Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Our last days!

This weekend was the Jewish holiday of Purim, which celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from the plot to destroy them told in the book of Esther. How amazing that Papa would plan our trip around this holiday! To celebrate, people give gifts to one another, dress up in costumes and we were told it was the one day of the year Jews are encouraged to get drunk until they cannot tell the difference between the phrases "cursed is Haman" and "blessed is Mordecai". People dress up for two days in costumes and party all night to celebrate! For us the partying ended early as this was the night the tummy bug caught up to Amber! Needless to say, we have avoided all street food ever since!

After resting up, the last few days we have spent in Jerusalem we have put on our tourist hats, checked into a hotel and joined the thousands of other Christians and Jews who are here to see the land. We visited Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum, and the Garden tomb, the place where Jesus was potentially crucified and resurrected. Yad vashem, which comes from Isaiah 56, means a place and a name, signifying that the victims of the holocaust will have a place to be remembered. It was an emotional museum as you are filled with disbelief in the evil, apathy and hatred built up over the years for such an atrocity to happen. I left asking Holy Spirit to stir in me a stronger conviction of His righteousness. That the righteousness of us as we travel and of His children in Israel would blaze like a torch, they would stand up to injustice and intercede for his kingdom to come. 

We also had the chance to visit one of my favorite places from last year, living bread church in Jerusalem. It was started by a fiery woman of God, Karen Durham, who moved to Jericho and gave out bread to the hungry people of the refugee camp. She now has a church in Jerusalem and takes trips into Gaza and the West Bank to share Jesus with Palestinians! And my favorite part is that her church is an NGO supported by Israel! She's a regular day Esther, with favor in the government to bring salvation to the people! We joined them for a few of their prayer and worship times this week. The intimacy they have with papa is so sweet to be around, it was so good to just go and drink deeply of him there! While there we met an amazing couple from Texas who were assigned by God to come to Israel on a trip of intercession across the nation. We joined the and prayed on top of Mt Zion for the nation of Israel... Watchmen on the walls. 

Tomorrow we head to Jordan to spend time with some of my moms friends! 

Praying that God would continue to solidify in us his heart for these people, for His righteousness, for their salvation, for they are his delight! That he would continue to show us his face! We want more of him! Praying that we would bless this land and the people that are here!  Love you guys!

These two ladies just celebrating Gods deliverance of the Jews... 

Tourist pics!

Monday, March 17, 2014

From the Dead Sea to Jerusalem

"Wow, wow, wow"....said Sammi, the owner of our hostel in Jericho as we arrived! He was so excited to have us there. Jericho is a city in the West Bank made up of around 26,000 Palestians. As we walked around the city we enjoyed the people's smiles and freedom they appeared to be living in.  When we arrived back at our hostel in the middle of the refugee camp, Sammi and his family were so inviting as they listened to our stories and then he shared more about his life and stories.

Sammi is originally from the Gaza Strip and his family moved when he was a boy to Jericho to find work before the border became restricted. He has six children and was very quick to show off his beautiful children in photographs. It was from these that we learned that two of his children and wife had to be separated due to the separation barrier and that it had been eight months since he had last seen them. Although Jericho is only Palestians and they have learned to live as free as possible within their restrictions, this place carried a different tension than we have previously experienced. The tension was not so much political as it was spiritual.

The night brought about some unexpected sickness for Rachel and her mom. As the sun came up and peaked its way in the windows and after resting for most of the morning, they decided they felt well enough to make a trip to the Dead Sea. This is a unique place as people flood in to take pictures, of what...I don't know because everything is dead and it is surrounded by desert land, probably to have proof they have been there! However, due to its salt content it is pretty cool to just sit back in the water and float. The two sick girls enjoyed their time by resting some more :)

Joshua and Jericho....march, march, march....and the walls came crashing down. A story so familiar to us and even has it's own catchy song, but yet being in Jericho brought some sweet reminders of His promise as thought appropriate to read the story. One I really like is: be strong and courageous. Do not be dismayed, for The Lord your God is with you wherever you go! He so sweetly reminded us that He loves us and is with us with each step we take, to take them in freedom and boldness!!! Also, it talks about how the priests were the first ones to step in the Jordan river, as to stand in the gap between God moving enabling the people to cross, and that they did! They stood on dry ground as God showed up and made it possible for His people to cross on dry ground. As we look to the future, we are excited to stand in the gap as priests seeking Him to show up and move on behalf of His children, that the "waters" would separate and they can walk on dry ground to Him and that the many "walls" in each individual person's life and a nation in general would come crashing down.

As we woke up to head back to Jerusalem, I got sick. We arrived at our next home at Matan's. It was nice to sit down with him as he shared about his story, a little about his brother's life, and some interesting facts pertaining to Haredi Jews. His brother is apart of Breaking the Silence, an organization that allows soldiers to have a voice after serving and to share with others their side of the story. However, it is viewed a bit to the left of what is expected from soldiers so Matan said his family is not very supportive of his decision to do this or study middle eastern studies. 

In all of this He is showing us that there is a battle much bigger than what we see or hear and that we are to seek Him and love every person we meet! Please continue to pray with us for good health, open hearts, eyes and ears as we move forward.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Rainy days washing my bluuuues away

Perspective is something we all carry, is often influenced and has the potential to change. As it has been raining nonstop since we arrived, our bluuueees got washed away and turned into thanksgiving as we were again reminded that rain is such a vital part of this region. We were reminded of the gift of this time, Esther 4:14....for such a time as THIS...

The past few days have been filled with beautiful conversations as people have shared their hearts, stories, and their perspectives on the political happenings. We met an Israeli soldier, Phil, on our bus ride to the West Bank. He shared why he volunteered to serve in the Israeli army and encouraged us to continue to seek out truth for ourselves by talking to people.

We arrived at our new home Tuesday afternoon and were greeted by such a sweet mama, Laila. It has been wonderful to stay in someone's home and see how they live daily. We all sat down on the floor around a little table in the bedroom sharing a meal and laughed and listening to her stories. Laila was continuously scanning Facebook for the newest pictures or news on what was happening in Palestine. She would find a funny cartoon about the political situation and share it laying back in her bed laughing.  Afterwards we went out with her daughter, Nabil, who was able to convince her fiancĂ© to let her go out with us, and a girl visiting from Poland to get a sweet treat. 

Wednesday brought us face to face with the separation as we visited the Ibrahim Mosque. It is the tomb where Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Leah, Isaac and Rebekah were buried. Over the years the building has been separated into two parts. On one side of Abraham's tomb there is a synagogue and on the other side a mosque. Each side can peer into the tomb through windows. Between the sides there is a bullet proof window. No matter which side of the tomb you go into, the other side can be heard and seen. The lovely gentleman who was taking us around I think said it best as he peered into the room of the tomb and could see people from the other window peering in, "there are our cousins! We are all descendants of Abraham!"

Later on we journeyed to Bethlehem for a conference, "Christ at the checkpoint", to listen to Dr. Abuelaish, an obstetrician from Gaza who served both Palestinians and Israelis. His story is interesting as he lost his daughters and niece when their house in Gaza was bombed.  Instead of being filled with bitterness and anger, he chose to forgive and lives by the truth that you cannot stereotype a group of people based on a few people in the groups actions. His perspective looking at the political aspect of this nation and looking ahead for peace was that both sides are in bondage and until they are both free, neither will be free. 

Afterwards we chatted with Richard, director for Jews for Jesus in Britain, whom we also met our first few nights here in Tel Aviv at the Jews for Jesus house. He is a messianic Jew and was one of the speakers in the very first "Christ at the Checkpoint" two years ago. He shared that for him to attend a conference he was viewed as a traitor and was a big step in an outlook for peace. He also opened our eyes to see that because the conflict has been going on for so long that people have become calloused. He confirmed what we had already heard pertaining to Jewish people, that they are a "prickly pear," honest and just take a little bit to get to know! 

The reality is, there has been conflict, shame and blame placed on both sides. Everyone has a story and a perspective. Truth is we found ourselves a bit intertwined in all the politics, discussing the "rights and wrongs" and looking at peace talks and ways to create peace. Our perspective was changed yet again by the true giver of Peace and forgiveness. He sweetly and gently took our eyes and placed them back on Him and reminded us that we are love, we walk from His favor, to be bold as we listen and speak truth to people, and His spirit is leading us. 

And so our journey continued back to the West Bank to stay with our mama Laila! Our night was filled with laughter, joy, eating, learning Palestinian dancing and listening to hearts. It has been an honor to stay, learn and love from our mama Laila and her family.

There is always hope and laughter we hear despite what is happening all around us and we are expectant and excited to see where He leads us!!! Each step we claim in peace as we move forward, Ephesians 2:13-16, "but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He, Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility."

Monday, March 10, 2014

Israel: from the West Bank to the Old City and back again

Wow, we have seen so much since leaving Tel Aviv. We went to a city in the West Bank to visit some friends. It was so fun to see them and see how the kingdom of God is coming to their city, what an honor to spend time with these people who have given their lives to Jesus with such surrender! I cannot share details to protect them and their local friends, but I am thankful to have seen the way they  love and how they communicate the gospel of peace and forgiveness to their local friends in this place of tension. 

We experienced the tension in this area first hand at the checkpoint and realized that tension has become a part of people's daily lives. They carry it almost subconsciously in all they do, like a person would carry stress. Can you imagine? We drove through refugee camps where people have lived since the war of 1967, hoping to eventually get their homes back. They don't want to carry the shame that it would cause to give up on the idea of ever moving they remain in refugee camps...with terrible schools, and no jobs and desperate for their old homes. Homes and land most of them have never seen but just heard stories of from their parents or even which they believe would be their restored dignity. 

After a few days with our sweet friends we came to Jerusalem, "the city of peace". What a special thing to be in this city, this city that Jesus chose and is so close to his heart. As we walk the streets, we can't help but wonder and ask where Jesus would be walking in these streets today. Who would he be spending time with? We found ourselves in the Old City having a conversation with a man named Joseph. I recognized him from last time I was in the city. He owns a jewelry store and made necklaces as a gift for Amber and I. Joseph shared with us his heart, which is so wrapped up in the occupation. He said that the people groups live next to each other by address, but are not neighbors, and far from brothers. There is no peace in their hearts. He loved the Jew, did not criticize, put no blame or fault on either side, but just desired peace. We spoke with him about the Kingdom of God, the hope of Jesus ruling and reigning, the prince of peace. 

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Psalm 133
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there The Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore!

We are leaving today to go back into the West Bank. Pray for people of peace to stay with and for Holy Spirit to lead us. For us to be careful with our words and actions and for favor as we go into this land. Pray for his gospel of peace to go forth and to be sewn into the hearts of those we talk to. We love you guys!

It is SO rainy here! Drying our shoes...

All the people at the church of the holy sepulcher are waiting in line to see the tomb Jesus was maybe buried in... We found him there...just not in the tomb!

Pray for Israel! 

Thursday, March 6, 2014


We made it! 

Before we even landed in Israel God already connected us to amazing people. While I was testing my mom on her world geography on our flight from Chicago to Turkey, Gagan, a man sitting behind us from India joined in (because us Americans obviously weren't doing too well at the quiz). We had dinner with him during our layover and learned that he was an owner of a medical technology company and was working with a company in Israel that specialized in an intrauterine "GPS". Wild! I didn't know there was such a thing, but this started our conversation on my interest in midwifery. He began to talk about the opportunities that were available for internships in India that he could connect me with to learn and get hands on traditional midwifery experience (the kind without the GPS)... Fun! Then Gagan told Amber that his best friend worked for a coffee farm that supplied for Starbucks that she could gain experience from...what a sweet connection, God! 

Then as we were boarding our flight to Tel Aviv a couple asked Amber and I if we were sisters, we get this a lot. This got us talking with them and before we even got on the flight we had exchanged numbers to come to their house in Bethlehem! God is taking care of us :)

Our flight got in last night at 11:30pm to Tel Aviv. It is said to be one of the most secure airports in the world, which I can say from the last time I visited it is. However, by 12:15 we had gone through immigration and customs, gotten our baggage, found an ATM and heading outside to find a taxi!! No interrogating questions from immigration officers...hooray! 

Our taxi took us to the Jews for Jesus building downtown Tel Aviv. We didn't really know what we were getting into because a friend had set us up here. The place is amazing! Their house is open to anyone! We have our own room and our own bathroom. It's the kind of place you walk in and everyone here is your family. Amber even got to use her barista skills to pull shots of espresso for ereryone! 

Today we explored the city and hung out with the people that live here. It was a good, restful first day. We are ready and excited to go to Jerusalem. We decided to travel there tomorrow since every week from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening the country shuts down for the sabbath day...imagine if we did that in America!?

Pray with us!
Health and energy -- no runny noses and sore throats from the airplane ride!
For boldness in obedience and in speaking. Many people here have many different views on Jesus/Israel/Palestine. Pray for words filled with God's wisdom, truth, peace and love would be spoken.
Pray for people of peace on our way to Jerusalem and while there to have conversations with, pray for and bless in the name of Yeshua! 

Thank God for a place to lay our head every night! :) Good night from Tel Aviv!

Mom getting her work out on at the park! Girl doesn't take a break!

Typical. Too much fun waiting on our flight!

Monday, January 20, 2014

He is the giver of TRUE PEACE....

There are so many places throughout/in scripture where we see Him displayed as PEACE, whether it states it clearly or we just see Him as an answer to a situation that would otherwise cause chaos.

For instance, I think of Esther and as she prepares to enter the King's chambers, as she states, "For such a time as this...whether I lose my life or not..." there seemed to be this PEACE that came over her that no matter the result she knew what needed to happen and that He was with her. Then there is the famous three in the fiery furnace, David in the Lion den's, the disciples on the boat in a raging storm, shade by day from a cloud and fire by night for warmth as so many walked in the desert...we see a sort of PEACE that takes away differences, unites and protects and turns many to Himself. A PEACE that overtakes Mary when greeted with life altering news from an angel as she says, YES to Him!!!!!

Ephesians 2: 11- 22:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, call "the uncircumcision" by what is called circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-remember that you were were at time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He, Himself is our PEACE, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of two, so making PEACE, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing hostility. And He came and preached PEACE to you were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

That is our prayer...that His PEACE that offers hope, life, love and an encounter with Jesus, Himself will be released over this Nation...over all Nations. As we take each step in the Nation that we would put on the shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of PEACE [Ephesians 6:15]. That as each step is taken, we would claim His PEACE and ask it to be released.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I love to explore and was made for adventure! This weekend, our sweet friend, Ariel (lioness of God!) came to visit us from Texas. We trampled out on the frozen lake of the Isles and I set my sight on exploring the island. This is no big island, it could be better described as a tree covered hill, but exciting to one with an adventurous spirit nevertheless! We climbed over and under fallen trees, through weeds and thickets and the mess of little trees and bushes beginning to grow. It was funny to me that every direction we walked in, we eventually ended up coming to a path of some sort that had been trampled before us. Places where branches had already been pushed out of the way and the snow had been flattened. Whatever direction we headed in, we always ended back up with this trail. 

As we set out on this adventure to Israel, I am thankful for Holy Spirit's leading, for his peace and joy that lead us. I have been so guilty of trying to plan this out on my own, making my own trail, but it is so HARD, and usually involves a couple u-turns. :)

Pray for us, that as we ask Holy Spirit about our time in Israel, where we will go, who we will stay with, who we should connect with, that he would lead us by his peace and joy. Pray that this month before we go, we would receive direction from heaven, not from the minds of man, but straight from our Father, that the voice of our Shepherd would lead us. That he would give us dreams and visions of people to connect with and places to go. We wait on Him! 

Thanks, friends. We love you!