Sunday, December 30, 2007

Not Your Ordinary Christmas

Let's just say, nothing is the same in a foreign country.
Our American friend, Kirsten, found a church in Jaffa that was having a Christmas Eve service. So we three caught a cab and headed South to Jaffa. The little Lutheran church was packed! The service was very similar to what we grew up with in that we sang the classic carols and the story of the birth of Yeshua was read. Though, this time, some of it was read in English, while some was read in Hebrew. There was also a message given, in English, then translated into Hebrew. Even the announcements at the end of the service where first said in Hebrew, then in English. It was a great service and nice to have a sense of familiarity.
The funny thing was, Kirsten and I, as we sang the carols in English, tried to read the Hebrew "translation" of the songs and they were NOTHING like what we were singing in English! I don't know who "translated" those songs but I think they may have been throwing back a little too much eggnog!!
Then on Christmas day, Brent and I went on a class field trip to Jerusalem with our Ulpan (Hebrew language school). As you can imagine, the trip, planned by our state run language school, was not so much about Jesus! Of course, it was about Israel and the Jewish people which was very interesting. We even saw some things we hadn't seen before and learned some new things. This was great since we have been here, leading tours (well, Brent has) since 1990. Also, since this was a tour with our Hebrew class, our guide spoke in Hebrew the ENTIRE DAY!! However, the two teachers of the two classes that went threw us a bone every once in a while and filled in the gaps with English definitions! Thank goodness for that!
Probably the most difficult part of the day was going to Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum. We have been there numerous times but it never gets any easier. And, it's not exactly what I would choose to do on Christmas, but such is life in Israel.
One of the great things about the day was being with our teacher, Sarah, outside of the classroom! We got to be on more of an equal level with her and it was fun to just talk with her, in Hebrew and English! At one point she was talking with Brent and me in English and suddenly said "Why am I talking to you in English? You need practice in Hebrew!" Then finished what she was saying in Hebrew! She was born to be a teacher!
The other neat part about the day was that we ended our "tour" by praying at the Western Wall. Now, I must say, that is a cool thing to do on Christmas! Besides the fact that we were in a place were Jesus literally walked! Pretty amazing.
So, not your ordinary Christmas, but still a great day.
I hope each of you had a joyous and blessed day remembering the wonder of what God did for His creation!

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

Kirsten and me on Christmas Eve in unplanned matching outfits; green sweaters and brown pants, posing beside the huge beautiful poinsetta Kirsten gave to Brent and me.

The Scroll of Fire; a memorial statue made of solid bronze commemorating the history of Israel from the Holocaust on through the rebirth of the State of Israel. This statue is located in the Jerusalem Forest.

This is one of the carvings on The Scroll of Fire, which is of Janusz Korzak and children from his orphage. You can read about him in one of my earlier posts.

From L to R: Arik, a fellow student in Ulpan from Sweden; Sara, our teacher; Kate, another classmate from Seatle, and me! We are sitting in the Cardo in the Old City of Jerusalem "listening" to our guide. Actually, we weren't really listening, our brains had shut down by this point! The Cardo is the ancient main road that ran through the middle, or the heart (hence the word cardo - cardiology) of the city 2000 plus years ago.

This picture was taken toward the end of our day. This picture is of the golden Temple Menorrah, made by the Temple Institue, which is preparing all of the vessels for use in the Third Temple. And yes, it is covered in pure gold. In the background is the Mount of Olives. To the left of this scene farther down into the valley is the Western Wall, were we ended our day.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pay Attention

So, it's Saturday evening. Brent and I just went to service at the congregation we are attending here in Tel Aviv and just like in the States we have a tradition of going out to eat after services.
We go to our favorite little cafe just a couple of blocks from our apartment. We're sitting there eating and talking about our plans for the future. We are still trying to figure out exactly when to come home and when we will come back to Israel, how and for how long, etc. I have the thought, I'll be funny and see if Brent notices. So I nonchalantly say to Brent, "Honey, if we are thinking about moving over here for a year or two we should probably think about selling your truck when we get home." Notice I did not mention my beloved Honda CRV!!!! And I wait for the reaction....but.....HE AGREES! He says he's already thought about it. So, as usual, he did not notice how funny I am!
We finish eating, we pay and we're walking home. As we come to the corner crosswalk he asks me a question about the hebrew word for pay attention. You can either say "seem lev" or "laseem lev". One is "pay attention" and the other is "to pay attention". I explain this as we wait for the light to change so we can cross the street and as it does, all of a sudden, he says "Wait just a second, what do you mean sell MY TRUCK? What about your car?" Ah ha, as we finish our discussion on the hebrew word for "pay attention" he catches on! Appropriate, don't ya think!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


That's the number of verbs we have learned to date in Hebrew. Now, that may not seem like a lot to most of you. However, you must remember this. For every one verb you must count:
-the infinitive form
-the four present tense forms (masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural and feminine plural)
-the nine past tense forms (I, you - masculine singular, you feminine singular, him, her, we, you masculine plural, you feminie plural and them)
-and now we are learning the eight future tense forms (I, you - masculine singular, you feminine singular, him, her, we, you masculine/feminie plural and them)
By my calculations that's 3806 words. And that's only VERBS!!! Man Alive! It's like they have a different word for EVERYTHING!!

p.s. the above picture is of Brent and me with our teacher, Sarah.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Selfless Act

Janusz Korczak was a pediatrician, military doctor in several wars, an author, a director of an orphanage and even had his own radio show. However, these accomplishments pale in comparison to one amazing act of selflessness.
During World War II, the orphanage Korczak had created for Jewish children in Warsaw was forced to move into the ghetto. Three years later, German soldiers came to collect the children, who numbered almost 200, and several of the staff workers to take them to the Treblinka extermination camp. Because of Korczak's fame and accomplishments, he was told he would not be taken and could find sanctuary on the "Aryan side" of Warsaw. Korczak refused. He chose to go with the children to the death camp.
He had the children dress in their best clothes and choose a favorite book or toy to bring with them. So they would not be frightened, he told them they were going to get out of the ghetto, outside of the walls, to a meadow where they could play. They were then marched through the streets of the Warsaw ghetto, like a parade, to the trains that would take them to their death, Korczak with them.
This picture is of a memorial statue of Korczak and his children located at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Each time I stand in front of this amazing memorial I am wrought with emotions. I grieve the lives of these innocent children; almost two million children were murdered in the Holocaust. I marvel at the bravery of this man to willingly go to his death just so his orphan's would not be scared. I am frightened by man's susceptibility to become so depraved that they would murder millions and millions of innocent people in cold blood, because they were different. And I wonder, would I have done what Korczak did? Would I have gone to my death to make it easier for the children, even though I had been offered life? I honestly don't know. But I hope I would have. What would you have done?

Home and Safe

A quick parents arrived home safely. Thank You, Lord. They had no delays, even with the bad weather in OKC and had three seats to themselves on the international leg of their trip! I guess if you can't fly business or first class, three seats for two people is the next best thing!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On Their Way Home

Jerry and Ann Pitts are currently on their way home to Oklahoma. It was a tearful goodbye. But the tears were dried as I expressed my thanks to God for allowing my parents to come to this special land. It was such an incredible experience. I wanted so much to share this experience with my parents. I wanted them to see the sights, tourist sights and the sights of our lives here. They were able to meet many of our Israeli friends, Mom went to our Hebrew class with Brent and I, they experienced Shabbat in Israel, heard the Shabbat blessings in Hebrew with an Israeli friend who joined us for the Sabbath, share in lighting the Hanukiah with an Israeli Cohen as he recited the blessings in Hebrew, even experience the winter rains in the Galilee. This was a very special week for me and Brent. I know it was equally as special for my Mom and Dad. Thank you, Lord, for making this possible. I only hope that someday we will get to share it with Brent's Dad also!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Little Inspiriation for the Day

Yesterday morning I was reading my Bible in the Psalms. I read Psalm 15. It is a straightforward and simple passage about who may abide in the Lord's tent. Let me just type it out for you.
"O LORD, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
But who honors those who fear the LORD;
He swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He does not put out his money at interest,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken."
Psalm 15
I sat and thought on each of these points asking myself if I have lived this way. I encourage you to do the same. In those places we don't measure up, we ask for God's grace and for Him to do that work in us!

p.s. a fun little discovery...we thought my parents were going home tonight, then we looked at their e-tickets and discovered they don't leave until Monday night! A whole extra day...yippeeee!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Pitts in Israel

Well, my parents have been here this past week! We have had so much fun taking them around the Holy Land and sharing this experience with them. Hence, the lack of posts this week! I will get back to it after they leave tomorrow night, sniff, sniff.