Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas in the Camp

Tonight I went to Christmas in the Camp for the first time. My neighbor and her little girls and I went and the husbands stayed home...inside...where it's warm! It was in the low 20's as we loaded up into the wagon to take the tour through the woods.
As we drove along the trail we listened to "Mary Did You Know" as an introduction to the first scene. Cowboys follow behind the wagon on horseback. Besides the clomping of the horses silence fills the air. You hear the occassional coyote and other wildlife as you quietly come upon each scene and its campfire. It is the Christmas story told by cowboys. Never mind the low twenties and the breeze that blows. The night sky is filled with countless stars, you get an idea of what the shepherds saw as their eyes turned upward many years ago. When we reached the scene where the shepherds bow to their knees at the sight of the heavenly host, we were amazed that the live goats used in this scene also seemed to bow their heads and remain in that position until our wagon passed by.
The little girls feel fast asleep on the way home so my friend and I headed to Tigertown where I attempted to photgraph a little church that was down the road from my old house.

 For ten years I drove by this country church at Christmas with its wreaths on the doors. They never remained after Christmas day so I never found the time to snap the pictures. Tonight I realize that no pictures will do justice to the peacefulness and beauty this tiny church offers. It holds ten years of memories of me driving past; a place that never ceases to bring a calm to my spirit and a smile to my face. It just makes you want to be there...or maybe it's the thought of a simpler life... a slower life one filled with peace.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Forgotten Ones...

On Wednesdays the church takes lunch to a high school for alternative students.
Two years ago when Randy first visited Israel, God opened up doors for the 
church to begin ministering in a new way. The principal had heard how the
poor and homeless were being fed in the soup kitchen and asked if they
would be willing to bring lunch to the high school. It is against the law to
talk to minors about Jesus while they're in school so we take lunch
and set up in the break yard. As soon as the kids come out they are smoking.
They are dressed fashionably, smoking and starving. Most are too poor
to bring lunch...I know...lay off the cigarettes!  The girls were embarrassed to
go get a sandwich so Dawn loaded up a paper towel and took them around.
The kids want to know which movie stars you know, who you live close to, 
if we listen to the same kind of music. No...we don't listen to this music personally,
no, we don't know the movie stars, yes, we do have grass. There's not much grass in Israel.
While the S.E.N.D. ministry was in Israel they helped out and made
some great contacts with the kids. Randy helped start the ministry
so the students remember the guy from Texas with the big mustache. 
They ask about him every week. 

We load the basket with our goods and set up a table for lunch.
The kids LOVE  Coca Cola. It is our goal some day to bring lunch more
than just on Wednesdays. It costs about $30.00 to prepare.
Wouldn't it be great to do it a couple more times a week?
You have to build relationships first and ministering to the
needs of the poor and being consistant is showing love to them. The Israelis 
know that evangelical christians love them.

This is Jorge...we took lots of pics with him because we were
so shocked to find him with the SEND team and in Israel. Candace and Randy
met him in Costa Rica two years ago. It was fun to see a friendly
acquaitance from CA. all the way around the world.
Another reason we love Calvary Chapel! We can always find someone we know.
I know I said it already...the Coke in Israel is great and I
am a Dr. Pepper only kind of girl. Maybe I was desperate.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mount of Beautitudes

After leaving the retreat center in Zafat we headed on down the road for a glimpse of 
The Mount of Beautitudes. We drove in and parked only to hear it was closed. After seeing our
diappointment the guard let us in for 15 minutes and that was an amazing thing! 
I don't know if this was the same view Jesus had or not but when you are on top of the Mount of Beautitudes and looking down on the Sea of Galilee, it's not hard to imagine. In the distance you will see the Jesus boats touring around. We didn't get to do that for lack of time but it makes for pretty scenery.

We found a quiet spot to read the Scriptures.

The mount is run by nuns that we heard are not friendly.
We didn't see any but these are a few shots of the grounds and how
pretty they keep it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Eastern Gate

The Eastern Gate view we have all seen....
from the outside of the Old City taken from the area 
of the Mount of Olives. Most photos of this side of the city
are taken from there because of the heighth it provides looking down.
The Mount is just high enough and far enough away that it
captures the striking view. This was taken from the road
between the two.

But on top of the Temple Mount there's another view
and with it, the words to an old hymn ring in your mind...
I will meet you in the morning,
just inside the Eastern Gate.
Then be ready, faithful pilgrim,
Lest with you it be too late.

If you hasten off to glory,
Linger near the Eastern Gate.
For I'm coming in the morning;
So you'll not have long to wait.

Keep your lamps all trimmed and burning;
For the Bridegroom watch and wait.
He'll be with us at the meeting
Just inside the Eastern Gate.

I will meet you, I will meet you
Just inside the Eastern Gate over there.
I will meet you, I will meet you,
I will meet you in the morning over there.

It seems hauntingly wrong that the entrance is empty.
Waiting, perhaps?

We sat for a bit to discuss what we had read in Scripture and
what we were seeing as we walked on the Temple Mount.

You will also notice the ground level has been raised. 
We are near the top of the archways rather than the level
of the real entrance.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Dining in Tiberius. We were served several types of humus, tahina, fresh pita, cabbage salad, hot pickles and finished with Turkish coffee. Oh yeah, we also had schnitzzle and fries.

Our dessert in the Jewish community of Efrata. We were treated wonderfully during our stay.
This chocolate crusted fluff had the consistency of coolwhip or a light mousse but David brought to our attention that we had been served meat for dinner and this was a non dairy delight. It is made from egg whites. Nothing is really very rich but is lightly sweetened.

Apple pie drizzled with caramel sauce in Efrata

I think we all understand Scripture a little better when Jesus talks about "breaking bread" and "sopping". This is what you do every meal. To share a table, a meal with someone is very personal. You better like the person you sop with.

When we traveled to California I had to take pictures of us in front of every state line sign.
This trip I decided to do food. It became a fun little game. 
After a long day of walking all over Jerusalem we stopped at Carol's fav. coffee/book shop.
This is Randy's salad. It was enormous! This meal we shared and split and taste-tested nearly every plate. I had my first "chai latte" and ate sweet potato soup with a loaf of bread and four types of dip.

In Zafat we stayed at the Forever Mercy House. We call it the retreat center because it has so much potential as such with 17 rooms. It will be the home for recovering prostitutes; here they will learn about Jesus. The S.E.N.D. Ministry team was already here and prepared dinner for all of us. This night the menu was orange chicken and rice and Coke! This is part of our group., meats, cheeses, rice pudding with cranberries. This started our day of touring the area where Jesus had most of his ministry. You get the picture of what the land looked like.

On the beach in Tel Aviv...this is one block away from our apt. Little lights dot the sand and create a wonderful atmosphere if you can handle the November breeze. We had enormous burgers here. Everything is served in proportions that allow two adults to share but we were hungry enough to try it alone.

Domino's!  after landing in Tel Aviv we ate pizza. It's across from our apt. My favorite salad spot, this is also where I broke my tooth.


This is a replica of what Herod's palace might have looked like.

The First glimpse of Massada. We are so far away and I zoomed in as far as the camera would go and still, you see how enormous. If you follow the highest peak you can count the levels on the edge where Herod built. Do yourself a favor and watch the History Channel's Massada. They did a great study on all of Herod's palace.

The trolley ride took all of three minutes. you can hardly see our destination at the top It was the smoothest ride and I never really got fearful at the highth. The view is breathtaking.
It's hard to imagine but there are homes everywhere.  Chapels, ceremonial pools, water storing pools, once surrounded even flourishing fields. This place was self sufficient. I took dozens of pictures but none can capture your feelings especially if you know what Massada is all about. Look at the view beyond the walls; you are seeing Jordan in the distance.
Can you imagine seeing this out your window every day? I wonder if back in the day, they appreciated the beauty of this scene?

The tile floors remain beautiful.

This is the third level. Randy was here two years ago when they were still excavating and uncovering the columns. He was so excited to see this much completed.

What goes down...must go back up! This does not give justice to the steps we walked down to reach the third level of Herod's palace. The kicker was trying to get back up. I was physically fit before going to Israel but at Massada and Jerusalem I would constantly find myself out of breath. Randy laughed at me all the time... I finally figured it to be the altitude causing my breathlessness. As afraid of heights as I am, I still trecked down the side of this mountain. 

Remains of the day.....

This picture stuck in my mind. If you look to the right you will see a square shaped pile of rocks. They outline the camp of where the Roman Army lived for four years while they carried buckets of dirt and rocks to build this ramp. It was a long tedius job to build. The Jewish zealots living on top chose to committ suicide rather than be captured by the Romans. The men killed their wives and children continuing until ten men remained. Those remaining ten men drew lots and the one killed the nine before taking his life.
My thoughts were: what did the Jews think during the 4 yrs. the ramp was being built to overtake them? Did they try to defend themselves by fighting as the ramp was being built? Were they too peaceful a people to do so? Did they think they would never be overtaken?
As we were here and it was election time in the U.S. I thought of the similarities between us and Massada. Do we understand that our country is being overtaken? Do we sit and think it will never happen to a country so great, so untouchable, so powerful? Are we desensitized to what is going on around us like those who watched the daily dumping of rocks for four years?
Massada fell. I love their motto though: Massada will never fall again!
I pray we won't have to say that but that each man (and woman) will busy himself in protecting his family, children, values and what we hold dear....for someone else holds it dear as well and will stop at nothing to destroy and take it.