It’s day three of this enforced lockdown, here in Snells Beach, New Zealand. The sun is on full display and it really is a beautiful day, beckoning the mixture of both cool and warm temperatures that are symbolic of Autumn.
What an incredibly strange time we have found ourselves in. Sure, I was warning people to be prepared, and yes I was marvelling at how people were just laughing in my face. But I didn’t expect THIS to happen quite so soon. What is THIS, you may ask? Being told that as a nation, the whole of New Zealand will be in enforced lockdown for four weeks.
My daughters and husband have their certification to prove that they are Essential Services. Much to my dismay, so was Sammy – as a paper deliverer. However, after alot of complaints and much abuse hurled our way, we have just been notified that we are no longer ‘essential’ – thank God for that!
I’m a homebody and I love being here. We are so incredibly fortunate that we have a majestic outlook over Kawau Bay and a big portion of Snells Beach. We have the good fortune (or at least I do as I’m ususally the first one up!) of seeing God paint such wonders and beauty across the sky each morning. But the thought that I can’t drive up and over the one entry/exit point from here, well that is taking a bit to get used too.
We have made the most of Zoom, WhatsApp and Marco Polo apps, and Sammy is doing online learning care of Google Classroom. The school holidays have been bought forward and now he is supposedly on a break; I’m still getting him to do a bit of work each day to catch up though 😉 I don’t usually get into all the techie stuff as that is normally Neil’s department, but I am so grateful that we can stay connected, worldwide.
I have been in touch with dear friends in the States, London and in Australia, and have been trying to maintain contact with family in Wales and well as home. I am particularly grateful for what I call our ‘Skywatch Family’ – friends we made on our last tour of Israel. They have been at the forefront of contact and have been keeping us up to date with the goings on in the America and the UK. I do believe some of them are in total lockdown now, as we are.
I guess there are some really amazing benefits and opportunities for all of this. I am not going to blast our government or lay blame anywhere, I am just going to accept this enforced lockdown as time with my family that is well needed. Time to set aside from all the busyness that crowds in and takes over, and time to reconnect on a more personal level. We’ve gotten the garden sorted, we’ve rearranged our office space and there is a HUGE cupboard that we are sorting through, gradually! The garage has had the car removed and Neil has set up another space in there for his work.
It all sounds ok, but I do wonder about our infrastructure? With so many businesses going online, and so many schools going online, will we be able to manage the overloading? I wonder about our already stretched healthcare system. We already had a problem with people not being seen on time, doctor and nurse shortages, and endless protests by healthcare professionals, looking for more pay. Do we really have what is necessary to weather this new healthcare storm? I don’t think so. But we must remain positive, and turn our worries into silent prayers of supplication to the one who knows it all – the end from the beginning.
So dear friends, whilst I sit here with a Unicorn headband on and laugh at my family wearing large green St Patricks Day hats, I trust that you have a great day and stay at home!
We found our seats on the back of the bus and off we went. The roads in Nazareth are interesting to say the least: not at all designed for large wide buses, but cheers to the bus driver, he did well, I never did catch his name!!
Neil settled himself in and looked up some articles online, then proceeded to start teaching different ones some Kiwi speech and much to my horror, Kiwi Slang….oh man, I didn’t know if that would go down well on a Christian Tour. I shouldn’t have worried 🙂 From the getgo, some of us were laughing and having a great time. Yishay was doing his best to narrate through his microphone, but I do believe a number of us were far too busy chatting and getting to know one another to hear his narration.
Listening to Americans trying to do Kiwi accents always brings a smile to my face!
El-Ahawat. What the hell was this place? It’s a line in the old testament, that seemingly had some relevance to Sardinian architecture. Someone really should have gotten a machete (I would have!) and chopped some grass down. People were tripping over alot, and it was difficult to figure out where we were and what we’d come to see. Neil picked up a stone and underneath it was a piece of handle from an old jug. That came home with us. Yishay had been talking about finding the hole where one of the gates hung – Michael found the other one! It was interesting hearing and learning the context of this archaeological site, we’re very glad we got to go there.
Meal times in Nazareth were wonderful. Sitting and sharing stories and learning from others like Carol & Jerry, Anne, Val, Phil, Charlotte & Michael were amazing. Neil and I always asked how and why people came on the Skywatch tour, and every answer was different. Being in the presence of someone such as Jerry, was amazing. Though quiet and unassuming, what he did have to say, at times had me in tears…..
For Neil and I, one of the absolute highlights was the four wheel driving to Gilgal Refaim. We absolutely loved the crazy roads and bumping along – and keep in mind Neil once had broken his back and is not supposed to be walking – so no complaining thank you! Part of the adventure is being able to go with the flow and expect the unexpected. As an ex farmgirl, I relished having the wind blowing through my hair, being thrown around and reconnecting with a part of myself that had laid dormant – the Adventurous Sandi 😉 I sat opposite Pat in the jeep, and she commented that perhaps today she shouldn’t have used any hairspray…. 😉
Again, to look eye level, Gilgal Rephaim was just a jumbled up bunch of stones with long grass that needed said machete! I didn’t want to go down into the Death Chamber, so Neil did and videoed it. For me, it was just lovely looking around and seeing all the archaeology that hasn’t been touched. There was another mound in the distance that seemed to be relevant, but we didn’t go there. Maybe we should?
I’m super glad that we’ve been to Banias Springs before, because we only got fifteen minutes this time. I’ve written about this in my book, it was a place that impacted me deeply back in 2013 on our first tour. There is so much to see, but we hardly saw anything this time. I look forward to going back and climbing the rocks up into some of the other sites up there. I’m told that the whole of Mt Hermon has many archaeological sites that only get visited by hikers. I also know that some people don’t like Banias Springs, and that’s fair enough. However, I take the view that Yeshua redeemed everything. Hearing Derek (again) speak on the importance of Peter, the rock and his revelation of who Yeshua is, right there in the very place that it was spoken and revealed, is important. As Carl Gallups says, context is key!
One place that I don’t particularly like, as you have to pay to pee, and it’s so utterly trite and commercial, is Yardenit. I didn’t like being hearded into the dining hall and all that business, but I got a chance to spend time outside quietly with Anne. She and I got a chance to share and that for me was Heaven. Thank you Anne for holding my hand and allowing my tears to fall <3 Being present to watch a few people be baptized was lovely, and kind of odd when they all stayed in the water and swam around! Great times 🙂
I witnessed something that didn’t happen on the first tour – people caring for one another. I am an unusual creature in that dry heat makes me come alive. However there were a number of individuals where the intense heat impacted them greatly. I loved watching some of the younger ones walking with some of the slower ones and showing care, that really blessed me. Having Deborah with her nursing background, and Michael with his military background, was invaluable and such a blessing. I didn’t hear people whining, whinging or complaining, and for that I am super grateful – that happened alot last year. What did shock me was an elderly couple (from our tour) in Jerusalem, were having trouble walking on the old cobblestones down a steep road. When I offered to help them, the man yelled at me, repeatedly. That gutted me, and it took Neil praying over that for me to let it go. The man never apologised, so I would just glare at him for the duration of the tour.
My kids tell me my glare is killer – that’s the point 🙁
For me, the Dead Sea Region is the place where I came alive – big time 🙂 The place where I would stand on the balcony and marvel that across the Dead Sea, was the Abarim Range – Jordan. Part of the land that originally was given to Abraham. Part of the land that one day will be restored to Israel. I had learnt after having our DNA tested, and developing a Family Tree, that we descend from the Tribe of Benjamin, and here I was smack bang in the middle of it all! Spiritually speaking, this is part of my heritage. No wonder I felt so ALIVE there!!
It was at the Dead Sea that my silent prayers came true – just to dance, and enjoy ourselves – and so we did! My husband has never danced in public with me – well he now has 😉 Spending time with Charlotte, Michael and Taylor, letting our hair down and enjoying Shabbat evening – that was Heaven on Earth to me 🙂 It was at the Dead Sea we got to spend some time with Val, one of our Brits from the Motherland, and hear some of her story.
And then of course, going back to Qumran. I thought at this point I was going to self combust…….oh my Gosh!!
How ridiculous for a sink hole to open in the road in which we were going to drive, and cut off any opportunity to go to Qumran. How about NO! And yet after prayer, miraculously, we were off to this magical and mysterious place.
The place has changed dramatically from when we visited there in 2013. Back then we were given the sanitised version of what this was all about, and taken into the building where alot of artifacts and scrolls are on display. There is so much untold and untouched history here. You can feel it. Meeting Jim Barfield, albeit so short, was incredible. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to walk all around, and it seems to be fenced off where we walked in 2013, but I think that will inevitably change.
This here, is the very reason we came back to the Skywatch tour.
God still hasn’t finished writing that chapter on our scrolls yet.
Photos and content copyrighted by Sandi Wilson 2019.
I’ve really grappled with writing this part of the story. Knowing there is a possibility that the people concerned may read this, I am trying to be as tactful as possible…
Things weren’t right. I was not being heard. Even though there had been warnings about the trip to Israel and I was trying to listen to them, when I expressed them, I was pretty much fobbed off and left to it. This would come back to haunt others in the ensuing weeks and months.
I have never spoken publically what I am about to share – so if you can’t deal with raw, honest and vulnerable, I suggest you leave the page now.
I have been attacked twice in my life, with what I would call ‘terror and dread.’ These spirits go far beyond fear, and if not dealt with swiftly, they will stay attached for as long as they can. Once, while driving alone in the car, these hands reached around and tried to strangle me. I called upon the name of Jesus, and he literally saved me from blacking out and crashing the car. The second time, was in the back of the car, in a traffic jam in Tel Aviv – with this couple. The person I was with went all black eyed and snake headed. The words that spewed out of it were from hell itself. Afterwards the person jumped out of the car and ran off.
I sat there paralysed in utter silence.
Welcome to Israel!
The next morning, there were prayers and forgiveness, but the shock and trauma had set in, and things weren’t ok for Neil and I. In fact, as the tour started, I found myself more and more not being heard, and ended up hiding behind Neil – literally hiding. The only thing that got me through, was knowing we had a nice room to retreat to if necessary! Never mind that I was in this land I loved, I guess most of me had checked out, shut down.
It wasn’t until we got to Masada that there was a change for me. I knew because of finding out my natural heritage, that I needed to pray for certain things atop of Masada. After a loud disagreement, Neil and I broke away from the group, and I went to where I’d seen in a vision, a certain area to stand and pray. It was perfect. No one there, just Neil (who was off taking photos), myself and God. I really sensed the Ruach wind of God. A sense of Yeshua being right there with me. It seemed to be of another time, it was just majestic. I was deeply moved, deeply quiet. I will never forget that moment. Spiritually speaking, something had shifted….
As we travelled through this glorious land, we discovered wonderful treasures and moments of joy, but the deep overwhelming feeling of dread and terror remained.
I was shocked by some of the tour group. Mutterings in the back of the bus about our tour guide, mocking him and saying nasty things – I’d come all this way for that?
I was utterly disgusted by one of the ‘leaders’ actions. We’d been sent the notes beforehand on how we were to behave, and told not to disagree with the guides infront of others etc. Well, this leader had outright arguments with our guide, so Neil and I turned off our whispers and walked away. I had a sense this person was rather arrogant, well that darn well proved it!
The final nail in the Israeli coffin, was this American couple we seemed to get on well with. They were wanting to share dinners, swap emails etc which seemed fine, all to then turn around and cut off all contact with us once they’d gotten the contact details of the couple we took over. So much for befriending ‘like minded’ people!
I was ruined. Just completely lacerated in my soul. And I was done. I may have loved Israel, but I never wanted to return again. And I would never tour with American people again 🙂 Que laughter here!
When we returned to New Zealand, our middle daughter and her partner were leaving the next week to relocate to Australia. The farewell dinner we held was the last time we ever saw our friends. They literally live one mile away, and they just ditched us. We were used for our money, our time, our friendship and then hurled away.
I sank into a depression. A lot of things transpired, and I just wasn’t coping. I reached out to the Gilberts, who were by the way, outstanding in their support and prayers!
My book was then internationally published, and I couldn’t even deal with having a book launch or celebration. Something that had bought so much joy to me as I wrote it, and here I was not even really wanting to acknowledge what God had done through me! My eldest daughter took it upon herself to put up posters all around our wee village, and to approach the local libraries. She also ‘reminded’ those who had received my book for free, to get online and do a review – she’s amazing like that!
I’m not at all ashamed to say I reached out and got professional help. Someone who went incredibly deep with me. Someone who went into the spirit realm and routed out these liar demons that were having a field day with me. Someone whom I have so much love and respect for. This woman made me work SO DAMN HARD! And I’m so glad she did, because it made a difference. I found prayers online that went into hard areas that other Christians or Ministries won’t touch, and I WENT THERE. And so did Neil. He too got help. And we got help with God. We got healed of our ‘stuff’ and we started to move through the minefield that had been lacerated open in Tel Aviv.
Come January 2 this year, everything changed. I woke up and felt like my Inner Warrior Princess had risen up again. It didn’t stay that way for long, but I learnt so many valuable lessons. But, I couldn’t write. Even doing my study was hard, because it involves writing! But one thing I repented of and really got serious about, was Israel. God had placed his hand on my life concerning this, his chosen land, and no demon in hell was going to keep me from my destiny!
FINALLY, in due course, we were able to view the video of the Tour that the Gilberts sent through. And then the next week we looked at the up and coming tour. We blessed it and thought it sounded great, but nothing else transpired.
Tom Horn. Zev Porat. Carl Gallups. The Jim Bakker Show.
An internal ‘explosion’……
Oh boy, here we go again……..!
Content and photos copyrighted by Sandi Wilson 2019
And so here we are celebrating you, the wonderful glorious young woman Stephanie Dannella Alexandra Hornell!
What a privilege and honour to be your Mumma, to be your friend and rival Unicorn admirer in this life!
I’ve wanted to write about you for the longest time. but I couldn’t find the words.
Today the words found me….
I can’t remember life too much before you, it simply doesn’t seem worthwhile to do so. You were the prayer most deepest in my heart, the cry of my soul, the longing for the greatest and hardest job ever – Motherhood. I didn’t want a great career, loads of money or even a husband actually. All I every truly desired deep in my truest soul, was you. When I discovered on my 22nd birthday that you were there inside of me, well I think you know I felt, and still feel to this day. As a person who cherishes words and likes to express them, Steph you left me speechless.
I think most people know you took a VERY long time to arrive (52 hrs peoples!) but when you got here, the rejoicing was endless. Uncle Tony doing his version of an Indian Rain Dance; Aunty Caroline holding you and smiling deep into your eyes; Nana just dying to get hold of you; Poppa holding you and singing; your Dad just overwhelmed and me……..looking into your dreamy eyes and feeling whole for the first time in my life. Knowing that I did something right, and you were IT.
I remember that evening, being surrounded by eleven people around my cubicle in the hospital, just mesmerized at this wee baby, and my how you slept. Six hours straight, and I just didn’t want to sleep because I was so afraid that you were a dream. That if I woke up, you wouldn’t be there. And there you were, and here you are now.
I’ve watched you grow up and marvelled at different aspects of your personality as you grew. Your only dolly that you really loved, you renamed Ashley after your baby cousin, and that dolly is still in this house. You were more of a matchbox car girl, playing out in the mud and being a racecar driver! You were certainly far more interested in burning ants outside with a magnifying glass, than being inside and raiding my make up cupboard – that delight went to your sister 😉
I would scratch my head and throw my hands up in the air when you had dismantled something YET AGAIN to see how it worked, and then struggled to put it back together! That’s been the mainstay in your life – your mind and your inner workings are still such a mystery to me, but I behold that gift with great majesty and wonder.
Then when things like puberty hit and your body started changing, that was such a hard time for you. Horrible comments from family members about weight etc, they were arrows in your gentle sensitive soul. The nastiness of some around you have weighed heavily on you, but somehow you manage to rise above it and still remain so beautiful, whilst I’m wanting to lop off their heads and tell them to sod off! You have known great rejection and abandonment in your life, yet I’ve never seen you reject a single soul.
Loyalty and faithfulness are big for you, and I so deeply apologise that others have not honoured that within you. I again, have stood by and marvelled at how others could treat you so badly and then smile at your face 🙁 I only know that in time, they will reap what they have sown, and that their own pain has clouded their own beautiful souls.
I have witnessed your unconditional love towards your siblings – all of them – and your love runs so deep, you had their initials tattooed on your wrist. I didn’t understand at the time, but I do now, and that you did that to physically show your love towards them blesses me immensely. Your Mumma is so proud darling <3
Your head wobble thing you do, your sass, your individuality and knowing who you are deep inside – these are things that I couldn’t teach you, they are what life has taught you. Your humour and quick wit are still a wonder to behold – who knew I would birth a frecken comedian?!
You bring so much love, so much goodness to our world, and I’m so blessed to have been the one to raise you. I don’t take my job as your Mother lightly, I never will. You were the greatest gift I had ever received and every day I am so grateful you are here. Your being, your soul, your heart, your talents, your goodness, your grace – they bless this world and we are surely all much better individuals for knowing and loving you.
My girl – my first True Love, I honour you today with all that I have, and thank God for the woman you are: Stephanie Hornell.