Friday, July 25, 2008

Our last day in Israel

Well we’re back home – safe & sound! We had quite an incredible experience these past few days I couldn’t post to the blog site. Allow me to share them with you (FYI: this may be quite long!)

Our last day in Jerusalem was quite amazing! After the enormous breakfast feast (it was a feast every morning & night at the hotels! We all ate way to much!) we headed out the door for Hazon Yeshaya a local mission’s outreach that feeds the poor in Jerusalem. The soup kitchen that we went to was in the middle of a Modern Orthodox Jewish community. We went by a bus stop and saw literally hundreds of Modern Orthodox Jewish men & women herding into the bus station. The men were dressed in black pants & jackets (like a men’s suit coat), white shirts and a Yamaka (skull cap) and some a large black hat. There are several reasons why they wear the Yamaka:
• For recognition that God is "above" humankind
• Showing their "acceptance" of the 613 mitzvot (commandments)
• demonstration of the "ministry" of all Jews
• "identification" of/with other Jewish people

Some have a custom of wearing two head coverings, typically a Yamaka covered by a very large black hat. The two coverings correspond to two levels of intellect, or two levels in the fear of God. The other thing we noticed was many of the Jewish boys and men had what is called Payot - which are long , mostly curled side burns. These are worn ranging in size from 1 up to 8 inches long. (I saw a few men that had Payots this long – possibly longer).

There we learned that about 38% of Israel is poverty stricken. We all went into the kitchen and were given disposable gloves and aprons and we began to peel literally mounds of potatoes. We had several stations where we broke up into small groups and worked together. As we peeled we began talking to each other. I learned all about my church’s food ministry – Isaiah 58. This ministry reaches out into our local community and helps to feed the poor with not only physical food but spiritual food as well. You can read more here:

As we worked peeling potatoes in an enclosed kitchen cubical with no air conditioning or circulation it dawned on me how ‘wrapped up in myself’ I have become. God really convicted me about getting/reaching out to help others no matter where I was. I really can make a difference if I would just be willing to show up and do the work. My goal is to make myself available in my home town with our church’s Isaiah 58 ministry.

Once we left the soup kitchen we headed out to the Judean Desert for lunch in the Tents of Abraham (Genesis Land). None of us had any idea what we were in store for here. The land was completely barren and the heat index ‘felt’ like 130°! When the wind blew it was hot and dusty! We met inside the main building where we were told the story of the land and all about father Abraham and how he came to the area. Then we went outside and half of the group went down to the tents/restaurant via a camel ride! Those camels were the most hysterical thing I’ve ever seen! They had double seated saddles on them so two people could ride at one time. There weren’t enough camels for all of us to ride at the same time so we split the group up – half would ride down – the other half would ride back up. I was in the ‘ride back up group’. As I walked on the dusty road I looked at my feet and saw how filthy they were. I began to think about the time Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and realized their feet were probably a lot dirtier than mine were at the time and how much work Jesus must have put into each foot to clean them up! Then I realized how much work He has done to clean me up! I was quite emotional behind my sunglasses in that desert heat. But a spirit of true thankfulness and realization of my heavenly Father’s love really hit me at that moment.

After many minutes in the sun and heat we rounded the corner and there it was! The Tents of Abraham. They were of course more modern - after all it was a restaurant! But I have to say I was in awe that someone had a vision and came all the way up to the top of a desert mountain and created a business in the middle of barren, dry, ugly land and had enough faith that it would be profitable! Then it dawned on me it wasn’t only faith they had – they also had hard work ethics, determination & dedication to their dream/vision. People come from all over the world to encounter a memorable experience with this small business! That got me so excited about my own business! Hey – I’ve been graphed into the Blessings of Abraham – it’s there for me (and all those that will accept it!) to receive! Isn’t that an awesome thought!?

We had the tastiest meal of the entire trip at The Tents of Abraham! We all sat on cushions on the floor inside a modern day tent. Our ‘china’ was hand made pottery plates and cups that were glazed. Our host was a very handsome young actor (age 25 – I asked) that depicted father Abraham – he did a superb job! When lunch was over – it was time for The Mud Queen™ to mount her camel and conquer the mountain! My riding partner was precious little Brittany Kay (age 20) and together she and I conquered the mountain! If you’ve never ridden a camel – it is an experience to say the least! Once you are ‘on board’ the camel begins to rise up from its hind legs first – so you literally are catapulted forward with quite a jerking force. Then it stands on its front feet and begins to walk. The ride was liken to a horse ride – until it’s time to de-mount! Then the process reverses itself! The camel drops down on its front knees then the back legs fold up as the camel lays down for you to get off. Fortunately one of the guides caught Brittany as our camel sat down! I thought she was just ‘cameling (horsing!) around’ but she was really falling off the camel and the guide saved her in time. If he had not – she would have had some camel caca on her for sure! LOL! Needless to say – she was forever grateful!

We said goodbye to Abraham and his crew and headed to the Ela Valley or Sokho region. This was where David killed Goliath. My DH Jim told our tour guide not to get any ideas (Jim was by far the tallest of the group – 6’8”!) to use him for reenactment of the scene! LOL!

We all scoured the area for 5 rocks to take home. Since we had 3 in our family – I went and picked fresh Anise flowers while Jessica & Jim picked up stones to take home.

This was officially the end of our trip but we still had about 7 hours until our bags had to be in the hall way to bet put on the bus. One of the gentlemen (Bobby) in our group was on his 6th trip to Israel and he had previously started a ministry at the Jerusalem YMCA so he knew the area. Together with Bobby, his lovely wife Annette, myself, Jim (my DH), Jessica (our DD), Brittany, Leigh, Joyce & Sarah we all were dropped off in the middle of Jerusalem to see the old Jerusalem and Ben Yehuda area. The old Jerusalem was kind of unnerving for me. It was in a narrow tunnel-like section with the vendors (some) having a small 10x10 cubical as their shop. They would yell, and some would grab you to come into their shops. We had a few trying moments where it was nice to have a 6’8” husband tell them to ‘back off!’ while you looked.

We saw all sorts of things – clothes (even belly dancing outfits! Made me want to get back on my exercising badly! OM the thought of me in one of those right now is not very appealing! LOL!), prayer shawls, yamakas, silver chalices, Shofars (the ram’s horn that will be sounded to announce the return of Jesus on the Mount of Olives) silver items of all kinds, purses, shoes and my favorite – local art work, bread makers and spice shops.

It was getting late so several of us headed back to the hotel to finish packing – our bags had to be ready for pickup by 12:15am and we had to be in the lobby ready to leave by 12:45am. (Ouch! We had many ‘ouchies’ on this trip – but we made it through them all with flying colors!)

That's our last full day in Israel :o( We're already trying to return!

Much Luv~N~Hugs to you all! BTW, give three people you love a GREAT BIG Hug & Kiss after you read this post! It will make their day & yours!

Life's too precious to pass up the opportunity to love someone! It's all about the relationships you make while you're alive!

Tammy D.
The Mud Queen™

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