Sunday, September 20, 2009
Once again, my apologies for the lack of posts lately. We now have consistent internet, so hopefully I'll be updating a little more frequently.
I'm choosing to see our new apartment as a place of adventure...you never know what's going to happen here. Very very very few things have gone according to what was planned. While we were promised desks, closets with drawers, a working oven/stove and wash machine, and lights by the time we moved in, none of that came to pass. Our desks arrived about a week late, our closets were pretty much a box with a rod to hang things on (we eventually talked our landlord into getting 1 shelf installed at the bottom for each dresser), our stove/oven still isn't hooked up because we don't know if we have gas tanks outside that are ours and if we do, what company services our tanks, the kitchen lights still don't work, and--the most fun of all--our wash machine doesn't drain correctly...instead we have a geyser erupt at the end of every rinse cycle, spewing water out of the tube that is supposed to drain into some bigger pipe in the floor. Keiko and I got emptying the water into buckets and pouring it down the sink drain down to an art, and then we were informed by our neighbors downstairs that water was leaking out of the pipe coming from our apartment into the downstairs hall...and not just into the hall, but onto the electrical panel. So, yeah, we're seriously lucky that the apartment didn't burn down. And then, yesterday we discovered that one of the reasons for the leakage downstairs might have been the fact that our sink drain pipe thing disconnected (it had been taped together) and water was draining into the cupboard under our sink and out of a hole in the bottom where the actual pipe goes out of our house. The sink is now officially off limits until that's fixed, which may never happen seeing as our handyman has stood us up a number of times.
It's not all bad though. In the midst of this craziness we're getting to know our neighbors better, and luckily for us, they are rather gracious to the poor American students who don't know what they're doing and are having trouble navigating Israeli housing issues. Only one of our neighbors speaks any English (the one who stole our internet but completely cutting our line and plugging it in for here apartment the first day that we had it hooked up), and quite a few of them also speak French (I knew I should have paid much better attention in French class). But, yeah, in the midst of all of this, we're having a lot more forced contact with them than we would have had without all of these problems, and we are getting the chance to form very basic relationships with them that will hopefully continue to grow as our Hebrew progresses.
Last Thursday, Susan and I led a Bible study for our group of believers at MSIH and a few people involved in Ben Gurion University in some way. It was the first real "big group" meeting that we had, and man, I could hardly believe, that here we are, a couple of first years who don't really know how these things are usually done who are supposed to kick-start the year. Praise the Lord that it's not us, it's Him who teaches. He ended up leading is to focus on 1 Timothy 1:3-7. With so many people coming from so many different backgrounds, there's a lot of stuff that we can get caught up in forgetting that the aim of our charge is love. I can't even tell you what all we ended up talking about, but it was amazing to hear people who we really hadn't expected to come say that they were really happy that they had cancelled other things to come. The format was very homegroup-esque (discussion based), except we broke down into smaller groups of 4 at first and went through a few questions that we had prepared beforehand so that it would be harder for people to just kinda space out and not get involved. After about 30 mins or so of talking in groups, we all came back together and everyone shared, and yeah, it was so cool to see the Spirit move. Praise the Lord.
There's one more giant thing that the Lord deserves praise for. I found out yesterday that a physician in the States heard about me being over here and donated $1000. I can't put into words how amazed I am at His provision. On my way home from church last night I had "Kama tov chasdecha Adonai" (a song that I learned somewhere which means "How good is Your grace, Lord") stuck in my head. Now I hadn't found out about the money yet, but I was really at one of those points where I couldn't help but rejoice in the Lord. It's not that the service was particularly engaging--actually I had a really hard time tracking the thought process behind the sermon--or that anything else was really working out. It's just that I'm here, in Israel, like the Lord said I would be. And yeah, things are not easy right now, but that in no way reflects what's really going on in light of God's plan here. Look at the Moses before Pharaoh released the Israelites. When he came back to Egypt and asked Pharaoh the first time to let God's people go, Pharaoh made the conditions for the people worse--they were to make just as many bricks as before, but now without straw. And the people got mad at Moses and Moses questioned why he ever went to Pharaoh in the first place. There have been a few times that I've thought that we must not have obeyed the Lord in signing for this apartment because so many things are going wrong, but that's not true. Just because things aren't working out doesn't mean that we disobeyed or even necessarily that we're being attacked. It means that we're in a place where God can work wonders if we persist, are sensitive to His leading, and obey what He tells us to do. So yeah, how can help but rejoice in God's goodness and grace when I realized that He's in control and nothing passes through His hand that He doesn't allow. I can rest knowing that He is God and that His name will be made great in the earth. Kama tov chasdecha Adonai. And then come home and find out about the money. The goodness of our God blows me away.
Well, this ended up being a much longer post than I had expected. Good job to you if you read all the way through it. Shena tova (Happy new year...the Jewish new year just passed...welcome to 5770). I love you all. Shalom vey ahava. (Peace and Love)
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I'm on a shady internet connection right now that could fade out at any second so I'll keep it super short. Hopefully I'll have internet set up at my apartment by Friday afternoon, but we'll see...we were supposed to have it yesterday but nothing in Israel seemes to work on the first attempt. We've had endless problems with our apartment and are far from really being able to settle in, which makes trying to study very difficult when there's always something that needs to be done just to make our home somewhat comfortable. At this point I don't really even care how quickly anything starts to work (we have no gas to cook on, our wash machine spews out water instead of draining it, lights don't work, desks just arrived, dressers/closests are not what we were promised, etc etc)...I just want to be able to have an attitude of love, grace, and forgiveness through it all and that I would be able to be a blessing to everyone involved. Please pray that I would take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and that I would be able to be a light in my community and neighborhood even when things are clearly going very poorly. Well, I'm gonna get off while I still have some connection so that I can make sure that this posts. Love you all!
PS. Mom and Dad, I got the box! Thanks so much! I'll try to give you a call when I get a good connection.
PPS. Nicole, I got your postcard today and it made my day! I want to hear all about it and I have a few stories for you as well ;) love ya!