Once again, it’s time to 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 …
Summer activity seems to overtake many of us suddenly and I know that some of you will not find time to read this. There is some personal news at the end of the letter though, particularly for those of you who know us. I am so glad that The Lord is the same, yesterday, today and forever and that HE isn’t suddenly ‘caught up’ in summer activity…OR in problems or illness for that matter. That’s so comforting!
As I went from the shuk to prayer meeting yesterday morning before going to work, my eyes suddenly ‘flashed back’ to earlier ‘first impressions’ and I was able to observe with ‘new eyes’ again some of the wonders of life here that I saw at the beginning of this part of my path. Perhaps it is because we are about to celebrate our 19th year since making aliyah (immigrating).
We became Israeli citizens on the 18th of July, but we left Alaska on 4th of July (the tickets were cheaper then as people tend not to fly on that day) which was sort of symbolic I guess. We were totally clueless as to the new life that lay ahead. I had never been here before, and my husband had come once on a short ‘tourist trip’. We didn’t know aleph from bet, (the Hebrew alpha bet) had no idea where we would live or what we would do. The map that I had looked at was the map in the back of my Bible (yes…before computers!) We literally sold and gave away everything that we owned, burned all of our bridges, and at the not-so-young age of 48+ left all that we knew for what we didn’t know because we believed (correctly thank God!) that it was HIM Who was telling us to do this. We were slightly acquainted with ONE person here and she found us temporary board in a room of someone’s apartment. That is how our walk here began. Shell shock! So, 19 years later, my routines have become somewhat set, and it was a blessing to suddenly see again as if it were my first time.
Friday morning, it is my ‘habit’ to go to Intercessors for Israel 6:30am prayer meetings for a half hour before going on to work. This week, memories flooded me. I remembered my ‘wonder’ at the buses, where the radio blared and the people talked and sang and ate. Since I take the 6am bus on Fridays I had been deeply moved by the fact that the state run radio stations began (they go off at midnight and on at 6am) with the words of ‘the smah’…the prayer most important in Judaism…the words from Deut 6:4-9
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
These words are to Judaism what The Lord’s Prayer or sometimes the 23rd Psalm are to Christianity, so it would be as if your radio stations would begin each day with those Words in the morning reminding the country Who we look to first above all. It blessed me to listen and to pray as the sunrise was casting its first rays above the mountains round about Jerusalem. Sadly, about the time that the train started service, the broadcasting system put an end to this practice that had been in place since we first got radio here.
None the less, the assortment on the 6am bus is almost always the same, so we greet one another as one reads the newspaper and another the book of Psalms and a third eats perhaps a yogurt or cucumber, tomato and pita…typical Israeli breakfasts on the run. On Friday I get off at the shuk to buy a challa (shabat bread) and some fruit and vegetables as everything in the city will close before sundown until after the shabat following sundown on Saturday. At 6am, very few stands are open, but there are enough for me to get what I need and then run down Jaffa Road to prayer meeting.
As I leave the shuk I watch the Friday morning ritual of the street sweepers. Do all cities still have street sweepers? Ours take their job very seriously and really do it well. I am always impressed by them as it is not what you would call the most desirable job and yet I never sense these people feeling sorry for themselves or angry or see them slacking at work. I pass the area from which they are ‘sent out’ with broom and equipment and enjoy listening to the ‘pep talk’ that they receive from their ‘commander’ who reminds them that they are cleaning the streets of Jerusalem and that they should do it proudly. They run off slapping each other on the back and ready to begin. Why does this catch my eye?
As one who is ‘always cleaning house again and again and again’…I sometimes lose both my joy and energy in the midst of the task. My task is so small compared with what faces these sweepers who work in the shuk. It is non stop mess and garbage and they keep at it with an energy, encouraging one another, that really speaks to me. If they can do this monotonous job day after day, it challenges me to do mine for Yeshua with joy and for His glory. It is their level of obvious contentment that teaches me in this day ahead of me…it challenges me to plumb the depths of the command that The Lord gives me to ‘be content in ALL things’ as I read in so many verses (here are two but then there is Heb 13:5, and so very many others. You know them I’m sure:
11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Phil 4:11)Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it iscertain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 1 Tim 6:6)
So…as I walk past the ‘challenge of the street sweepers’ I come again to the ifi morning prayer meeting as I have since this particular Fri. morning group began so many years back, to pray in small groups for particular situations in our country and surrounding ones. All too soon it was off to work for me, but my ‘fresh look’ at the street sweepers kept my eyes awake.
I remembered my amusement at the lack of Western ‘political correctness’ and how everyone talks to strangers all of the time. That brought to my memory the reminder of the becoming aware that in this land of the Book and the Law…the laws are NOT ‘rigid’ as they are in the West…they are not black and white…they…hum…’float’ (for want of a better word. It took me awhile to understand this. Here is an example: In America if I took a letter to the post office, they would weigh it and tell me EXACTLY how much postage it needed. If they were wrong, I would get the letter back marked ‘insufficient postage’.
Here, oh yes, there are charts, charges and regulations…but I might well walk up to the post office lady and she might say ‘9 shekels’ and I might say ‘Oh no! I only have 7.5’ and…depending upon who she is, she might say ‘zeh lo mishonay!’ (It doesn’t matter) and either put 7.5 postage on it or take the shekel and a half our of her change purse. We don’t HAVE ‘insufficient postage’ stamps here. Period.
Then there is ‘making a scene’. Again, a man approaches a window at the post office (we do LOTS of transactions at our post offices: they are banks, we pay bills there, we submit forms there and various other tasks) and the teller says ‘You are missing a signature’. You can expect excitement! ‘WHAT?!? They TOLD me that THIS is what I need!! I CAN’T POSSIBLY come back! My kid needs this for school TODAY!’ Sometimes fights ensue…but SOMETIMES we hear things like ‘You can’t? He really needs it today? Ok.’ Stamp stamp stamp – and the customer walks away smiling. You can REASON with the clerks. You can also cry. I found that out the hard way.
As a new immigrant I cried A LOT! Suddenly I became ‘they made somebody’s mother cry!’ and others in line would rush up with water or a chair – it must have been quite humorous to watch from afar (although it never felt funny at the time). So what is this: manipulation? Mercy? Sloppiness? Protexia? Probably a combination of all three to a different degree, but it was culturally different to me. It was no longer black and white, but there were many ‘grey’ areas and this was helpful to learn as I realize that I will never fully understand the ‘ways of the system’. (although I have been told that NO ONE really understands it)
It is fun to remember some of these early impressions and lessons, particularly as planes fly over. You all know that the situation here increases in intensity daily. The sudden eruption of Egypt again – our neighbor to the south- has led to great instability in the vast Sinai region and once again de-stabilized our border. To the North of us the Syrians continue to kill one another and our hospitals receive wounded for their border area nearly daily as word of mouth travels and families in the south bring their loved ones to the border asking for mercy. Again our ‘peace’ process is gaining momentum so there are (again) bomb scares daily as that seems to be the ‘natural fruit’ of the ‘peace process’ (and the foreign governments do not seem to see the irony of this). In other words, life continues as usual.
I was deeply blessed by a dear sister last weekend. She works for a volunteer organization and they are blessed with an apartment right on the beach in Netanya that they allow their workers to use periodically for a time of retreat and refreshing. She had reserved it for last weekend and INVITED ME AND ANOTHER SISTER TO JOIN HER! Oh what joy to have a change of scenery and intensity and to share the sweetest of fellowship in Him! I have rarely received such a cup of cold water and I am happy to report that I have been so graciously refreshed and doused in Love! I had to come home early as I have had an infection and am allergic to just about all antibiotics, so needed to receive 5 days of slowly administered antibiotic by infusion, spending 2 hours daily in a nurses station after work. I was well prepared with His GRACE to go through this, for which I am so thankful.
Some have been asking how things are going with our Granddaughter. She is scheduled to arrive on 29th July and we are SOOOO excited! She is a tender 6 years old and has had her suitcase packed for 6 weeks already! I guess she takes after her ‘Savtalai’ (Grandmother) as I have been getting stuff for her ‘room’ for at least that long! Thank you so much for your prayers!
But for those of you who know us…our situation…have followed our family, some of you for more then 35 years(!) we do have news. Our youngest daughter, who was married just a year ago, is expecting their first child! She was told (as I was) that she could never have children and they are THRILLED! Of course, she has had MANY physical and emotional problems and they are still NOT (yet) walking with The Lord… they are poorer then church mice BUT happier then larks…and, yes, I ask for prayer for them! They live in Minnesota USA and the Baby is due in early Jan. No…they have no car…no insurance…she is high risk pregnancy and is NOT feeling well…BUT…She IS a child of promise and HE IS ON THE THRONE! So I will BLESS them and pray and I wanted to share our joy with you!
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU AND MAKE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON YOU FOR HIS GLORY! May we be discerning and sensitive to His direction for this most narrow of seasons in which we life.