God â The One Able âto do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or thinkâ (Ephesians 3:20, NASB).
Saturday, July 2nd, we had a big picnic in a nice forest, and then helped the Davidov family move into their new apartment. (The Davidovs are a Jewish, Russian family of believers, and theyâve served here at the ministry for around 3 years; they felt God calling them to begin their own work, and have moved out. Their son, Artur, is in the IDF â the Israeli Army, and their daughter will also be entering the military pretty soon.) The following day, a group of the volunteers went to Tsehaiâs apartment, and we enjoyed a delicious lunch of Ethiopian food. Tsehai works at For Zionâs Sake (FZS), is a Jew from Ethiopia, and she and her entire family are believers in our Lord Jesus.On Monday (the 4th), Anya (Davidov) helped me with learning more Russian in preparation for Beslan. I later visited Kaan Zemaan and talked with a 14-year-old Arab kid that I think lives next door – heâs a cool little kid, and he seems to really like me. Later at night, Peter from Beit Ha-Yeshuah (the drug-rehab program we help sponsor) helped me with more Russianâ¦ as Iâve continually seen, language is an important key that opens many, many doors.
On Tuesday morning, Tami (Hanson, a volunteer from CA thatâs serving here with her husband and their two boys) and I helped teach English to some of our congregants. Tamiâs really good with people, and Iâm sure sheâll continue doing well with the people weâre teaching. After lunch I went shopping for Len (a guy we help that is suffering from stomach cancer), and then spent some time with him. He had broken his reading glasses, and asked if I could help get them fixed.
Wednesday morning was quite adventurous as I managed to let a few shekels fall into the dryerâs lint filter, attempted to get them out by using two magnets, and then became quite aghast when one of the magnets got sucked into the middle of the machine! We took it apart, and glory to God, were able to locate the magnet, remove it, and then put the dryer back together. The afternoon was filled with lots of walking, as I visited several Arab neighborhoods nearby and on the Mount of Olives. In one of the areas of Silwan, I stopped in a store and bought an Arab-English dictionary, and spent some time chatting with the store owner. I then went to a nearby pastry shop, and talked with the guy working there and a younger relative of his.
On Thursday I dropped off glasses for Len â Feodor (Davidov) has extra pairs, and one of them made Len really happyâ¦ they were even stronger than the pair he was using beforehand. Later in the afternoon, I helped teach Vanessa more English â sheâs one of the newer immigrants from Peru.
Merlin and I left Friday morning for our visa trip to Jordan, and we were excited as Merlin had sensed the night before during prayer that God was saying Heâd meet with us in the desert. Having been informed by what I thought was a very reliable source that we didnât need a visa to enter Jordan, Merlin and I headed to the closest border crossing (Allenby). We had a good time talking with our Arab taxi driver, Hazzem, on the way – heâs one of the only Muslim Arabs Iâve ever met that told me that Arafat was crazy. After arriving at the crossing, we were quickly escorted through the checks by a friendly Israeli worker, and were really happy with they favor we had received. En route to the Jordanian checkpoint, a Jordanian officer got on the bus and checked everyoneâs passport. Noticing we didnât have a visa, he made us get off the bus and go into the office with him. We were then informed that you do need a visa to enter Jordan, but that the Allenby crossing didnât issue visas â we would have to travel way up north to enter Jordan. They made us get on a bus and head back to the Israeli checkpoint. Since we had technically âleft the country,â we had to âre-enterâ and go through all the procedures that a new visitor would â all of which took us around 4 hours or so! We met Brooke, a girl from Iowa that teaches religion, and she also had to go through the northern checkpoint so we traveled together. During the long ride north, Merlin and Brooke talked pretty extensively about God, Jesus, and religion, and I chatted with our Arab taxi driver. After reaching the checkpoint, we were saddened to realize that the Israeli crossing up there might not have accepted the receipts we had from paying our exit tax at the other crossing. The exit tax at the Allenby checkpoint was actually about double of what the northern crossing demanded, and I prayed that our receipts would not only be accepted, but also that weâd get a refund â anyone who has spent time in Israel knows what a laughable thought that could be. Bu God heard and answered, and our receipts were accepted and we were given a refund! Glory to Him! We parted ways with Brooke, and went on a great taxi ride with Seif, our Jordanian driver. He took us over and through different mountains, and brought us to a spot that overlooked a lot of northern Israel… it was rad. Seif was a nice guy, also rather good at the practice of throwing unwanted garbage out the window while driving. J He then drove us to downtown Irbid, and tried to book us at a hotel. With all the extra expenses that we had already paid, we were concerned that weâd quickly run out of money. Finding out that the hotel would cost us around $45, we decided to just pay our driver and look for some place outside to sleep; Seif had told us it was ânormalâ for people to just sleep on the street, but as Irbid has a very busy downtown area, we didnât really agree with his assessment! It was still pretty early â around 8 PM â so we got some dinner, had baklava and coffee, and then started to walk out of the city to the field/forest area we had seen coming in to Irbid; with less money than we had thought weâd need, we decided to sleep outside somewhere. We walked for several hours away from the downtown section and had a good time talking as we went. While walking, we came to a small watermelon stand on the side of the road, and stopped to talk with the two young guys working there â Aziz and Yusef. Yusef made us some really good sweet tea, and they gave us some cucumbers and cut up some watermelon. They were nice and we hung out with them for around an hour; we offered them a bilingual Gospel of Luke before leaving, which they refused. Merlin and I walked further along, and then found a nice place a good distance from the road and we decided to sleep there. We had a great view of Irbid as it was all lit up at night, and it was also really pretty to see in the morning.
We were up pretty early Saturday morning, and decided to try and catch a bus to Jerash â a city with lots of ancient Roman ruins. We caught one bus (buses are incredibly cheap in Jordanâ¦ you can ride for about an hour for around 40 cents or so!), walked a good bit, and caught another one and arrived in Jerash around 8:30 or 9 AM. We grabbed some shwarmas at a nearby restaurant â one equipped with a âsquatty pottyâ â and then went to see the ruins. We arrived in time to see a Roman soldiersâ training session reenactment in the hippodrome, and walked through the ruins. We realized Godâs blessing that it was so cheap to go by bus, so we decided to try and reach Mt. Nebo â the mountain where Moses saw the Promised Land before dying. We took a bus to Amman, and then grabbed a bus to Madaba (by where Mt. Nebo is). Merlin and I went to the top of the mountain, and looked over at the Promised Land; though it was a bit hazy, it was still such a blessing to be up there. We sat down at an overlook point, and read Deuteronomy 34. As we were about to leave, a young guy with a backpack came over and sat down next to us. His name is Maxime, and heâs a 22-year-old from France; heâs Catholic, and he was just about to finish his walking pilgrimage from Istanbul, Turkey all the way to Jerusalem! Wow â his journey took him around 2 Â½ months to finish. Merlin told him of our plans to try and hook up with some Bedouin, and he seemed excited and decided to join us. Bedouin are nomadic Arabs. I didnât take the following photos, but you can get a rough idea of Bedouins by visiting these two links: http://www.jordanjubilee.com/images/bedouin/photos/xcampsite2.jpg and http://www.jordanjubilee.com/images/bedouin/photos/xshouk2.jpg
We backtracked a bit and got some dinner at a nearby restaurant, and then started walking down Mt. Nebo as it descends facing Israel. There was a beautiful sunset as we approached the crest of the mountain that continued for a while as we began heading down towards the Promised Land. We walked about a half hour so, and came to some Bedouin camps. One group of two tents had some vehicles outside, so we thought weâd try them. As we approached and greeted them, they welcomed us into their tent â and the fun began! We met Wadaat, his family, and some friends, and they served us some sweet tea and we talked for a bitâ¦ where we were from, etc. They also served us a meal, which consisted of very thin pita bread which you dip into laban (a sort of sour yogurt/milk), and potatoes. The food was good, and they welcomed us with total open-armed hospitality. We talked a lot more, and we had some good opportunities to share about The Lord; they asked us, âIs there life after death?â Though theyâre Muslim, theyâre very open and gentle â they are reasonable, unlike some Muslims that are just focused on world domination and destroying Israel. It got later and later, and they wanted us to spend the night: God was answering our prayers right before our very eyes! They opened up two sides of the tent to allow a nice cross-draft, and as we lay down before we fell asleep, we were able to see the Promised Land â the cities now lit up in the gentle summer night. It was so rad! The stars were amazing, and some of the moon was also visible. As I was laying there, I thought about what Merlin had mentioned, that God was going to meet with us in the desert, and here we were â our âgoalâ had been to see Mt. Nebo and try to stay with some Bedouin, and God had totally blessed to spend the night with them ON Mt. Nebo itself, facing the Promised Land. I had tears in my eyes, because it felt like God was showing me how very Faithful He had been, and was asking me, âWhen will you trust Me?â He had answered our prayers, and blessed us to see and do way more than we had thought. What an Awesome, Merciful, and Loving God we serve â glory to Him! It was funny when I tried to go to sleep, because I noticed several little objects jumping all around the tent and us â there were a bunch of little jumping bunnies!
In the morning, there was a beautiful sunrise view â another way God personally blessed me so much on that trip. Many of you know that I donât really like movies or TV very much, and that Iâm a pretty simple person â two of my favorite things are to just watch the sun rise and set. And on our trip, The Lord blessed me to enjoy two sunsets and two sunrisesâ¦ God Is Good to His kids! Early that morning, one of the little boys and one of the little girls came by and poured us several glasses of delicious chai (milk and sweet tea mixed together â also one of my favorite things!), and then they served us more sweet tea. They fixed breakfast for us, which consisted of the same kind of bread and the laban, a bowl with scrambled eggs and cheese, and a bowl of potatoes and butter. Wadaat said to us, âKhalas (Arabic for âthatâs it,â or âthatâs allâ)â¦ youâre Bedouin!â He wouldnât accept any money from us, but we gave their family a nice bilingual Arabic/English dictionary, a New Testament in Arabic, and some bilingual Gospels of Luke (and we also gave at least one to one of his friends that was there). They received the books, including The Scriptures, gladly, and they held The Scriptures with respect. They asked us, âHow do Christians pray?â We answered, and we were amazed by something they told us â we shared how America has problems, and mentioned homosexuality as an example. Get this: Muslim Bedouin men on Mt. Nebo then began to relay the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to us! (Many people believe the nearby Dead Sea now covers those two cities that God destroyed.) O that âChristianâ Americans would listen to Bedouin Muslims recalling Godâs punishment for homosexuality! We also gave two Bible covers/carriers to them, and I gave Wadaatâs family a picture of my family. After saying our good-byes and heartfelt thanks, Merlin, Maxime, and I started walking further down Mt. Nebo (on the side facing the Promised Land). We trekked on and on for quite some time, and then came to a Jordanian checkpoint. The soldiers asked us where we were from, what we were doing, and so; they were glad to meet us, and they told us to sit down with them. We sat down and chatted a bit, but I really failed in sharing with themâ¦ there were a couple of different questions being asked at the same time, and one of them was, âAre you Muslim?â For some reason, whether because I just didnât want to bring stuff up, or was just tired of talking about related things, I ignored that question and answered another one. The Lord really convicted me about it later, and I repented. I mention this to encourage you to see that none of us out here are âsuper missionariesâ or anythingâ¦ we also miss opportunities and have our faults. Before we left, the soldiers asked if we needed anything, and we asked for more water. They gave us cold water, which was such a blessing… Merlin had earlier commented on how he was almost out of water, and I also only had a little bit left â God provided for us, in a place with no stores, in the middle of sweltering heat, by Jordanian soldiers happy to meet and talk with us! We continued walking and Merlin and I got a ride to the border between Israel and Jordan â Maxime proceeded to walk, and we said weâd like to see him in Jerusalem after he arrived. Arriving at the border, our immediate concern was the entrance visa stamps they would or wouldnât give to us â we were sure theyâd allow us to enter Israel, but they sometimes donât give the full three month visa when people enter from Jordan. We were waiting in line, and a younger officer entered one of the many booths there and also began to process those wishing to enter Israel. We waited a bit, and when she asked what I was doing in Israel, I answered in Hebrew that Iâm a volunteer, helping new immigrants. Guess what? Her family came from the Ukraine 12 years ago, and she was happy to hear of our work! She gave me two months since Iâm leaving in a few weeks anyway, and she gave Merlin the full three months! Actually, she wanted to give him more time, but thatâs all she was authorized to give! Praise be to God! We arrived safely back in Jerusalem, and The Lord blessed us to have an amazing time in Jordan â He blessed us to do all we had asked for, and way more. Glory be to our Great God!
He Is Faithful,
The LORD Is Faithful