Israel – A Year On

Hello my friends,

Can you believe it’s been nearly a year since we were all in Israel 🇮🇱?

When we arrived in Israel last year, I was so unprepared for the massive amount of blessings that would unfold and be bestowed upon us. From being greeted by Avi and Rachel Lipkin at the airport and chatting with them, to being introduced as the ‘Crazy Kiwis’ on the bus by the Gilberts. Meeting Zev Porat and hearing his unique teaching on what he thinks is the ‘real’ place of the Cross. Sitting and having a meal with Carl Gallups just prior to leaving and being able to share that it was watching him and the Skywatch folk on the Jim Bakker Show that lead to our return. Being able to meet Jim Barfield briefly of the Copper Scroll. And of course having a few moments here and there with Derek and Sharon, being able to share some good stories with them. Yes we are blessed indeed.

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However, it was the attendees that really blew our minds 😉🙃! People that we formed bonds with and have stayed in touch with for nigh on a year. People, seemingly just like us, who wanted to see this extraordinary land, meet like minded people and experience for themselves, the wonder that is the Holy Land.

Many of you may know that I was deeply impacted by the Dead Sea Region, for more reasons than one. I often spoke about how Masada, Qumran and being at the Dead Sea, I felt so incredibly different. I had thought that it was because of learning that we descend from the tribe of Benjamin, of which some of these areas are a part of, but there was something else. I had felt so full of vitality, so full of joy and verve and I couldn’t really understand why? Upon reading about the Dead Sea, we have since found out that there is a very specific reason. Given the higher atmospheric pressure and being at the lowest point of the earth, it turns out you’re getting more oxygen and therefore are feeling alot better, your brain functions at a higher capacity and exercise is easier! Who knew 🙂

Neil and I have been reading alot lately on the Jewish roots of our faith, and have even joined 250,000 other people worldwide with Rabbi Jonathan Cahn doing our first Passover Seder. It was a wonderfully rich experience, learning what each utensil, cup, bowl of food and piece of bread meant. The symbolism and understanding point to our Messiah, Yeshua. Unbelievable to think that all those years ago Abba Father instigated all of this!

In conclusion, I will be starting some new blogs about our time in Israel prior to the Skywatch Tour 2019, as there are some amazing sites that we have been to that the Skywatch people missed out on.

So come with me, and take this journey back in time and back to the land that is so Beloved by so many!

Shalom

Sandi 💜

Israel Part Five – The Camel Ride!

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Neil and I had a deal:  if there were camels to ride, we’d do it together.  Back in 2013 when we had the option, I was recovering from getting food poisoning at Masada.  Me+Camels=No!  I was dead keen to get on the camels at Genesis Land until I saw Taylor being bucked from here to kingdom come and back again.  Nope!  No camel for me thank you very much.  How rude!  So instead, Neil shared the camel with Paula, and I walked along dodging all the camel poo.  Screeches of laughter were heard, birthday songs to a camel, you could feel the excitement in the air.

I’m such a plonker.  I should have gone on the darn thing….

We spent the better part of the afternoon being entertained by the Genesis Land crew, who were fabulous.  Very entertaining, very knowledgeable, all round great time had by all.  The food, the history, the setting, the costumes and that million dollar view – it’s definitely worth going and partaking of it all.  I can’t wait to go again next time and share all this with my family.

Next we were off in our bulletproof bus to Shiloh.

I didn’t stand and listen to the narrative – too much to see and photograph!  There’d been so much more dug up and uncovered since last year, so I was very keen to get moving and have my own expedition.  It was a pity that we didn’t get to go into the Museum this year, they have amazing artifacts and findings in there.  The movie, I find enjoyable and informative, and to some was deeply moving.  Leaving the theatre and going on the gangplank to see the unearthed urns with the large bowls of burnt raisins was rather spectacular!  Imagine bringing those back to life, lol 🙂  Shiloh, is steeped in deep Spiritual and archaeological history – a must for those of us who have faith.

Next stop – the recently crowned Capital of Israel, Jerusalem.  Such a hoshposh and eclectic array of history, religion, new, old, politics, archaeology and wonder.  The smells, the sounds, the amazing views, the old buildings, the ruins, the bulletholes from the reformation of the Land, the pavingstones, the tales this city could tell of it’s own life.  Jerusalem is not for the faint hearted.  It’s stark, it’s beautiful, it’s bustling and it’s dangerous.  The different religions all squeezed into such a small area.  The narrow roads which double as walkways – hmm, not the best idea there!  And yet this is the very place Our Lord is going to land one day.  My mind boggles at the thought.  Kind of hilarious the Muslims walled up the gate and stuck a graveyard infront of it.  That’s supposed to stop the Lion of Judah??

Back on the road, we encountered Mt Gerizim and Samaria.  Nothing to worry about, just because we are heading to what is called on the news the Westbank, and it’s apparently incredibly dangerous….hey, we’ll be fine!

I was proposed to at the Samaritan’s Museum.  The guy didn’t really measure up to my current husband, mainly due to the fact that he WASN’T my husband!!  What a dick.  Seriously, if they have to import women into the community, maybe submissive (good luck with that) and UNmarried would be a good start?  To be  honest, I was quite shaken by the experience.  But it was actually my own fault.  I foolishly though the dude was a guide in the Museum, and because the Cohen and his utter ‘menstruation fascination’ was driving me insane, I found myself having a nosey around down the back by the models.  Said dude took me around the corner to show me some tiny baby coffins that had been excavated.  Good ploy?  Not so much.  Neil had come looking for me, he knows what I’m like – oooh, pretty shiny and she’s off!  So after a quick prayer, and hand held firmly in grasp, I was good.

Mt Ebal – Joshua’s Altar.  Never shall I forget the image of Phil running downhill past us, chasing after a bunch of schoolboys!  I’d dare say it was the Carlton Beer he bought at the Samaritan Village for eight shekels that kicked in 🙂  His face ruddied red, mischievious grin, loose metal flying everywhere, and us ripping with snorts of laughter.  Oh bless him, he’s a good sort!  It seemed amazing to me all the ruins that lay below the altar, and a Shepherd riding his donkey, herding his goats.  All very normal of course.  Sitting there declaring, ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’  This place is beyond time.  It’s of such importance, I dare not write any more here.

Going down and seeing the uncovered City of David.  Wow.  I took a video basically of me squealing and sent it to some friends and family right then and there.  Some moments you have to catch, otherwise they just fade into the memory bank.  But sometimes you need to record the smells, the sights, the colours, the feeling – praise God for senses.  My favourite Psalm is Psalm 51.  I should imagine that David was somewhere in these uncovered ruins, lamenting of his sin to God.  Begging God not to take the Holy Spirit from him.  Begging for a clean heart.  Yes David and I have much in common….

I cried mercilessly during our visit to the Friends of Zion Museum.  I couldn’t control nor contain myself.  I’ve wondered was it the memory of my Uncle & Grandpa that fought in World War II.  Was it their capture and subsequent incarceration in not only a POW camp, but also a Concentration Camp?  Was it too personal, too real?  Was it having read so many books, based on fact and actual people who lived through it all?  I don’t have the answers.  I know the Zionist movement is huge and not all together based on true scripture, but something of this place moved me.  Make of it what you will.

And then.

The itinerary said we’d have free time.  We grabbed a taxi, went back to the hotel and freshened up, and then thinking we had plenty of time, found our way back.  We actually were a little early, but no, everyone was there!  I must say, the people who plan these itineraries cram far too much in one day. I think that’s why so many of us crash when we get home, or get sick upon our return home. Our bodies and minds have been exposed to such great extremes, and rest doesn’t really happen. The farewell dinner was a supreme disappointment. The food was undercooked and most of us at our table couldn’t finish the meat. I felt ill after dinner, so again we prayed, and I took some probiotics too. Some individuals took off and didn’t say goodbye, so I found their bus, yelled at them and hugged them big! Like you can leave and not say goodbye.  No.

To finish off our last evening, Neil and I spent time with an effervescent young man. Or should I say, we ripped through the hotel trying to find a business card so we could call someone who left their purse on the bus. Or the lady who was worried beyond belief that she didn’t have enough money for tipping so we escorted her up to the ATM machine a few minutes up from the hotel. She hadn’t PIN numbered her credit card (who doesn’t do that?) so she couldn’t withdraw cash. We then crashed in the lounge bar and indulged in the Divine Israeli wine, before heading back to our room one last time.

The morning saw us saying goodbye and farewelling everyone off on the Jordan part of the tour. Most people thought we were going as well, but alas that will suffice for next time. Our time in Jordan five years ago we’ll keep in our hearts until we go back and have a good look, minus the food poisoning or the Jordanian guards trying to make a pass at me!

Well here ends my blog on the Tour of Israel. I have some more personal thoughts and photos that I will share at some stage, but for now, that’s all folks!

Content and photos copyrighted by Sandi Wilson 2019

Israel….Part 3 :)

 

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We were just about to leave the house, so a quick mental check.  Steph and Juju were at work, Sammy had been picked up, our bags were packed.  I’d managed to organise our flights, the Tour, insurance, three children, the welfare of my father, Sammy’s part time job, car storage, extra hotel and currency exchange, food shopping, paid the bills, all in six days!

No problems, time to grab a takeaway coffee and we were off!

We got to the airport and I could sense Neil was a bit tense, so we just stopped and chatted.  Everything was done.  His work encouraged this trip.  The only two couples who knew we were going back to Israel did so with such excitement and blessing.

We boarded the familiar Cathay Pacific plane, got ourselves ready, prayed and then that amazing feeling of speeding down the tarmac and liftoff 🙂  (I am the daughter of a Private Pilot, I LOVE planes!)

We had a short stopover in Hong Kong, and to be honest it was great doing loads of walking after being cooped up on such a long flight.  We were both so excited, and starting to relax.  Neil loves the travelators!  We were having fun, just the two of us, and realised we hadn’t had an international flight with just us, in over five years.  We were like silly honeymooners, and it was fabulous!

We got to Tel Aviv, and even just being in the taxi and looking at the motorway in all it’s madness, felt like home to me.  In amongst last years debarcle, there were fun times with Neil trying to navigate a car on the wrong side of the road, sitting on the wrong side of the car.  He drove really well and ended up horn tooting, lane swapping, driving up on the footpath and yelling out the window – my own Israeli Hoon – so proud 😉

We got to our hotel that I had booked online on the Tel Aviv beachfront.  Think 80s Miami, complete with short guy, large ego, long black mullet, fluoro clothing, jacuzzi in the room, 80s video music playing in the lobby…..oh my life!  We got our bags stored and headed down to the beach.  We found a restaurant on the sand, and there we plopped for hours until it was time to actually check in to our Miami Beach Hotel (it’s actual name).  Armed with loads of water, we just bunked down at 3.00pm and apart from briefly waking during the night, slept through till 5am the next morning.

Apparently I like waking early whilst in Israel, who knew 😉

We arose, got to our breakfast across the road, and then stored our bags again as we set off to explore Tel Aviv for a third time.  Eurovision was happening and the place was bursting with an extra 30,000 people!  The heat was intense, but as you know, I tend to thrive in the heat.  Neil, not so much.  Along the waterfront they have many water stops, where you can drink fresh cool water and refill your bottles for free.  There’s a pier that we love to walk along, with an old light house, and so we headed off there again.  It’s a place of quietness and a bit of privacy, so we can feel the wind blow and just have ‘us’ time.

All the while, there was such a joy welling up in both of us.

The previous year had been redonkulous, and we needed our tanks filled, and boy was God doing that.  Even just being together.  Just sitting on the beach people watching.  Our standing taking photos and not being ‘hurried along’ it was all shades of perfection.

We gathered our bags, called a taxi and headed back to the airport.  The bloody taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong terminal and so we had to catch a bus to the right one!  But it was all part of the fun.  We had time, the bus was free, everything was good.  Chillax!

At the airport, we spotted a seat, then grabbed a coffee and pain au chocolat croissant – yummy!  And then Neil turned around and saw Avi & Rachel Lipkin.  He was too shy to say hello, but they saw us and Avi came straight up to Neil and recognised him from last years tour.  Next thing, for two hours, we sat with these wonderful people, as Avi would up and wander around looking for ‘the lost sheep of the Skywatch Tour’.  Speaking with Rachel (she needs to be interviewed for sure!) was amazing.  What richness and depth she has…..

Somewhere along the way came Paula, Phil, Anne and we needed another table!  And eventually in came the lovely people from Lipkin Tours.  It was wonderful seeing Leora who last year was very heavily pregnant, and seeing photos of her beautiful son.  It was lovely to be so warmly welcomed and hugged by her and Rachel from the Agency.

And then, the buses!

I remember when I heard someone say they’d been in Israel nine years before – I needed to talk to that person.  Little did I know they would land at our table later!

Behind us sat Anne, and the dynamo who would be known as our Kiwi Pom – Phil 🙂  I sat like a little girl bouncing up and down in my seat, just so excited knowing we were off and it was all happening!  Hearing all the different American accents, the English accents, a couple of South African accents – yes peoples, the United Nations were abroad haha 🙂

I was quietly praying that we would either get to stay in the Dungeon at the Nazareth Crown, or at least be able to enjoy the same view.  Let me explain.  The Dungeon was accessible by going into the lift down to the ground floor, then walking along and finding the service elevator, and taking that to the bottom floor which had only been done up earlier last year.  Then a very long corridor with all the rooms with such magnificent views.

This year we got the view, and it was wonderful.  We also had people above us who were sitting outside smoking and flicking their ash down on my hair!  Never mind, let’s not freak out.  Let’s just talk REALLY LOUD so they can understand that’s not happening again!  It didn’t 😉

So, now it was dinnertime.  I wondered if they were going to separate us into buses again – it really is silly, but kind of understandable.  Yes, they did!

Next thing we knew, along came Mike & Charlotte, Carol & Jerry, Val and Anne to our back table.  The fun had just begun, and we took that fun down the back of Bus One…. 😉

 

 

Content and photos copyrighted Sandi Wilson 2019

 

Dance of Dawn

 

 

 

A flock of birds fly by at break neck speed as the sound of a car alarm disperse the early morning calm.

Engines humming as boats leave the shore to head out to fish the waters of the Hauraki Gulf.

Large grey cottony clouds hover over the island of Kawau, the whistle and songs of the native birds rousing the melody of the morn.

The occasional seagull dives and squawks as he nears his prey, whilst ducks quack their loud honking call to all who dwell in this fair Bay.

Faint whisps of colour brush the sky with the promise of another glorious sunrise, as shards of firey pink gold peak through on the horizon.

It’s the Dance of Dawn, a scene she has watched hundreds of times from this very spot, a time when majesty and wonder collide to bring forth such promise and mystery to any given day.

Not a chance of accident or evolution;  the morning glory tells the ages past of the ages present and the ages to come.

More shards of firey glory are breaking through as she looks straight ahead and watches in great anticipation.

This dance of hope and wonder, never gets old.

She sits watching as a lone bird flies past the firey scene on it’s way to join it’s friends.  She feels the warmth invade her soul as the peak of the burning sphere rises above the Island.  She covets the residents on that island, watching the sunrise without interruption….

God’s glory rises in her heart….

The wonder of a new day….

A mystery to unfold….

Not rules and principles to govern this soul, but movement – grace and hope wrapped in this ball of light.

The silence of this moment is interrupted by the sounds of vehicles revving;  the golden glow spreads like magic thoughout the sky.

She glimpses it’s reflection in her own golden hair.  Grace upon grace enfolds her heart as love awakens the Dawn.

Clouds part as shards of light disperse and the morning song becomes a crescendo of melodies calling from Heaven.

Relections of gold shimmer and dance on the water as this autumn day beckons her to the fro.

A row of trees on the island look like they’re dancing in front of a seductive camp fire…

The sun peaks out and bounces off her page as she writes.  Ahhh, the warmth of the sun, the golden glimpses that enrapture her imagination.

A snapshot forms in her mind, to go with all the other hundreds of snapshots she has taken of this wonderous moment.

For a brief time other island in the Gulf come into view, bathed in this glorious light.  Ah such awe inspiring visions of love, sent from the Father of lights, to garner our day and show His great pleasure in us.  We, He, I.

The Great  Unfolding timeless mystery of Sunrise.

 

Photos and writing copyrighted by Sandi Wilson 2019.