Posts Tagged ‘Promised Land’

A Double Portion Day – February 20

Another beautiful day in Israel with warm temperatures and blue sky and it’s time to leave. We stuffed our luggage and duffles into the little car one last time.  I turned on WAZE  to direct us from our apartment to Ben Gurion International Airport.

Several people said we should be there three hours before our flight.  We left our apartment with four.   We followed WAZE through small streets with construction and congested traffic instead of main roads, but we eventually were on Route 1 heading toward the airport seeing the same signs to Jerusalem that we had followed only two weeks before.

Our little car needed to be filled with gas before we returned it.  The highways into the airport gave no hint of even one gas station.  We followed signs to the car rental return and got directions to the nearest gas station.  Though it was close, we had to leave the airport compound and go into the main city traffic again.  We saw the one gas station, but missed the entrance due to solid traffic.  We approached the roundabout and it was like threading a needle through cars and buses.  Once around the roundabout, we realized that the only entrance to the gas station was from the other direction.  My husband did a quick U-turn in the middle of the road and exited the side ramp directly into the station.  It was THAT quick.

We pulled by the pump and a kind man asked what gas we wanted and how much.  As my husband was telling him, a uniformed man came to the window and asked to see my husband’s passport.  Apparently what we had done was very illegal (yes, we already knew that).  He also asked for his driver’s license – the first time he had to use his international one.  He said that little maneuver we did was going to cost us 500 NIS or $142.00.  I asked, “Are you kidding me?  We’re just trying to get gas and return a car?”  He smirked and laughed crudely and said, “Go on.”  The young man pumping our gas said, “I don’t like that guy.  He does this all the time.  He doesn’t belong here.”  Just another crazy event happening to us. We returned our car without a problem and a shuttle dropped us off at the airport.

Security

This morning before we left the apartment, someone sent me a message telling us to be careful that the U.S. was warning of shoe bombs.  I really wasn’t worried because we heard that Israeli security is the best in the world.  Today was our day to experience it in action.

We went to the little machine and got our boarding pass.  However, unlike the U.S. you don’t just go to the airline counter and hand off your luggage.  You stand in a long line (that is probably much worse in tourist season) for one of two huge x-ray machines.  You put all checked baggage through these machines.

When we got to the front of the line and it was our turn to insert our luggage into the machine, a friendly young woman took our passports and began asking us questions.  First, she asked our names, how to say our daughter’s name, and even how we were related.  She put yellow stickers on our bags and we put them in the x-ray machine.  After a few minutes, (the machine is that huge) they pop out on the other side and you have two choices.  You are either directed to the luggage counter where you check your bag or  you are directed to another line to have it hand-checked.

Of course, to make our trip more interesting, my bag was the only one they wanted to hand check.  While my daughter and husband went to a bench to wait for me,  I stood in another line for about 20 minutes waiting for my suitcase to be hand-checked.

There was a huge square with counters around it with 8 stations where security agents would search items in suitcases.  Some people went through the procedure quickly; others had everything removed and searched.  A group of black people were being searched one at a time pretty intensely.  I actually felt sorry for them as they had planes to catch just as we did.  The man who went to the counter  in front of me had every item removed from his two bags,  tested and scanned.  They even opened paper bags with pastries and scanned them.

Eventually my turn came.  I was not worried about having anything illegal, but I pack everything in a very organized way.  When I returned from Brasil, customs went through my luggage and removed my wet swimming suit from its plastic bag and everything in my suitcase became wet and stinky.  I was not wanting a similar situation.  I was also not wanting to have to repack everything so it would fit.

A young woman motioned for me to come to her station and  had me put my suitcase on the counter and open it.  Each suitcase that went through the huge x-ray machine was given a yellow tag with a bar code.  She scanned my bar code and the x-rayed contents of my luggage appeared on a computer screen.  She put on gloves and went for one corner of my belongings.  She pulled up the clothes and voila the culprit stared at me: a container of date paste.

I love dates.  I love date paste even more.  Thank you Yenny (if you’re reading this) for bringing one to me from Israel and changing my perception  of dates forever.  She picked up the yogurt-sized container and asked me several questions.  Did someone give it to me?  No.  Did I buy it myself.  Yes.  Where did I buy it?  In a little convenience store in Jerusalem.  She put the paste back in the corner, put the clothes back where they came from and told me to close the suitcase.  That quick I was done.  Date paste.

We finished checking our luggage and received our boarding passes.  We went through a little metal detector and then to a passport check point where the security agent looked at our passports and our boarding passes.  We were then in another big room with lines for checking passports again.     Just as we received an Israeli Visa to enter the country, we received an Exit Permit to leave.    From there we went through a final security check for our carry-on luggage.  We had to remove our computers and put our backpacks through the scanners.  We kept our shoes on!!!

We were almost through security.  To get through the final turnstile, we had to scan our pink Exit permits.  We were now in the Duty Free area where there were tables, charging stations for phones and laptops, and a bazillion places to spend money before boarding a flight.  When we arrived at the airport terminal we had three hours until take off.  By the time we were through all security and into Duty Free where the concourses were, we had 45  minutes until boarding time.  Everyone was right about the pre-flight arrival time of three hours.  One other little  tidbit of information regarding luggage.  If you and it are not checked in 45 minutes prior to your flight, you don’t fly and neither does your luggage.

We had a few shekels left that we needed to spend.  We decided to buy a gift box of Israeli treats that had baklava and bird’s nest along with several other sweets.  Crazy as it was, my husband went back two times – once for his passport and another time for his boarding pass.  We wondered why we needed all of this identification when no one was getting to this place via security checkpoints without proper identification.  The very polite young lady said it was to insure that the employees weren’t buying items for themselves.  Okay.

We’re now on our plane and flying to Toronto.  Flying against the jet stream, it will take 12 hours.  We will arrive ‘our body time’ at 1:30 a.m. but it will be 6:30 p.m. and we will live this day twice – a double portion day!

We just ate our kosher meal of pasta and chicken, salad and a delicious dessert.  As the sun won’t set while we’re traveling with it, movies and masks will hopefully make the time pass faster.  I’m looking at the flight map in front of me and we are flying over the Mediterranean, over Patmos (where John  was imprisoned and had his revelation) followed by Greece, over Venice, over Brussels, over Iceland and Greenland and down to Toronto.  Soon, we’ll be back in cold North America heading back to Denver and eventually nowhere, Nebraska.  The weather forecast is cold, snow, and wind for Toronto.

Israel

Some people kiss the ground when they arrive because they are home.  That moment didn’t happen for me,  but it is the one place I’ve ever been that I felt the most comfortable being who I am, believing what I believe, and doing what our family does.   I covered my head and was not a freak nor did anyone try to discourage me or make me feel legalistic.   In fact, most  people thought I was Jewish and spoke Hebrew to me.  I love wearing skirts and women in skirts were everywhere.  It was also really nice to eat where kosher food is normal.  We never had to worry about eating pork, shellfish or other things that are not really food.

There is nothing like celebrating the Sabbath along with an entire country that stops and remembers the Creator and creation.  No one questioned our desire as gentiles to love Israel, the Jewish Messiah, and the Torah from which he taught.  In fact, one of our apartments hosts wanted to make sure we had a place to ‘keep Shabbos’ and invited us to her home on a kibbutz.

We never heard anyone say ‘oh, you’re under the law’ or ‘that was done away with’.  On the contrary, those that we talked to, especially non-believers, were made envious because we celebrate ‘their’ holy days.  We teach people about ‘their’ Scriptures and their traditions.    They could see and hear the hope and salvation they desire.  They were willing to discuss and not argue and in that, there is great peace for those who love God’s Torah (Psalm 119:165).   Those who were believers blessed us and treated as wild olive branches grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel.  Truly, the fellowship was like heaven on earth, dew in the grass, our feet dusted off.

Israel

  It’s not completed yet and it has not reached The Promised Land status even though we did have milk and honey at the conclusion of our Sabbath dinner.  The world in all its glory is alive and well in Israel. There are battles between good and evil, right and wrong, spiritual life and spiritual death.   Most of the native people  are rude and inconsiderate.  Driving is offensive. The fruits of the Spirit are not ripe.   As Sarit said, there is a new heaven and new earth being created and each time the neshema God’s breathed spirit in him returns to God, the new heavens and earth comes closer and closer.  It is not until the prophecy in Jeremiah 31 is realized and the Torah is written on the hearts of the Jewish people (and all people) that everything will be fulfilled.   YHVH’s presence is everywhere breaking down strongholds in the hearts of His people.   From every Messianic Jew we spent time with, we heard the same words, ‘the hearts of the people have changed in the past few years, they are coming to know Yeshua.’  They are and will because Paul says in Romans athat  ‘all Israel will be saved.’

As the Jewish people from nearby and far away nations come to the Western Wall and face the direction from which Messiah will come, I have a new understanding as to how ‘every eye will see and look on the one they have pierced and mourn.’  Those weeping at the wall will see him FIRST.  There is a reason that Psalm 122:6  says, “Pray for the shalom of Jerusalem, may those who love you prosper.”  Pray that the veil would be removed from the eyes of the blind and the wax removed from the ears of the deaf so they would have eyes to see and ears to hear that their Messiah has come.  He wants them to recognize Him not at a stone wall, but as the visible flesh image of God, Yeshua, their salvation.

Zechariah 12:0-11“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.”

If I have to choose one thought to bring back with me from the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the land of David, Solomon, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Elijah, and Yeshua, it would be that Israel is YHVH Elohim’s land.  He created it with every imaginable geographic experience from the desert to oasis, from oceans to mountain peaks with snow, to lakes and luscious agricultural valleys – a land that brings forth bananas, dates, figs, wine, fish, and even chocolate.  He has blessed the land and will bless those who bless it; he will curse those who curse it.

YHVH gave His Land to Israel to possess and He is their defender.   From the time of Joshua and the Judges to this modern day when IDF soldiers walk along the streets, wait in bus stops for their time of duty,  open car trunks at various checkpoints or the sound of military jets are heard in the skies, but not seen, YHWH will always protect His land and His people.  Those who come against her in history are gone; those who come against her today need to be prepared for their demise.

YHVH’s presence is in the Land and it’s spiritually strong, so strong that the enemy fights every day to quench the Spirit of the Living God.  Every major world religion has set up their  ‘high places’ of gold, silver, and bronze that dot the landscape, but His presence is greater than all those idols together.  If His people will not break them down and become tolerant as the world tells them to, He will topple them.    Though the sound of the shofar is not heard from the Temple today, it will be, and those who choose to quench that sound will either bend their knee at the presence of God or be destroyed.

Yeshua said as he made his way from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, “the rocks will cry out” and they do.   Every rock or stone, whether in a wall or a walkway anywhere in Israel cries out the history of God’s Land and people.  The rocks on which Yeshua walked during the Second Temple time, caves in which Elijah hid from Ahab, the rock fortress of Masada where David stayed, stones that the fishermen skipped in the Kinneret, arched gates for entryways into Jerusalem, old and new, or walls that remain from the defeated Cannaites, Byzantines and Crussaders loudly speak forth the eternal promises of blessing and cursing God put on His Land.

Luke 19:37-40 “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:  “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said toYeshua, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

yeshua_wailing_wall

As I sat on the plane writing this final blog on our trip to Israel, my daughter asked if I had a flashlight.  I did, but it was in my luggage in the belly of the plane.  My husband had a small indigo light and gave it to her.  She handed it to the two men sitting next to her wearing black kippot (they had stowed their black hats in the compartment above), tzizitot (fringes on the corners of their garments) and had beards and peyots (side locks).  When I asked her what they needed it for, she responded, “They needed a light to read their Hebrew Bibles.”  

Omein.

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Old Port of Joppa and Tel Aviv – February 19

Our plan for the day was to walk 25 minutes on the tayelet promenade from Tel Aviv to the old port of Joppa.  Thinking it was cooler than it was, we soon returned to the apartment to change into summer-like wear.  The sun was very warm even with the cool sea breeze and life on the tayelet was active: runners, walkers, bikers, and swimmers.

Jonah 1:3 “But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”

Joppa is the oldest known port in the world.  Throughout the centuries it has existed, but in recent history was built up and restored by a community of Jewish people.

It was from Joppa that Jonah hitched a ride on a boat to run away from God’s command to go to Assyria.  There was a great storm and Jonah left the boat to save the other sailors.  He spent three days and three nights asleep in the belly of a whale.

Wood for building the Temple came through Joppa from Lebanon.

Ezra 3:7 “Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and olive oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia.”

Peter had his vision of the sheet in the city of Joppa.

Acts 11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.

There were Messianic believers who lived in Joppa.

Acts 10:23 “Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. [ Peter at Cornelius’s House ] The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.”

Acts 9:36 “In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.”

On the tel mound excavations still continue.  Watching the men dig and dust and find another part of a Canaanite rock wall made me wish I was an archaeologist.  An Egyptian gate showed the entryway to the little village.  Around the top, the various gardens were beautiful with views everywhere of the water.  At one garden there was an arch as a memorial to Jacob’s dream, the ram caught in the thicket that became the substitute sacrifice for Isaac, and the miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea.

We decided to eat lunch overlooking the sea.  We tried to open the windows, but the breeze was very strong and cool.  After lunch my husband wanted to go down to the actual port.  Long stone stairways led us to another world by the sea.  I decided that  I was going to take a lot of ‘random’ photos on this day and that’s what I did.

We decided to rent bicycles to return to Tel Aviv.  Of course, we had issues with the machine.  Even some very kind people who tried to help us ‘unlock’ our bikes couldn’t figure out the problem.  Soon others were standing with John trying to figure out the problem.  I’m still not sure what happened, but suddenly our little bar codes worked, the locks clicked and we had our bicycles.

One of the photos that’s in my random shots is of an ambulance.  On the side of the van are the words Magen David Adom.  This is like the Red Cross of Israel since the Red Cross will not work within Israel.  The Magen David Adom is the first response team to emergencies whether it’s a car accident or the aftermath of a bomb.  We have supported the Magen David Adom for many years because we know the importance of quick and reliable medical care in an emergency.  The Magen David Adom also goes internationally to countries to set up triage units when there are tsunamis or earthquakes.  Generally, they are the first international medical teams to arrive, even before the U.S.  If you’re interested in supporting them, there’s a link on the Homepage of this website.

We had a lovely ride by the sea on the tayelet back to Tel Aviv.  We stopped many people to take our picture.  We even met some people handing out tracks for Yeshua.  We have heard from the Messianic Jews here that the hearts of Jewish people are opening to hear about their Messiah.  These street witness people were thrilled to meet us as once again, we are not Jewish, but celebrate the Biblical holidays.  I have come to realize that we are not just unique in the United States, but here in Israel, we’re even more of an anomily.  Everyone says, “You’re  just was Jewish as we are because the Messiah broke down the wall of partition that all may worship together as one people with the Jews.”  Such a simple message, but one that many do not understand especially as one of the nations.

We continued riding past our apartment street to take in all the beach scenes.  People swam, sat at cafes, rode bikes, played volleyball or soccer, and worked out on beach equipment.  Truly, a European/Brasilian experience.

My husband wanted to go into the Mediterranean so we returned our bikes to the station by our place.  He went home to change into shorts and my daughter and I went to the beach cafe owned by our host.  We played a little in the water and had cold drinks: pineapple smoothie, strawberry smoothie and a vanilla milkshake.

About twenty years ago, I received some inheritance money.  My husband and I prayed about who to give some to.  Through some miraculous events, we met a man named Avi who ran a coffee shop in Tel Aviv called Dugit Messianic Outreach Center.  Whenever I considered a trip to Israel, I knew I had to visit this place.  For us, it was another ‘divine appointment’.  We met some wonderful believers while we drank coffee and tea.  We even found out that they have a relationship with a congregation in Boulder, Colorado called Cornerstone.  We know that congregation and the leader, Gene Binder, personally.  It turns out that Dugit is his ‘family’ here in Israel.

A wonderful woman named Sarah invited us to return later that evening for their Live Dugit.  Since our apartment was only three blocks away (how divine is that in a huge city), we returned after we packed for our flight out the next morning.

Our trip to Israel ended with the music of Shaul and Yulia Ben Har.  They play electric violins together and Shaul plays the lute, the horn and even a recorder.  Their music was lively and very Israeli in sound in order to draw people to the door where they can share Yeshua.  They played a few worship songs to Adonai.  We didn’t want to leave, but knew we had an early morning.  We listened to one last set: a medley of songs from “Fiddler on the Roof.” 

As my husband said while walking back to the apartment eating chocolates we bought from a bakery, what a perfect way for the Lord to end our time in Israel.  Tomorrow we leave and we’re all wondering how different security will be from what we know in the U.S.

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Dancing on the Water – February 17

Today is our final day in Tiberias and the Galilee.  We made plans to take a boat ride on the sea with a man named Daniel who owns Galilee Worship Boats.  He was recommended by our friend, Carolyn, as they both are musicians.  He writes his songs in Hebrew and she translates them into English.  Daniel is a native Israeli who is a fisherman and boat pilot.  Many years ago, he came to faith in Yeshua, the Messiah and made his fishing boat into a worship boat.   If you are ever in Israel and want a wonderful sea tour with Daniel, http://www.seaofgalileeworshipboats.com/.

Since there were only three of us, we joined another tour group.  The group was from Stanford Institute, a religious studies school, and comprised of Mormons.  Their tour guide ‘took over’ the boat tour with Scripture readings and hymn singing.  When Daniel finally got to lead the boat events as he should have, the trip was nearly over.  However, he did  show us how one throws a net into the sea to catch fish.  The net is made and thrown in such a way that it leaves the bottom dwellers or unclean fish under the net and catches only the fish with scales.  This is important because according to Leviticus 11, only fish with fins and scales are considered ‘clean’ and food by God.

He talked about when Yeshua had the disciples throw the net over the right side of the boat, they caught 153 fish.  Some scholars believe the significance of 153 was the number of fish species symbolizing that the nations could have relationship with God through Yeshua.  However, Daniel had another interpretation of the 153 fish that comes from the Hebrew language.  Hebrew letters have numerical values.   The letters for the numerical value of 153 spell out “Ani Elohim” or “I AM Elohim.”

John 21:1-14 “Afterward (after his resurrection)Yesua appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.It happened this way:Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Yeshua stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Yeshua. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish…. Yeshua said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Yeshua said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Yeshua came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Yeshua appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.”

Daniel had a few minutes for his musicians to play their instruments.  He sang one of the songs he had written about the shalom of the Messiah.  For the next song, he took a few moments to teach some Hebrew words:  Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh (holy, holy, holy), Adonai Eloheinu (Lord our God), Tzvaot (Most High), who was, who is and who is to come.  He began singing this beautiful song which just happens to be one that my daughter and I dance to.

This moment became an ‘appointed time’.  We got up from our seats, and in the center of the boat danced to Kadosh. It was an inspirational moment to dance ‘on the sea’ of Galilee with a Messianic Jew singing Kadosh.  Daniel played a few more Hebrew worship songs.  We unloaded the boat to the dock to the song, “Days of Elijah”.

When my daughter and I finished the dance, the tour guide said that she had never seen anything so beautiful.   Another young woman came over to me and said she could feel the worship through the dance and the words.   She asked what ‘Christian denomination’ we were part of and I explained that we do not belong to any denomination.  We are followers of Yeshua, grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel.  I explained that we are not Jewish, but have found blessing in celebrating the Biblical festivals and keeping the Shabbat.  She said that she had never seen anyone dance for worship and believed that using our bodies as living sacrifices should be part of worship.

Joshua 3:8 “Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”

We left Daniel’s boat and went back to Tabgha to see the famous floor mosaic of the loaves and fish.  From there we wound our way back through Tiberias and to the southern part of the Kinneret to where the Jordan River flows from the lake to the Dead Sea.    We had packed a picnic lunch and wanted to eat it by the Jordan River.

Matthew 3:6 “Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”

John 1:28 “This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan River. That was where John was baptizing.”

Most people see the Jordan River from the Yardenit where everyone lines up to be baptized.  Since none of us needed to be baptized, we wanted a more Israeli experience along the Jordan.   Our friend gave us directions to the ‘hippie place’ where locals camp and ‘hang out.’  After following several winding dirt roads, we found the perfect spot to eat pita, hummus, and dates.  At one time the Jordan River was very wide, but today, it’s only about 100 feet across due to irrigation of crops.

Sadly, what’s left of Jordan River has become a polluted mess.  As we crossed from one side to the other on a dirt dam, we came to a sign that explained two dams.  To make a long story short, on our left side was the small river known as the Jordan.  Above the dam was the Yardenit.   On our right side were two large culverts pouring liquid into a small drainage ditch.  One culvert pumped out a dirty water that held sewage; from the other flowed water from the river.  Together they formed a drainage ditch, Jordan River,   that flows through the valley to the Dead Sea.  Though there was beauty by the river, there are signs forbidding swimming.

Zechariah 11:3 “Listen to the shepherds cry out! Their rich grasslands are destroyed. Listen to the lions roar! The trees and bushes along the Jordan River are gone.”

After our picnic, we decided to drive around the rest of the Kinneret.  We went up the east side of the sea where there is virtually no tourism.  On this side, fields and fields of fruit trees line the side of the hillsides.  There is a beautiful resort called Ein Geve near the Ein Geve kibbutz.  We stopped there and took a little stroll around the area to get closer to the water and to see what it would be like to stay there if we ever return.

From Ein Geve we continued north around the lake passing the area where Yeshua cast the demons out of a madman into pigs – the Gadarenes.  Though there are no steep slopes near that area for pigs to tumble down, there are steep slopes before this place where it more than likely happened.

Matthew 8:28-34 “When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.  “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding.   The demons begged Yeshua, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.  Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Yeshua. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.”

At the north end of the lake, the Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee.  All along the northern end are lush green fields surrounded by ancient rock walls.  We saw horses grazing with sheep.    At a pullover for the river, we stopped to take a few pictures.  The river is not as polluted here, but there is trash everywhere.  A bridge that crosses the river was barricaded and the concrete blocks were full of graffiti.  I will say, however, if I were to ever be immersed in the Jordan River, I would choose the north side over the south and I would probably go into the Jordan River Park.  We did not go in there as it was more money than we wanted to spend for a 10 minute look-see, but the area was better maintained and a less abused area.

Before we knew it, we were back at Ginnosaur where we started our morning boat tour.  The entire trip around the lake took about one hour even with a few stops.  It was a pleasant and relaxing drive.  We are spending our last evening in our apartment enjoying the sunset on the Sea of Galilee.

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

An Arab Village – February 13

Rawan!!!!

Rawan was one of the exchange students that my son met last year at Chadron State College.  She is an Arab Israeli that became a family friend, ‘daughter’ after she spent a couple of weekends at our home.  She invited us to Chadron for her talk on Israel and the International Food Festival.  She became very close to our youngest daughter and wanted us to visit her someday in her beautiful land of Israel.

This day was the day.  First, however, we had to stop at a supermarket.  We needed water and a few other items of food.  As we entered the store, a man standing at the door stopped us speaking in very fast Hebrew.  We said that we do not speak Hebrew and he pointed us to a girl who said that the credit card machines were not working.  We would need to pay in cash.  No problem.  We had cash.

We wandered around the store looking at everything for the experience.  While walking we heard this loud shrill sound that sounded like a firework falling to the ground.  Everyone stopped and looked up.  When the sounded ended, everyone went back to their shopping.  I have no idea what the sound was, but it was shrill and like nothing I have ever heard before in my life.  I’ll leave the speculation up to those reading.

We were going to meet Rawan at the Golani Junction near Tiberias and follow her father’s car into her village.  The Golani is the Golan Heights though they live in the lower Golan that is beautiful agricultural land and not the higher mountains where the news happens.  They do at times have to prepare for bombs/missiles and they practice and prepare their bomb shelter, but generally nothing happens.

Rawan’s father is an administrator at a bank.  Her mother is a old-school mother who stayed home to raise her 11 children – 1 son and 10 daughters.  Yes, Rawan is one of 9 other girls in the family.  They range in age from 30 to 15 and two are married; one just had a baby last week and the other is expecting in two weeks.   Because we were visiting from the United States, the whole family assembled together: Amani (with the baby), Asala, Hala, Maisaa, (her brother who we didn’t meet), Reham (who is very pregnant), Maryam, Latefa, Reem, and Rasha.

We arrived at their house, one of the largest in the village.  It was beautiful inside.  The colors were extraordinary in the sala where we met her mother and one of her sisters.  Her father speaks a little English.  He said that because he has no practice he forgets words, but he did very well.  Her mother knows “Welcome” and several of her sisters know English.  One is a doctor, one works in a bank, another works in a research lab researching cancer.  There is a set of twins and a couple of brother-in-laws and one sister-in-law.  The sister-in-law is an English teacher and had an iPad which allowed us to finally talk to our children at home.

We arrived and visited for a short time until we were invited into the kitchen/sitting area heated by a wonderfully warm wood stove.  Rawan’s mother prepared every sort of Arab/Israeli food for us to eat.  We began eating about 1:00 p.m. and we were still eating at 9:00 p.m.  The noon meal consisted of stuffed potato and zucchini and kafta (meat with potato), grilled chicken and rice with meat (ta’im – so delicious), pickles of all sorts, eggplants, hummus, pita, Arab salad, cabbage salad, yogurt made from goat’s milk and olives.  After that we were served dessert pastries and the only two I can remember are baklava and bird’s nest.  The baklava was the best.  There were chocolate and fruit filled pastries as well.  I had the best tea with peppermint leaves and juices.

By the middle of the afternoon we had the choice to fall asleep from all the food or take a walk around the village.  Rawan thought it was funny that everyone stopped to say “Shalom” to us.  She said they think we are Jewish, but from the U.S., too.  The view of the valley was so beautiful that she suggested we drive our car to her sister’s house on top of the hill.

Her sister’s house was so beautiful inside and out.  The view was so beautiful and we could see all the way to the higher Golan and the village of Tzfad – where Elijah raised the widow’s son from the dead.  We even got a glimpse at the baby, Rashed.  There is a tradition that when people visit the baby (and bring gifts, which we did not), a gift is given.  Jemima and I each received a beautiful blue glass figurines.  Jemima’s was a teddy bear and mine is a baby carriage.

We drove back to Rawan’s house because the rest of the family had yet to arrive.  Some were coming from Haifa and others from Tel Aviv. Food, food, and more food was always available and being presented to us.  We couldn’t refuse such delicious food so we kept eating.

My daughter and Rawan always danced when they were together in the states.  Tonight was no different.  They put on music and began their entertainment for the evening.  The sisters were shocked to see this part of Rawan, but for us, it was the Rawan we knew and loved so much.  It was such a blessing to spend time with her and her very generous family.  Her father even jumped up and danced while more family, cousins and nieces and nephews kept arriving.  I do not know how many people were there, but I’m guessing 20-25 in and out.

Everyone loved to test their English, but Rawan’s uncle was hilarious.  Because he works in Haifa, he speaks better Hebrew than English so I tried talking Hebrew and he tried talking English.  One of Rawan’s sisters sat at the table trying to translate everything so everyone could understand.

About 9:30 we decided to leave so we could get home early and sleep.   Our daughter was going to spend the night with Rawan.  Her mother was born in Cana and is of Algerian descent.  Her father has Bedouin heritage.  So, Rawan wanted to take Jemima into Nazareth and Cana and show her around.  We followed her brother-in-law back to the Junction and head back to Tiberias.

Truly a memorable day of culture.  Rawan, you have an amazing family and we were blessed to meet them all.

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