10 ~ Unsung Heroes
Jan 10 – 17, 2015
Thank you to each of your comments and thoughts, reflections on my reflections, and loving words of encouragement. I feel loved by your words, and appreciate you for taking the time to make this journey with me!!
Beneath the Helmet – http://www.beneathhelmet.com/ is an excellent documentary that will be making its way across the U.S. – following young Israeli soldiers beginning their mandatory 2-3 years of Army life in paratrooper training. If you served in the military, I’m confident you’ll appreciate the issues addressed, and if you never served, it will give you worthwhile insights. They’re looking for hosting opportunities across the U.S. so it may be showing in nearby Universities, and community groups with interest in the Jewish culture, Israel, young adults, and those who want more understanding outside their own culture or experiences.
What’s happening in France!? Belgium? Great Britain? Are you surprised? Where else is the problem brewing? Always, we’re living history.
I’ve found a variety of classes I’m enjoying – centered on Israel’s Biblical/secular history. It’s not about learning the stuff of dates and names and such, but rather the STORIES. The known heroes, and the Unsung Heroes.
For each of the Unsungs I meet in their non-highlighted, easily overlooked paragraphs or sentences in history’s sagas, I “see” countless hundreds of thousands lined up in their silhouette – men and women and even children, brave or otherwise, but WILLING. Willing to take a stand and do what matters. During one class this week, our skilled teacher devoted nearly an hour to Lewis Yelland Andrews, with a byline “the Jews’ forgotten friend.” I love that byline!!! Could I be that in oooodles of people’s lives? No, I really don’t want to be forgotten, but notoriety is fleeting and vain. I’d much rather have impact! Influence for the Good (for God)! To matter in someone’s day, even without their awareness… the moment of a genuine smile and loving interaction that may let their rough day be a bit more smooth, or enable them to pass along the loving care in their day’s encounters.
Stories: I love being told stories. They inspire me. Stories wrap me in the lives of others who, though I’m unknown to them, allow me to visit and anchor into their life, their time and place. I love learning history embedded in the lives of real people. I see God in their lives’ moments or themes – or perhaps it’s something He shows me about their lives that I want to embrace for my own. Too often, of course, I see in the lives of other what-I-don’t-want for mine, and my prayer is to keep from becoming the very thing I dread. May we keep our hearts so close to our Maker’s that He truly can guide us to . . . the good He has for us and those around us.
At long last, my shipment of household items arrived Wednesday evening, and I’m enjoying the few familiar favorites I’ve managed to unpack thus far; the mattress is best of all!!!
Differences big and small (continued from Blog 9) – here are a few more of the differences I’m discovering:
- Many Israeli homes have solar-heat units for household water, with an electric water heater turned on as needed, for back up. My unit does not have the solar unit, so I rely entirely on the electric water heater which is not on thermostat, but must be turned on in advance of need.
- Note to self #1: Plan ahead at least 20 minutes by turning on water heater, lest the shower be ccccccold, but . . .
- Note to self #2: Don’ leave it on all night! (I realized it at 6a.m., and slipped out of bed to flip it off… L) Since it’s as hot as it’s going to get in about 45 minutes, running it for hours is a huge waste of energy, and I’m told the electricity bill can be brutal.
- I’m surrounded by a delightful blend of hospitality and directness. From my early encounters with the culture, it appears the co-dependent gene is missing. My encounters reveal a people who are quick and gracious to help to the extent they are able, while directly and without drama or apology letting me know what they cannot do, or don’t want to do. It feels honestly-helpful, and I love that!!!
- A vegetarian-around-town and nearly-vegan at home since the mid ‘90s, I’d settled into not telling hosts in advance, because of hearing: “What do you eat? What shall I prepare? I can’t invite you because I don’t know how to feed you…” My strategy was that once they saw I was low maintenance on the subject and that, while I really enjoy food, my priority was friendship building, they’d relax and not fuss about it. That didn’t always work, and I sadly recognize that the diet may have been an excuse (!!) for some. The subject was always a moving target I couldn’t quite manage.
How does this culture differ? I’ve been told, directly and graciously, that in this culture I MUST tell in advance – vegan, vegetarian, whatever – lest my hostess suffer because of not preparing a meal that I could entirely enjoy. I may see this differently in time – perhaps as regional (eg, Jerusalem’s culture places Shabbat dinner as a very high priority) or unique to those who’ve so graciously adopted me for a visit or meal; nonetheless, at this point I’m determined to take the counsel and see how it goes.
- Paying property tax:
- Following verbal instructions from the Information Desk, I failed after 4 tries at the number dispensing machine to get a number for the proper cue, since my Hebrew isn’t adequate for reading particulars quickly. I’m guessing there were about 8 variations, so given those odds, I’ll continue staying away from gambling. How did I get the number finally? The receptionist at the information desk LEFT HIS DESK to do it for me!!!
- And, then he let me log into his computer and printer to get a copy of my rental contract, since this is the only office that doesn’t accept the electronic version. Have you anywhere, anytime, had a government employee hand over his chair and mouse and left you unsupervised to access your gmail??? I suppose that could happen in a small town with slower pace, but if you could see Jerusalem’s Municipality offices long lines, mostly ignored because everyone’s question is urgent and they’re in a hurry, and this is their 3rd attempt to get this taken care of… and I think you get the scene.
- Why am I paying property tax on a rental, you ask? That’s how they do it here: the rental tenant pays the tax. And yes, as a homeowner in Colorado, I am also the tax payer there. Who said life was fair?
- But then again, one of my amazing benefits as a new immigrant is a dramatic discount off of the first year property tax bill. Good news to me.
- What to do while waiting those long times? I listen to the numbers being called with my eyes closed and practice recognizing the numbers – “Number C164 to desk 42… Number A39 to desk 102… Number E67 to desk 8…
- After 1 ½ hours of false starts and waiting my turn (my number was 157 and they were at 82 when I began my wait) I was given my bill and told to go to the post office to make the payment and that it must be done “today”. Do you, my beloved readers, recall the loooooooooong wait at the post office several weeks ago??!!
- This smaller Post Office branch’s informal line, rather than an electronic number system, turned out to have its own challenges. After letting one person slip in ahead of me, I determined he would be the last, and then smiling, gently but FIRMLY told the next man he could not stand beside me, but must stand behind me. He did! Later we began talking – broken Hebrew meets better-but-still-broken English – and after the line exhausted itself of us, our payments made, we went for coffee.
- Would it occur to YOU to call to ask whether FedEx can handle international mailings during all of their “open for business” hours?? com gave the address and hours of both offices in Israel: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. With Google’s help, I found the 35-40 minute bus route and off I went to get some business documents and checks in the mail to Colorado. Not so simple! The bus stop name was not familiar to the bus driver, nor mentioned on the automated announcement prior to each stop. After a long walk in the cold, backtracking several times, I was trying to not wonder about the great event I was missing – something I’d been looking forward to for several weeks – but set aside because my priority was to get these documents in the mail.
As I started resenting the time it was taking, I was reminded by the Giver of all time that my time is FREE, that I have placed myself at God’s disposal for this day. Finally at my destination, the 30-something fellow manning the FedEx office apologetically informed me he couldn’t help with an international delivery, and that it didn’t matter what the website said, I’d have to return another day for international service. I pressed just to make certain I couldn’t leave the materials, or bring an envelope with me to drop off at a hotel closer to home, anything to avoid another trip… to no avail. He was obviously relieved I’d not screamed at him as I left, and I found my way to the return bus stop.
What made it worthwhile? Meeting Sonya on the bus ride home and hearing about her own journey, immigration from California as a young wife and mother of 2, their 9 children, and 40 grandchildren. She said “40” and since I’ve been having trouble understanding when shopkeepers and others who say numbers to me, I assumed I’d misunderstood (even with all my practice listening to the numbers called out in the property tax office). I repeated back to her “arbaeem?” and she smiled knowingly, and said in English, “yes, 40,” and then went on to tell me about her friend with 17 children and over 100 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. Oh, and did I mention Sonya earned her Pilates instructor license 3 years ago, at age 70!!!
(Not a difference) Some things are the same everywhere because of life’s surprises: in Colorado winter or in southern California traffic, it is wise to begin one’s journey with an empty bladder. Here, by foot or bus, the same rule applies. One never knows what delays lay ahead and public facilities are, well, a last resort.
NEWS FLASH: I successfully made an appointment communicating entirely in Hebrew. This included:
- that I was not changing an appointment already on the books, and
- that the desired week for the new appointment was NEXT week, not this, and
- specifying the provider.
One friend suggested I wait until after the appointment is PROVEN to have been successfully scheduled, on the chance that I booked a neighbor or one of you readers for a trip to Egypt… who knows what the appointment clerk THOUGHT I was saying!!!!!!!
Weather? Alternating rain, sun, cold, temperate, sometimes all in one day. Me? I’m happy, learning, at peace, learning, growing, learning, and grateful, oh so grateful.