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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Another Fantastic Day

We enjoyed another beautiful day in Jerusalem while many of our friends and family are facing storms on the east coast of America.  We spent the morning preparing food at a shelter in Jerusalem. At lunch time three of us have the privilege of serving meals to the people who came there for food. Many of these people were elderly, all were poor and had no other means of eating today. After they ate they packed up more food to take home with them so they would have food for the rest of the day.  We were very impressed with the compassion shown to these people by the staff that works there every day.  I wish I could attach pictures to show you how full the room was while lunch was being served but I didn't feel it was honorable to take pictures at that time. Some of the people were Orthodox, some were secular, one lady was from Russia and spoke very good English. She was an English teacher in Russia but cannot find work here.  All that came were treated with great respect.

We met other Christian volunteers from Denmark who were also working at the shelter. They are here for eight weeks working in many areas to help the poor and needy of Israel.

After we finished working we drove over to our favorite scenic view of Jerusalem to take a few pictures.  After returning to the apartment we had a dear friend come and speak to us.  We were so blessed by her teaching.  Tomorrow we head to the Galilee for an overnight at Verid Hagalil, a horse ranch in the Galilee.  Our time is quickly coming to an end. We are praying that we miss nothing that G-d has for us to experience while we are here.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Second Day with Jetta

We arrived early at Jetta's apartment to continue painting her kitchen and bathrooms. Jetta has a caretaker that lives with her since she is in the beginning stages of Alzheimers. The caretaker, Lydia, is from Romania and can speak Jetta's mother tongue. She left a husband and two children to come to Israel to work as a caretaker to earn money for her family. She said life is very hard at home. She can earn in 3 years, working in Israel, what she would earn at home in 10 years. She showed us pictures of her family. She was very kind and long suffering as she helped Jetta while we were there. She works in Israel for two years at a time and then gets 2 months to go back home. She has been doing this for five years.

We finished painting the kitchen, bathroom and one other small room.  While we worked a social worker came by to check on Jetta. She sat with her and talked for about an hour. She gave Jetta time to talk about herself and her past life in Israel. As they sat together the social worker asked Jetta if she had family in Israel. This is a common question in Israel. Some people immigrate here leaving family behind in another country and others have all their family here with them. It was just a simple social question to get to know Jetta better. When she asked if she had family here Jetta replied in a small voice, "I have no one left in the whole world." That reply struck us as very sad even though she does have the caretaker who shows her a great deal of love and also Christine, the lady who contacted us about working in her apartment.

When we finished working we were packing up our supplies and Jetta told David she would like us to come again but not to work. She wanted us to come and have coffee and talk. We realized she loved getting her picture taken. We got a few more pictures of her and her dog. She is never without her dog. The dog is always in her lap, even when they are both napping.

Christine was so happy with our work when she saw the finished product. She knows many more poor elderly people living in the surrounding apartment buildings and is already planning our work for the next trip. She showed us a very long hand railing on the outside of the building that is rusted and needs painting. She asked if we could do that, possibly our next trip. When the elderly walk along holding on to the hand rail they get splinters in their hands from the paint chipping off.  So, we have pictures of possibly our next job. Hope this excites you to come and work!!

We will not be able to work at Jetta's tomorrow. She has a leak in the pipes in the wall of her bathroom and workers will be there to tear out the bedroom wall next to the bathroom to find the problem. Water has leaked down on the tenants below.  So our second plan: we will be going to help cook and feed people at a shelter for the poor in town. Volunteers are always welcome there to peel potatoes, serve the food and clean up after the meal.

Traffic in Jerusalem is always a sight to behold!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Working - day one

This day has been so beautiful. We met Jetta today. She is an 88 year old Holocaust survivor. She was rounded up with other Jews in Romania and spent 6 years in a concentration camp. The day she was rounded up and removed from her home her best friend, who lived next door, was taken too. But her friend was killed in the street in front of Jetta.  After the war was over Jetta had only two brothers living. The rest of her family was murdered. She was sent, with other Romanian Jews, to Italy where Christians took care of her. She met and fell in love with a Christian young man and planned to marry. As they walked down the street in Italy a group of men came up and asked Jetta's fiance who he was with. He said it was his girl friend and they were to be married soon. The men said to him, "Do you know she is a Jew!" He said yes. One of the men put a gun to his head and killed him right before Jetta's eyes.  So much loss for one person to suffer. Her brother was already in Israel and he made arrangements for her and her other brother to join him. Jetta and her brother started the first ambulance service in Israel. She was a true builder of the state of Israel in its earliest years.

She is now in the last years of her life, living alone in a small apartment existing on $470 a month pension.  A Christian lady who put us in contact with her visits her and tends to her needs as if she were her daughter.  She has been helping Jetta for 10 years. What a beautiful testimony of servanthood! Jetta is declining in strength and mind. She was confused when we arrived and a little tense that we were taking everything off the walls and painting her living room. But after napping she saw the finished product and beamed. The love of her life is her tiny dog who is also advanced in years. She posed in her favorite chair for us to take her picture.

We will return tomorrow to paint her kitchen and two other rooms. We hope to buy her a much needed sofa and table while we are here. Jetta may not remember us after we are gone but we will always remember her and her sweet spirit. We praise G-d that he allowed us to meet her and bless her in some small way.  Thank you Christine for putting us in touch with Jetta.  Christine told us today she has the names of many people - poor and elderly in the same neighborhood that needs our services. So we know already where we will be working for the next few years.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Wonderful Day of Fun Before Work Tomorrow

As the sun was setting yesterday, we lit the Sabbath candles and stepped outside the living room to the balcony and listened to the siren sound in Jerusalem telling us that the Sabbath had begun. You could hear the birds singing as quiet settled over the city.  We sat together and discussed the Torah portion for the week and had a wonderful time sharing.  Everyone pitched in earlier to set the table and cook a delicious dinner.  What a spectacular experience! We are so thankful to G-d for giving us the opportunity to be in Jerusalem.

We left early this morning and drove to Massada, stopping on the way to ride camels and take pictures of the beautiful scenery.

Tonight we are waiting for our special guest speaker to arrive and share her testimony with us. Tomorrow, after our first day of work we will let you know how our day went.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

And it's Friday already!!!

What a beautiful day we had in Jerusalem on Thursday. Our day began at 2 am for some, 3 am for others and the late sleepers got up at 5 am.  Jet lag is a wonderful thing to behold. After breakfast and lots of coffee we waited for the rest of the world to come alive so we could shop for food.  We were at the shuk (open air market) as the vendors were setting up for the day. Trucks were unloading fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and anything else you might need was there for the buying. So you can say our food was really fresh yesterday. After we made it back to the apartment with our supplies for the next few days we set out again to walk to the old city, shop in the Jewish Quarter and visit the Western Wall.  Along the way to the wall we met an interesting Orthodox Man weaving outside his shop. We stopped to look at his prayer shawls and beautiful Challah covers. He asked if we were a Jewish group and I told him we are Christians who work repairing and painting for needy people of Israel.  We had a good conversation before moving on to pray at the wall.

As you can see in the picture above we chose to catch a bus ride back to the apartment . There is definitely no thought of personal space on an Israeli bus.  But the experience was fun.  After we got back to the apartment we had a wonderful time sitting around the table eating spaghetti, salad and delicious Israeli bread. The meal was quickly followed by a Hebrew lesson. The students put their full concentration into the lesson even though jet lag was raising its ugly head.  Soon after we were all off to bed for a good nights sleep.

Since the Shabbath starts tonight the next blog may be delayed for a while but never fear it will be on it's way very soon.

From the Holy City of Jerusalem, Shabbath Shalom to you all, may He who loves you dearly bless you with peace this day.  "The Jerusalem Gang"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Home again

We arrived today after a peaceful flight from Philly.  After renting a car, another story for another day, we made it to Jerusalem at around 4:00PM.  Moved into the apartment where we will be staying for the next two weeks and went downtown for a delicious meal at one of our favorite places.  It is a tiny restaurant that has a limited menus but is very good.  A quick walk around town and then back to the apartment for what we hope is a restful night.  Tomorrow begins the work schedule and also stocking up on food and work supplies.  Look for pictures in tomorrow's blog.

Good night for now from the Holy City

Friday, October 19, 2012

On the Road again

In a few days, we along with four other brave souls leave for Israel.  We will be staying for almost two weeks, both working and traveling around Israel.

This trip we will be working in the home of an elderly survivor of the Holocaust.  This person lives in Jerusalem and lost most of her family in the camps.  All of us are looking forward to this trip and thank G-d that He has given us the opportunity to bless this person with a newly painted apartment and a few gifts to make life a little easier.

Please pray for us each day as we work and travel that our goal each day will be to hear the Father's voice and to do His will.

Shabbath Shalom to each of you, next week in Jerusalem.

David and Jean