As you have probably guessed by now, I’m not Debbie, but since she’s taken a sabbatical, I will host Inside Israel where we will hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is …
Greetings dear sisters and brothers,
Oh, I am blessed! I have had a rare day of being able to stay near home and not need to ride the public transportation that provides so many interesting stories. But all around me this land bares witness to the absolute faithfulness of the eternal promises as given by The covenant keeping Almighty God, and so I am thankful for a space to write to you. May HE be glorified and may you be blessed. And may I be a faithful witness – eyes to see for you here, where His temple, His body, IS being built!
As I walked to the shops and to the bank this morning, I was ‘nudged’ in the spirit to ‘notice how quickly things change.’ As we all attempt to adjust to the dramatic climate changes, I am sure that I am not the only one looking with wonder at some of those changes.
Today is a lovely break from the early heat waves that we have had (the ‘sha’arav’ or ‘ham’seen’ – which are hot dry winds from the deserts to the south) and I looked around to see the first miniature pomegranates swelling the bulbs of what were spectacular blooms on the trees just earlier this week. Whereas the grapes were also minute but perfect clusters, each tiny grape is now elongated and defining itself while the appearance of similar clusters on the pepper trees signal the developing handfuls of red pepper corns that promise to appear later in the season.
As I looked around I saw all of the lush summer colors and deep heavy green leaves and fronds that have begun to replace the sweetness of the spring exhibit. Neither is more delightful to the eyes, senses or spirit then the other…all truly speak to me of the faithfulness of God, His capacity for beauty (as beautiful as this is it is only of seed of what we shall see in heaven!), His order in the changing seasons and His patterns reflecting His majesty.
When we first made aliyah we saw bouquets of BLUE flowers hanging from vines that climbed up tall trees…something we hadn’t seen before. They have become commonplace to us now as have date palms and the public gardens filled with sweet-smelling herbs, nuts and fruits. All of this beauty around us and yet He must exhort me again and again to ‘worship Him’ to ‘praise Him’ to ‘glorify and magnify and LOVE Him’. Truly He is ALWAYS ONLY worthy of all praise!…even in the shops.
As I went into the shop, all of the workers were busy replacing every price in the store with a higher one. New signs had gone up on Sunday reminding everyone of a fact that we all knew too well: ‘Value added tax has now been raised to 18% as of today. Prices may be higher at the cash register then they are marked on the item.’
It was just a few years ago that a law went into effect requiring stores to post prices. Before that it was always a big surprise and you could haggle about it. It was also only a few years ago that value added tax was placed on food items at all! I commented to one of the clerks that 1% DIDN’T mean 1 shekel (about 30 cents in USD a 5th of a British pound.). She smiled sadly and shrugged knowingly. ‘I know…they are just raising ALL of the prices more then the 1%!’ Only fruit and vegetables have been exempt from this new tax…AND (a blessing for those of you who come and visit) v.a.t. is refunded to tourists at the airport as they return and present their purchase stubs. That was a BIG fight in the Knesset.
Indeed, this year’s budget was a huge issue all around. An interesting thing took place; over the past couple of years there have been ‘social demonstrations’ due to the state of the economy. The situation changed the results of the elections here dramatically and the ‘darlings’ of the social change movement rose to receive much power. Our Prime Minister wisely (I think) took the most outspoken leader elected from this movement…and made him FINANCE MINISTER! He basically said; ‘Ok. You want change? Here are the facts and figures. YOU are responsible for them. YOU do it!’ He had ZERO experience in this area. He was faced with the reality of the numbers and immediately…raised taxes. The most painful of these to the poorer people (more then 50% of the population) is the value added tax.
Most of us don’t pay for more then housing and food as it is…and now the food is even higher and the housing NOT more affordable but going up as well. The addition of value added tax for tourists ALMOST passed, but the tourist industry is too important here…both as an ‘industry’ AND as a moral value: Our government is very aware that when a tourist comes he may well see the truth for himself…and…if he sees…he may speak out and influence others. So, you, as a tourist, will receive an 18% refund on your purchases IF you present your receipts (KEEP THEM AND DO THIS!) at the v.a.t. desk in our airport before you leave.
A heart warming thing happened last night as my husband and I went to sign our Granddaughter up for summer ‘kay’tina’, which is summer day camp. Kay’tina is a big thing here…not just in summer, but year around. It is likely an outgrowth of the kibbutz movement upon which the modern state was founded. Everybody lived and worked communally and the children were also cared for communally.
Since everybody is STILL working ‘communally’ – the after school movement – ‘kay’tina’- has grown and refined into a lovely and creative ‘institution’ of sorts. Children can go to kay’tinot that are about cooking, sport, animals, creative arts, academics, any sort of interest…or simply PLAY. Since I will need to be working during part of the time that our Ana will be with us, we chose the YMCA kay’tina after receiving tons of recommendations. The YMCA is in a very impressive building near the old city walls here in Jerusalem where it has stood for more then 80 years! (you can see some beautiful photos of it here.)
Most of you have likely read the great soldier of faith OSWALD CHAMBERS’ My Utmost for His Highest or one of his other books. He had a room in this YMCA where he did much writing. It serves people from all communities here, both Arab and Jewish as well as internationals.
Having prayed for direction, we went to inquire about registration (feeling VERY old and nervous among all of the young parents) when a friend from kehila (fellowship or ‘church’) came along side to help and encourage us! She works there. This was a ‘big mountain’ for me…a step of faith in many ways and venturing into an area that I haven’t dealt with before as our youngest daughter was already 13 when we arrived.
Mission accomplished, we went out and found the train about to arrive. Finding a seat we were soon informed by loud speaker that there was a ‘hefetz hashood’ ahead (unidentified object) and that we would be delayed as the bomb squad was dealing with it. Groan! Not again! A whir of sirens filled the air as the bomb squad rushed passed. We settled into our seats, thankful for them as it was late, and I pulled out the papers and read them thoroughly. Suddenly I jabbed my husband in the side and pointed to a line at the bottom which read “DUE TO THE CURRENT COST OF LIVING WE HAVE DECIDED TO REDUCE OUR PRICES”!! We knew that we had made the right decision! Wasn’t that a lovely thing that they did??
I thought about it again as this morning during devotions as I was touched by John 21:6 –
“And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.”
I thought about it and about the way I walk through my daily life: They were ‘fishermen’. It was their trade. They were good enough at it to have earned their livelihood. HOWEVER…they became the servant of Another Master. They didn’t grow rusty or lose their talent…but they were in the flesh and not in the Spirit. How often I try to make plans and decisions in the flesh! How often He must remind me that I am NOT ‘my own’ but have been bought with a price! He will not prosper plans that I make on my own.
“Trust in The Lord with ALL your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He WILL direct your path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Why do I need to learn this lesson daily? He is just so very patient with me! And so, I trust Him to lead us in all that lies before us.
Our defense spending cuts were just announced as I watched the news, and the reserve soldier’s training has been cut…not good. The battles in Syria rage, taking a huge toll on human life there, but no good outcome either way. On one thing both sides agree: as soon as this is over, the announced focus is to turn to the Golan Heights…our North. Meanwhile, the Turkish uprisings which appeared to be a small rebellion, is heating up surprisingly and has become a question mark. And Egypt? Still full of unrest and shaking. Islam is entrenching itself in full leadership in country after country around us.
It is past time for me to go and get dinner ready so I must close. We have truly been blessed by friends and friends children (also friends) who have visited over this year…and those of you who write. God bless you all. May we walk together to glorify Him and finish the work that He has given each of us.
Lovingly, your sis