Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Our Own Exodus

Posted by Colleen

For everything  there is an appointed time,
Rooftop of Holy Sepulchreand an appropriate time  for every activity  on earth:
3:2 A time to be born,  and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;
3:3 A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
3:6 A time to search, and a time to give something up as lost; 
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
3:7 A time to rip, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.
3:8 A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecc. 3

Rooftop of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre


Eric, Tally, Celine with soldiers

Our time to return to the US arrived after an amazing four months in Israel.

We have now been in the US since May 21st. By now, I had anticipated having this post and another post written about our last week in Jerusalem in which Eric drove us through the entire country of Israel. We have had a very unusual return to America. If you remember, our trip to Israel was a detour to our move from Buda to Dallas. Well, part of that detour has meant that on our return we would stay in 12 different homes with 15 moves in just over a month. Currently we are house sitting for a sweet lady who is spending the summer in Mexico.

We have found a home in Dallas and will close on August 11th! Yea! We all long to be settled but again have to give God so much glory for His protection and provisions during this transitional time. We still have our home in Buda where an adorable young couple is renting it.

On our return, we spent a week traveling from Philadelphia to Buda where Eric, Tally and Celine spent every day the next week preparing for their black belt test. They tested and did an amazing  job. Our dear friend Abbey gave up her spare time to work with them—what a sweet friend she is. It was so impressive to me how they fought jet-lag and just plain exhaustion. These are wonderful qualities that I hope encourage us in other endeavors we tackle.

The picture above is with a group of Israeli soldiers who asked to have their picture taken with us. That was a first (normally we asked for the photo op) and we were so honored.  Below are pictures of Eric, Tally and Celine practicing karate in Jerusalem for their upcoming test on our return.

tally celine and eric
Tallyround house Tally front kick
celine celine flying side kick



Notice the Black Belts! Master Pratt is on the far left and our friend Abbey, who worked endlessly with us on our return from Israel, is 2nd from right.


All that said and rewinding a couple of weeks, here is the blog written on our return to the States more than a month ago. Enjoy!

IMG_2136Coming to America!

Though lacking the significance of the Israeli Exodus, our exodus from Israel did finally and sadly arrive. We left May 20th at 11:55pm from Tel Aviv. The flight to Toronto was 12 hours long and thankfully, uneventful. When we arrived in Toronto, we had to pick up our luggage and go through US customs. After winding through the many lines and rechecking our 10 (of 19 total) bags, we grabbed something to eat. Our internal clocks said it was noon but it was only 5am Canadian time so the airport was still very quiet and most restaurants were still “sleeping.” We enjoyed some yummy bagels then made our way to our gate for the flight that would take us to Newark after only 7 more grueling hours. Ugh! With neck pillows in hand everyone found a spot to lie down and get a nap. Lillian and I stayed on patrol while the others slept. It was good to see them get some rest. You know you are tired when a hard concrete floor covered in outdoor carpet in a noisy airport terminal looks inviting.


The car was just big enough to fit us and our 19 bags. The girls actually sat criss-cross because they had suitcases in the floor in front of them.

Arriving in Newark was a wonderful feeling—no more airplanes, customs lines or metal detectors. We knew we were home when we spotted the Getchells, our dear friends from Pennsylvania. That evening, we all went ice skating—something everyone should do after flying/waiting/flying for 24 hours. When we got to the Getchells afterward, it was straight to bed. Sleep came easy for everyone but morning came a little too early for me. I was up at 5am. The house was quiet, the sun was still peeking over the trees and the coffee was hot. I sat down and began my next blog. It was spectacular! The best ever. You’ll have to take my word on that because about 5 hours into it, the computer shut down and I lost the whole thing (remember Jesus saves, even when Colleen forgets to).

Philadelphia Crew
Brianna, Jared, Celine, Ally, Tally, Lillian, Colleen, Eric, Jim, Lillian, Tres, Sam, Amy

After a couple of nights in PA, we took off to spend the next night with my sister Kathleen. We had a great time with her and her daughters, Copeland and Kaitlyn. Kathleen made a wonderful breakfast of muffins, pancakes and bacon which we enjoyed with the girls before they headed off to school.

The cousin slumber party with Lillian, Tally, Celine, Copeland and Kaitlyn.


Before leaving, Kathleen took us to Assateaque Island to see the wild horses that run free. We spotted 9 very beautiful red horses with blonde manes. The beach was hazy with large waves crashing onto shore. It was a wonderful reminder of God’s mighty hand holding everything in balance which took me back to Israel as I reminisced about our amazing journey we have so recently returned from.

As a side:

Eric and I want you to know that just because we are back in the US, our blogs are far from over. Eric has several he has started regarding the field studies he took with JUC as well as a blog about the amazing week of events before our departure.


Before leaving Israel, we had some questions sent to us by my mom. 

 1. Did you ever really see the piano man? Did anybody else hear him playing the piano?

The Piano Man was first spotted the first week of our arrival to the Hanasi apartment. I was in the backyard hanging laundry in my PJs when he arrived home. If you saw the videos from an earlier blog, you will remember that the clothes line is right below his balcony. The only other sighting was by Tally several weeks later. Calvin didn’t see him, but did hear him during his visit.

We frequently saw people walking around with instruments such as guitar, lute, violin, etc. Music seemed to be a big part of their culture which was evident in the many celebrations they had that included dancing and singing. We saw them dancing in Zion Square, Western Wall, and even in traffic as they were soliciting something. My favorite dancing and singing was by the soldiers that came through Old City during their tour of Israel.

2. Did you ever get a chance to share your beautiful voice with a church, Eric's classmates, the piano man, etc? Via Dolorosa?

I did a lot of singing but none in public.

The Via Dolorosa was an amazing walk but unlike what you might imagine. It was narrow, crowded and lined with suks—not the kind of place you would break out in song. For those of you that don’t know, I have sung a song called Via Dolorosa for many years. It is a favorite of my mom’s.

3. What was your experience attending a church service there?

We attended several congregations but none more than once. The girls were the first to attend a service with a babysitter. It was an international congregation and seemed to be similar to any Baptist service in the US.

The girls and I attended a Baptist service that was mostly Americans with the exception of a few. This is the church that I met Mrs. Benjamin the co-author of a book called Bound for the Promised Land. She and her husband were the first Messianic Jews to return to Israel. She was a pleasure to meet. I found out later that she and her husband were good friends with Karen’s parents (my friend from Buda) when they lived here 20 years ago—the world just keeps getting smaller.

We visited a small congregation with a dynamic and evangelical pastor, A Voice in the Wilderness. We loved this church. Their love for their Messiah was clearly written on each person’s face. The service was translated in German and is sometimes translated in Hebrew. They spoke of many trips to Egypt and Jordan to share their faith.

There were 2 churches in Old City we visited. One was an Arab church which we listened with headset to a translation in English. The girls really enjoyed the children’s church and I loved sitting among so many Arab Christians sharing a common love for Jesus Christ. There are some Arab Catholics with roots dating all the way back to the beginning of the church in 30 AD. Then there are others that have converted from Islam—their lives are much different. Many live secret lives because of the impending death sentence if their families were to find out. Nonetheless, there are many who do choose this life. Amazing, right? I wonder how different my walk would be if the sacrifice were greater.

The other church in Old City was Christ Church. This was a beautiful church right across the street from the Tower of David inside Jaffa Gate. The service was liturgical with communion at the end. Celine wasn’t sure what she had just drank when the cup was passed to her. In our church, grape juice is the drink of choice. At Christ Church, a nice dry, fruity, red wine was served which explains the large crowd… I’m kidding. : )

King of Kings was one of the last churches we visited. It is a ministry to reach Jews. They have English services and Hebrew services. However, in the English service we still sung some of the songs in Hebrew. I loved this.

The one synagogue we attended was on Purim. It was wonderful to hear the scriptures sung in Hebrew as we followed along in English. Of course, we will never forget the reading of Esther with the clanging noise makers at the mention of “Haman.”

I guess my impression of visiting these churches is that it wasn’t much different than being at church in Buda, Texas. Sure, it was a more relaxed and laid back environment, the languages varied and there were very few children. But their expressions of Jesus were the same as were the messages being taught: we must be in the world shining bright, spreading the Gospel, etc. The one thing that was different was when we read of Jesus walking the road to Mt. Olive or the Via Dolorosa, the words are the same but now it is more intimate because the people hearing the message have walked the same road, have seen the same wilderness, the picture in their heads are more clear--there is a reference.

4. What was your scariest experience? What person or people scared you?

Mizpah Ramon, Israel’s Grand Canyon. Notice no fences at the cliff. While we were there, there were 2 small boys that were playing very close to the edge with no parents in site. The building is the visitors’ center.

There are many scary adventures to mention. The cliffs and deep cisterns are a sure death with one wrong step. Part of their beauty is there untouched presence. Stupidity and carelessness has a final outcome at places like Petra, Masada and Mizpah Ramon.

DSC_0235_00Lillian says her scariest adventure was Hezekiah’s tunnel. This is a tunnel that was dug/chiseled during Hezekiah’s reign to supply water during the impending Assyrian siege (701BC). It is fed by a spring and still carries water today. At places the water reached Lillian’s arm pits. During the rainy season it would have been over her head. It is an amazing experience and runs for about 533 meters – 20 minute walk. At times you have to duck to keep from hitting your head then towards the end, the ceiling reaches as high as a 2-story building. There will be more on Hezekiah’s Tunnel in a later blog.

Hezekiah’s Tunnel. You can see on Celine’s pants how high the water got. Lillian was carried through by Tally during the deepest parts. For most of the way it was only about a foot deep. The water was clear, cold and running at a good clip. The rest of us thought it was pretty cool. Lillian was ready for it to end just seconds after entering but she persevered.

Celine and Tally say they don’t have a scary moment.

Eric’s scariest moment was his archeological final. His professor is a world renowned Biblical archeologist and knows everything about everything archeological. He is a Jewish man with a rich life. I had the opportunity to sit with him during a “foodies” break on a field study. In a discussion of how the media has over dramatized the situation in Jerusalem, men like Stalin and Hitler came up. I was astonished to hear him say that “Stalin is my savior.” I asked him how a man like Stalin could be anyone’s “savior.” He admitted that Stalin did horrible things but with regards to his family, it was only because of Stalin that they were able to escape the Germans. As a young boy,  he and his family were able to escape Hungary only after the Red Army came in and prevented German occupation. What a world that must have been to exist in. He indeed is a fascinating man and according to Eric, delivers one heck of a final.

Colleen with Dr. Barkay at Jerash.



We can’t think of any person or peoples we were ever afraid of. The Israelis are a very friendly people, Jews and Arabs alike. To watch them drive though may give you another impression. Behind a wheel, these people are crazy. Also, if I had been one of the tourist having stones thrown at them at Temple Mount or one of the elementary age Jewish students trying to tour the Canaanite tunnel in the City of David while having Arab boys throw stones at them, I may have a different story to tell. The fear on these kids faces was a hard pill to swallow as we waited in line behind them to enter the tunnel.

The City of David sits on the edge of the Kidron Valley. Just on the other side facing the City of David is a neighborhood called Silwan, east Jerusalem. It is advised not to enter unless you live there. Even Muslims don’t enter this neighborhood if they don’t live there.

5. Besides friends and family, what have you missed the most about the USA?

The girls missed Root Beer.

Eric missed cheap food and hotels. We are so spoiled using Priceline in the states that we have a hard time spending so much on a hotel. In Israel, the hostels, Kibbutzim and hotels charge per person. We did stay at a great hostel at the base of Masada called Masada Guest House. They had a wonderful room with 5 beds and a full breakfast the next morning. An additional bonus was getting to Masada first thing in the morning. The sun can get pretty warm if you wait too long.

I have a hard time thinking of something I’ve missed. There are certainly things I have done without but I can’t say I have missed them. This trip had my name written all over it. It was hard to leave.

6. Is there something you wished you had seen or done? What would you do differently next time?

The 4 months we spent in Israel exceeded our expectations so much that it is difficult thinking of what we would do different. We loved our apartment, its location, the walks to school with our laundry, walking the streets, shopping at the markets, etc. However, there are things that we didn’t expect. For instance, Eric’s school schedule was so hectic that it didn’t leave much time for work or family. But it is hard to pick what he would have dropped to allow for that. The plus side is the girls and I got out more and really got to live in Jerusalem. By the time we left, we knew the city and the people well. Oh, this makes me think of one thing we wished we had done differently—learned more Hebrew. While many in Jerusalem speak English, there are many who don’t. We learned very basic words/phrases before arriving in Israel but being there, we wished we knew more. This was especially true with me as I was really the only one that gave it a shot. Eric knows far more Hebrew than I do but didn’t want to say it wrong. I, on the other hand, would use what I knew as often as I could. I didn’t always get it right but I loved how they would smile and give me the right word. Many times, they heard my accent and would respond in English. I would say, “Lo, mediber Evreet!” (No, speak Hebrew) My friend Karen was right, the Israelis appreciated the effort.

There were also times when no one could speak English and with my kitsat Evreet and their little English, we would have an interesting exchange. I once told the cashier at the grocery store, “Evening meal!” when I wanted to say, “Good evening!” I was half way home proudly recounting that exchange with I realized what I had said and had a good laugh at myself. It explained the strange smile I got from her. At all the tourists spots, Hebrew is not a necessity but in every day life, especially at the super markets, it is very helpful. For instance, I could have found things like sour cream and ground coffee several weeks earlier had I been able to ask for it in Hebrew or read Hebrew. When we traveled outside of Jerusalem, it was even more of a necessity as we found even fewer English speaking Israelis.

7. What are the top 3 grandest experiences that you have had..(i.e.riding the camel?)

Goodness, this is a challenge. There were so many!

Lillian’s 3 grandest moments were riding a horse in Petra, riding the toboggan down Mt. Hermon (highest pt in Israel with snow year round) and swimming at the hotel in Tiberius. 

Celine’s 3 grandest moments were walking through the cold water of Hezekiah’s tunnel, scaling Petra’s cliffs and riding the camel through Petra. She actually says she doesn’t have 3 favorites because she liked it all.

Tally’s 3 grandest moments were eating ice cream at the swings, seeing and scaling Petra and swimming at En Gedi (place where David hid from Saul).

Celine, Tally and Lillian enjoying the oasis of En Gedi while Eric photographs them from above. This is one of the places David hid from Saul. As you climb, you keep coming to these little water falls. You can barely see the falls just to the left and above Celine. IMG_2055


Eric’s 3 grandest moments were discovering the secrets of Petra, Wadi Arnon (vast, cavernous valley through which the Kings Highway cuts north and south Trans-Jordan) and experiencing life with the nomadic Bedouin families.

Tally, Celine and Eric standing dangerously close to ledge at Petra. You can see one of the carvings of pillars below.
Celine, Colleen, Lillian and Tally above the Wadi Arnon.
IMG_1989 Eric’s classmates asleep on the desert during their stay with the Bedouins. No running water or electricity.
IMG_1994 Each student had their own camel for this early morning outing. 

8. How many families lived in your building?

We had several neighbors, but none we ever met. The apartment on the same floor was a family dental practice and the rest of the apartments seemed to be occupied by singles or couples, no children. Of course, the neatest neighbor we had was President Shimon Peres. We were never invited for dinner or had cookies brought over for a house warming gift but we did enjoy talking to the guards. They were all very kind and kept us safe at night.

9. How about a picture of the solar water tank..we might be getting them here before long!

The solar tanks are everywhere. The Israelis are very energy efficient and recycle minded. Most every home hung their clothes out no matter the area and the lights had an automatic shut-off. The cars were all small but that may be out of necessity. The parking is limited and would be a tight squeeze for anything bigger than a mini-van which we saw very few of. What was amazing to watch were the tour busses weaving their way through the traffic. That is not a job I covet.

Water tanks on top of buildings. They are solar but for emergency there are electric buttons inside to heat water.


Well, that is all the questions we got but we certainly would entertain more if there is something you are curious about. Keep in mind that our answers are based on living in Israel just 4 months. We definitely don’t have all the answers and we can only answer according to our experiences but would love to be given the opportunity.

Shalom Ya’ll!


midspoint said...

I'm so happy to see you all again... and my beloved Israel!! I'll try to think of some questions for you :)

and shalom,