As I watch events being played out across the world stage, particularly what appears to be the increasing marginalization of America and the daily ratcheting up of the outcry against Israel to make even more concessions to those who would destroy Her, I am left with an ever increasing sense that time is short. It is almost as if the "birth pains" are now increasing in intensity by the day.

As the world looks on with dismay and perplexity, we as Believers need to focus our attention more and more on the "author and finisher of our faith," the Word, and the need to take inventory of those things in our lives that may hinder us from "running the race that is set before us."

And as we focus our attention on those things that are above and not on the temporal, may our Yahweh instill in our hearts a sense of urgency to redeem the time, that we may serve Him boldly and that our lives may in every way glorify the King of Glory.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sderot- The bomb shelter capital of the world

Update From Sderot 8/21/10

The weather here has been extremely hot with unusually high humidity. Not bad if you like being in a sauna. When the mercury rises above 90° and the humidity is reaching 40% daily activities can be difficult here for most, but for the elderly of Sderot it can be very dangerous. So on Thursday morning when HFS was asked if we could help with the purchase of some fans for ten elderly, we gladly said we would do what we could. So what do you do when you receive an unexpected donation, given in the memory of a loving wife… that very afternoon? You load up the van with brand new fans. The next day, as Shabbat drew near we circled the streets of Sderot delivering the much needed fans to nine elderly widows and a single mom with very small children. ~See Photos Below

Tuesday this week was spent unpacking the eight pallets of food supplies that come from the main warehouse in Bet Shemesh every month. Teenagers from the high school helped us to unload and stack more than 8000 kilos of food. ~See Photos Below

On Wednesday we picked up nearly 780 pounds of potatoes from a local farming kibbutz. With the high temperatures and humidity here, every one of them needed to be washed and dried. ~See Photos Below

On Thursday, “Delivery Day”, I saw Paolina, the mom I wrote about last week. She came up to me and gave me a big hug and I whispered, "al-tirah" in her ear. How awesome it is that even though I speak very little Hebrew and she speaks even less English, and yet I can whisper those words and the language barrier simply melts away.

The city of Sderot looks like a construction zone. Everywhere you look mamads (shelters) are being built. This past week we were at the home of one of the volunteers. The contractors have been building their mamad for several weeks now. We watched as the workers very carefully brushed a sealant around the heavy security door to seal any openings. It was explained to us that the small cracks around the door and window needed to be sealed to protect against chemical attacks. This is the reality of life in Sderot. And yet it is a great joy and a privilege to serve Ha'shem here. Shalom.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Update From Sderot 8/14/10

Well after a 14-hour flight I have finally arrived here in Israel once again. And as usual, the days have been full of blessings and opportunities to serve. There are more “mamads” (shelters) being built everywhere, more people in need, but there is also more food on the shelves at the “moxon”. Baruch Ha’Shem!

Well Tuesday morning started out early with preparing a meal for Enosh. Twice a month, the “ha’mutah”, Hope For Sderot, purchases, prepares, and delivers a mid-morning meal for the disabled adults at Enosh. The day care center provides productive activities for mentally disabled adults.

Tuesday afternoon was spent at Kibbutz Nir Am, a small kibbutz on the Northwestern border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. We were able to relax with old friends and catch up on things here.

We started out Wednesday morning with a time of prayer for the ha’mutah, the volunteers, and the many families Ha’Shem allows us to serve here in Sderot. Wednesday is also “fruit and vegetable” day, so we drove to the distributor that provides us with fresh fruits and vegetables that we are able to add to the weekly food packages.

Thursday is food delivery day. Ha’shem has blessed the ha’mutah and it now serves even more families each week. With help from The Joshua Fund, we are able to distribute food to 227 families each week. Each week we load up the beat up old van with food packages for the families and the elderly who are unable to pick theirs up. After deliveries were done we headed back to the moxon to prepare lunch for our Israeli volunteers. The rest of Thursday afternoon was clearly orchestrated by Ha’Shem.

While at the nearby hardware store, we met an Israeli lady who needed some help getting an oversized item back home. As she was being assisted into the van, she was speaking to me in Hebrew, of which I was only able to understand a few words. Basically she was trying to tell us that she recognized us from Tuesday morning’s meal delivery to Enosh. After getting her home, we returned back to the moxon with a flyer she had given us.

Apparently, she had been the victim of a recent assault and robbery. Her adult son was also a victim; he had been very severely beaten in the incident. The son who was already 75% disabled following injuries sustained while serving as a soldier was now 100% disabled. And she was 75% disabled from her injuries.

We also learned that earlier that day, while we were delivering packages, she had been to the moxon requesting help. So when the work was finished for the day, we asked Eti to come along with us to help interpret, and went to the woman’s home to let her know we would be adding her to the list of families we help each week.

As we arrived, she opened the door to us but was obviously nervous about disturbing her son who was in his room with very loud music playing. She invited us to sit at the tiny kitchen table, and so we did. She then brought a handful of papers and spread them out on the table before us. The papers, some from doctors, some from social services told the story of what had happen. She then brought out two boxes of medication which I recognized immediately as a long acting injectable antipsychotic. Almost immediately, I was able to fill in the gaps in the story.

Her son, who at this point was still in his room, had suffered severe head trauma not once but twice. Those two incidences had left him with extreme mood and personality changes that now required medication to control. What occurred next required no interpreter to give understanding.

Her son came out of his room and was loud and very agitated. You didn’t need to speak Hebrew to understand he was angry and wanted us to leave. I am thankful for Ha’Shem’s hand of protection. I knew He had brought us there and that He would also safely get us out of there. We stood to leave but wanted the woman to also follow us outside. She had obviously cowered at her son’s rage because she had experienced it before when the verbal rage had turned physical.

We walked outside with the woman, and with Eti’s help as an interpreter, learned that her son wasn’t always like this. It was only after the head trauma that he had become violent. We wanted to spend more time with her as she was now in tears, but with her son still upstairs yelling we didn’t want to make things worse for her.

I am always amazed at Ha’shem’s ability to use us here to declare His love, and comfort His people despite our language limitations and shortcomings. How do you share Ha'Shem's comfort with someone who is distraught and fearful when you don't even speak their language? You pull out of your pocket a leather keychain that came all the way from California… a keychain that declares;

“Be not afraid”
Isaiah 41:10

You could see her able find some comfort as she was able to read the Hebrew words, al-tirah… “Be not afraid” in her own language. And I was yet once again able to experience the handiwork of Ha’Shem and to realize that He orchestrated the entire encounter as far back as when He first spoke to me in that still small voice; "Fear not, it is I.”

More than four months prior, Ha'Shem had comforted me with those same words. Words that were now stamped on 270 leather keychains, keychains that were made for me to bring with me to Israel, keychains that will be part of this year's Rosh Hashanah gift baskets. Baruch Ha'Shem!