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

 

Israel, My Story

It’s been five and a half years since my first ever trip to Israel. I have wanted to write about my journey for the longest time, but up until recently, anything I wrote just seemed to fall completely short of what I really wanted to convey.

Let me take you back on a little bit of my journey.

There are a couple who are authors, Brock & Bodie Thoene. They have a series that I read back in 2003, called The Zion Chronicles. Within the pages of these fantastic Historical Faction (my play on words) was a sentence that caught me completely by surprise, ‘Have we made Jesus a Gentile?’

I had NO idea what that meant at all! In fact, I had been taught that Jesus negated the need for there to be a physical Israel now, and we the Church were the new Israel. The Jews were stubborn and had been blinded, and they were after all responsible for Our Saviour’s death. Isn’t it amazing the rubbish one will believe?!

I prayed. Because I knew that God was on my case. Then I found out something utterly astounding – Jesus was and IS Jewish! And then I found out something utterly shocking: Jesus WASN’T a Christian. What the heck? He’s not? Well then, what the heck am I? And there in was the biggest question of all I guess – I didn’t know.

I didn’t go and enrol in Torah school, I didn’t study Judaism, I didn’t DO anything except for keep on reading everything I could find by the Thoenes. Most of their work was about the Second World War, the Reformation of Israel and fictional stories within. But there were teachings within the storylines that grabbed me. Stories of Nephilim – Neph-a-what? Stories about layers and meanings within the Hebrew letters. Stories about strong, brave and courageous people who only wanted to live, and refused to give up and die. Stories that highlighted Isaiah 53 and it’s amazing meanings hidden in plain sight. Within the pages of their stories, I found something I wasn’t bargaining on; I found life with the Jewish Jesus.

Slowly but surely God lead me on a journey, that to be honest, is still slow and steady, but as each revelation sinks in, it then becomes a part of me deep within. When I met my now husband, he devoured every book on Israel, history, archaeology and everything else that had to do with the Holy Land. He wasn’t yet a believer, when we made the decision alongside a friend of ours, to go on a Holy Land Tour. I would read to him certain scriptures as we moved through different sites, to put into context all we were seeing. Unlike other pre-Christians, he was being shown everything until he finally had to make his own decision to get off the fence! How so very loving and kind of our God to do that 🙂

Next thing you know, it’s October 2013 and we were off with a hiss and a roar. Having never been around Jewish people, not really knowing anything remotely Kosher, we got a wild education before we hit Israel, thanks to El Al Airlines! I was sitting on the edge of the seat (close to the toilets) and I was being hit on every surface. As soon as we were in the air, everyone got up and walked around, chatting to everyone – very loudly, the Orthodox Jews were wrapping phylacteries around their head and wrists, praying loudly, nodding back and forth. Large Middle Eastern men were locating things in the overhead locker and I had big tummies in my face, bums in my face, legs and arms hit by the passing traffic, the trolleys hitting my legs, and alot of loud gesticulating people who seemed to be partying down by the toilets! I watched men being asked to move so the Flight Attendants could get through; they wouldn’t. I was being yelled at by said Flight Attendants in Hebrew until I said ‘English?’ I wasn’t entirely sure I had made the right decision at this point…..

I have never travelled El Al Airlines again 🙁

We landed at night and were taken to our hotel. I awoke at 4am, and watched the sunrise over Tel Aviv. I watched as kids were walked to school, all singing and seemingly happy. This was Israel. Wow.

And then we met our Tour Guide and headed off to Caesarea. Just the three of us in a little bus, this was awesome! We had the morning with the Guide then drove over to another part of Caerarea to pick up the rest of the tour group – oh my life.

There standing in Velour Tracksuits, were a bunch of African American Queens, complete with walking sticks, a walker, wigs, cornrows, false nails and attitudes to match! God had a sense of humour and he was letting me know….

To be honest, it was fine, apart from one individual who constantly held up the bus due to her shopping habit and lack of time management, the tour itself was great. One of the greatest highlights for me was being at Capernaum and Nazareth. I had encounters there that were completely unexpected, which I detail in my novel Mirabelle. Suffice to say, God has this beautiful way of surprising and arresting us IF we remain open to Holy Spirit and His guidance.

I didn’t particularly feel the need or notion to all of a sudden up sticks and move over there, but one place that fascinated me for reasons I couldn’t understand, was Masada. It wouldn’t be until our next trip and a whole lot of revelation in between, that I would come to know some very key things about this amazing and powerful place.

Through having our DNA done and then building a family tree through My Heritage, my daughter connected our lineage through to the Tribe of Benjamin. Going through the family tree, we also discovered that we are directly connected to certain Roman Emperors (I wish this wasn’t the case) and we had relatives that were born in Qumran around the time of the Siege of Masada. I cannot say that I can prove it all with facts, figures and certificates, but this resounded in my heart so loudly, I knew we’d finally found an answer to my weird fascination with Masada. Little did I know that God had an assignment for me the next time that I would go there….

It would be quite a while before we got to go back to this magical land. In between visits, Neil and I got married (Yahoo!), Neil accepted Jesus into his life (Yay!) our eldest daughter moved to London, our second eldest daughter graduated Make Up Artistry School, our son became a Wilson, my Father needed to be admitted to a Dementia Ward, my mother and her new partner became Travelling Gypsies, and my first manuscript got accepted by a Publisher!

And then there was Skywatch. Prophecy Watchers. L.A Marzulli. Timothy Alberino. Steve Quayle. Jim Bakker. Nehpilim. Giants. Extra Biblical books. Ancient Aliens. Documentaries galore. I wasn’t ok with any of this. As a Believer for over 20 years, I’d wanted to focus on the love of God. Bill Johnson. John & Carol Arnott. John Eldredge. Worship. Scripture. Soaking. Prayer. Confession of God’s Word. And more worship!

But alas God had other plans indeedipoos!

We were learning all these weird and wonderful things and both Neil and I were seeing unusual things occur. Suffice to say, Ephesians 6 got very real very quickly! But then a couple came into our lives who were new Believers, just like Neil, and what we were studying they had just been experiencing before their Salvation a few months before.

Fast forward a few years and Skywatch announced along with Aaron Lipkin that they were going to Israel. Well, those of you who know me and have chatted with me know that explosions within my stomach are God’s way of saying HELLO and this happened during the broadcast. That was on a Friday that I watched that, but I didn’t say anything to Neil until the Sunday – which was very unlike me. I wanted God to speak to him, and God sure did!

We prayed as we walked our beloved beach, and Neil asked for a sign, something that I don’t do. Incredibly, we got one within ten minutes, we cried and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving, and so long as children and schedules could fit in easily, we were off to Israel again……

Unfortunately, because of long standing issues with ‘guilt’ I felt we should ask this said couple to join us on the trip. Immediately red flags were raised, but I went into overdrive coming up with crazy ways to get funds for this – oh that I would listen to the Holy Spirit and not ‘good ideas!’

Part Two coming soon…..

Photos and content copyrighted by Sandi Wilson 2019