

John and his son


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Israel Day 8

Jerusalem!  Our first full day, and here we stay for the rest of our trip.  This day was Friday, so of course Jerusalem was bustling, getting ready for Shabbat.  Our first stop was the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, also known by the Jewish people as ha Kotel (the wall). 

At the Temple Mount museum

Ancient road by Temple where Yeshua walked

Orthodox Jews at Western Wall security entrance

Southern steps ascending to the Temple Mount

On the Temple Mount plaza, with Western Wall in the background

After the temple mount visit, our bus took us out to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum.  No pictures allowed inside, but it made me cry.  There is an avenue of Righteous Gentiles outside, with trees planted in their honor.  The tree that had been planted for Corrie Ten Boom died the same year she did, so they replanted it.

Corrie Ten Boom's tree at Yad Vashem

 Our last stop for the day was the West Jerusalem market.  It was packed with people getting ready for Shabbat... you could hardly move in there.  But it was a blast!

The very busy Jewish market in West Jerusalem

The Pastry Man....

A family at the market

The Flatbread Guy
 After leaving the market, we decided to walk back to our hotel on foot.  We strolled on some back roads, through neighborhoods, a large park, and past the Knesset and Supreme court buildings.  By the time we got back to our hotel, which was on top of a hill, we were tired!
The Knesset and Menorah

In the rose garden outside the Knesset building
Shabbat shalom!

Shabbat candleholders at the hotel