Archive for December, 2011

More about Bethlehem
December 28, 2011

Since returning home I have read a newspaper article that reports much larger crowds than we saw. The article claims that 100,000 visitors packed the town, producing a turnout that was the highest in more than a decade.

I do not know how to reconcile the newspaper report with the more modest number – I would guess 2,000 at the most – that we saw in Manger Square from 3:00 to 6:00 PM.

It is true that I did not stay for the Midnight Mass conducted by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in the Church of the Nativity. Is it possible that as midnight approached, the crowd swelled in number to a much large size than was there at 6:00 PM? Or did the article give inflated numbers?

If I ever get to visit Bethlehem again on Christmas Eve, I would like to attend the Midnight Mass, if I can get in.

Christmas Eve in Bethlehem
December 24, 2011

As JoLene and I planned this trip, we were eager to include being at Manger Square in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. Again this year the Jerusalem Baptist Church, located at 4 Narkis Street, was planning a bus load to go to Bethlehem, and we were pleased that seats were available for us.

The group was international, with people from Japan, India, Holland, Norway and Canada, to name a few.

Jerusalem – Old and New
December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Today JoLene and I walked to the Old City, wandering trough the maze of narrow streets, saying no over and over again to shopkeepers eager for a sale, and visiting the two chapels of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, located next to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter of the Old City.

In the shops the T shirts caught my eye, especially this tongue-in-cheek message to America.

Just outside Jaffa Gate is a modern promenade, a long walkway through many upscale shops. We enjoyed tea and pastries at Aroma Espresso Bar.

The day included, again, work on emails and reports.

Then in the evening we took the Hank Dannecker family to dinner at Focaccia Restaurant, off Hillel street, in the modern part of the city. Focaccia is a thin, oven-baked Italian bread and is often served with spreads such as goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and chopped olives.

Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, began about 6:00 PM today, so most restaurants in the city are closed. Focaccia, obviously, is one that stays open during Shabbat.

Be sure to include a stop at Focaccia on your next trip to Jerusalem.

Saving Children
December 24, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Earlier I posted a blog for this day, but somehow it disappeared and couldn’t be retrieved, so here I am recreating it. Sigh…the joys of cyberspace.

This morning Hank took JoLene, Chris M. and me to Tel Aviv to see the facilities and meet some personnel of Save A Child’s Heart (SACH), the charitable Israeli organization that I described in my blog about December 19. Hank’s organization (1 New Heart) and Brethren in Christ World Missions work in cooperation with SACH, sponsoring children to come from the West Bank to the hospital for surgery. SACH accepts children from many nations, but so far, we have specialized in children from the West Bank.

Our tour started at the Wolfson Medical Center.

This is a general service hospital; the heart surgeries done by SACH take place in one wing and are only a part of what goes on in this Center. Dr. Houry, who does the ICU work with the children, gave us a tour and a careful explanation of the program. Two other doctors also do the work of SACH. Dr. Sasson, who does the heart surgeries, gets paid for his work. The other doctors and nurses all serve as volunteers; they work full-time at other medical duties and serve with SACH free of charge. They are all compassion-minded Jews but welcome partnership with a Christian like Hank.

Here is Dr. Houry, talking with our group in an ICU ward. How many people do you recognize in this photo?

We met Hanan, a two-year-old girl from a village in the West Bank who was admitted for heart surgery and who will be sponsored by 1 New Heart. Unfortunately, son after entering the unit she got the flu, so surgery had to be delayed and she returned home to get over the flu.

We learned that on Tuesdays SACH has a clinic for Palestinian children, free of charge, to screen them regarding their heart issues. Have you ever heard of this kind of cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians being reported in the news in USA?

Next we drove a few miles to the children’s house, where the children and their mothers, or other relatives, stay before the surgery and again after the surgery until the child is deemed recovered enough to return home. Here is a wall in the house, with a tribute to past surgery patients.

Then we drove a bit farther to tour the new house for children.

It is state of the art and spacious and will soon be ready for occupancy. The wall around the property features the logo for SACH.

After this we returned to Jerusalem and my mini-apartment for the three of us men to spend a long afternoon working on review and planning. The session was quite productive, and we all felt a sense of accomplishment.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of reconciliation, and it is a great privilege that the Brethren in Christ have a part in reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Thanks for your prayers for, and your participation in, this great work.

Touring Israel
December 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

This is the second day of Hanukah, a Jewish celebration that goes on for eight days.

Today we began a two-day tour of northern Israel and the Golan Heights. We went from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to join our tour group, which consisted of seven tourists and our guide Menachem.

Menachem and the other five tourists were all Jews. Four were from USA, and one was from Chile. The woman from Chile was the mother of one of the women from USA. The mix of people and faiths made for dynamic conversation.

I will give a brief report now, hoping to give more details later, since there is so much that could be told and shown in photos.

Monday, December 19, 2011
December 20, 2011

I am here to work on some major review and planning about the present and future of our work in Israel. Chris McNiven from Chicago, son of Don and Sue McNiven, is here to help us with this task. Chris’ work includes walking non-profit organizations through this very kind of thing.

This morning Hank drove JoLene and me and Chris to Tel Aviv. We picked up the one piece of our luggage that was not on our flight yesterday. Then we attempted to go to hear a special speaker talk about the work of Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), the humanitarian organization that arranges for children to come to Tel Aviv for life-saving heart surgery, and through whom Hank sponsors children for surgery. But we got an unclear address and unclear directions for the meeting place, which was in Yafo (or Jaffa), just south of Tel Aviv. So despite phone calls to SACH’s office and confusing directions from people on the street – we stopped several times and asked for this Center – we missed the meeting entirely and drove back to Jerusalem, a 45 minute drive if traffic is light.

Hank says that in Israel receiving confusing directions is a common experience, just part of the price you pay for living here.

NOTE: You may learn more about SACH through their web site: Save A Child’s Heart: Wolfson Medical Center.

In the afternoon Chris, Hank and I worked on a detailed review of our strategic plan for the ministry here. We made excellent progress in what we need to accomplish.

JoLene spent the afternoon with Michele and family and made chili for their supper.

We three men (not to be confused, of course, with “we three kings”) went out for dinner at Focaccia restaurant.

Then back to our apartment. I worked late on emails and such while Jolene went to bed at a decent hour.

The Holy City
December 20, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We arrived at the Tel Aviv airport at 2:30 AM!
Hank Dannecker met us and took us to our apartment in Jerusalem, on Hevron Road, the main road, noisy with traffic, that goes south out of the city toward Bethlehem and all of southern Israel.

We got a few hours of sleep, then went with Hank and family to the Jerusalem Baptist Church on Narkis Street. This is the church they attend.
The service included “Christmas in Vienna,” a program by their children and teens. Michele was pianist for the entire program.
There was a Christmas buffet meal following the service.

In the evening, after dark, JoLene and I walked 25 minutes to the Old City and had a light supper there.

Still More abut London
December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Along with the usual reports and emails we were able to spend some time at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Another Day in London
December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We went with Paul to a nearby area (two miles away) to check out a TraveLodge as a place for folks to stay next fall. I hope to bring a group of ten or so people to London on a vision trip, to learn about the ministries here and be better prepared to pray for and speak up about the London effort.
If you are interested in such an adventure in exposure to world missions, let me know.

We had lunch with Paul and Claire at Toby Carvery, a top-notch buffet meal. Reasonable price, about $8.00.

The items you see in the left of the photo are the crisp pastry known as Yorkshire pudding. It is cup-shaped; most people enjoy it by putting some beef gravy in the cup. Of course, this makes the bottom of the “cup” soggy, but this is Yorkshire pudding. It is a favorite of mine.

Four of us met Hope at The National Gallery, an art museum, for her to give a trial run of what the team is calling simply the Gallery Tour, which consists of viewing 16 paintings from the past that depict the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hope has spent a lot of time preparing a guide booklet describing the artistic and spiritual significance of these paintings. Each person who goes on the tour gets a copy of the booklet to keep.

JoLene and Hope and I walked to the area near Cambridge Circus and had dinner at a Pizza Express and talked in depth about her experiences in being part of the London team for the past three years.

The three of us went to see the musical “Jersey Boys,” the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The actor who played Frankie did a superb job of singing in the high falsetto voice that is Frankie’s signature style.

To bed by midnight.

* * * *

The weather these days has been mixed – and not bad for this time of year in London.
Temperatures from 34-46 degrees.
Full sun some days, then partly cloudy, then rain, now on Friday morning a bit of wet snow.

My London Experiences
December 14, 2011

For our family, friends and prayer partners, here is an update about our comings and goings in London so far. I have many photos I would like to post, but it takes considerable time to edit and process them, so I have to content myself with a narration at this time, and post photos later if I can find the time to do so.