Shabbat, brotherhood, and family

Shabbat. Brotherhood (AKA matehood). Family.

These are three things that I think Australia could learn a lot about from Israel.

Shabbat= Sabbath = Saturday in Israel/Sunday in Australia = “day of rest”.

But is it really a “day of rest”? I realize that Israel is the complete other end of the line when it comes to the Sabbath. Many internationals here find the Sabbath frustrating because of the shutdown of public transport, supermarkets, and most restaurants. However, I LOVE Shabbat! Some of the most notable things which the (religious) Jewish people do on the Shabbat are…

  • no driving or using mobile phones (this is classed as ‘lighting a fire’- which is forbidden on the Shabbat)
  • no working
  • no cooking
  • no pressing buttons (no entering building codes, pressing elevator buttons)
  • no walking for more than 2km without a rest

In Australia it is not really called the “day of rest” anymore. It’s the “I’ll spend two hours in church” day. We have somehow replaced the day of rest, with church. I LOVE church. I have no doubt that God intends for the church to be present in our lives. We NEED fellowship, we NEED teaching, we NEED to worship with other believers. It’s a desire He has given us, to be a part of a spiritual family. We need to realize though, that God’s intention for the “day of rest” was not purely about church. I can see here in Israel, the immense benefits of taking the Sabbath seriously.

On Shabbat I see so many Jewish families SPENDING TIME TOGETHER. What a foreign concept to an Aussie! ‘Foreign’ is probably an over exaggeration, but you get the point. I see families taking walks together, I see groups of friends on the beach, I see kids playing together, I see fathers spending time with their sons ONE ON ONE. I love this. I honestly sometimes just sit and watch. I love to see all of these, but one which particularly touches me is to see a father and son playing soccer on the beach…I can’t explain what this does in my heart. How desperately sons need fathers! How desperately young boys need to know the approval of their fathers. How badly they need a role model. I’ve actually never been a boy, so I could be very wrong in this. But in my heart I know- maybe it’s God teaching me- that a young boy needs his father to be a rock…ever-present, ever-affirming…affirming in the right things. Can not this world affirm us in our appearances, in our attitudes, in our self-righteousness? Yes. It can. Which is why we all need a sturdy person of God, a role-model, to affirm us in the things of God, so that the things of God will override the things of this world. Do we not need to feed the good things in us, so they will be stronger than the bad? This is why a young man needs a father to affirm and build up the God strength within him. I look forward to one day when I will (God-willing) have a son whom my husband and I will invest in with all of our hearts and strength and time. It is incredibly special for me to watch these moments between fathers and sons. I believe that every second a father spends with his son is so much more significant than we can comprehend.

On a different note, I know Aussie’s pride themselves on ‘mateship’, right? I LOVE Australia, so of course, I love the Aussie ‘mateship’. I do, however, notice so much difference between Aussie mateship and Israeli brotherhood. When I see two young men supporting each other EMOTIONALLY, again, it touches my heart. To see a man put his arm around the shoulders of another man in church who needs to know he’s not alone…that’s more than mateship. That’s brotherhood. I would guess that is has a lot to do with the army. Israeli men are in the army for almost three years. Maybe hardship brings about a closer brotherhood? This is only a guess. Whatever the reason, I am so touched by the closeness of men here in Israel.

I think that’s all I want to say for now 🙂

Shabbat Shalom for tonight, my friends!

Shabbat begins at sundown on Friday evening, and ends on Saturday evening, when there are three stars out. I was on the beach a few weeks ago with some Jews and I was watching for these three stars with them. One of them was telling me that it’s three stars because then you can be sure of three- with only one or two, you could be just seeing things!

Welcome to my life!

I am blogging! Right now! My sincere apologies to those people who actually read my blog, I realize it has been a long time.  It drives me INSANE that this is not all the same font but I cannot figure out how to change it! So sad!

How do I even begin?

In January the college treated us to a trip to Eilat, which is at the very bottom of Israel. If one has motivation, one can hike a hill and see Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt from the same point. Sadly, this girl did not have the motivation! We truly are a part of the most amazing college! They really treat us so well! We went jeeping in the desert, visited Mitspe Ramon (a massive crater) and wandered the beach and stores. It was a really beautiful and refreshing weekend!

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Mitspe Ramon, the crater.

 

 

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Our jeep tour through the desert!

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Our jeep tour!

 

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And a fire at the end 🙂

 

 

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The colors of the sunset at the Red Sea looking towards Egypt

 

The following weekend, my housemates and I hired a car and went roadtripping! We mainly focused around Jerusalem and the Dead Sea area. We hiked En Gedi (where Paul chased David), swam in the Dead Sea, climbed Mt of Olives (really cool- we actually took a German atheist from the hostel, and were able to tell her a lot of the Gospel!), the Garden tomb, the Holocaust museum. Oh and for the record, the Via Dolorosa is 100000000% OVERRATED. It’s one of the main attractions of Israel, but most of it is completely unbiblical and not worth anybody’s time. Here are some photos…

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Kimberly, Elisabeth and I just outside Garden of Gethsemane

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Tombs on Mt of Olives! Jews believe the Messiah will come here when he comes, so they want to be the first raised from death. So they pay $40’000  to buy a plot. You must be a Jew to be buried here.

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The Garden of Gethsemane

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In En Gedi- where Saul chased David

 

I had a wonderful time in Australia in February! I was blessed to be able to see my brother, Cameron, marry his beautiful wife, Sarah. What a beautiful day! I was also able to help them move into their new home, spend time with my mother and the rest of my family + friends, and share some of my experiences! I really enjoyed my time in Tassie, and it was certainly difficult to leave. My first flight was very tearful, but God really comforted me, and since then (25th February) I haven’t missed home, which is a true blessing. There is MUCH to be missed, so I’m certain that God is protecting my heart from sorrow.

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My beautiful brothers and sisters! Me, Sarah, Cameron, Shovee and Mitchell. I love my family!!

A few days after I returned to Israel we had a field trip to some really awesome places: Masada, En Gedi, Qumran (Dead Sea scrolls), Dead Sea (FYI I’ve dipped in the dead sea 5 times so far, which according to advertising, makes me minus 33 years old!), Jordan River (baptism site), the Judean wilderness, Temple Mount, Pools of Bethesda, Herodius, Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Herodian, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, ummmmmm I think that’s it! I need to just remind anybody who has forgotten: I LOVE THIS COUNTRY! I love to see shepherds, donkeys, wild camels, Bedouins, all as you’re just casually going about your day! This year in Israel is indeed changing the way I read my Bible. I had no idea how much I needed this, until I was here!

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My class! At the Temple Mount- where Abraham came to sacrifice Isaac, and where the 1st and 2nd Temple (Solomon’s and Herod’s) stood. How amazing! Solomon’s temple would have stood twice this height!

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The pools of Bethesda!

John 5:1-9 (NLT) “Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda,[a] with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches.[b] One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking!”

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Some Muslim tombs next to the Old City- with Mt of Olives in the background. All of that white stuff is tombs! (There was a picture above) 

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Jews with their prayer shawls, praying at the Western Wall.

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Me in the Judean wilderness! I wish I had a photo without the head covering, but I don’t! There were merchants selling these at the site. This is the setting for the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), and also the area where Jesus would have been tempted by satan (Matthew 4).

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A shepherd (on the left in about the middle) and his flock, in the Judean wilderness.

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Flocks are definitely my thing. Oh how I’d love to be a shepherd!!

 

I was blessed to be able to spend 5 wonderful days with my beautiful friend, Jess, who came to visit! We had a few…”cultural” experiences! It was wonderful! We toured Jerusalem for the day on Wednesday, and then with a hire car on Thursday, we went camel riding in Dimona, swimming in the Dead sea, and then returned to Jerusalem for Young Adults at my church. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, my friend Miranda from church joined us, and we went again to the Dead sea (the muddy part- the other part is clean!), then to the Jordan river, and to Nazareth village. We stayed the night at a wonderful hostel in the Golan Heights called “Golan Garden”…SO cool! The next morning we went to the Sea of Galilee, and saw Capernaum and Mt of Beatitudes. Afterwards we ducked back into Golan and we did a short hike and saw some waterfalls. Sadly there was a dead cow in the river and swimming was prohibited. Sad! But it was still beautiful! Golan is so lovely right now. Green and flowery! Afterwards we went to Mt Bental, which is a lookout over Syria. What an INCREDIBLE experience. Wow. To be 60km from Damascus and to see a broken and dead Syrian town was hard-hitting. I am NOT crazy, but I swear that on the Israel side of the boundary, there was life, and on the Syrian side, there was death. The town was apparently occupied, but we didn’t see any movement over there. I can clearly see how God is blessing Israel.

Me and Jess at Jordan

Jess and I at the Jordan river- where Jesus was baptized, and where Joshua and the Israelites crossed into the promise land

Dove at Jordan

While we were sitting at the Jordan river, reading the story of Jesus baptism (Matthew 3), 3 doves came down to the water right infront of us. WOW! Matthew 3:16-17 “After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.'”

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Dead sea baby!

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Some kids in a trailer 🙂

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One of the many shephers and his flocks that we see all the time here in Israel!

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A random herd of camels on the side of the road…

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My camel, Hannan, and Jess’ camel Aliyah!

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The camels just never get old!

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Watching Jordan from the dead sea, as the sun set behind us. It’s incredible to see the light illuminating the hills of Jordan. Beautiful!

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Jess, Miranda and I at the muddy part of Dead Sea!!

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At the Sea of Gallilee!

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At an old Synagogue at Capernaum- right next to Peter’s house.

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Hike in Golan Heights- beautiful!

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In the underground bunkers on Mt Bental (Syrian lookout)- massive underground bunkers that were used in the war! So cool!

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Syria.

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Road to Damascus?? Only 60km away!

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Syria.

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Maybe a little hard to descrive exactly where the border is…basically in the exact centre of the photo (height), just behind that little lake, is where the border is (the other photos are only result of a very good zoom on my camera!)

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This used to be Syrian land, and these are now patrolled closely by the IDF, and we weren’t permitted to enter. This was a little closer to the border (down Mt Bental).

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And we finished off with a quick dip into the Mediterranean in Netanya! 

We have just finished the festival of Purim. When this book is read, Jews get pretty animated and respond to the story, hopefully you’ll get what I mean… The book of Esther in a nutshell: King of Persia, (King Xerxes), had a beautiful Queen (Queen Vashti), and Xerxes was having a big party and wanted to show off his queen to all of his buddies, so he calls for her, she refuses to come, and Xerxes was very upset about this so he got rid of Vashti and searched for a new Queen. There was a girl named ESTHER (cue ‘awwww!’) who had been orphaned and raised by her Uncle,  MORDACAI (cue cheers from crowd). Esther and Mordecai were both Jews, which the King didn’t know. Anyway, the beautiful Esther wins the affection of King Xerxes and he makes her his Queen. Now, there was this guy named HAMAN (cue ‘BOOOOO!’), who was a powerful official, and he (long story short) didn’t like Mordecai, because he ruined a plot to assassinate the King (which made Xerxes really like Mordecai). So Haman, with his authority, sneakily organized for all of the Persian Jews to be killed. BUT the beautiful Esther prayed, fasted, and risked her life to stop his plan to kill the Jews. In the end, the King had Haman executed, and the Jews were saved! Who says the Bible is boring?? You should really go read it now for yourself!

Esther 9:20-28 (NLT) “20 Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes, 21 calling on them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days.[f] 22 He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy.23 So the Jews accepted Mordecai’s proposal and adopted this annual custom. 24 Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews, had plotted to crush and destroy them on the date determined by casting lots (the lots were called purim). 25 But when Esther came before the king, he issued a decree causing Haman’s evil plot to backfire, and Haman and his sons were impaled on a sharpened pole. 26 That is why this celebration is called Purim, because it is the ancient word for casting lots.So because of Mordecai’s letter and because of what they had experienced, 27 the Jews throughout the realm agreed to inaugurate this tradition and to pass it on to their descendants and to all who became Jews. They declared they would never fail to celebrate these two prescribed days at the appointed time each year. 28 These days would be remembered and kept from generation to generation and celebrated by every family throughout the provinces and cities of the empire. This Festival of Purim would never cease to be celebrated among the Jews, nor would the memory of what happened ever die out among their descendants.”

 

SO, this happens in Israel to this date. There is a fast until sundown on Wednesday, and on Thursday there is great celebration, parties, and dress-ups, for through Esther, God has preserved the Jews. How incredible to be living in a country where we still celebrate the festivals from the Bible! So incredible!

Yesterday, the school treated us to a daytrip up North. We went to the Lebanon border to a town named Rosh Hanikra, and a little lower down the Mediterranean, to Akko. We went with an amazing Canadian couple, as Sisi was unwell. In Rosh Hanikra, there are underwater caves which were so beautiful. I NEED to return to that town to swim. It’s the most beautiful water ever. We hired bikes and rode along the coastline. So clear and blue! Wow! I hope these photos can do it justice but don’t think they can! It was such a wonderful day! In the bus we shared about our lives and prayed a lot, and we were all mutually blessed I think! We had a massive lunch in Akko, and explored the markets and old Crusader period buildings. So beautiful! It’s like a miniature Jerusalem.

At Lebanon border

Just metres from the Lebanon border 🙂

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Dan and Sandy, our amazing hosts for the day!

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Incredible underwater caves!

Okay, so I think that’s up to date with my coolest photos (though I have millions more!). If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! Now you’ve passed the test and I can tell you deeper things 🙂 God has been speaking to me about so many things, and I am learning more about who I am in Christ, and about the power that Christ left us with. How powerful He is! I have been realizing how important it is for me to be VULNERABLE. I think that vulnerability is the key to preventing pride and in loving and accepting other people without judging them. I find when I am completely honest and vulnerable about my struggles, not only does it humble me, but it allows other people to be vulnerable too, instead of keeping up this stupid shell that we try to keep up, which makes us look so holy and righteous and like our lives are always okay, all the time. I’m realizing that nobody has got it all together, and that I need swallow my pride, and be the first to say how I struggle. I know that satan loves it when we keep our struggles and sin to ourselves. When we suffer in shame, it isolates us. We shy away from fellowship because of this shame, and then we are disconnected from the flock, which satan LOVES. He wants us to be separated, because as a lion preys on a lone gazelle, so does satan prey on us when we are alone. God wants us to love each other unconditionally, encourage one another, and bear each others burdens. He wants us to confess our sins and to not judge each other, but to gently carry our friends and family in Christ, when they cannot walk. We need to pray for each other and be a part of each others lives, for WE ARE FAMILY. Where two of more are gathered, God is there. So my friends, gather with your brothers and sisters, and truly know each other. Be brave and courageous, and be assured of the fact that you are forgiven, free, loved, and cherished by the most high God, who breathed into existence everything that you see! He breathed YOU into existence. He is so worthy! I just want to encourage anybody reading this that you are most certainly not alone in your struggles. Share them with somebody! (my email is kimberlyfoundgrace@gmail.com if you wanna share them with me!

I love you guys!!

:) Shalom!

Shalom havorim shelli! (Hello my friends!)

What I will tell you about today is really a mystery to me!

Last week we had final exams for our first semester of ICB. The exams went quite well, I’m relatively happy with them. Yes, that means that I am already half way through my year in Israel. My heart is so sad to think about this! But God is good, and I trust Him! Whatever HIS will, let it be done. He knows me better than I do.

I have been attending King of Kings Jerusalem, and if I haven’t convinced you yet to listen to their music, just do it! It’s awesome! I feel very at home, in a way I have not felt in a church whilst being in Israel yet. I have loved Beit Asaph (Messianic Hebrew congregation), and Evan Yahuda congregation (an American church) in Netanya, but you know when you find where God has prepared for you? Well, I’ve found it! I’m so happy there! I’ve only been for 3 Sundays in a row (tomorrow will be my 4th– and yes, they are on Sunday evenings, so I also go to a congregation here in Netanya on Shabbat [Saturday]), but I have since been attending young adults as well, and last week I helped with the youth group. I’m SO happy to truly be a part of a congregation again. I’ve met some incredible young people, who are encouraging and inspiring my roots to grow deeper in my faith and love for God. It’s a community where I feel comfortable to be totally fragile and vulnerable…there’s no pressure to act like I’m okay if I’m not. I feel like it’s a special church where I can be broken, and my family in Christ will be there without judgement to help carry me. I’m so glad. I’m SO glad! God is so good.

It has been increasingly apparent to me of late, how we need to be WARRIORS. As Christians, we need to put on our armor and prepare for battle. I love the soldiers I’m training with. This world needs serious Christians, willing to lay everything down for the cause. Willing to stare the enemy in the face, confident of our strength- which is Christ, and Christ alone. As one of my beautiful new friends put it the other day, we need to ‘sharpen’ ourselves constantly- keep growing, keep hearing God, keep being humbled, and stay on our knees. The battle is coming! I need to be ready. I need to know my commander better than anybody else.

A few hours ago I returned home from a girls camp at the Baptist Village which I was helping out at. I was just helping with an activity- mug nail polish marbling- but I want to tell you about what’s going on with the youth here in Israel! There were over 200 believing girls from ages 12-17 who came just for 1 night, and learned about what it means to be a daughter of God, and how He wants us to be pure in every way. But seriously guys, did you read that? 200 girls. I think that’s amazing. I had the privilege of meeting some wonderful young women. The most inspiring was a 14 year old who I talked to over breakfast. Her great wisdom, the faith that God has put in her heart, humbles me. I look UP to her, a 14 year old! She has great faith. One line I clearly remember is ‘I know that the Holy Spirit can speak to them and change their hearts’, when talking about fellow pupils at her school who gossip and hurt people. God is WORKING in our world, and it has nothing to do with age. I want youth groups full of kids filled with understanding and faith, who desire the Holy Spirit and desperately seek after God’s heart. Age does not hinder God! Things are HAPPENNING in our world, and I’m so excited to live at such a time as this. We will see great things from God. He is moving! We truly need to be like children!

Matthew 18:2-4

2And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.…

Nitevah is the organization that runs the camps. A few weeks ago there was a boys camp, and I just found this video on youtube if anybody is interested! The girls camp video isn’t up yet, but it was same type of thing, minus the mud, plus finger nail polish and knives and forks 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpdZQF6dWeo

Nitevah runs camps at a very low cost for the participants, and I don’t do this very often, but I wanted to mention Nitevah because if any Christian friends want to know and give into a trustworthy organization who is evangelizing and raising up the next generation of Israeli believers of Yeshua, I would suggest Nitevah.

I love you guys!

It’s 2016 and I just want to say…

Hello my friends!

I wanted to write a not-so-Israeli blog post today, about my last year, and how God has taught me and grown me.

I am writing this whilst listening to ‘Tie me kangaroo down sport’, for probably the 40th time in the last month. It’s incredible how proud I am to be Australian, to an extent which I didn’t understand before I left Australia! I love Australia! This song is absolutely ridiculously Australian, my favorite section is ‘tan me hide when I’m dead, Fred, tan me hide when I’m dead. So we tanned his hide when he died, Clyde, and that’s it hanging on the shed!’ It makes me smile every time! So if you need a smile, go find it! Also ‘Give me a home among the gum trees’ and ‘land down under’ are in my most played right now.

This time last year I was anxiously waiting for a response to my Bible college application. For me, it was such a huge deal to leave my life in Australia, and move into the unknown. Most of my classmates didn’t apply until March and later, whereas I applied as early as possible, in October! I remember when I finally got my acceptance letter, at 5.30am as I woke up to milk the cows! I was so happy!

Over the next months, until my departure in September, I had doubts. I often wanted to chicken out because it was too complicated! Visa issues, leaving my cat and everybody I knew, it was a bit scary! But I can say with complete confidence that my God is so good, and so faithful. He knows what’s best for me, and I am so blessed and thankful that He loves me. God has proven to me His faithfulness, and now I trust Him to take me wherever He wishes, because He bought me here to Israel, He provided all of the needs of my body and of my heart. He has given me the most beautiful friends and family. I don’t know how many times I’ve said ‘as a Christian, I have family in every part of the world’. I am never alone! I have my God, and I am a part of the biggest family in the world. It is incredible how fast bonds are made with other believers from everywhere. With so many children to care for, God cares for ME, which is astounding.

I trust Him to fill my heart with His dreams, and to open the doors. I realize now more of our inheritance in Him. I have learned in the last year that I have nothing to call my own. I am living off HIS goodness. No works that I can do, can earn me grace or mercy. No faith that I possess is a result of my goodness to Him. Romans 9:

“10 This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins.[f] 11 But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; 12 he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.”[g] 13 In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.”[h] 14 Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! 15 For God said to Moses,

“I will show mercy to anyone I choose,     and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”[i]

16 So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it. 17 For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”[j] 18 So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.19 Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?” 20 No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? 22 In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. 23 He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. 24 And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.”

He is the giver of every gift, including faith. I’m thankful for every gift He has given to me. I’m thankful that He has provided for me, and I have learned that my bank account is completely irrelevant. When God wants me to do something, His bank account it unlimited! It’s humbling to realize that I have nothing. I know that I wrote about this before I came to Israel, but God showed me in a vision once (I don’t have many visions) that all I have is Him. I don’t have anything but Him- and He is everything. He is the air I breathe, He is the ground beneath my feet, and my light.

I am really excited for what God will teach me, and where He will take me in 2016. I will meet so many new people, I will see so many new things, and I will learn more of God’s heart for this world, and for my life. I am His, and He is mine.

Thank you to my wonderful family and friends, in Australia and in Israel, who have supported and are supporting me financially, prayerfully, emotionally, whatever it is, I am so thankful that God is using you to impact my life! I would not be the same person I am, without all of you! I’m so blessed that God gives friends as gifts, and I love and treasure each of you- although I regret that I cannot be in Australia and Israel at the same time- so often I have longed for a hug from so many of you! However, I’m so glad to be on the journey and wouldn’t trade this experience for anything!

Here’s one photo to leave you with:

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Happy New Year my friends!!

 

Erev tov

Erev tov, friends! (Good evening!)

I have so much work to do but I just cant stop thinking about all of the things I want to share!

Firstly, it’s getting cold! If somebody from Latrobe Baptist could tell John McMath that it was 1 degrees last week, I would appreciate that! I’ve had to invest in some winter boots and a winter coat! With the Christmassy season has also come some pretty intense homesickness! I had a few days when I cried for hours! Culture shock finally hit, which was not much fun. The last few days have been much better though. Even though I miss home and my family, I still LOVE this beautiful country and love being here, and I love to experience a small sacrifice of following Christ. I’m looking forward to the next 4 days! Tomorrow, my roommate, Kimberly’s brother and his friend are coming to Israel, so Kimberly is organizing a road trip which I’m SO excited about! We will leave tomorrow (Thursday) and return Sunday.

You guys should all go and youtube ‘Kadosh Ata’ by Joshua Aaron. I LOVE THIS SONG.

Also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL_mcPxq3XI this is a really great song we often sing at church which is really awesome. I’m getting goosebumps listening to it! Hebrew worship is SO special! This worship video is from King of Kings church in Jerusalem. We were there for a conference a few months ago but I haven’t been there for a service yet- it is on the list though, much anticipated!

I want to explain a few things. There are kind of 2 parts to being a Jew- by blood, and by religion. Some Jews are only Jews because of their bloodlines. They are physical descendants of Abraham. This means that these Jews can be whatever religion they want. They are still Jews, by blood. And then there are Jews who believe and follow the patriarchs, their ancestors. Their religion is Judaism, which is the Jewish religion. Does that kind of make sense?? One heartbreaking thing is that in the Holocaust, Jews were killed for their race, not their religion. So any Jew, whether they be Christian (Messianic Jews), Catholic, follow Judaism, whatever, they were killed no matter what. In the name of Jesus too. Heartbreaking. To be a Jew, your mother must be a Jew. Males cannot produce Jewish babies without a Jewish wife. So, even if I married a Jewish guy, my kids couldn’t be Jewish (just to put it in perspective for you). There are a few reasons to this I think, but the only one I can remember is because a woman could have a baby and claim the father is Jewish, when the father is in fact not Jewish. However, it’s pretty hard to lie about who the child’s mother is! You can actually ‘convert’ to Judaism, which includes lots of long courses, pledges, meetings with rabbis, etc. It also includes denying Christ. I met a few weeks ago, a girl a little older than me who recently converted to Judaism from Christianity, which is really sad 😦

I am a Gentile. I’m not a Jew, unless somebody forgot to tell me. Mum? Gran?… Now, because I am a Gentile, I am kind of expected to be a Christian. A Jew who believes in Yeshua (Jesus) is in most Jew’s eyes, rejecting their ‘Jewishness’. Me, as a Gentile, had no Jewishness to deny or reject. Therefore, it is more ‘acceptable’ for me to put my faith in Yeshua, than it is for a Jew to put their faith in Yeshua. By doing so, a Jew stops following the rabbis and the mishna (refer to my last blog post if you don’t understand this). So, I have a pretty amazing opportunity to minister to Jews that Messianic Jews don’t have. It is illegal to evangelize here in Israel. So seeing as I’m charming AND a Gentile, I’ve got lots of opportunity here.

Another thing that has been so apparent to me in my studies is just how much satan doesn’t want Jews to be here! So much of what we see is all to do with spiritual warfare. I feel I may have written about this before…but just think about how TINY Israel is! 1/3 of the size of Tassie! Yet how many times in the last few years have you heard about Israel in the news? It’s pretty crazy also how many people have tried to wipe out the Jews, who are really very peaceful people. First satan tried to get rid of them by putting them in slavery in Egypt. Then exiling them to Babylon, then a ridiculous amount of persecution from 500-1500 AD, and then in the 1900’s the Holocaust, which killed SIX MILLION Jews. This was at a time when there were about 250’000 MESSIANIC JEWS (Jew’s believing in Yeshua) in Europe. They were starting to come to faith, when satan stepped in again. Now, the Jews are in the land! Jews are coming to faith. These are exciting times! Something really exciting is this:

http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/27964/Default.aspx

I could write about it but the article explains everything. Please give it a read, and pray for these videos. I am so proud to be a part of this incredible college. This is a huge thing for this country, and will reach many Jews. As in, this is MASSIVE. The guy in the video is Erez Soref, the president of ICB.

Have you heard of a guy called Martin Luther? NOT Martin Luther KING, just Martin Luther. So he was alive in 1483- 1546, and was a priest. He wrote a few books. The first book was about loving the Jews, on bringing them to faith through love. It was a pretty crazy idea at the time, seeing as from 500-1500ish, Christians and our church fathers hated Jews, because they ‘missed their Messiah’. They hated them so much that they preached that Jews are murderers, of the devil, have horns, etc, etc. And then they actually acted on that hate. They killed Jews, burned down synagogues, burned down Jewish homes, burned mishnas, forced conversions (be baptized and convert to Christianity or die), expelling them from cities and countries, and more. I’m talking serious persecution. So Martin Luther suggesting to love the Jews was a little bit out of the box. He was obviously passionate about loving the Jews. He wrote a book about it called…something. Then a few years later he wrote another book, which I am reading at the moment. In this book, he had become bitter that nothing had changed, and that Jews had not come to Christ through the love, and that the church had not taken on his suggestions. He was so bitter, that he took back everything he wrote in his other book, and vile remarks jump of every page. One line in my memory is ‘I want nothing to do with any Jew ever again’. He says they are of the devil, and I could go on forever with awful things he said. What I wrote all of this for, is to show the spiritual warfare here. We were discussing in class the crazy change in his attitude towards the Jews. It has got to be satan getting to him, don’t you agree??

Well, that’s all for now. I’m sure in 5 minutes I’ll remember something else I wanted to tell you!!

Happy Hanukah!

Shalom friends,

I often try to fit all of what I’m learning into these blogs, but I feel like the biggest stuff is happening outside of the classroom! So who knows what you’re about to read- these posts are literally my thoughts before I even think them!

Today is day 7 of Chanuka (Hanukah). I love Israeli celebrations and I hope that wherever God takes me in future, I can continue with them! (and thanksgiving- that is one cool American holiday! Food, friends, and being thankful? Yes please!) Last night we went to Amy-Lee and David’s house for tea. They have 4 gorgeous kids, and David works for ICB. Amy-Lee is from New Zealand so we instantly rip out all the words: ‘maccas’, ‘lollies’, ‘bikkies’, ‘cool as’, ‘servo’, etc etc. It’s funny how everybody assumes NZ and Australia are the same place…there is really a kinship when there are so few Aussies here! But anyway, they are both awesome and shared with us the most wonderful love story ever, of how they came to be married! And lots of good child birth stories. It was a wonderful night! Tonight we went to a Hanukah celebration at the ICB congregation which was wonderful. Tomorrow night we are going to Or and Kirsten’s home for dinner, who also had us for thanksgiving! People here are so generous, in opening their homes.

This week something major has happened. Ever since we started Uplan (Hebrew classes), people always said ‘it’ll click one day!’ and I didn’t believe them. Well, IT DID! Suddenly, I understand Hebrew so much better. Life is so much more hopeful! It was so hard to struggle in Hebrew, and I’m so thankful I’m finally getting it! ICB studies are going well too.

I have been volunteering at a soup kitchen every Wednesday right after class at ICB. It is at the church I go to, Beit Asaph, run by a guy called Brian from USA. He also runs a food distribution centre in the shook (market) downtown, which gives food to the poorest in Netanya, and they see many salvations. I have been once, but I cannot go usually because it is at the same time as my class. It’s a lot of elderly ladies who come. They often get opportunities to pray with them, speak with them, and to lead them to Christ. On the day I was there, there were 2 salvations! Really awesome! I was able to speak with a young girl named Emma who speaks NO English, and we got by. I find it really cool to experience love without words. I don’t actually need to say anything- I have a real sense that through my eyes I can communicate so much, and God can really use me without my words as much as He can WITH them. She really needed to feel love on that day, and I hope she did. I was also able to pray with Brian and another volunteer, for a woman named Sophia, who gave her life to Christ 2 years ago at the distribution centre. She was feeling, as much as I understand, unlovable and unloved by God. So we prayed, and talked. She used to be a language teacher, but doesn’t know much English. She can understand most of it but cannot speak any. She was trying to help me with my Hebrew numbers, and I was helping her with English numbers. Trying to teach a Russian to say ‘zero’?? HA! She couldn’t stop rolling her ‘r’. It was so funny. I am hoping to go and visit with her sometime soon. She loves young people. I have lots of opportunities here. The soup kitchen is really awesome. I love it! I just give people their food, coffee, tea, cake, whatever they need. I did get to sit last time with some of them and meet them. It’s really great for practicing my Hebrew!

Everybody always says to me ‘find a man and stay in Israel!’. I’ve lost count of the people who tell me this. There’s Tippy from the supermarket, the guy from the yarn shop, the lady who was walking her dog this morning, so actually I haven’t lost count. There’s a few more I think. So maybe 5. But that’s a lot more than zero! The thing is, none of them have given me any suitable Israeli men who want to marry me. Oh but actually yesterday I was riding home with some flowers from the shook, and a man hopping out of a truck yelled to me in Hebrew, and I said I only knew a little bit of Hebrew, and he said ‘Oh are those for me?!’ and I said ‘Oh no, sorry!’ and he said ‘oh but why?!’ (this was all in Hebrew) and I said ‘They already have an owner!’ (I was taking them for Amy-Lee and David) and he said ‘why?!’ so I stopped for a moment and thought, what the heck, and started walking towards him with these flowers and said ‘you know what…sure. These are for you’. I tell you, than man RAN for his life. He ran way behind his truck yelling ‘I was just kidding!!!!’ Haha. I really don’t understand how I’m still single. I am totally charming. Truly! I could go on and on about all the little old Jewish men I’ve charmed, but I won’t, it would take too long. However, I will mention that I was offered free peanut juice by the men under the stairwell the other day. I did decline but have since been told it’s a very delicious festive drink and I should have accepted! 😉

It’s come to my attention that I really must look in love. I ride my bike whilst listening to music, so I’m smiling and singing and dancing (yes it’s possible to ride and dance at the same time). I feel so happy! Seriously guys, I am so happy here. I don’t really want to come home right now! This land, these people, this culture, is so wonderful. I occasionally miss my Mum and other people, but I haven’t missed bacon truly, and I’ve realized that the sun rises and sets in every country…the sky changes, the stars and moon appear, the grass grows, the flowers bloom, the rain comes…there is beauty in every country. I thought I would miss the beauty of Tasmania, but I found new beauty. I don’t think I can say enough times, to anybody reading this who fears to step into what God has told them to do…do not fear. He has great things for you, He knows you better than you do! He cares about your heart. He knows what’s important to you, and He will not fail you.

I met a woman named Kataya who lives in Israel, but came from Ukraine I think about 12 years ago. I met her briefly at Beit Asaph a few weeks ago, and I am SO glad that I did. Yesterday morning I went to visit her, got TOTALLY lost on the way. She speaks no English. The first thing she did when I got there was to tell me that she wanted to pray for me, but it was best for her to pray in Russian. Praise God I knew the word for pray! (lehitpalel). It was really awesome, she prayed in Russian, and I prayed in English. God is good. We sat around the laptop with google translate and shared our testimonies. We spoke in Hebrew, but when I didn’t understand we used the translator. I don’t think I can write down here just how special it was. She is an incredible woman, totally led by God and He used her to really challenge and inspire me. For an hour and a half we talked, and if she didn’t need to go to work it would have been much more I think! It’s amazing that we communicated so much with only a little bit of Hebrew!

Here is a part of an email I sent to a friend (hi Judy!) a while back, about the field trip I mentioned in the last post…

It was very cool…we stood on Mt. Jezreel, which is 99.9% chance the hill where Ahab and Jezebel’s palace was once built, but they haven’t excavated it as of yet. So, it was where Jezebel fell out of the window etc…anyway, to the left, maybe 20km away, was Mt. Morah, and out teacher pointed out the exact location of where the Philistines camped when they were about to attack Saul and his men. Saul was camped down Mt Jezreel, to the right, at the Jezreel Springs. Over behind Mt Morah was where he went to visit with the medium, who told him that he would be delivered into the hands of the Philistines. So he would have had to walk straight past the Philistines to get to the medium, which tells us that his reliance on the medium was of pretty high importance. Anyway, then he came back, the Philistines attacked, and chased him up Mt. Gilboa, which was to the right of us- BIG mountains! Rocky, huge, and very very steep. The of course, he killed himself somewhere in those mountains (we went up to the top for our last stop). I say all of this so you might understand how cool it is to be able to have all of that layed out infront of you! It really made it very real. So that’s how I spent my day (we also went to Megiddo, and archaeological site, Beit Shean- with an Egyptian settlement and a STUNNING excavated Roman-Byzantene city, and also Mayan Harad [Elijah was here]).

That’s all for now folks 🙂 Love to you all!!

אני אוהבת ישראל!

Hello friends! The title says ‘Ani Ohevet Israel’ which means ‘I love Israel!

My apologies for taking so long to write another blog! Life is busy, beautiful and…what’s another ‘b’ word?? Brilliant. And also BIKE. So much biking! My bike tyre popped yesterday on a big ride so my ankles are super sore right now from a lot of walking. I must be getting old if I have sore joints!

I am really settling in now to life in Israel and into student life. I’m actually up to date with assignments which is very exciting for me, as I was behind for a while. Next week I have to give a presentation to the class on ‘agriculture in the near Middle East’, which I actually should be preparing now but oh well, blogging it is 🙂 Ulpan (Hebrew) is getting easier, but I still struggle a bit. Classes at the Bible College continue to get more and more awesome! I am LOVING them. Jewish-Christian relations is an incredible subject that I had never given a thought to- but it is so very relevant to my life (and probably yours too) as Gentiles. Learning about the Holocaust, the spread of Christianity through the middle ages, the persecution of Jews (just as an indication for you…Muslims treated Jews better than Christians did), and yesterday we touched on Messianic prophesies, and the views of the Jews and the Christians, the debates for and against Jesus being the Messiah. We have a course next semester on Messianic prophesy so I look forward to that too. Jews believe Isaiah 53 to be referring to the state of Israel, whereas Christians obviously believe it’s speaking of Jesus. This is just one example of the debate about ‘is Jesus the Messiah?’. Here are some really interesting things that jumped out at me…

Okay so I’m gonna go from the beginning. I truly hope I explain this correctly, and that no part of it is untrue. This is how I understand what I have been learning. So, Jews believe in the Old Testament. They call it the Tenakh (for this point- TeNaKh). T for Torah (books of Moses), N for Neviim (prophets) and K for writings, and they join it together to make Tenakh. Judaism is more rabbis and religious leaders than it is God. Many Jews do not actually read the Tenakh, but they learn from the rabbis (‘rab-byes’). On top of the Torah, Jews have the ‘Talmud’ which is made up of commentary from rabbis, of the scripture. The Talmud is made up of the Mishnah and the Gamarah. Here is a photo of a page of the Talmud that I got off Google that will help explain. There is no (or very very little) scripture on this page. Rashi is a very famous rabbi who wrote commentary on all of the Talmud. So what you see on the page there, is literally commentary of commentary of the Old Testament (Tenakh).

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Okay, I’ve told you alllll of that so I can tell you this…

Daniel 9:26 “After this period of seventy sets of seven, the most Holy one will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple.”

This says that the Messiah would come before the destruction of the temple, yet the Jews are STILL waiting nearly 2000 years after the destruction of the Temple, for the Messiah. So, Jesus died and rose again in about 30 AD (possibly up to 33 AD), and the 2nd Temple was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. In the Talmud (written about 500 AD), there is commentary that says that for 40 years before the destruction of the temple, God would not accept any sacrifices. Now…70 – 30 = 40 TADA! It aligns perfectly with Jesus dying as the one sacrifice to end all sacrifices. In the temple there was a scarlet cord that would turn white when God accepted a sacrifice. At the very time that Jesus died, the cord would no longer turn white…because the sacrifice had been made already. I love this because this is NOT from the Bible. This is a Jewish source which very strongly (in my opinion) points to Jesus being the Messiah.

I want to say also that I will not ever attack a Jew because of their beliefs about Jesus’ Messiahship. Everything we learn, we learn with an open heart, with compassion, gentleness and love for the Jews. We are most certainly called to love them.

Anyway, now that you’ve (hopefully) learned something new, I’ll carry on! I think that when I am home in Australia you won’t be able to shut me up about all that I’m learning. I honestly feel that I am getting the best education that I could get when it comes to the Bible. These teachers have so much knowledge. We have one teacher, Sheila, for both Biblical Geography and Old Testament backgrounds, and David for Jewish-Christian relations. If any of what I write about with Jewish-Christian relations really hits your heart, he does online courses that you could take!

It was my 23rd birthday last Sunday, and I spent it in the Jezreel Valley, looking at some incredible sites. We went to Megiddo, Tel Jezreel, Harad Springs, Bet She’an, and Mt Gilboa. WOW WOW WOW. The last scenes of King Sauls life played out before my eyes at tel Jezreel, Bet She’an, and Mt. Gilboa. I actually have to leave in like, 15 minutes for a dinner with our course co-ordinator, the lovely Sisi, and my fellow students, so I will continue on in my next blog ASAP! (maybe in a few hours….these drafts wont save properly so if I wait to post it, it will delete itself!)

 

One month in Israel!

Yes! Today, 29th October, is my one month anniversary of being in Israel…it feels like so much longer! I’m actually rewarding myself right now by blogging…I LOVE blogging, but have so many assignments that I don’t have much time. However, we have no classes until Monday, so right now I’m taking some time to breathe and reflect. This week has been our first week to experience our full schedule. Monday- Thursday we have Ulpan at the Netanya academic college from 9am- 12.30pm. Monday-Wednesday we have classes at ICB from 1.30pm- 4.30pm. We are usually up until about 10.30pm doing homework and assignments. Assignments usually involve a lot of reading, which I am very bad at, so I struggle a little bit but…we are more than conquerors! I keep reminding myself that I’m here because God has bought me here, and He knows my purpose, and He knows what I need for my future, and His strength is sufficient for me (even though I’m so not academic!). The Hebrew classes move SO FAST. We have had 4 days of lessons and already we have to read and write ONLY Hebrew, no English. In our class we have 15 people I think. 6 from ICB, 3 Frenchies, 1 UK, 1 NZ, 1 USA, 1 Brazil, and…yeah. I don’t remember who else. Our teacher is Osnat and she is really lovely! She is funny and very understanding. Even though sometimes I think she moves very fast, she has been teaching for a long time and is good at what she does. Most students in our course already have a knowledge of Hebrew. One lady is actually doing the same course for the 4th time, because she is still building confidence to use the language. So I often feel a bit silly in my lack of knowledge and difficulties understanding. Hebrew is a crazy language- with feminine and masculine words, funny vowels. Gendered languages…I will not ever endeavor to learn another one. It’s very difficult, but again, God knows why I’m here. I do love the opportunities to meet people and shine God’s light into the College though. I don’t remember if I already mentioned…the reason we are studying so intensively at the Netanya Academic College is because most of the International student visa applications for ICB were denied because of the College being a Christian college- Israel is a JEWISH country. Last year a couple of students studied at the academic college, and were so lovely that the college actually approached ICB and asked for more students! So, because we are studying so many hours at the academic college, we were able to get a visa through them, because they are a non-Christian organization. I have heard so many people from the College say how amazing it is that we are even here, and I don’t think I understood just how crazy it is! But it is! It is all working out for good. This is one reason I am so excited to meet people within the college- students and teachers alike. We are the light of the world…we are here to be used as God’s vessels. Here are some photos from our 3rd Hebrew lesson…

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It is incredible the amount of people from different countries and cultures that I have met! This experience is so priceless. I have gained so much already. I have met people from so many parts of the world! Many of them believers, many Messianic Jews. Off the top of my head…Russia, USA, Canada, Austria, South Africa, Ukraine, NZ, UK, Ethiopia, Sweden, Switzerland (Swiss people’s sense of humor is on point, I like them), Morocco, Brazil…I have missed so many, I know, but seriously! It’s crazy! I have not met one Australian while I’ve been here. To get to know people and their stories, how they came to be in Israel…this is totally my forte. People are awesome. I love this…understanding people’s hardships and difficulties, it’s so humbling. There is a sweet old guard at a supermarket called ‘Romi Levi’, I have seen him there the last 2 days. Yesterday he had to chase me into the store to check my bag on the way in (I obviously missed him on the way in) and we had a good chat, Yoni and I. Today when I went in for some sprinkles he greeted me so warmly, oh, I couldn’t stop smiling for at least 5 minutes. He cupped my cheeks and held my hands and we talked. Oh I just really like Yoni! He is the cutest! Maybe he can be my Israeli Grandfather because he is just so ridiculously cute!! I would go to the supermarket for fun, just to see Yoni! (Yoni is the Hebrew for Jonathon I’m pretty sure). I am pretty sure I am charming, but that’s pretty much limited to men over 70. Oh well, better than nothing I suppose. Means I get into supermarkets without a fight.

Some random things to tell you…

1) There are cats everywhere. Seriously. Everywhere. I can usually see about 10 at any given time. I saw a kitten with one eye yesterday that I cuddled and he chased me on my bike… </3 I have never seen so many cats. And they’re all super friendly!

2) When it rains here…it RAINS! It’s Thursday now, and it has rained and stormed (really awesome thunder and lightening here!) since Sunday. On Sunday we lost power for about 8 hours, it was so nice to have a break. The storms were SO bad though. One guy died in the storms, I think from a falling wall. Trees were down, power was down, I think there are still some parts of Israel without power. About half hour after the rain started, the road below us was about 50cm of flooding! Crazy! This rain is called ‘Yireh’ (I think, off the top of my head), which means ‘early rain’, which is considered a blessing from God. On Sunday I went outside and had my music in my ears and I was just walking around in the rain, and I really felt so excited, to see the rain falling. For me, it is like the rain of God’s Holy Spirit that will fall down on this land, and revive this land to true life at His appointed time. Rain! Here is a photo I took of a video I took last night…pretty cool! And also some of the destruction from Sunday…one of the street below!

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3) The ice cream and cheese here are amazing. Ohhhh my goodness. So good. We went to a beautiful indoor market in Tel-Aviv a few weeks ago, and saw some lovely fruit and vegies, and there was an interesting stall that had like…tahini cakes or something! We tried a pistachio one, it was pretty good! Here are some photos… ice cream, tahini cake, and cheese!

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Last week we went to the local ‘shook’ (market), which is as Elisabeth described it, ‘so dirty and gross but I like it!’ It has fish, nuts, dried fruit, vegies, fruit, and a truckload of cats 🙂

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5) Mud coffee/Turkish coffee. Have any of you had it? It’s very popular here. It’s this coffee that looks like dirt that you put in your cup with your sugar, add the boiling water, and it all floats, and you mix it and after maybe 1-2 minutes, the ‘mud’ all sinks, you add your milk, and drink it. It tastes good! When you get to the bottom, there it about 1/2cm of muddy sludge that is not good to consume. Don’t try it! Sometimes you accidentally drink just a little though.

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Okay, serious stuff again. Well, more serious than cats and coffee 🙂

Last Shabbat dinner (Friday night), we went to Cherith’s for tea, who is from Hawaii and did the YIIP a few years ago. Anyway, so basically everybody lives in the apartment Cherith lives in, or so it seems. Annie lived/s there, for a while I thought Victoria lived there but I don’t think she does, then this guy called Tim did and also Elihen, and now Cherith, and when we went to Cherith’s home for Shabbat dinner, another girl who lives there, Sarah, was there, and her brother was staying there, Daniel. They are originally from Switzerland. Daniel is doing a discipleship program here in Israel, and Sarah is working, and they explained the way they have grown up as Jewish believers in Switzerland, and we shared Shabbat meal together, and played fishbowl (we play a lot of fishbowl). They are SO FUNNY. I love them!

So a few of us have been going to a church called Beit Aseph which has English translation. Last Shabbat, after church we went out for burgers with Sarah and Daniel and a heap of other Israelis. It was so great! We had such a nice time. That evening…get ready for this…I went and played soccer with some of the Beit Aseph young people. Okay so I maybe didn’t play for super long. Maybe 9 minutes or so. The soccer was nice, but oh man, I was so encouraged that the young people got together just to hang out! I couldn’t stop smiling. It was great. I got to actually know people individually. There was a teenage boy from Brazil named Israel, he was so cool! Actually come to think of it, they were ALL so cool. A few have just left the army, one is currently in the army, some haven’t been yet, some are youth leaders, some are amazing musicians on the worship team at Beit Aseph, some work, some study, most of them were born outside of Israel, and all of them have a call on their lives to serve God in this beautiful country that is so close to His heart. These people have so much experience and life, I cannot express how privileged I feel to know these people. I do not deserve what God is giving me! Anyway. After soccer, we went and got falafels and sat and chatted some more. On the way to getting falafels we heard this loud and awesome music, and we came across a trillion teenage Jews dancing around in the streets! It was so joyful! Haha! I’m chuckling just thinking about it! Sadly, my phone stuffed up and I couldn’t video it! There were hundreds of them, and they were leaping and holding hands and dancing in circles! Why? I don’t know! I do know that it was awesome! Kinda surreal. Here is one blurry photo that I took, but you can’t tell they’re dancing!

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I think that brings you guys pretty much up to date, other than school stuff! I would like to write about some awesome stuff that I’m learning very soon, and my last field trip information! Oh! I did promise you that I’d involve donkeys, prickly pears, etc! I’m sorry! Next time they will be here, I promise 🙂

LOVE Kimberly 🙂

Field trip day #2

Hello again friends!

Today I will be updating you all on my second field trip! First, I will tell you that this morning I submitted my first assignments! *applause* Yay! My classes are so interesting and I am learning SO much! However, it is so intensive because of my very minimal background in everything I’m learning. So to complete the first assignments was exciting for me! It is weird to be a student again. Next Monday we start ulpan, which is the Hebrew language school at Netanya Academic College. We will be there 9.00- 12.30 every morning from Monday to Thursday, so that will be really great but also add much more to our schedules!

Okay, so our second field trip! The first stop on our trip was En Avdat, which is in the Negev. I’m once more going to use my assignment as a part of my description to you! I hope you don’t mind- these blog posts take a fairly long time to write, so using these help me time-wise! :)… “Ein Avedat is a national park situated on the Southern border of the promise land, which is outlined in the Numbers 34:1-12. This means that the children of Israel would have wandered the desert plains above. Different layers of rocks of different compositions are observed (flint, limestone, and different coloured clay) throughout the cliffs, which are from 400m – 600m high. These layers formed when the sea levels changed. There are ya’elim roaming the area, as well as sand rats and various birds, predominately pigeons. During the Byzantine period, monks lived within the national park because it was so peaceful. There is a poplar grove towards the Southern end of the park which is prosperous due to close proximity to the spring. The monks would have grown produce in this vicinity for the same reason. They lived in the surrounding cliffs, and came down to fetch food and water. Their homes were natural caves made when the water forced through the cracks in the cliff, and gradually made a cave. The monks chiseled the cave walls to make them more homely and livable. The cave we observed had two rooms.”

Walking through the canyons…

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Some Ya’elim (ibexes) and a sand rat…they blend in so well with the desert!

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This is a desert oasis! It was a small spring running through the canyons, bigger in some places. Can you imagine the Israelites fetching water from here? Can you imagine the feeling seeing this, after searching for water for so long? Nobody is allowed to swim in these springs, I recall the brochure saying it is “absolutely forbidden”, so that’s pretty serious!

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This is the cliff up to the monk’s cave…treacherous! But so worth it! It actually looks a lot less steep than it really was, I promise!

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Inside the monk’s cave! I would happily live here 🙂

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This is me from the path to the Monk’s cave. It is beautiful! I LOVE the Negev desert!

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The promised land…

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I absolutely love the desert. It’s stunningly beautiful, and so vast! I hope to return many times while I’m here!

Our next stop was at Arad! (tel Arad)… “The Tel-Arad national park has two major archaeological finds: a Canaanite city, and a Judean fortress. The Canaanite town became a fortified city by 3000 BC, and ceased existence in about 2650 BC, and was abandoned for about 1500 years, before Israeli’s settled the city. The fortress was used in the kingdom of Judah, in the 800 BC and 900 BC, and destroyed in 586 BC. The king of Arad is mentioned in Numbers 21:1-3, where he took some of the Israelites captive.”

I don’t know why it sometimes posts it in Times New Roman but it drives me crazy. I really REALLY strongly dislike Times New Roman! Anyway! Arad! By the time we were here, it was all getting a little crazy and we had seen so many rocks and remains. This is the Fortress in Arad…

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These are the remains of the Canaanite city, taken from the fortress…the city it in the top left quarter of the photo, you can’t really tell it’s a city 🙂

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“Inside the fortress, a major find when it was excavated was the temple. It shows us the layout of the temple. Firstly, an alter for burnt sacrifices, then the next section was called the ‘Holy place’, and then comes the ‘Holy of holies’. In the holy of holies are two standing stones, representing the presence of God, and probably a second pagan God. Most temples would have had only one standing stone. Before the stones were two incense altars. The standing stones and the incense alters were both tipped over and buried, which shows that the temple must have been shut down, probably under the rule of either King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4), or under the reign of King Josiah (2 Kings 23).” (that’s more of my assignment)…this is a view from above the temple. Where that lady is standing, she is looking at the alter, and beyond the alter is the Holy place, Holy of holies, etc. To the woman’s right, there would have been living quarters for the priest.

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The altar was so high in the fortress, it would have been difficult to get a whole sheep up there for burnt offerings. This is the alter…

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This is the Holy of holies…

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And while we’re on alters, I’ll show you the alter in the Canaanite city, which is from before the time of the alter in the fortress. So this alter, where Mark is standing, right beside him is a pit, which would have been super stinky when it was in use because that’s where the blood (and sometimes guts) from the animals would go after the animal was sacrificed on the alter to the left, which is much lower than the one from the fortress. Then, after the animal was bled, it would be burnt on the alter.

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This is a well in the Canaanite city, the wells here are so ridiculously deep! It’s crazy! I don’t know how Joseph’s brothers got him out of the well because they are so deep. If you fell in a well, it would be a really awful death. The well in Avdat was so deep, we dropped a stone into it, and it took 8 seconds to reach the bottom!!

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This is a classic Canaanite house…

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I’ve now actually run out of time, we are going into Tel Aviv now so I will have to write about our last destination, Lachish, later on! Have a great day my friends! ❤

 

A laterblog…

Hello my friends 🙂

I’m sorry it has taken so long for me to write this blog! I started one the other day but my draft has disappeared into space so here I go again! I have so much to share that I will surely miss so much, but that’s okay. The first thing I would like to tell you about is from last week, when we helped assemble food packages for Holocaust survivors. ICB gives 90 food packages each month to the survivors, with foods such as tinned tuna, tinned vegetables, spaghetti, pasta sauce, all sorts. The bags were huge by the end of the line! Each person ‘manned’ 2 or 3 foods, and the bag was passed along, and we put 1 or sometimes 2 of our foods in the bag and kept passing it. I was on the pickles and olives. It was interesting to learn that almost all of the Holocaust survivors are living right here in Netanya, and that they are especially vulnerable because they are all elderly, and they have very little trust for anybody because of what they have been through. Often their families have left them because they are too hard to deal with. So to help in the tiniest way was really awesome, and I hope I can come to understand the situation more. This is one reason for Jews to not like Christians…because Hitler was a “Christian”. So for Christians to be able to love the survivors in such a practical and gentle way (no preaching) is pretty special I think. The word ‘Christian’ is very scarcely used here. Jewish Christians call themselves ‘believers’ (in Yeshua- Jesus).

Okay so that’s good! That’s the first past done. Now, onto the field trip! What an INCREDIBLE time. It was so wonderful, that I need to urge you reading this, COME TO ISRAEL. You will not regret it! As much as I can explain my experiences, and show you photos, it will still only look like a pile of rocks to you, until you come here and see for yourself. I am seeing so many things for the first time, physically, and spiritually. So many of the things that I read over in the Bible, I now realize are actually vital to understanding the fullness of the Bible. So, where to start? At the beginning I suppose! Our field trip was for 2 nights, so this is gonna be a long blog so if you don’t have a cup of caffeinated tea in front of you, go get one and come back! 🙂

Stop #1 was at Gezer! Gezer is in the tribe of Ephraim, and it actually wraps right around the Tel (Tel means mountain/big hill so whenever I say Tel-something it means there is a hill involved). So we were standing in the tribe of Ephraim, looking out over the tribe of Dan…

12 tribes (this is off Google because I’m a cheater)

We got a little stuck in the bus, so we had a bit of a hike up to the actual site. We walked through agricultural land, there was cotton all over the ground from a recent harvest, then we walked up past an olive grove (I now love olive groves but I ate one un-ripened olive just for the experience and I definitely regret doing that) and a vineyard. Okay so I think that if I try to tell you EVERYTHING, I will never finish this blog so I’m just gonna say the highlights. I must say that it is super cool to be walking along the path and find lots of pieces of broken pottery that are from Old Testament times…but pretty uncool that we aren’t allowed to bring any of it home with us! Okay, so Gezer. First we came to the remains of the Canaanite gate joined by the city wall, to a watchtower. Inside the gate, kinda going under it, is a water tunnel. Water tunnels are a very important part of all cities, because the survival of cities depends upon having water. If you have no water, everybody dies. If an enemy wants to destroy a city, one way is to take it’s water source. So, if the water is accessible from outside the city walls, that makes the city really vulnerable. On most sites we visited, understanding the water system was pretty vital. In this Canaanite city, there was a water tunnel. Here are a few pictures…

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The next cool thing we came to was Solomon’s gate. Okay so in 1 Kings 3:1, Solomon marries Pharaoh’s daughter, and 1 Kings 9:16-17 says that Pharaoh gives the town of Gezer (which he had captured from the Canaanites) to his daughter and Solomon as a wedding gift which is a very nice present. So, this gate is called Solomon’s gate. Something I find cool are the gates to most fortresses and cities. Here is a picture to help me explain…

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So the entrance is the far side. This whole structure is just the gate. So the walls that that are sticking out into the center would have had a gate across. Obviously, this has been destroyed since, and everything would have been much higher, this is just the foundations. So there would have been 3 gates within the actual gate, if that makes sense. Behind the gates, in the little hidey holes, would have been a guard. So, 3 gates, 6 guards, making it much harder for an enemy to enter through the gates. I feel like I haven’t explained this gate system very well but don’t know how I can explain better! Joined onto the gate were lots of other rooms, I don’t know what they were but here’s a photo. Remember that the structure nearest is the same gate as the photo above, maybe this gives you a better understanding of what I’m explaining. Also, Solomon was a good man and on the bottom left you can see a water trough for his friend’s horses, just inside the gate :)…

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Okay so we kept walking for a while and then we came to a lookout, where we looked out over a valley. I’m gonna cheat and insert a part of my assignment into this blog to explain…“We sat on the south side of the Tel, and looked out to the West, to the tribe of Dan, where a part of Joshua 10 took place. The King of Jerusalem called together 4 other kings, hoping to destroy Gibeon, because of their alliance with Joshua. Gibeon sent word to Joshua, asking for help, and Joshua and his troops came and chased the enemies all the way down to Azekah and Makkedah, killing them as they went. On the road from Beth-horon, God killed many with a big hail storm, and after Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still, the sun DID stand still until all of the enemies were defeated. The valley that we were looking over was where the sun stood still.”

So it was cool. Here’s a photo of the valley:

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So we got to envision Joshua and Gibeon chasing the enemies down over that hill and then they chased them out the right side of this photo. I think I’ll end this section here, but there is so much more I could tell you all! We saw an alter, some mandrakes, fifty million lizards, and some really awesome rocks.

STOP #2 (now you are realizing that I was serious about that cup of tea): BEERSHEBA. You will recognize that name, but in modern day it is called Be’er Sheva. If you read my last post you will know about how many Biblical sites have retained their names, or they have changed just slightly. Okay, Beersheba. What happened here? I’m going to cheat again and insert some assignment in here…”The main Biblical event to take place in Beersheba was Abraham’s peace treaty with Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-33) by a well.  Abraham named the place ‘Beersheba’ because it means ‘well of the oath’. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree to mark his treaty with Abimelech, and then he worshipped the Lord there. The settlement of Beersheba is not likely to have belonged to Abraham because it was built after his time. Hezekiah, who ruled Judah from 715 BC to 687 BC, was a good king, who did what was right in the Lord’s sight. He destroyed all of the pagan idols and shrines, and we saw on our field trip, the storehouses which were built with the remains of the idols and shrines. Archeologists found a four-horned alter built into the walls of the storehouses.” So yes. Here is a photo of a replica of the alter which was found:

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The tamarisk tree is also a notable feature. It excretes this crazy salty sap from it’s leaves- the leaves are like that of an evergreen. Apparently our group has a thing for eating trees- we ate some of this too, it was super salty. Anyway, moving on. There is a big excavated city in Beersheba which was very unlikely to be built by Abraham or to have existed in his time.

Something it would be good for you to understand is that on most of these sites, on the walls there is usually a “reconstruction line”, which is a slither of cement that was put in to show where the original wall was, and where they built onto, in order to give us a good idea of what it would have looked like. So I hope you can see the line in this photo…

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This is the photo of the city gate, with a well outside (hmm…bad idea, right?). You can see where there is a trough for horses, camels, mules, all of those cool animals 🙂 The gate behind is where all important decisions would have been made. A few metres in, on the left, is another gate structure like Solomon’s gate- with the three smaller gates.

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This is the town from up high- can you spot the gate from the photo above? It’s on the left, about 3/4 of the way up the side. So you can probably spot the 3-gate structure I was talking about too. Here is one of the trillion Israeli lizards. They are the best lizards I’ve ever seen!

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Beersheba also has a water tunnel, which was built under Hezekiah’s rule (he didn’t live in Beersheba but it was within his kingdom, so he had this tunnel built). We actually got to walk through this tunnel. Very cool!

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This is the walk down to the entrance of the water tunnel.

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Inside the water tunnel!

Okay I will leave this here! Oh guys you have no idea how much I’m taming my writing!

STOP 3#: ADVAD in the Negev desert. This is probably my favorite spot of the whole field trip. It is stunningggggg. It’s a town on top of a Tel, and again, I will share some of my assignment on this place…(it’s easier than typing it all again!) “Avdat is a beautiful settlement atop a tel, which is situated on the ancient incense route. This would provide opportunity for the people of Avdat to provide services for passing camel caravans and other travelers. In about 300 BC, Nabateans occupied Avdat. Nabateans were a group of Arabs who transported goods such as incense, perfumes, silver, gold, textiles, spices, and medicinal plants to the port of Gaza, from Yemen and Saudi Arabia. In 106 AD, Nabatean King Rabell II passed away and Advat was taken over by the Roman Empire. It grew and prospered, but in 700 AD was destroyed by an earthquake, and was later abandoned.”

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From the road, it looks very uninteresting but when you get up there it’s this incredibly beautiful, huge city with the most incredible history, with awesome insight into the time in which the city existed and functioned. The first thing we came to was a Roman watchtower. From that tower you can see SO far away! On all sides, you’d be an idiot to miss an approaching army, and there was probably an extra floor before the city was destroyed. These are taken on top of the watchtower (where you come up the stairs from the bottom story of the tower, and the view from one side)…

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And these are an example that will hopefully give you an idea of what it is like to walk through the streets of this ancient city! Again, I don’t think you can’t really feel the wonder unless you’re here…

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Okay! So now we move on. We went through the gate into this awesome fortress (I think it was a fortress, there are so many different words that I’m wrapping my head around).

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These next photos are super cool too. So most cities would have 2 churches- one that people went to, and one that nobody did. Go figure. So, this is the one where people did go. It was within a monastery, and this is the chapel part. The marble part at the front is a replica, the real thing is in a museum.

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This is the other chapel, called the Nabatean chapel. This is a baptistery, which is also a replica because the real thing is in a museum. You can see that there is a little round basin on the left, which would have been for babies, and in the centre, a cross-shaped one for adults, but do you think you could fit 2 people in there? Nope. Unless you were overly creative. So we would assume that in this time period, people were baptized without a priest or elder in the water with them.

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Okay this next thing is again, SUPER COOL. Everything is so cool here! These are homes built into the side of the cliff. So cool! There are little doors between rooms. I would totally live in one of these.

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That’s all I’ll say for Avdat. This was our last site for day #1 of our field trip (yes, that means I still have 2 days to tell you about, but that can be for another day I think). We stayed at a nearby field school, which was so crazy beautiful. It is situated on the cliffs of the Negev, so our backyard for a night was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen! Before tea, Kimberly and I went for a walk and saw the desert, went for a walk through the bush, saw our first Ya’elim and saw the graves of Ben and Paula Ben-Gurion (first Israeli president). We ate at the cafeteria there, and after tea I ventured outside by myself and sat on the edge of the desert and watched the starts and listened to the sounds. Someone gave me advice a long time ago to sometimes just stop and breathe. So I did. I was imagining what the children of Israel heard and felt as they were wondering when God would bring them into the promised land (where we were was just inside the Southern border of the promised land). It was beautiful. I met two Christian girls as I was sitting there, and they sat down and talked to a stranger. It was a good experience that opened my eyes to something I haven’t yet encountered here: defeat, hopelessness. One of the girls was from South Africa, and the other was Israeli, and they were both speaking about how they felt no hope for Israel, and one line I will roughly quote is “I’m sick of having to know where my closest bomb shelter is, and planning everything I do around where I can be near a bomb shelter”. And another…”When I look at a class of students and know that two in that class will die defending our country, how can I feel hope?” I am glad for knowing them, because from Christian people here in Israel, I have found that they have hope in God and in His plans for Israel. This encounter called me to prayer for those who have lost hope. So, people reading this, pray! Pray for the believers here, that God will restore their hope and strength and trust in Him. Pray that they will be the light and the salt in this country. It is difficult here, with only 2% of the population being believers in Christ. I know high school girls who are the only believers in their schools. I hope that this small insight from me can resound in your hearts and that you will pray for these people 🙂 Here are photos taken from the field school…

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A few of us woke up early to watch the sunrise over the desert… here is a photo of me that Kimberly secretly took of me 🙂 I like it because it kinda a little bit shows how huge the desert is! Thanks Kimberly! Andd…the sunrise over the desert.

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Oh, also, I made a lot of cat friends here. There are so many cats. It’s like, as soon as I make eye contact with the cats, they come to me. So, here are some cat friends I’d like you to meet…

WP_20151012_07_04_45_Pro Jemima IMG-20151012-WA0001 Abigail

Okay so I’m gonna leave this here, but in the next few days I will hopefully post the next part of our field trip, it will include donkeys, camels, Jerusalem, terrorism, more rocks, more alters, the holiest of holy places, Bedouins shepherds, and prickly pears. So get excited. If you made it this far, I salute you! Much love my friends, much love!