Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Our last night here at Merchavya!

Shalom all;

Well, this is our last evening here. Tomorrow afternoon or early evening, we will be on our way to the airport for a late night departure. Very ready and NOT ready to leave; how Hebrew of us, yes? Merchavya would be a nice place for us all to stay! They gave us a nice meal in their restaurant this evening.

No power problem here tonight so I may write a bit more. En Gedi, goat springs; was beautiful and refreshing despite the changes and development that has gone on here. Who can argue with some boardwalks, a refreshment stand and restrooms under a type of grass mat circular roof?
As I stood on the path, looking at all the little caves around and along the path, mostly straight up stone and gravel walls, I was reminded again of the picture of King David and his men hiding here while being nurtured in the midst of the desert; rather like life for us. A picture of how we can be hidden in the cleft of our Rock, Messiah. I went ahead of those who decided to wade in the pond so I could get up to the second level destination, David's Falls. The circular bowl of the rocks overhead still leave the impression of protection as the water fall brings life to the area, despite the falling in of the ground toward the waters, leaving a smaller area for just a few people rather than an entire group. This time, I noticed people far overhead, at the third and highest level of rock path climbing up to the very top of the cavern/falls. I opted NOT to go that much higher, and later learned our tour guide had threatened to leave behind anyone that DID! I think it required mountaingoat hiking boots to do it. I was quite content with where I was. As I returned I stopped in the shadow of a rock for a respite from the sun, and realized I was, as it were, half way between life and death: the life offered in the respite of the rocks, and the death of the salt sea at the entrace. As I looked across the cavern, I saw the semblance of a face in pockmarked caves, sort of like Golgoltha. Clearly the picture of our life here; and our choice to move one way or the other, in a spiritual sense!

We did then go to the Mineral Beach where many tried out the Sea waters after we had a sandwich lunch. 20 shekels for a towel, 10 shekels back on its return. Boaz warned it is best to use theirs and return them, as keeping your own wet towel could become unpleasant in order before very long. ( Almost time to go and I am still trying to remember that the bronze coins are worth less than the silver ones...paper shekels spend really fast, when it is on average 50-75 shekels for a sandwich! )Tony promised not to do any photos of anyone in the water, but a few of us did get pictures of just those we knew! It was delightful there on the grass, under a netting shield from the sun, looking out over the palms and flowers, sun umbrellas, sand and Sea. All too soon, time to move on.

A brief trip to the Ahava factory, with a movie about their history and products then personal consultations.. Yes, I bought some for us to share; though they didn't want to let Rachel out the door without a purchase, and nearly dragged her back in. Beautiful place with glass windows in the "lobby" area, so you can see the production and bottling process. Now I just have to remember the credit on taxes I am supposed to get at the airport before we board our plane.

I can see I will have to go back through the itinerary in order to recapture some of our experiences as so much as happened in such a short time. We had an evening in Jerusalem once again, at the same hotel, which some spent taking a taxi to Ben Yehuda Blvd. for some final shopping time, while some of us speant time just talking and getting acquainted more in the lobby. Some of us stayed up a bit later than others, but we were all up and on the bus by 8:15 am anyway. Ask Rachel and Janell about that taxi ride! QUITE exciting!

We arrived here late yesterday and were too tired to do much else, as has been true so many days. This morning we had breakfast between 7 and 8 and were on our way north by 8:30.

Objective: the Golan Heights. We passed north along the border with Jordan once again, and had a good view of the Sea of 'Galilee both there and back. In between, we made it up to Tel Dan , had lunch on the highest point overlooking 3 valleys, with bunkers to walk through and over; and I think, Tel Roma? Kibbutzim; the northernmost one in the Land. Their industry is a winery, and doing subtitles for films in Israel-some from Hollywood and other original ones as well. We saw a short film about the Valley of Tears battle of the tanks which was very moving and inspirational.

Afterwards, we went to a recently used bunker which was open and again, blew shofars and had opportunity for use of banners. An Israeli plane circled soon after our arrival; making some question if they wondered what on earth we were doing there, or as Boaz said, were just making a routine surveillance run. Blue, Orange, Purple and Red came out here. We were in direct line of vision of the Syrian army outpost as well as having the Israeli major observational equipment behind us. Boaz told us that with this equipment, they could read license plates in Damascus, which is about 40 miles away. Much of the security is now electronic along many of the roads; if anyone touches the fence, it will be known within seconds and a few feet of the place. No one felt inclined to try it out.

It seemed a moment for declaration of praise, majesty, peace and covering. Boaz, our tour guide, mentioned our banner worship and warfare though it seems a foreign concept to most of the people on the trip. Several asked questions and took pictures; not exactly our intention! But, Yeshua be praised anyway! Would have loved a rousing chorus of Zealous for Zion or On Your Walls. We did sing Hine Go Aleinu Chai! after we had gone all around the bunkers in praise.

Ever been in the Rockies? Remember those switchbacks, where the road makes hairpin turns as it snakes up and down mountains? Well, we were on a very narrow, mostly one lane road with such turns that we wondered if the bus could negotiate them, but bless him, Ibrahaim was up to the task. At one point, we came around a bend, facing OUT over the valley when there was a terrible scraping noise! I thought we had hit up against the concrete bunker there but later learned it was the front of the bus dragging on the bottom. The vew was incredible; WISH we could convey the depth, majesty and grandeur of it but I am afraid even the pictures will only give you a small taste. Rachel commented that perhaps our driver deserved even more for his tip! Hopefully, Rachel will get some more pictures on tonight, but meanwhile, check out the "offical " blog site. Did you know how fast even lithium batteries run down when you are taking pictures so frequently? She has borrowed several!

TOny has found an ethernet connection so he has had his sons uploading the videos and pictures. Maybe a little better flavor of the experience!

Boaz has an expression for refreshment breaks: he calls them "coffee in" and "coffee out" stops.... on one of these stops, Rachel rode a camel, and I found an olive wood drum for our worship instruments. I bartered it down a bit, then also got a small elephant carving; and the shop keeper threw in a beaded bracelet. I think I didn't get such a good bargain after all perhaps.

From the sand mountains near En Gedi, to the white limestone all over Jerusalem, we crossed over the Jordan River several times today. THis is also the Africa Asia rift, and on the opposite side, which is the Golan Heights area, there is just field after field with basalt, dark black rocks everywhere! OH, and the left over land mines are still there; too many and too old to defuse so the cows still wander the fields among them, and sometimes one doesn't come home. We were sternly cautioned NOT to explore around the area and I must say, THIS time there was no problem with compliance. But at a memorial garden, both the men and the boys could be found on top of the tank.; an old rusted Centurian if I recall correctly. THere really are a number of remains of tanks, or as Rachel said, 'tank carcasses" in various places as memorials. There are also many memorials, each with listing of names of those lost in that area. A special organization exists in Israel just to maintain them all. Also, all 11 and/or 12 grade students are required to go to Poland to see the camps. Determined to remember so as not to let it happen again.

Tony spoke today at Peace Vista; a nice overlook, restaurant and shop overlooking the Galilee. He spoke of the connections between the creation account and the crossing of the Red Sea. I quckly checked the gift shop for a panoramic picture, which I found along with a picture of falafel, seven species, and...a havdolah set for SAM! Everything I had seen in Jerusalem was around 200 NIS (New Israel Shekels) which, at approx 4 shekels to the dollar, is about $50. This one was about half! An Armenian design. My turn to be the last one on the bus.

I'm sorry we haven't been able to do more! Between long days and short nights, there is also no comfortable way to sit here to do this for very long, as the small desk is filled with various things needed throughout each day.

So, on for rest in the night! My eyelids are closing on their own. Still need to do teachers application and lesson planning testing before final day which is supposed to inlude teaching.
Shalom aleichem!

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