Monthly Archives: July 2006

Monday

Yossi called last night around 10:30 and said he’d like me to come to Ma’ale Levona and discuss his book. He suggested I take the bus from my location to the Central Bus Station in downtown Jerusalem, and from there take the 8:15 bus north to a village across the valley from Ma’ale Levona. So, I got up early to give myself lots of spare time and took the bus downtown. Went right past the Central Bus Station and, before I knew it, wound up a half hour away from it. By the time I got back, I had missed the 8:15 bus going north by 1 minute.

The phone Danny gave me yesterday was an old one and, although it had Yossi’s number entered into it, the number was an old number. Couldn’t phone Yossi to tell him I missed the bus and would arrive an hour late. But, I reasoned he would figure it out when I didn’t show up.

Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station is like New York City’s Grand Central Station. It’s a multi-story building with hundreds of shops, cafes and places to get lost. I was standing there in the middle of it all wishing I had someone to tell me where to go when Yitzchak (from Ma’ale Levona) walked up and said, “Shalom.” He had just arrived from Ma’ale Levona and had lots of time to show me around. Just then, Yossi called my cell phone and asked if I was on the bus. After we got our signals clear, Yitzchak showed me around and stayed with me to make sure I caught the 9:30 bus. 

As the bus moved through Jerusalem picking up passengers headed north, I was struck by the monochrome coloring of the city. Basically, everything is some shade of white or tan or brown except for the roads (blacktop), the olive trees (dusty green), the rooftops (dusty red) and the occasional shock of flowers (various dusty colors).

Soldiers are everywhere: very young men and women, mostly in their late teens carrying machine guns nearly as long as they are tall. Clumps of Ultra Orthodox Jews stand together on street corners, all wearing long, black coats and black hats too small to really fit their heads. Beards are never cut or trimmed. Even the youngest boys have side curls hanging down to their shirt collars.

We left the northern edge of Jerusalem and immediately entered the desert. And, I do mean immediately. Dirt and rocks in all directions. We passed through an army checkpoint with more young soldiers and their long machine guns.

We took the new highway, skirting the large town of Ramallah which is too dangerous to drive through even though it is the most direct route north.

On the top of each hill is either an Arab or an Israeli settlement. You can tell the difference: Houses in the Arab villages look like homes of the rich and famous, scattered randomly about the hilltop, looking as if each owner was trying to “one up” his neighbors’ house: multiple stories, balconies, archways. In the Israeli settlements, the houses are all arranged in planned, orderly rows. All look alike with dusty, red tiled roofs and lots of dusty landscaping in the little yards.

Arab villages have no fences or gates. Israeli villages are heavily fenced with a main gate guarded by a man or woman with lots of bullets in his (or her) gun. Many of the Arab villages are built without permission on land that has not been purchased and with materials they have “found” while the owners of these estates pay no taxes to the State of Israel. Meanwhile, Israelis are being removed from areas which they were encouraged to settle, on land they legally purchased decades ago and on which they have built thriving communities.

Olive trees are everywhere on both sides of the road. Low, stacked stone walls run in all directions meeting one another here and there. Some go for miles, separating ancient vineyards and groves owned by peoples long forgotten. These stone walls (and the stone terraces on every hillside) are the only remaining witnesses to the men and women of Bible times who walked this land and planted the ancestors of these vineyards and olive groves. The walls remain to mock the memory of every great civilization whose armies ravished the land only to be reduced to a paragraph on the page of some schoolboy’s history book.

Occasionally I saw attempts to grow corn or sunflowers, but this is not the fertile Jordan River Valley. What grows around these rocks is the olive tree which, like the desert camel, needs little water.

Yossi called a couple more times to make sure I got off the bus at the entrance to the yeshuv of Eli (pronounced “A-lee”). He told me twice, “Don’t enter Eli, but get off the bus at the security gate at the entrance.” (The operative word here was “entrance”). He even made me give the cell phone to the driver to make sure he let me off at the entrance. Even though the bus driver explained that there was no bus stop at the entrance, Yossi was adamant. By this time, everyone on the bus was chuckling as if my behavior had provided them with a refreshing change from their normal, hum-drum, morning ride to Eli.

When we pulled up to the security gate at the entrance to Eli, there was Yossi, with his hand out to stop the bus. When the passengers saw Yossi, everyone began to Oooh and Ahhh and say, “It’s Yossi. It’s Yossi Maimon!” I suddenly realized that my stock had risen in their eyes. Yossi even had to step on the bus and greet everyone and shake the bus driver’s hand. Again the lesson: “It’s not what you know but who you know”. Or is it “whom you know”? I’m sure one of you will comment on that! 

Yossi bought some food at the store and we drove across the Valley of Levona to his Yishuv, Ma’ale Levona, meaning the Hill of Levona. “Levona” was a rare spice that once grew only in this valley. The spice was important because it was one of three used to make the oil for the Temple.

The rest of the morning was spent eating grapes, drinking coffee (more on coffee later) and discussing whether or not Yossi considered my suggestions worthwhile to incorporate into his book. I wanted Yossi to understand that I realized how much a book is like a child to the author. The parent can have negative attitudes toward his own child’s behavior, but youhad better think my child is wonderful in every way. We talked for more than two hours and Yossi liked many of the things I shared. Then Yossi fixed lunch. My assignment is to rewrite three chapters and show them to Yossi to see if he wants me to rewrite all of them.

Yossi was coming to Jerusalem and so brought me back to the Central Bus Station from which I figured out how to get home. On the way we discussed many issues pertaining to Israel, the religious and non-religious make-up of the State, and the current war.

OK, guys. I’ve heard from a few of you. Is anyone else out there reading this stuff, or is it just too deadly boring?

Tradition!

Left Jersulem a little late as Scott was helping a friend remodel his photo gallery. Arrived in the little, hilltop community (yeshuv) of Ma’ale Levona 1/2 hour before Sabbath began. Was dropped off at my host’s home, but the wife wasn’t ready for Sabbath, and was not even properly dressed. The husband took my suitcase into the house (within a few minutes it would be Sabbath and the suitcase couldn’t be carried, not even into the house). Husband suggested we just walk up the hill to the Shuel (Synagogue).

We had arrived a little after 7PM and I didn’t know that the Sabbath meal only began after the men finished “bringing in the Sabbath.” This was a 2 our service, all in Hebrew.

I once asked an Orthodox Jewish High Priest, “There are only 3 ancient civilizations left in existence today: Egypt, China and Israel. Only one, Israel, maintained its existence and culture though its people were spread all over the world among hundreds of foreign cultures. Was there one thing that kept them a unified people, able to return to their land pretty much with their culture intact?” His answer was, “That’s easy. The single, unifying element that keeps us Jewish is the Sabbath.”

The Jews treat Sabbath as if it is a woman. Actually a Queen. They are elaborate in their preparations to welcome the Queen to their community, to their families, to their table. Sabbath is the closest they, as humans, can come to creating heaven during the week. Each community, each family, each individual relates to “heaven” a little differently, even though there are a lot of things they do in common.

One is eat. And, I mean eat. I realized that if I were to return to the States without having gained a lot of weight, I would have to put some discipline on my Sabbath eating. The women cook enough food to feed an army and the more friends they can get to gather around the table, the better. And, each wife is supposed to give special consideration to what she knows of each person regarding what kinds of things they like to eat. So, before me was set lots of humus and a 2 liter bottle of Fanta Orange.

“What’s wrong, you don’t like your Fanta?” Judy asked last night after I could have already drowned in orange drink. 

Stayed up until nearly 1AM Saturday morning and got up around 8AM for Sabbath service at the Shuel. All in Hebrew, of course. I dragged myself out of bed and took a shower just to wake up, which is not normal for me (not showering, but having a hard time waking up). Walked the two blocks to the Shuel and walked into the “wrong” service. The Shuel has two floors and each floor has its own service: One for the Jews of eastern Europe (including Americans), and the other for Jews of western Europe. (No, I didn’t say anything about “Jewish denominations”).

I Sat down near Danny who looked at me and asked, “Do you have a kip-pa [yarmulke].” I said, “Oh, yeah,” and returned to the house for my skull cap. By the time I returned to the Shuel, I was all sweaty and realized why people don’t take showers on the Sabbath.

After Shuel, went to the Kransdorf’s for food, glorious food. More Fanta orange. Glug glug. Judy set out salads and left-overs from the previous night. By now I was pretty hungry and I ate my fill like someone who didn’t know that this was a meal with several courses, which no one had told me. Then came all the “real” food. By the time lunch was over, they could have rolled me out the door.

After lunch, everyone takes a nap. But, I had promised Yitzchak I would visit and so eventually walked to his house. I woke him up from his nap and listened while he told me about his daughter’s death only a few months before. He tried to share with me how he was dealing with how God could allow a young person to suffer. I really felt for my friend. Aviva (his wife) came home from a woman’s meeting and promptly laid on the couch and went to sleep. By now, I was pretty tired, myself, and went back to my house and crashed.

Woke up and walked around the Yeshuv for about an hour. A beautiful afternoon, cool and breezy. Ended up at Danny’s for supper. Several families came to pay their respects and some stayed for supper (more Fanta). I played backgammon with two young girls whom I have gotten to know over the years. I lost badly.

One of the most interesting things to do is listen in on a Jewish after-dinner conversation where everyone takes part–men and women–all with something to say, and no one agreeing with anyone else. Voices rise as each person competes to make his or her point and be heard above the noise. It seems as if everyone would go away angry and not ever want to see one another again (including the spouses). But, when it’s all over, the subject changes and everyone is laughing and becomes friends again.

One of the main subjects last night was the coming of Tish B’av (which is probably misspelled), meaning the 9th day of the month of Av on the Jewish calendar. This year the 9th of Av falls on August 3rd in our calendar. This particular week is one of the most stressful in the year for religious Jews and they fast and mourn. It was during this week in their history that the first Temple was destroyed. Also, this is the week the second Temple was destroyed. It was also the week that every Jew was expelled from Spain in 1492. And, during this week WWI, WWII and the Gulf War began. Not to mention it was during this week that the current war began. Jews blame all this on what happened this same week (in the story in Deuteronomy) when the men returned from spying out the Promised Land and gave a report which caused everyone to lose faith in the promise of God. God turned His people away from the Land and made them wander in the desert until all of that generation had died before allowing their offspring to enter the Land. It was lack of faith in God’s promise that has marked this week until now.

I say, “Until now,” because several of the chief Rabbis have decided that this week is the “beginning of redemption.” They have decided that this current war is going to bring about the end of the world as we know it. Hmmm.

It is now Sunday and I have returned to Jerusalem. Scott and Theresa are gone off to help someone and I am going to spend the day relaxing and reading.

Keep your comments coming. Even though I will not be able to answer most of them, I really enjoy reading them. Have a great week.

P.S. The Lord provided me a cell phone. If you need to call (or just can’t stand not hearing my voice), the number from the U.S. is 011-972-50-832-3756.

Preparing for Passover

Scott had told me I wouldn’t be treated as a guest but rather as someone sort of co-renting their apartment. If they were home and eating, I could join them. Otherwise, I was welcome to cook and eat whatever was available. If nothing was available, I could buy it for myself.

As I said, they don’t eat breakfast or even have breakfast food. Theresa gets up and takes the bus about 7:30AM and Scott drives to work only a little later. They may or may not come home in the evening depending upon whom they are helping do something. (ie. They came in about 1AM this morning after spending the evening helping a friend move). This is very different from being with the Perry’s or the Newbolds, but I’d better get used to it. I am pretty much left alone in the country. I ask a lot of practical questions (“How do I get from here to there?” “How does the clothes washer work?”), but I have to figure things out and decide day by day what I’m supposed to be doing with my time. Actually, I see this as a real opportunity because each morning I get to ask, “Father, what are we doing today?” (This is a fulfillment of Philippians 2:5-7. Thanks, Daniel Perry for the practical insight into this passage). 

After Scott left for work I scrounged up something to eat, read my Bible and listened to the news. Both Danny and Yitzchak called from Ma’ale Levona to see when we would be arriving. I told them that Scott had said around 6PM (Sabbath begins–and ends–when you can see 3 stars at once, which tonight is around 7:30). Also had a return call from Benjamin Rabinowitz, an old friend from my time as a pastor in Atlanta, who moved to Israel several years ago. Ben was the first Orthodox Jew I became friends with and we spent time in one another’s church/synagogue. He is a High Priest (Cohen), directly descended from Moses’ brother, Aaron. Ben asked when we could get together and then his voice grew sad when he told me that his wife, Sonya, had died. This saddened me, too, since everyone loved Sonya. We will see one another next week.

The street I live on is only a few blocks long. It winds up the hill and ends at one of Israel’s most important parks. It takes about 5 minutes to walk to the park which is situated on a hill and is called the “Promenade”. The reason this park is so famous is the place it holds in Jewish history: The book of Genesis says that Abraham lived a long time in Beersheba (extreme southern part of the Land). Here Isaac and Ishmael grew up and, eventually, so did Abraham’s grandsons, Jacob and Esau. When God told Abraham to go up to Mount Moriah and sacrifice Isaac, Abraham went north and eventually arrived at a prominent outlook from which he could see the “Mountain” (Moriah) off in the distance. The park at the end of my street is that overlook from which Abraham first saw Mt. Moriah (later to become the city of Jerusalem). Seth has given me some advice for getting pictures on this blog, so as soon as I can I will have a picture showing this view. What you can see today is the Temple Mount area (built on “Mount” Moriah). The Temple (and now the Dome of the Rock) was built on the spot where Abraham began to sacrifice Isaac). (I put the word “Mount” in quotes because Jerusalem is actually build on a high hill, but it is surrounded by much higher hills all round it).

Walked from the park down to a little settlement which had a grocery store. Everyone was in a hurry and somewhat frantic as the pressure of getting everything ready for the coming Sabbath put some of them in a sour mood. I thought the whole city of Jerusalem was in the little store until I realized this was the settlement’s most important shopping day. I looked for cereal but everything was in Hebrew. Thank you, Lord, for pictures! The only non-translatable cereals were Fruity Pebbles and Post Great Grains with Raisins. I didn’t buy the Fruity Pebbles. Also bought some fresh fruit and bread (the Johnson’s can’t eat bread or fruit for the next 2 weeks). Never saw bacon. But I did see shelves and shelves of cookies and candy. Israelites love their cookies and candy.

Blake, I wore my Tilley hat for the first time during my walk. The weather was warm with a strong breeze blowing and the hat was even better than I expected. Also, I think my Chocos are now a permanent part of my feet. Great gifts and many thanks for your thoughtfulness!

My next posting should come on Sunday evening or Monday morning and I will tell about my Sabbath in the Orthodox community of Ma’ale Levona and about what I will be doing with Yossi in the weeks to come. Ma’ale Levona is about a 45 minute drive north of Jerusalem, in the “West Bank”. The community is perched on the very peak of a hill and is, itself, surrounded by a high fence with a gate and a guard on duty 24/7. It is the ultimate in “gated communities”. I may end up spending the entire weekend there, eating Sabbath meals with various families and going to Synagogue tomorrow morning to listen to an hour of Hebrew.

Must go. Just heard an Emam from one of the Mosques across the street calling everyone to prayers.

Until then, Shalom to all…

Walking

From the time I arrived early yesterday morning I have had a strong feeling that I would run into someone I knew. Kind of silly, I know. Here I am, half way around the world in a country at war. Who would I “run into”?

Got up early to a beautiful sunrise over the Promised Land. Scott and I spent time drinking coffee and talking about the Lord and generally fellowshipping together. He and I share a lot of common attitudes about the Bible and the Church. Some of you back home would really enjoy this guy. Then we spent about an hour trying to get my laptop connected to his ISP and finally gave up. Seems like I’m always needing you, huh Seth.

Scott drove me into the center of the city where his office is located in a high-rise building. He dropped me off at Zion Square after helping me change my money to shekels. The Johnson’s are following their church back home as they follow an eating routine meant to cleanse the body of toxins. Anyway, they eat mainly fruits and vegetables, but no breakfast, so the first thing on my mind was finding something to eat. I walked up Ben Yehuda and found a wonderful little sidewalk cafe and ordered my first of many Shawarmas. Toxins, Yum!

Then I decided I would walk the couple of miles to the Old City and go to the Wailing Wall. On the way I stopped at probably 30 ice cream coolers looking for my favorite chocolate ice cream bar. I finally had to ask someone and he told me the color of the wrapping had changed. So, I found what I was looking for. More toxins, Yum!

So I just strolled along toward the Old City, not in any hurry. I looked in lots of shops and just took my time. I was even aware that I wasn’t moving very rapidly toward my goal and the thought came to me that I was making this little trip take a long time. But I just reasoned that this was my first time in Israel when I had no schedule or time constraints.

I entered the Old City at the Jaffa Gate and slowly descended the steps and alleyways to the Wall. When I reached the courtyard (about half way from the gate to the Wall) I saw the Shorashim Gift Shop and decided to stop and pay my respects to the twin brothers who own it. That’s when I realized why I had been moving so slowly.

If I had walked any faster, I would not have entered Shorashim at just the time Emily Whiteside was buying earrings for her mom. Of all people to see in Jerusalem! She has been here a couple of months and her finace has arrived to visit her as she spends her last 3 weeks in Israel. Emily is here to be part of a ministry that leads worship 24 hours a day, 7 days a week near the Old City. Anyone can drop into the gathering and join in on the worship at any time of the day or night. Em plays the piano and sings and is one of the most anointed worship leaders (and worshippers) I’ve every known. The group has her  scheduled for several 2 hour sessions where she leads worship some days and some nights. She also lives within walking distance of where I am living.

After visiting the Wall I returned to Ben Yehuda and finally found the right bus to return to the apartment. Tomorrow afternoon the Johnson’s and I travel to Ma’ale Levona for my first of many Sabbath weekends with Danny, Yossi, Yitzchak and their families.

Took some pictures which I will put on the blog whenever Seth tells me how. Seems like I’m always needing you, huh Seth?

BOB’s (+Mike): Tell me what’s happening, other than freezing something off.

Haven’t yet heard from my children or from anyone at CoLinx. Wazzup?

Feelings: It’s very different being here this time. There is no “rush” like there always has been before. One reason is that this time I’m by myself and I don’t have others to share the excitement of being in such an amazing place. That’s what always makes something more special for me. Also, I’m not going to different places every day. I’m here for the long haul. Also, I must figure out my own agenda rather than having every hour of every day already planned. After this weekend, when I have had time to be with Yossi and find out how he wants to work on his book together, I should be more clear re: schedule and how my time here will play out.

ISRAEL!

Flew through the night and was glad to see 4 empty seats next to me. So I stretched out and slept most of the way to Amsterdam.

Arrived Holland at 11AM. What an amazing place: a whole country below sea level with dikes keeping the sea from flooding everything. The land is criss-crossed by canals which are used like our interstates: to get from town to town by boat. In winter, when these canals freeze over, people actually ice skate from town to town along them. Between the canals are huge fields; but instead of corn or wheat or cotton, there are miles and miles of tulips. Windmills dot the landscape, pumping water from the canals to water the flowers.

I was supposed to have a day and 1/2 in Amsterdam and I was going to visit Corrie Ten Boom’s home and walk the streets of Old Amsterdam. But, my airline decided not to go to Israel right now and put me on another carrier. My layover time was cut to 9 hours so I didn’t really have time to leave the airport. This was probably a good thing because I used the time to finish going over Yossi’s book and take a nap.

I found out just before boarding for Israel that the airplane was making a stop in Lanarca on the Greek part of the island of Cyprus. (The US is taking people there who are escaping from Lebanon).

Landed on Cyprus at 2AM. The Captain told us airlines are using the island to refuel and change crews so they won’t have to spend that much time on the ground in Israel. Left Cyprus at 3AM and landed in Israel at 4AM.

Scott had not received my “change of flight” email and was not there to pick me up. I waited until 5:30 until I had gotten so hungry I went to the deli for an Israeli breakfast. I really wanted a bacon and egg croissant, but had to settle for an eggplant, goat cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwich. But, by then, I would have eaten just about anything.

Finally reached Scott by phone at 7:30AM and he told me I would need to take a taxi to his apartment in Jerusalem as his day had gotten really full. I finally got there at 9:30 and he returned from his errands about a half hour later. Scott & Theresa’s apartment is really nice. It is a garden apartment, meaning each apartment is set back into the hill further than the one in front of it. There are lots of flowers and plants and plenty of room for me. His apartment complex is the last building in the southern part of Jerusalem so that the area across the street is out of the city and is actually an Arab village. Those of you with Google Earth should be able to see this.

Scott spent some time making me feel at home before he had to take off again. I do feel at home here. There is no air conditioning, but the days are mild (upper 70’s to no more than mid 80’s) and the evenings are cool (low 60’s). Very comfortable.

Scott indicated that I will probably spend most of my weekends in Ma’ale Levona including the one coming up. Don’t yet know how much traveling I will do with Yossi right now since tourism has “basically” [inside joke] come to a halt.

If I hear from Seth how to add pictures to this blog, I will start doing so. Also, by tonight, Scott will hook up my laptop to the Internet and I’ll be able to make phone calls to all of you on Skype.

Blake: as soon as I opened my suitcase at the airport I put on my Chocos. They are great! Thanks so much for the going-away present. Very thoughtful.

If there is an emergency and you need to contact me, call the apartment. The number is 2-672-2375. The first “2” is the area code as Israel has only a 1-digit area code. I think you have to put an “011” before you dial and, perhaps, an 011-1. So the number might be 011-1-2-672-2375. I’m actually not sure, but will give you my cell phone # when I get one. Scott encouraged me to get a cell phone due to the current “situation”.

Feel free to “comment” so I know all of you are totally mesmerized by my blogging talents. There’s more to come, so stay tuned… 

Goodbye, Crossville

I took my last Crossville walk this morning and it had to be one of the most beautiful mornings I’ve ever seen in Crossville. The air is clear, the sun is warm, and a wonderful breeze is blowing. I thought, “What a great day to be sailing”.

Instead, I will spend the day packing to leave tomorrow.

I want to thank each of you for your friendship, your kindness, your hospitality and your encouragement. Special thanks to Phil & Debbie, Charles & Nancy and Craig & Martha for giving me a place to live this past year. Also, to the Paul Perry’s and the Andrew Perry’s for having me to dinner so often and generally being such good friends. Give each of the kids a hug for me. Angela, have a great year in college. Martha, smile a little smile for me; I will miss your hugs. Thanks to Ray & Tammy, Kelli & Nikki for the wonderful food and prayers. I love you guys. Doug & Debbie, I will miss you and the children. Give each of them a hug for me. David & Jamie, Chelsea, Morgan, Marshall & Olivia: I always came away from your home with a full and happy stomach and feeling loved and appreciated. I will miss you. Mike & Ann: You have been my Crossville friends longer than any others. I will miss our times in the Lord and dealing with all our “crises”. Please tell Anita how sorry I am to be missing her wedding. She is the “first” of the children to be wed and I always thought I’d be part of each of our kids’ weddings.

Jim & Sandy: For a long time you have been the most steadfast of friends and the ones I have felt were my greatest encouragers. There have been times when you have kept me going. I know you will be praying for me. Please let me know anything the Lord gives you to share with me in the days to come.

I will miss my children. Trina, I am sorry we weren’t able to get together before I left. But, I’m actually not going to be gone that long. Seth, I’m glad you decided to linger in Brazil. That was the right choice. James & Blake, I’ll see you tonight and say my “goodbyes” to you then.

To the Box Office Babes: Be good to Mike. It’s very distracting working around all that beauty. Do him a favor: Turn off the air conditioner and turn up the radio. This will help him stay focused on his work. Mike: be strong, man. you can do it! I hope Jim is working to improve conditions in the BO. If not, let me know and I’ll send an Israeli Secret Agent to deal with him.

To my former co-workers at CoLinx & AtWork: I will think of all of you often while I’m soaking up the atmosphere of the Holy Land. Stay in touch.  

Whenever I’ve gone to Israel before, it’s been with a tour and I knew what to expect each and every minute. This time things are a lot more open-ended. I have a general idea that I’ll be helping the country’s leading tour guide re-write his book of stories from the Bible. Other than that, I’m not exactly sure what my days will be like. I will be settled in an apartment in Jerusalem, but will also spend a lot of time in the (so called) West Bank Orthodox community of Ma’ale Levona (check out Google Maps) where Yossi (the tour guide) lives along with several other families who have become dear to me. 

Well, I need to get packing on this beautiful day. Goodbye to all–at least for awhile.

5 days

Five days and I leave for Israel. I’m excited about being with so many of my Jewish friends again. I have received only a few negative comments about going at this time. But, mostly, you all have been very encouraging. For those of you who have expressed concern, I can say that I will be living in Jerusalem which is currently south of the problem areas. I will be spending time in what the media calls “The West Bank” (the man I will be working with lives in a community there). However, I don’t see any problem with the area I will be going to.

I want to thank all of you for the “comments” to this blog. I enjoy reading whatever you have to say. Keep them coming!

Seth has decided to stay another 10 days in Brazil so I won’t be able to see him before I leave. I encouraged him to stay there since this kind of opportunity doesn’t come along very often. Blake will take me to the airport. I will miss everyone here, but 3 months isn’t all that long and I have a lot to do while I’m in Israel.

Mike Hackett, email me when you get the chance. I’d like to know how things are going in Saudi.

Isn’t it dangerous?

The question most often asked me in the past few days is, “Aren’t you concerned? Isn’t it dangerous over there?”

But should we make decisions based on the relative levels of danger (or safety) we could face? Should we be asking ourselves, “Let me see, now, that choice is more dangerous than this choice so I will do this instead of that.”

How is that any different from saying, “Let me see, now, this choice will make me more money than that choice”?  Or, “This choice will bring me more happiness than that choice”?

Shouldn’t we rather be asking, “Let me see, now, which choice will most allow me to participate in what the Lord is doing right now (as best I can see that today)?”

Yes, I still intend going to Israel a week from tomorrow (unless He changes my plans). You can pray for me if you are a praying person. But, don’t pray that I will be “safe”. Pray that I will be allowed to partipate in what He is doing there.

Hello to Charles, Tim, Scott, Carla, Wade, Oreo Gurl and everyone at CoLinx. Hope all is well with you guys. And, hello to Katy, Mandy, Mike, Meka, Laura, Pam & Moriah and eveyrone at CCP. Stay warm…

Goodbye #2

Said goodbye to the Playhouse staff as I finished my last day in the box office. I will miss you all and think of you often. You were some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. Now I spend the next week saying goodbye to everyone else in Crossville. Thanks Pam & Moriah for the gift. You are so thoughtful! The Playhouse has meant a lot to my family for over 15 years so this is truly the end of an era for me. But, Blake may continue as a company actor, and James may even return to the stage from time to time.

10 days left as I watch events unfold in Israel. The Israeli leadership said, “We have taken off the gloves,” while 120 rockets and 500 mortors hit their cities today. Exciting times. I only hope I can get over there before the airlines refuse to make the trip.

Things are getting exciting

If you’ve been watching the news from the Middle East you know that things are warming up over there. I don’t mind the trouble, I just don’t want them to close their borders so I can’t get there. Only 11 more days. If our State Dept denies US citizen’s travel to Israel I will have to consider what to do. However, I don’t expect things to get that bad in 11 days.

Hello, Oreo Gurl. Loved your comment. Stay tuned…