Our Jewish Jewels family sent us with $129,000 (our biggest offering yet) to Israel for Mercy Mission 2015!
Just Made It!
Our departure from Fort Lauderdale for JFK, where we were scheduled to meet the rest of our Mercy Mission group, was a mixture of blessings and challenges. The first blessing was a woman named Danielle, an Egyptian Jew, who literally pushed us to the front of a very long line of tourists on their way home from cruises out of Fort Lauderdale. Who was she?? Jamie made an instant friend, and found out that Danielle’s son has volunteered at Bet Elazraki, the children’s home in Netanya, that would be one of our Mercy Mission stops (God-incidence # 1). Jamie and Danielle exchanged hugs, information, and Danielle got the first seashell with a message in Hebrew from God.
At our gate, we found out that our flight to JFK was delayed due to ice on the runways in New York. As the hours passed, we realized that the gap was quickly closing between our arrival time at JFK and our departure time for Tel Aviv. Calls kept coming in, advising us of other tour members caught in weather situations around the country. While we waited and prayed, Jamie made more friends—a family of Israelis from Tiberias on their way to visit family in Canada. Jamie shared about our mission in Tiberias—the school for autistic children. They told her that she was an angel. She prayed the Aaronic Benediction over the family, and had the father choose a seashell message.
After a four-hour delay, we finally boarded for JFK and realized that God would have to do a miracle. Only one runway was open, planes had to be defrosted, and there were no gates available. Buses were transporting passengers from planes to the terminal. A Jewish girl on our plane was very anxious to deplane, telling Jamie that she had to get off first since she could not miss her flight to Tel Aviv. Jamie reassured Becky that they would make it, since we were on a mission for God, and He would hold the plane for us—which He did—with 5 min. to spare. (Somehow, they couldn’t find the pilot!)
On the way to the international terminal, a young Israeli man on the bus asked Jamie where we were going. By the time she finished explaining our mission, he wanted to know how he could send a donation to us! He told her that he has always wanted to help the needy in his country, but did not trust that the money would actually go to the people who needed it. He sensed that we were different!
We arrived at our gate at about 9:05 for a 9:08 departure, having no idea which members of our group were missing. (Some flights to JFK had been canceled.) Once they located the pilot, we were on our way—trusting the Lord to bring all 24 of us together! (Jamie saw Becky on the plane, smiled, and said, “God did it.”)
Lambs, Scarves, and Passover Cards
We went to Israel loaded with gifts. Candace, from a previous Mercy Mission, sent about 200 hand made scarves to be given to nurses, and other ladies as the Lord directed. YOU sent us with 600 little white lambs. Inmates from Michigan sent us with 170 beautiful handmade Passover greeting cards with heartfelt messages to the IDF.
On Tuesday, March 3, 2015, at 10:30 A.M. we met our friends Zeke and Carrie who took us to Tel HaShomer Hospital in Tel Aviv where we shared the love of God with rehabilitating patients. We were there until about 12:30, giving out lambs, scarves, and cards to wounded IDF soldiers. We had great liberty to pray for Israelis at this hospital. They all wanted lambs. The first woman that Jamie met wanted 1) a hug, 2) a lamb. Sarah, the volunteer at the hospital, insisted that Michael (ukulele) and Jamie (electronic autoharp) play music as we went through the halls. We were instructed to be positive, encouraging, and full of faith! This first experience in Israel was a challenge for some of our group to step out of their comfort zone. We really “hit the ground running.”
That evening, at around 7:30 P.M., we all met to prepare the baby gift bags for the next morning. Neil said that it was the most orderly preparation yet. We were finished in just two hours! We were touched by the precious single men on our tour—Elijah, Greg, David, and Wayne—who stayed long after some of the ladies had gone, wanting to help, tenderly folding the baby clothes, saying things like, “Do we have more preemie boys?” It was so sweet!
Extra Mission on Mount Carmel
At 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, we arrived at Kehilat HaCarmel, a Messianic congregation on the top of Mount Carmel. We enjoyed a time of worship led by Sarah Liberman, whose CD we had heard on the Internet. Sarah gives her music free of charge to pre-believing Israelis, so we decided to go hear her in person and get some CDs to hand out during our mission. But we had no idea what God had planned! A pastor was there from the Ukraine who spoke about his work among the Jewish people there. Our group prayed for him, and YOU gave a donation to his ministry. We also found out about the shelter for women on Mount Carmel, and YOU gave a donation to this outreach. UNPLANNED MERCY MISSIONS.
After the worship time, we purchased 100 CDs from Sarah so that our Jewish Jewels family could enjoy the fresh, new worship sound coming from Israel. Order Sarah’s CD this month. You will be blessed.
Our time on Mount Carmel ended with an overlook of the Valley of Megiddo, where a statue of Elijah recalls the contest with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). We had our very own “Elijah” in our Mercy Mission group, so he posed near his namesake.
Purim at Bet Elazraki
Purim began Wednesday night, with our group in costume, arriving at the children’s home at 5:00 P.M. for the reading of the megillah (the whole book of Esther in Hebrew!). Our group booed Haman at the appropriate times, and enjoyed the experience of an authentic Purim celebration. We had dinner with the children, and proceeded to another room for “dancing.” First, we were treated to a special Irish dance by one of our group, CJ from Indiana, and then dances by children from the home. All of a sudden, a big dividing screen was brought out to separate boys and girls, and the real dancing began! Typical teenage music—in Hebrew—girls dancing with girls on one side, and boys with boys on the other. We all joined in and experienced the joy of Purim on a whole new level!
Lambs were given out, as were bracelets made by two little girls from the US. Older girls received special handmade bracelets as well. We also left two duffel bags of assorted gifts for the children, and YOU made a generous donation to Bet Elazraki.
Baby Shower at B’nai Zion
At 10:30 A.M. on Thursday, March 5, 2015, we arrived at B’nai Zion Hospital in Haifa for what has become an “annual event.” Since it was Purim, Neil and I decided to remain in costume. We wore jerseys that had belonged to our boys—Jesse’s flag football jersey, and Jonathan’s hockey jersey. Our reception was warm, as always. Numbers of babies were shifting at the last minute, we were rearranging bags, and not sure if we had the right number. BUT, as it turned out, we had gifts for over 80 babies, and extra preemie clothing for at least 20 babies. Needless to say, the staff was ecstatic!
CJ gave a gift bag to a mother who had climbed Masada the week before. An Orthodox mother was thrilled to receive clothing for her first girl baby, after having had four boys. She closely read the card with verses from Psalms 139 that were given out with your gifts!
A special thrill this year was the presence of triplets whom Laura met in the elevator, and heard their story from their parents. These four year olds were born the day of our 2011 Mercy Mission. The gifts that we gave them that day sustained them for many months. They “just so happened” to be visiting a relative in the hospital while we were there. Only God!
Thank you to all those who made blankets, booties, hats, and dresses for the babies of B’nai Zion. Honestly, some of them took our breath away. So beautiful! Such labors of love! All of the mothers received handmade blankets! Some of the blankets were so unique and exquisite that we decided to do something different this year: One went to the “youngest mother”—a 19-year-old. The blanket with 3-D animals went to the Director General of the hospital for his grandchild. Another extra special blanket (as seen on the right) went to the “mother with the most children.”
All the nurses at B’nai Zion received scarves. They said to Jamie: “In a world gone crazy, you are an island of sanity.” Keren, the Executive Director of the Friends of B’nai Zion Medical Center, wrote, “There aren’t enough words to describe our deep and meaningful bonding. As Dr. Rofe said, “You are part of our B’nai Zion Family. Thank you for staying with us all these years—our house and heart are always open for you.”
Victims of Terror in Afula
We went directly from B’nai Zion to Afula where we arrived at 1:00 P.M. to have lunch with our dear friends Yaffa and Michel. Their twin grandsons were dressed up for Purim, and helped Michel hand out the “awards” to our group (certificates for coming to bless).
It is always moving to hear the story of their teenage daughter’s murder at the hands of terrorists. Yaffa and Michel continue to minister to other families who have lost loved ones through terrorism. They are comforted—and greatly blessed—to have Yeshua as Melech Yisrael in their lives.
We gave Michel Love Baskets and lambs for the families of the victims. We were treated to a musical special by a young saxophone player from the music school housed in the same building as the Victims of Terror. We had forgotten that YOU purchased the saxophone for this very talented Ethiopian boy on our last Mercy Mission!
Our mission in Afula concluded with prayer for Yaffa, as our entire group interceded for her healing, and God’s blessing on Yaffa, Michel and their important work.
Galilee in the Springtime
Friday, March 6, 2015, found us walking by the Sea of Galilee on a beautiful sunny day, surrounded by wildflowers, especially wild mustard. We are always amazed at Migdala, the home of Mary Magdalene (Miriam of Migdala), where a synagogue of the first century has been excavated. Yeshua spoke here—for sure. There aren’t many places in Israel where you can absolutely say that, but this is one of those places. (See Matthew 4:23, Mark 1:39, and Luke 4:44.) Yeshua preached in synagogues throughout the Galilee. He would not have missed this one, right by the Sea.
The Jordan River was particularly beautiful in the spring. Seven members of our group experienced “mikveh” or immersion the traditional Jewish way—with no one putting them under the water. (Voluntary. Unaided. No chance of coercion.)
We arrived at Nitzanim, the school for autistic children in Tiberias, at 3:30 P.M. on Friday. Israelis were still celebrating Purim. Our hosts, Tal, Tali, and Tal’s parents, Mordecai and Esther, had prepared a lavish spread of goodies for our group. We saw a short video about autism, had a tour of the school, gave Tal lambs for all the children, Love Baskets for the families, and a donation for the school. We were amazed at the first class facility that this man has built in the past four years, since his two-year-old son was diagnosed with autism. Jewish Jewels has been involved with this school since its beginning. It is now the finest school of its kind in all of Israel. We are certain that God has plans to replicate it in other parts of the country. Your prayers are appreciated!
That night at 6:30 P.M. our group went to the home of Messianic believers, Richard and Carolyn Hyde, to celebrate Shabbat. We learned an Israeli dance, worshiped with Carolyn and her family, ate dinner on their patio under the stars, and heard fascinating stories of their outreach to fellow Israelis in the Galilee area. We gave Carolyn and Richard Love Baskets for needy believers in the Galilee, and a donation for their ministry.
Shabbat in the North
We spent Saturday, March 7, 2015 doing what thousands of Israelis do—going to a park. Israel is filled with lovely parks, but none as lovely as the ones in the north when there has been abundant rain. The melting snow from Mount Hermon results in rushing streams of ice cold water in places like the Dan Nature Preserve and Banias Springs.
A worker at the gift shop at Banias Springs was overwhelmed by the Love Basket we gave her. So was the woman sweeping the street. She kept thanking us, as we walked past her on our way to the bus. YOUR Love Baskets were really appreciated! Many, many Israelis had a sweeter Passover season because of the generosity of our Jewish Jewels family!
Our group had free time Saturday evening, but the two of us continued our Mercy Mission by visiting Tal, Tali, and their children in their home at 8:00 PM. We shared with them, and their friend, Gili, about our beliefs as Messianic Jews. We had given them a copy of the Holy Scriptures on our last Mercy Mission. Pray that Tal and Tali (and Gili) read God’s Word, and receive a revelation of their Messiah. It is time! They are open.
Up to Jerusalem
Our Mercy Mission on Sunday, March 8, 2015 turned out to be a last-minute surprise. The original IDF base visit was canceled due to a “mission.” Our friends Eitan and Yudi were able to open an unusual door for us—to the Israeli Border Police. These are the men and women who guard Israel’s borders. They are the ones who capture the terrorists. They have a reputation for being very “tough” and “aggressive.” That is not what we encountered! Our group was ushered into the “war room” where we found an entire luncheon awaiting us, and Border Police who were grateful that we had come to bless them. We were given a live demonstration of how a terrorist is apprehended, watched a video about the work of the Border Police, and had a tour of their facility. Neil was presented with an official cap and a flag of the unit. YOU gave a donation to the Border Police, as well as Love Baskets and lambs for the families of the men who guard Israel’s borders.
On our way to the Border Police, at about 9:30 A.M., we saw a group of IDF soldiers at a bus stop, and decided to make a “blessing stop.” The soldiers were excited to receive the Passover greeting cards. (Even the colored envelopes were handmade by the inmates!) One soldier in particular spent a while reading the prayer/blessing that was enclosed with each card. Lambs were also warmly received. An Orthodox girl who was also waiting for the bus asked if she could have a lamb, and also wanted to be included in the photo! All received Love Baskets. A fun adventure!
As we toured the City of the Great King on Monday, March 9, 2015, we kept our eyes open for opportunities to bless. We began at the Garden of Gethsemane, opposite the Golden Gate, where the ladies in our group modeled the scarves that we wrapped around Israelis all over the country. We would wear the scarves, and then take them off and wrap someone with love as we gave them a scarf. I was amazed at the number of times a particular scarf exactly matched what the Israeli woman was wearing. A teacher near the Western Wall commented, “How did you do this?” Our answer—”God did it!”
At lunchtime that day (about noon), we shared with a pregnant worker at a bakery who was thrilled to receive a scarf, lamb, and Love Basket. She promptly put the lamb on her stomach, and told us that she was due in three more months. Shortly thereafter, we encountered a group of about 20 teenagers on a field trip. They were overwhelmed with your gift of lambs.
The Garden Enclosed
A special treat that morning (about 9:00 A.M.) was going into the part of the Garden of Gethsemane which is locked. We separated, and spent time alone with the Lord beneath the ancient olive trees. At the end, Jamie told about a time she had spent in the Garden alone and composed the “Ode to the Olive Trees.” The Lord gave her a word of knowledge about “ears” and our hearing from God, and ears were anointed with oil for both physical and spiritual healing.
When we went to leave the Garden, we were locked in! It was such a beautiful picture of the Lord wanting us to stay longer with Him. Eventually, a man arrived with the key, but we would have been content to linger longer…
Neil Taught Us
At Galicantu, the Place of the Cock’s Crowing, Neil shared with our group about Peter and his denial of Yeshua. He reminded us that there is a little of Peter in each of us.
At the Southern Steps of the Temple, a place where Yeshua would have taught, Neil shared that our walk with Yeshua is like a series of steps. We all start as God’s creation. Then some of us accept Yeshua’s gift of forgiveness and step up to become children of God. Some of the “children” really follow Yeshua and step up to become talmidim, disciples. Some of the talmidim take the next step up and become servants. The next, and highest step, is becoming a “friend” (John 15:15).
A Blossoming Desert and More to Come!
Tuesday, March 10, 2015, was our day to go down to the lowest exposed place on earth—the Dead Sea. We were very blessed to travel through the Judean Desert during the two weeks during the year when the desert is in bloom! Amazingly beautiful! Our guide explained to us that a wet winter, such as Israel had this year, can result in flowers blooming that have been hidden for 100 years! There were even “bluets” and daisies blooming as far as Masada. Green everywhere, instead of the usual brown. Even the camels were amazed!
While our group ascended Masada with our guide, we stayed behind to share with our bus driver Hillel, and anyone else the Lord led us to. Jamie gave scarves to the workers in the gift shop, and Ronen, a male employee, put a lamb on his shoulder. We later met him at the snack bar, and had an opportunity to speak with him one on one. He was seeking direction for his life, and welcomed prayer from us. (We also gave him a Love Basket.)
Our time at the Dead Sea included the customary “mud bath” and “float.” On the way back up to Jerusalem, we enjoyed a Biblical feast in Abraham’s tent at Genesis Land. Camel rides were enjoyed by all. As we left, we blessed the worker in the gift shop with a lamb, a seashell, and a Love Basket. It “just so happened” to be her birthday.
More Lambs for Jerusalem
At Yad Vashem, the Memorial to the Holocaust, Jamie had some interaction with one of the office workers. When she went to give the woman a lamb, she said, “I can’t take this. There are five of us in the office.” Jamie looked to see how many lambs she had in her bag: 5! Another God-incidence.
The lambs were especially welcome at the Pediatric Cancer Ward of Hadassah Hospital. The first room that we entered had two beds. In the first bed was an Orthodox little boy. We gave him a lamb and his mother asked us to pray for him. It “just so happened” to be his fourth birthday. We went to the next bed and were shocked to see the Orthodox girl from the plane to Tel Aviv (the one that was so concerned about us missing the flight). Jamie said, “What are you doing here? Is this a relative?” No. Rebecca had come to Jerusalem to volunteer at Hadassah. Another God-incidence.
A teenager in the next room was so excited when we gave her a Love Basket that she nearly jumped out of her bed to hug Jamie. Her parents, like all the parents, were deeply appreciative of our visit—and our gifts. Many of the children received colorful handmade pillowcases brought by our friend Orva who has been with us on many Mercy Missions. This little girl used hers as a blanket for her doll. Precious.
An Added Mission
Our guide Hannah mentioned that few groups ever go to bless the Ethiopian immigrants. We have done this in the past, so we readily agreed to go to the Ethiopians’ Community Center. We brought two duffel bags of gifts and gave out scarves, lambs, and Love Baskets. (They kept multiplying!) The beautiful hand-smocked dresses sent to us by one of our partners went to precious Ethiopian little girls. One of the Ethiopian men, an artist, showed us his exquisite needlework. His pieces, such as “The Binding of Isaac,” take him a month to complete.
We received a thank you note almost immediately from this group, telling us what an encouragement our visit had been. It had “validated” them as an important part of Israeli society. God knew! You prayed. We obeyed.
An Unusual Ending
Our plans included additional missions after the group left. However, we both ended up in bed with the flu for the four days following our group’s departure. After the first 48 hours of sleep (Yes, 48 hours!), we felt strong enough to have our Israeli friends visit us at our hotel.
Cookie, the Principal of the Messianic Day School in Jerusalem, Makor HaTikvah, came on Sunday and left with lambs for the school, and Love Baskets for all the teachers as Passover gifts. (The teachers were very blessed. Many sent us thank you notes.) Then our friends Zeke and Carrie came with homemade chicken soup, and left with a donation to their ministry, and other gifts.
Monday was a big day. Micaela (the Orthodox bride from Mercy Mission 2009) came to visit with her two children. They left with a huge duffel bag of gifts. A few hours later, Rabbi Yishayahu, and his wife and 10 children came. We ordered four large pizzas for that group! Somehow, by the grace of God, we worshipped together in Hebrew as Jamie played the electronic autoharp. Lots of gifts and Love Baskets went home with this family. A couple of hours later, our friends Eitan, Yudi, and their daughter came, and expressed how blessed they were to be a part of our Mercy Mission again. They left with gifts and Love Baskets to share with Monday was a big day. Micaela (the Orthodox bride from Mercy poor Israelis, and offered to help in whatever way they can on our next Mercy Mission (which still may happen—when Neil is 80!).
We are confident that your prayers sustained us on our 2015 Mercy Mission. Thank you so much for going with us on your knees and sending us with YOUR gifts. We really experienced the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:10 on this mission: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Mission Accomplished, Mishpocha. God is Faithful!
Love in Yeshua our Merciful High Priest,
P.S. Enjoy our Israel-centered offers this month!
— Sarah Liberman’s CD, I Am Before You, is stunningly beautiful worship in Hebrew and English, and carries Yeshua’s glory from Israel to the nations.
— Enter His Gates (to your Jewish Roots) by Susan Marcus is a lovely illustrated book with teachings about all the major Jewish symbols and festivals.
— Remember to pray for Israel and Jerusalem with this 8×10 frameable print & two bumper sticker package.