Sunday, March 30, 2008

Our Last Day....For Now

Today is our last day in Israel (for this trip). It is a very bittersweet day for me and I have already shed several tears. I know there will be more because I feel them wanting to start up again as I write this post.
But, I am working hard at keeping a thankful and grateful attitude so as to not get too sad about having to leave this place that holds my heart so tightly.
Here's the bottom line. Brent and I are called to this land and this people. The Lord has allowed us seven months here to begin establishing roots. Yesterday at congregation, they prayed over us and spoke encouragement into our lives. It was said that it is a great privilege and honor to be invited to this land and grow the deep roots that we have grown. I believe that God has done this in us for a purpose and for this I am so thankful.

I do not know when we will be back. But I know we will return. God knows when He will invite us to come to His chosen portion of earth again. In this I rest. In this I find encouragement. In this there is hope for both Brent and I.

It has been an absolute honor to live in Israel and learn the language and live among God's chosen people. I cannot, in words, express to you what is in my heart. Only God can define it because He alone placed this love and passion and desire in us. I praise Him for His faithfulness and His goodness. I thank Him for calling us into His service in this place among His chosen people. (Uh oh, the water works have started again.) I am grateful to Him for holding us so tightly in His hands and leading us on a path of service to Him and for Him.

So, now The Avery Adventure continues and so will this blog. WOW, I just heard a HUGE sigh of relief from all you readers! I know, I know. You haven't been able to sleep for fear that this enthralling blog might end when we return to the U.S.! No worries. Being and Avery is ALWAYS and adventure!!!

See you in the USA!!

Next Adventure: Jetlag! UGH! :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

To my dear readers

Dear Wonderful Readers,
(all 5 of you)
I feel the need to apologize. I have neglected you. I have forsaken you. I have ignored you.
I have NOT forgotten you.
Our schedule has been jam packed for the last week. Not only are we preparing to come back to the USA, we have also had friends living with us for the past two weeks. Amanda, her 13 month old daughter Ariella and Alexis have been staying with us while their husbands Shay and Seth, respectively, have been hiking in the Negev desert. It has been so fun and entertaining to have them with us. Amanda and Alexis are very precious friends to us. Ariella is a joy and delight to be around and makes me long and look forward to motherhood.
All this to say, with packing, cleaning, meeting with friends to say goodbye, show the apartment to potential renters, cleaning some more, packing some more, volunteering at a soup kitchen, playing with Ariella and cleaning some more, well, life has been busy.
However, I want you all to know that my thoughts have been with you. I even tried to get a post up last night but I was trying to upload a 114 MB video and four hours later it was not finished so I left it going all night only to find that in the morning there had been and "error" and it did not finish and I cried and wailed and threw a was I going? Uh. Oh, I have been thinking of you and wanting to get a post up but time has been my enemy.
"Why do you have time now, Tonya?" you ask.
Well, Shay and Seth and the other 5 guys are done hiking in the horrifically hot Negev desert. Shay and Seth along with Daniel and Ben returned to Tel Aviv early this evening. Andrew, Chase and Dan went to Jerusalem for the night. Shay and Seth had wives waiting eagerly for them and Daniel and Ben have wives out there somewhere waiting eagerly for them. Any wonderful single ladies out there? OK, I'm not really into match making, well, maybe a little. BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT!!! MAN ALIVE STAY FOCUSED!!
Sorry, I'm back. OK, so to rap up this lovely diatribe, our house is empty again. Well, not empty cuz we are here but it's just me and Brent and I had time to write a post. GAG! I better go now before you all think I've lost my marbles.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

5 More Days in the Holy Land

OK, so I think I'm doing pretty good not boring you with the count down to the end of our time in Israel. I mean, come on, I've only done one post about it....I think. :)
So, just a little update....We only have 5 more days in the Holy Land.
Brent and I are busy saying goodbyes, packing and eating our favorite things one last time. It's an emotional roller coaster for this crazy, emotional female who gets very attached to places and items. For instance, I could tell you about every nick-knack I have in my home in the States, such as where it's from, who gave it to me and for what reason. Another example, I collect teacups and saucers and teapots and I can tell you where I got each one, who gave me which ones, when I got them, etc. All this to say, I have even gotten attached to our apartment in Tel Aviv. It will be sad to leave it because I'm pretty sure I will never live in this apartment again. (We will have to find something a bit cheaper when we come back for any extended period of time!)
So, it's emotional and sad.
However, to try to keep my mind in the positive mode, here are some things I look forward to in the U.S. of A.
  • Seeing our family and hugging their necks.
  • Seeing our dog, D.J.
  • Seeing friends.
  • Being in our home with our recliners!
  • Driving my Honda CRV
  • Mexican food. Lots and lots and lots of Mexican food!
  • Shopping at Target and Wal-Mart.
  • Knowing exactly what I'm buying in the grocery store.
  • Understanding all of the signs I see.
  • Knowing how to get around outside of a one or two mile radius! (And that's generous!)
  • Did I say Mexican food yet???? :)

By the way, I know I have some standing dates with some of you to eat Mexican food and I expect those to be kept, OK? :)

Oh, and I'm not promising this will be the last count down post, so please don't hold your breath.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Negev Desert

I'm sitting here in the Negev Desert enjoying the heat of the day. I must admit I feel pretty cool being able to say that.
So, our friends from home are here in Israel and the guys are hiking part of the Israel National Trail. They are hiking the desert part which I think is a bit crazy! But, hey, it only got up to 105 degrees yesterday. Good thing they came in March and not July!!!
Brent, Amanda (Shay's wife), Ariella (Shay and Amanda's 13 month old daughter), Alexis (Seth's wife) and I drove down from Tel Aviv yesterday. We got a flat tire on the way. Yep, in the middle of the desert. Thankfully the tire blew out really close to a gas station. However, we could not drive into the gas station because the tire literally blew out! Brent immediately got to work while the girls walked to the gas station. I stayed behind to be of assistance. I didn't really do anything except give moral support. Brent's so strong he broke the tool that jacks up the car. Some people came along and helped and we got the tire changed and made it to the place we all stayed last night. We called the rental place and they brought us a different van because the spare was not in such good shape and we did not want to drive back through the desert on it.
Today, we have just been enjoying the Sabbath and staying in the shade. We will head back to Tel Aviv in about an hour.
So until I post again, here are just a few photos from Daniel's camera.

So, when do you want to come hike in the Negev desert?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bar Mitzvah, The Party, Part I

So, I know this Bar Mitzvah series has been stretched out over a very long period of time. I apologize for that. But I have had so many other things to blog about.
But today is your lucky day because I have nothing else to blog about and I want to finish what I started (partly because I'm a bit not so good at that and partly because you deserve to know the details of this fabulous event).
OK, so after the Bar Mitzvah was over we all went to a restaurant for the party afterwards! The restaurant is called Darnah. It is a Moroccan restaurant and it was SO COOL!
Here is the entrance to the restaurant.

This is the view just inside the door. This is a little seating area in the bar area. How cool is this? I would totally love to decorate a vacation home in this style. I could so see this on my back porch!
One of the dining rooms. Thought the arch doorway was cool.
Again, just a cool nook. I would like to have something like this in my Moroccan vacation home kitchen.
This dining room had bench seats all the way around and more cool nooks.
This place is so cool that, if you can believe this, this is the refrigerator.

Again, cool arches and love the colors.
Loved the pretty windows.
Even the bathroom doors were beautiful.
And this is the room that we were in. This dining room seats around 85 people and it was packed!!!

I got to sit on one of the couches along the wall. Brent got to sit in one of the funky chairs.
And finally, this was the beautiful place setting in front of each person at the party!!
More to come, hopefully soon!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Final Countdown

Well, friends, the real countdown has begun. Why have I not brought this up before now? Because our friends from home are here. What? What does that have to do with the countdown? And what countdown are you talking about? Who are you, lady?
OK, let me break it down.
We arrive back in the states on March 31. I knew this to be a reality but until March 31 comes along, I like to live in a fantasy world and think that I am not leaving this land that I love so dearly. Well, the problem with that is, once our friends arrived in Tel Aviv, I knew that we only had two more weeks because we fly home with them. So, they arrived yesterday. We leave in two weeks. The countdown has begun. I'm sad. I don't want to leave. I don't like change. But my Momma always said, there's only one thing in life you can count on, there will be change! Or something like that. Anyway. Two more weeks.
That's all folks.
Sorry this is a bit whinny and pathetic. Oh, and it's not that I don't want to see family and friends, I really do. I just want them all to be here. OK, enough of the cry baby act. I'm out.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


By my count, we learned 291 verbs in Ulpan. OK, let's do some math.
1 infinitive form
4 present tense forms
9 past tense forms
8 future tense forms

22 x 291 = 6,402

That's a lot of words, friends! And that is only VERBS!! That doesn't include nouns and pronouns and adjectives and adverbs and whatever other types of words there are. (Grammar was never my strongest subject....math was!)
Anyway, that's the final count. 291. 6,402. Yep. That's a lot of words. A LOT of words. Yep. OK, then. Lot 'o' words. uh huh.

That's all I got folks. Peace out.
Weird mood today....can you tell?

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Pomella

Have you ever heard of or had a Pomella? I had not before coming to Israel. The Pomella is a citrus fruit. It's a big, green citrus fruit that has a very interesting and scrumptious taste. It's a little like a sweet grapefruit. Not exactly the same taste but traces of the grapefruit taste.

In this picture you can see the size comparison with a normal size apple and orange. It's pretty big. It's even bigger than a grapefruit but I didn't have a grapefruit on hand so the apple and orange had to do. Isn't it a nice color combination though? Mom, will you paint this for me?
The tricky thing about the Pomella is that it has a very thick peel which is usually rather difficult to get off. The white part of the peel is really spongy too.
This picture shows you the comparison of the Pomella peel to the orange peel.

When it's all said and done, the Pomella peel stacks pretty high and the orange, well, the orange not so high.
Once you get the peel off and get down to the fruit, the Pomella slices aren't really that much bigger than the orange slice. However, the individual pulps are about 3-5 times bigger than the individual orange pulps and there are a lot more slices. I tried to take a picture of the pulps but they all came out blurry and looking like worms or some icky bug or larvae.
With the Pomella, I personally don't eat the skin or whatever you call the stuff that holds all the pulps in. I know, my terminology is astounding and brilliant. I have no idea what the proper titles are for all the parts of citrus fruit. Give me a break, I'm still recovering from learning Hebrew. Back to the Pomella. I peel each individual slice and this picture shows what it looks before you peel and after. Oh, and the reason I don't eat the skin is that it's pretty thick and tough.
Once you painstakingly peel each individual slice you have a bowl full of Pomella deliciousness. It really is a lot of tasty, juicy fruit. Not the gum, Juicy Fruit. Pomella, the juicy fruit. It's juicy not chewy.

And finally, here is the comparison of a peeled orange and a peeled Pomella. Brent and I had a yummy snack when I got done taking all of the pictures.

Have you ever heard of or had a Pomella? Did you like it? Come visit me in Israel and we can share one!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cafes a plenty

I have talked about Israeli's love of coffee and the multiple cafes that exist in this country. Here are some of the main ones:

This one is very near our Ulpan (Hebrew language school). A lot of students would go here during our mid-morning break to pump some caffeine into their sluggish and overwhelmed brains. They have great hot chocolate and mochas!
I have never been to Cup 'O' Joe. I should do that before we come home.
Aroma started out being my favorite. Brent and I were in an Aroma a few years ago visiting our friend Adi. It was located in the central bus station in Jerusalem. That's not really relevant but the point is, I looked at the Hebrew word as you see below in white letters, and read it. It was the first Hebrew word I read without any help. They too have fantastic hot chocolate and every drink is served with a little chocolate candy. Oh, so good.
If you have been keeping up with this blog for a while you should recognize the name of this one. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and I became good friends toward the end of our Ulpan course. I would go here every afternoon to study in a comfy brown leather chair, listen to my iPod (usually Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis or Waterdeep, who I am totally obsessed with right now) and drink a chai tea latte.
OK, Boutique Central is not exactly a cafe but they do sell coffee. In fact they have a great deal, a drink and a pastry for 14 shekels. Not shabby. And their pastries are ridiculously delicious. They also have the cards that you can have punched for each time you purchase this great deal and to be honest, I have no idea what you get if you get all ten punches. Maybe I should read that card, or at least's all in Hebrew.
Cafeneto is another I have not visited. It's always got a good crowd but it's not so much in my daily path. It's the opposite direction of where we go most of the time. Um, and someone made a mistake on this sign....though I did this all the time with one of the Hebrew letters that looks like a backwards "c".
Cafe Hillel is another one I have never been to but it's also popular in this country. It's not the greatest picture because I had to take it from across a large and busy intersection. This cafe is actually diagonal from Cafeneto, so again, not in my usual path.
Well, I stopped what I was doing here and took our now working again camera (thank you Lord) to take a picture of one more major cafe in Israel called Cafe Cafe. However, when I got in position to take the picture and turned the camera on, the battery was dead. UGH!!! I will take the picture on another day and get back to you.
I have to say that from the outside some of these look more appealing to me than others. What do you think? I realize this is totally superficial but....go for it anyway.
Least outwardly appealing for me is Cafe Hillel. This Aroma doesn't rank much higher in outward appearance either. Most outwardly appealing? Actually? Cup 'O' Joe, and I've never been there! Oh, the irony!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Scooter Love

I would LOVE to have a scooter. Though, I'm not sure I want to drive one in Israel. They drive pretty crazy here. I'm good with driving a car in Israel and have done so a couple of times, but a scooter is! Not sure I want to risk my life in this manner.
Anyway, I have taken pictures of three different scooters with three different styles. I like all of them for different reasons.
This first one is classic! I love the look, and the color. I can totally see me on this one. Wind blowing through my brown locks, Brent on the back. HA! HA! :) I would have have some big white sunglasses to go with this one. I would wear my checkered capri pants and a wide white head band in my hear. (Ok, I don't really have checkered capri pants...that would not be pretty on me!)
Then there's this one. Sleak and silver. I would have a sleak and silver helmet and black leather jacket to go with this one. Oh and some slammin' silver sunglasses. I would also wear some kickin' tall black leather boots on this sweet ride.
This is the girly pink look. I love pink. It even has some white flowers on the back that you can see if you look hard enough. I would have a pink helmet with white flowers to match. I see me wearing a cute, long, flowy pink skirt with this one. Pink sunglasses too.
So, what do you think? Which one do you think is more my style? Which one is more your style? Would you drive a scooter where you live? Just curious about all of you.

Oh and for those lurkers who are reading and not commenting.....STOP IT!! I want to know who is sharing this adventure with us. It's really easy to leave a comment. If you dont' have a google account just use the anonymous one and make sure to put your name in the comment so I know who you are. Thanks, dear readers!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bar Mitzvah, Part II

Here are some more pictures from the Bar Mitzvah we attended last week. The young man's name is Itamar (pronounced Ee-tah-mar). He is the brother of an Israeli friend of ours, Leor.
This first picture is of Leor and Brent standing in front of the Western Wall.

In this picture Itamar is preparing to lay tefillin. This is related to Deuteronomy. 6 where the sons of Israel are told to bind the Word of God on the arms and foreheads.

It's bound on the left arm because it's closest to the heart. In Rabbinic tradition this is called the mark of God.

This is me watching from behind the dividing wall. I'm the one on the right.

In this photo Itamar is reading from the Torah.

In this picture Itamar is praying at the Western Wall. You can see all the notes/prayers people have left in the wall.
Here is the proud father hugging his son who is now a young man.

The next post about the Bar Mitzvah will be about the party afterwards. And people, it was a PAR-TAY!!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Four Years ago Today

Four years ago today Brent asked me to marry him!
He took me downtown to the Botanical Gardens, got on one knee, and popped the question. I was completely surprised.
It was also on this occasion that he told me he loved me for the first time. I was so happy. I had been wanting to tell him for so long, but we all know you have to wait for the guy to say it first.
When I reminded him of this anniversary of sorts, he assured me that if he had do it all over again he would indeed ask me to marry him again! Whew! Although, he added that the next time he would require a pre-nup. He's SO funny!

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Peace of Jerusalem?

Shalom Friends,

Well we knew that it would happen eventually and now it has. Hamas has struck again, this time in Jerusalem killing 8 young yeshiva students. A palestinian gunmen burst into the yeshiva where the students were praying and studying the Torah. While we knew it was only a matter of time it doesn't make it any easier.

As I write this I simply want to ask you to do two things. First is to simply pray for the families of those killed in the shooting and also for the 35 plus people who were injured. These families need the comforting ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The second thing I want you to do is to remember what the scripture says about the last days. One of the realities that we know we will have to face is when good is called evil and evil is called good. As I watch the way in which the United Nation has responded to Israel's operations in Gaza I can only conclude that those days are upon us. The world seems bent on condemning Israel for defending itself from the daily barrage of kassam rockets fired into Israel. What is hardly mentioned in the media is that these rockets are being fired from the very area that Israel painfully left a couple of years ago foolishly believing that leaving Gaza would bring peace.

The reality is that no amount of land vacated by the Israeli's will ever bring peace. The radical Islamist terror groups have only one goal and it has nothing to do with land. It has to do with the total destruction of Israel as a people and a nation. As I watched the disgusting celebrations in the streets of Gaza following the murder of the yeshiva students I couldn't help but think of
Ezekiel 25:6 "For thus says the LORD God, 'Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet and rejoiced with all the scorn of your soul against the land of Israel, therefore behold, I have stretched out My hand against you and I will give you for spoil to the nations. And I will cut you off from the peoples and make you perish from the lands; I will destroy you. Thus you will know that I am the LORD."

There is a place in the Passover Seder where we remove a drop of wine from the cup of Instruction to help us remember that we are celebrating the miraculous salvation of God. We remove the drop of wine to remind us that it is a joy mixed with a touch of sorrow that it came with such a heavy price. How much better it would have been for the Egyptians to repent and obey the Word of the LORD. However the scripture is quite clear, God will not be mocked and you cannot assalt the apple of His eye and get away with it. My point is that I do not rejoice in the coming destruction of Gaza but rest assured it will come as it will for all the enemies of the LORD.

These days remind us of the great need for all humanity to know the truth of Yeshua the Messiah, yes even the Arabs of Gaza and the westbank. While there is yet time let us all be about the work of declaring the truth.

Shalom from Tel Aviv,
Brent R Avery

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Bar Mitzvah, Part I

Monday and Thursday are busy days at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It is on these two days that boys perform the ceremony of the Bar Mitzvah. At the age of 13, according to Jewish tradition, a boy becomes a "Bar Mitzvah", a son of the commandment. At this point he becomes a man and binds himself to the keeping of the Torah. It is a rite of passage for all religious boys. Many secular Israeli boys also choose to participate in this ceremony.
From my vantage point, behind a wall, this is what I saw.

This is a really big deal for every young boy. Their families surround them and celebrate with them. There is even a man doing a professional video in the above picture.

When this young man entered the Western Wall plaza, his family came in playing drums, singing and dancing.

Again you see a professional video being made. The men in the family surround the boy to witness his reading of the Torah.

This Bar Mitzvah was going on just to the right of me. It is sweet to see the Father's and Grandfather's proudly watching their sons/grandsons prepare for and perform the ceremony.
These were the women of the family of the boy in the above picture. They were also watching proudly and with great excitement.There were also women lined along the wall to the left of me watching the festivities.
You can see in this picture all of the Bar Mitzvah's going on. Also notice the women lined up along the wall. They are standing on chairs in order to see their loved one. When each young man finished his ceremony you would see candy flying through the air and hear women singing. At times, the men would grab hands and dance in a circle singing a song in celebration. It is really a touching experience for both the young man, his family and on-lookers such as myself.

More to come in the following days!! I even have some video!