Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday February 18, 2013
Ashqelon & Sderot                    

Today we travel down to Sderot.  Sderot is about 3km from the Gaza “border”.  During the last conflict from 1000 to 1500 rockets landed in this city of 25,000.  Sderot has more bomb shelters per capita than any other place in the world.

Our job here today is to prepare boxes of emergency supplies to be delivered to each family in the city.  The organization is called “Hands of Mercy”.  The supplies are stored in an abandoned school.  All new schools are built to withstand rocket fire from Gaza, so this building will be bulldozed and a new one built.  This is only a few blocks from their headquarters so it is very handy.  The bulldozing is scheduled in the next couple of months so be praying that they can find a new warehouse close and without much rent.  The boxes contained quite an assortment of items including: Corn flakes, coffee, cocoa, salt, sugar, medical supplies, rice, lintels, barley, noodles, spaghetti, tape and plastic sheeting, paper towels, plates, plastic dinner ware, toilet paper, tuna, green beans, a bottle of grape juice, dried peaches, strawberry jam, chocolate spread, razor blades, tomato sauce, soup mixes, flour, olive oil, candles and matches.
All of this went into a box that is 12” x 18” x 12” tall.  We spent about 3 hours doing this.  Some of these items were pre-packaged, and some we had to make smaller packages from large barrels of the ingredient.

After we finished this, we went back to the headquarters and had some pizza.  Then we worked for about an hour at the headquarters.  The headquarters building has a clothes pantry and a food pantry where the poor can come pick up clothes and food.  Some of the girls organized the clothes by age, season and type. They have a nice garden behind the building, but the had been so busy, that it had been neglected, so the rest of us chopped and pulled weeds and cleaned it up.  There was also a pen next to the garden.  They were going to get a couple of 24 week old lambs to fatten up in preparation for Passover.  So we cleaned the thistles and big weeds out of this area also.

We then returned back to the hotel, where we cleaned up.  Some went for a walk down to the beach, some took a nap, and some just rested.

Please continue to pray for Manna, Terry, Sharon, and Sherry. 

This will be our last night in Israel, as most of our flights leave late tomorrow.  We will have a free day tomorrow, and spend some time on the beach, and maybe a little shopping if our suitcases are not overweight already.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday February 17, 2013
TRAVEL DAY                    

Today we leave Jerusalem, and head southwest to Ashqelon. Dan and Sharon went to Avis and picked up 2 vans.  The storage was less than we had before, but with the packing skills of Trevor, we got everything in. 
On the way we stopped at a National Park site called Herodian. This is the site of a palace complex built by Herod the Great.  Herod actually had 11 palaces throughout the land of Israel.  This palace complex was the second largest in the Roman Empire only exceeded by Nero’s palace in Rome.  The part of the complex that housed Herod’s quarters was at the top of a mountain.  Then Herod had taken dirt from the top of an adjacent mountain to enclose his quarters.   This adjacent mountain looks like someone took a knife and cut the top half of the mountain off. 
We climbed up the side of the mountain, and then went into the cistern system that would have contained the water for this complex.  Arriving at the top of the mountain, we hiked around the upper rim, looking at the incredible view.  This palace is only about 15 miles from Jerusalem, and it became a “country club” fo all of Herod’s buddies, and the Roman elite of Jerusalem.

Leaving this park, we ate lunch at Aroma and then dropped Jane off near her apartment, before we resumed our trip to Ashqelon.  As you would expect, somehow we managed to take the scenic route.  But we arrived safely, and Checked into our rooms.  We had a few hours free time before dinner, so some of our group walked to the beach, some went to the hot tub and sauna, some just rested, and Terry and Manna went to the emergency room.
Manna must have over done herself with all of the walking that she did yesterday, and was not feeling well, getting shaky and chilled, so Terry went with her to the emergency room.  The doctor said she was just worn out, to rest, and gave her some more medicine, after 4 hours of waiting in a wild emergency room!

After dinner, we continued our Study of James.  The discussion questions at the end of this lesson were how are we either a friend or an enemy of the world?

Retiring for the evening, Terry was ecstatic, as she anticipated her first bath in a bathtub on this trip.(12 days exactly, but who is counting!)

Please continue to pray for Manna, Terry, Sharon, and Sherry.  Pray for opportunities as we go to restock supplies in some bomb shelters tomorrow.