12 The bird and the Negev
The BIRD! Do you hold grudges? I do. Well, this time anyway. I was walking to a class one morning 4 weeks ago and a bird greeted me from an electric (or phone?) wire above. Not the greeting anyone wants on their hair, face, and sweater front. It was disgusting!!! I yelled something like, “oh, oh, no, oh, euuw!” but doubt I disturbed him as much as he’d disturbed me. I washed it off as best as possible in the ladies’ room, trying to not shred the paper towels while soaking and wiping the “debri” off of the front of my sweater and hair; I was tempted to entirely soak both hair and sweater under the running water, but cold outdoor temps were a deterrent. I wondered afterwards, sitting in the class, whether those beside me could also smell the bird visitation clinging to my sweater.
What remained of the morning carried the bird’s faint aroma, reminding me of my rough beginning. Hardly a trauma in the grand scheme of things, but not pleasant. Now, about the grudge: my heart snarls as I search for him and his wire each time I enter that building. I confess my attitude is not very gracious about this other creature of God’s creation, and somehow the wire itself is at fault as well. Holding a grudge is silly pertaining the bird and his wire, but what about my attitude toward the irritating woman in my class who constantly interjects what she knows about the subject. Have I built grudges, or constructed a martyr complex, when excluded from friendships? Is there a grudge in my heart towards those of the past, the intentionally harsh treatment from some or clueless (un)treatment from others? Mostly not, but I watch (inwardly) for scrunched face or flinching at the thought of relationships or encounters. King David’s prayer, after his sin of adultery and murder, was “Change my heart, oh God…make it pure,” and is my prayer over and over again.
Differences between living life in Israel vs U.S.:
- Entering the mall requires passing through the metal detector and handing over my opened purse and other bags for the security guards’ perusal. They peer inside all openings and feel the outside for distinct shapes, look at water bottles and the like.
- Pay electric bill at the post office. Remember the long lines? I’m told the bill will come every 2 or 3 months, though, so at least it’s not that often. The unfortunate thing with that timing is the accumulation of 2-3 months of payments!
- Rent: At the time we signed the rental agreement, I wrote and gave to the owner of the property not only deposit and initial rent payment, but checks postdated through the entire course of the lease agreement, plus blank checks(!!) to Electric, Water, and Property Tax on the chance I were negligent toward those responsibilities.
- “Kindergarten” is public education for children ages 3 – 5 years.
Tuesday’s visit to the Negev – Hopefully, those of you who followed my (pre-move) summer adventures here recall the day with “my darling Yedidya” in email #7, taking popsicles to soldiers at Gaza’s border and oodles of toys to children in the bomb shelter playground. I’ve posted those July reflections Update 7, on the chance new readers will find those excursions of interest, as well as a new video of Halutza’s pioneering Kindergarten (3-5 yr olds) class in its temporary facility.
There’s also an extremely dusty, dirt filled jeep photo from which I joyfully whooped as we jolted up and down crazy terrain of the beautiful dessert. I’ve always wanted to go “4-wheeling.” It was fun, the perfect place. After the first few whoopdeedoos, Yedidya asked if I was ok and having fun, and then to my, “of course,” he said, “You’re not afraid of anything!”
Let me back-up with some clarification: “My darling Yedidya” is an Israeli I met through the fundraising efforts of Jewish National Fund in Denver. Our day in the Negev this past July was a bonding experience between this “mature” me and the young-enough-to-be-my-son/ committed-husband-and-father, whose heart and life is devoted to the protection and development of his beloved home, Israel. He was one of the teenagers whose families lost their home when expelled from Gush Katif, a city traded in 2005 for “peace” with the Palestinians. For most, that “land for peace” politics destroyed families net worth and retirement savings, and resulted in prolonged under- or unemployment. Of course, you know terrorism continues, rockets soaring into Israel’s population centers countless times since 2005.
How many times do you believe and compromise with a lying-enemy who repeatedly proclaims they intend to destroy your entire nation? http://gushkatifbook.com/
Three new towns in the Halutza sands of the Negev are at various stages of development by young pioneers, building family oriented communities. $$$$$ Let me know if you’re interested in joining me to fund the children’s center for the settlement in Shlomit, the newest of 3 Halutza towns which is planned to be the largest, with as many as 500 homes and extensive community resources. Currently, 50 families live in tiny temporary homes (about 120 Sq ft) and are preparing to build their (slightly larger) permanent homes. All building plans include a bomb shelter bedroom or equivalent, since 4 1/3 miles away is Gaza, and Egypt’s border a mere ½ mile. I saw both borders and Israeli guard posts as we drove past. I’m looking at the plans for Shlomit’s children’s class (Kindergarten), have met residents and teachers, and trust those in charge for responsible management of the funds.
Another stop caught me by surprise: We hurried out of Yedidya’s car and into a truck driven by Major Guy, a 42 year old career officer who told me he has managed to visit his wife and 2 children each week while stationed at this Gaza post. Our conversation was as much Hebrew and I can manage combined with his better-but-limited mastery of English, while driving towards Gaza. We pulled up alongside other several civilian (looking) vehicles and I found myself at the entrance of a tent filled with about 10, assorted army uniforms and civvies clustered around a table with papers. Some sort of serious coffee was brewing in a tiny field boiler rigged up to propane, I assume. I accepted the potion in something smaller than a hospital medicine cup, and tasted it. That’s it, I only tasted it once.
Yedidya led me to the tunnel. Yes. Tunnel. The only tunnel the army did not destroy from this summer’s Protective Edge many. He said, let’s go, so I followed, handing the tiny coffee mud to Major Guy. Down the 30-40 steep, dried mud packed steps that OSHA would never condone. What was I thinking? “Yedidya, I’m not dressed for THIS!” I’d asked him whether I needed rugged shoes when he kept referring to surprises he had for our Negev day. Long skirts are the necessary wardrobe for the hospitality of the Negev families, and since I don’t typically wear hiking boots with go-visiting skirts, I was wearing silly girl shoes (flats, thankfully!!), not steep-muddy-dirty-steps/underground-tunnel-visiting boots.
The tunnel was one-person narrow and we walked past the corded off leg that went directly to Gaza, and walked 50 feet or so in the to-Israel direction. At one point we turned off the flashlight and the tunnel-no-air-no-light phenomenon was REAL. The picture of me didn’t come out, but I’ve posted a photo of Yedidya, regretting I’m not a more sophisticated picture taker to capture more of a sense of the experience. Why wasn’t this tunnel destroyed, like the others? The engineers and specialists are studying it. Makes sense!
There was more to the day which I’ll share in future posts.
Jerusalem Mall – much like any mall in the U.S., unless you like to read the signs depicting restrooms, exits, menus, and store names and sales… check out the video of the food court, including Kosher McDonalds, sushi, etc. The experience is familiar-but-different, as you’d expect.
I took #17 bus to finally visit the Mall because it’s adjacent to the attorney who will be helping me draft my Israel will, medical proxy, and “Living Will.” I’ve learned the issues warrant these documents in both nations, and am happy to prepare as best I’m able for the unforeseeable, to relieve the burden as much as possible on those who have agreed to handle my affairs when that time comes. If you haven’t taken care for yourself, do it for those you love so they don’t have the guilt or burden of painful decisions and conflict. It doesn’t have to be morbid, but a part of relating to God’s plan for these bodies to only last so long.
New photos: Apartment (most are purchased, so “condo” in U.S. vernacular) building’s interesting architecture is something that’s caught my eye in several Israeli cities – everyone gets a balcony and light!
I’ve also posted 3 photos of street-side construction without ANY safety barriers for cars or pedestrians. Improving Jerusalem is a great thing. Your safety is YOUR responsibility, so pay attention!
I’ll close with a risk, since Yedidya was wrong about me not being afraid of anyting. I feel afraid of many things. One fear is revealing my intimacy with God, as well as the yearnings of my heart toward Him. It’s risky mentioning, because too often others try to wash away this crucial part of me with words about how great I am and shouldn’t be so hard on myself. It’s not about self-confidence or esteem, but I don’t seem to be able to make that clear when that’s the wall I encounter. This morning I wept before Him at His loving voice of redirection of my negative attitude in response to someone’s (negative) attitude. Hmmmmm. Get it?
Who do I want to be today? Tomorrow? When I grow up? The reflection of Him, so others can know His love. For me, that’s where it all begins.