Joyful yet poignant

March 5, 2016

Hesed 2016 is officially in the books. Seventeen days in Israel, plus two travel days, added up to a spiritually refreshing, albeit physically exhausting, life-changing adventure of serving, fellowshipping, and seeing a variety of biblically significant sites.

On this last day, our team had one more opportunity to fellowship with our Israeli brothers and sisters in the Lord by attending the services at the Rehovot kehilah (congregation). The conversation among us was joyful yet poignant because of the knowledge that this would be our last time with each other for this year, and that we would have to wait a whole year before we could worship our Lord together once again.

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The Joy of Jerusalem

March 4, 2016

The long awaited day had arrived. We were going up to Jerusalem!

We set out from our hotel around 7:30 AM with our guide and bus driver. We began with beautiful views of the Mount of Olives, photos of our group and some scripture reading. Next, we headed on to the Ophel Archaeological Park where, with the help of our guide, we gained insight into some of the history of the excavations of the Temple Mount. We spent time viewing the southern steps of the Temple, while considering their significance in the days when Yeshua walked the land.

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Saying Goodbye

March 3, 2016

I can’t believe our ten days at Kaplan have come to an end. This was my second year serving with Hesed and working in the kitchen/dining room. Renewing friendships with Israelis I had met last year, as well as forging new friendships this year, has been especially meaningful. Working side by side with them also brings opportunities for us to share our lives with one another. I also learned the intricacies of running a kosher dish washer and I appreciate how hard each person works day after day at a very repetitive but vital job.

Many workers originally came from Yemen, Ethiopia, and the Ukraine to settle in the land promised to Abraham in an unconditional covenant 4,000 years ago. God is certainly gathering His Jewish people to their land. Though we do not speak a common language, we somehow manage to communicate with gestures and facial expressions. They have also been able to teach me a few words in Hebrew. My prayer is that they will see the love of Yeshua in me (Matt 5:16). We said our goodbyes with hugs of genuine affection, a heartfelt conclusion to our time together.

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Warm memories and new friendships

March 2, 2016

It has been a wonderful experience becoming acquainted with our team members who hail from fifteen US states. I appreciate our drivers, Bruce, Charles and Nathan for their excellent transportation to and from Kaplan Medical Center and our evening events, much of the time in some crazy traffic.

Life isn’t always easy for our Israeli friends. They live with a load of stress and fears. They are a people who love to sing, dance, laugh, and enjoy their families.

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A celebration of freedom from sin

March 1, 2016

Today was the eighth day at Kaplan Medical Center with the Hesed project, and the Lord was boldly evident as we continued to be His salt and light.

I’ve been working in the dining room with my teammate, Tina. The activity in the dining room is on-going, including feeding the medical center staff breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We volunteers keep the tables clean and re-stock silverware, plates, and bowls for the Kaplan staff at lunch. At times I stand next to the silverware and greet the hungry crowd with a “Shalom,” or, if I forget to speak Hebrew, a “Hello.” The Kaplan staff are always gracious in responding to my limited Hebrew. At other times I’m wiping down tables with a song in my heart and a smile on my face, thanking God for the opportunity to serve His Chosen People in this humble way.

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In The Service

February 29, 2016

My day began pretty much like every other day. I meet with Ram (pronounced Rahm) about 8:00 AM and throughout the morning. Using a three-wheeler electric cart, we moved and towed large stainless containers from the basement to the different clinics in the hospital. The containers going up had clean sterilized instruments, while the ones coming down contained dirty instruments to be cleaned and sterilized.

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You never know who is watching or listening

February 28, 2016

The other day it occurred to me that I need to be open, aware, and prepared each day. I never know who the Lord will have me encounter.

As I worked in the ER I became aware that I was being watched by the staff, but even more so by the patients and their families. How I did my work, my countenance, my interaction with others. I am communicating without words, serving as Yeshua did. I need to be open, willing to seize the opportunity when someone wants to talk. It starts with friendship, caring, and service. And it doesn’t matter if I am in Israel, at home, at work, or at church, it is all the same field, ripe for the harvest.

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The Lord is the strength of his people

February 27, 2016

We awakened to a sunny, crisp morning as we prepared for our one-half hour trek to the kehilah (congregation) in Rehovot. We were greeted ever so warmly as we entered. The congregation is a diverse one. In addition to Israelis, there are Russians, and students from Uganda, Kenya, and Russia who are studying at the Weizmann Institute and other educational institutions. One of the Russian ladies who did not speak English brought a translator with her so she could converse with me. I was so appreciative of the effort she made to talk with me.

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Let your light shine before others

February 26, 2016

Friday at sundown was the beginning of our second Shabbat here in Israel, and traditionally all work ceases. The next 24 hours are spent enjoying family and worship.

Last Friday our large Hesed group split into small groups and attended Shabbat evening meals at homes of Messianic believers from a local congregation. This Friday our smaller groups were invited to Shabbat evening meals at homes of Kaplan Hospital workers.

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Give your life for another

February 25, 2016

What a memorable day. So far this week we have gone from being invisible in our work department, to being accepted, and then today, fully embraced. Our Israeli department members have actually asked us to slow down enough so that we will have enough work in their department and be able to stay for the duration. And while walking down the hall someone saw our name tag and said, “Oh, Friends of Israel! Good!” Such a warm and welcoming people.

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An extended hand

February 24, 2016

Today was our 4th day of our volunteering at Kaplan. I got to rejoin my partner, Deb, in the ER. Yesterday was a solo day for me there, as she was with someone else. Have to say I enjoy the company of my friend as we compliment each other very nicely. I certainly hope she feels that way, as well.

We have settled in comfortably with our new and old Israeli friends, and we were looking forward to our assignments for the day. Our nurse assigned us the room that contained all of the medications, IV’s, with syringes, and needed items to go with these. We were feeling pretty good, as they left us alone to do this. We knew they were trusting of us since they would not have assigned this responsibility to just anyone.

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Helping to make a difference

February 23, 2016

It’s our third day of work here at Kaplan Medical Center and our team is settling into a comfortable routine. We’re starting to build relationships with each other and those we work with. I’m working in the warehouse, where I worked last year. I’m shrink wrapping material on pallets, and covering larger items with plastic. We have a great supervisor from Kaplan working with us. His name is Efim, and he is from Russia.

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Yeshua, I will love You in the storm

February 22, 2016

Last evening when we left dinner for our cabins, the rains that had started earlier really picked up. Even though each of us on the Hesed Project trip were hoping for good weather, this was much needed for the nation of Israel and we needed to give thanks for the Lord providing this gift.

It wasn’t long before strong winds took over, lightening and thunder joined in, and the rains became a downpour. My prayer was for the Lord to give Israel what they needed, and bless us with a good day of sunshine and a bit warmer temperature by morning.

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Our first day working at Kaplan Medical Center

February 21, 2016

Today was our first day working at Kaplan Medical Center located in Rehovot, Israel, with sixty-five beautiful acres of buildings going as far back as the early 1950s, to current renovations underway, as well as architectural plans and renderings of the new cardiac building slated for opening in 2017.

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Let your light shine

February 20, 2016

As I woke this morning God had me sit on the balcony of my room. He had me watch the moon with all its splendor. It dawned on me that such a bright, beautiful light shines in the midst of such darkness. Its captivating beauty, its appearance of stillness intriguing. Its shimmer of gold representing its great value.

God reminded me that He made us to be His valuable light in the midst of darkness. He has a purpose and a plan for all of us to give us hope and a future.

I pray in the Beautiful Land, you will know Yeshua deeper still. Let your light shine forth for the glory of God.

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Understanding the reason

February 19, 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016 Yad Hashmona Country Hotel

9 am – We were invited to participate in and partake of a wonderfully prepared and scrumptious tasting brunch.

2 pm – A tour of the Biblical Gardens at our hotel. I enjoyed the first part of the tour. My participation in the tour ended when a radiologist from Kaplan Medical Center (a friend of our teammate, Star, from last year) agreed to look at my swollen ankle and lower leg. I had experienced an intense pain in my ankle area while on the plane flying to Israel, but I did not know what could be causing it. After examining my ankle and leg, the doctor concluded I could do no more touring, I should get to Kaplan Medical Center today, and I should be evaluated for a possible blood clot.

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Vigor and enthusiasm

February 18, 2016

Our Hesed 2016 team of 24 volunteers are now all together and settled into our Israeli hotel. The day began with everyone meeting at JFK airport in New York. There we enjoyed being sent on our journey once again by the National Director of American Friends of the Kaplan Medical Center (http://afkmc.org/), Lou Balcher. Lou shared his heart for Kaplan and his appreciation for what we do for Kaplan Medical Center. Our hearts felt rekindled by Lou’s presentation to continue to do our volunteer work with even more vigor and enthusiasm.

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Preparing for Israel

February 2, 2016

We’re finishing up our final preparations for this year’s Hesed Project Israel service trip.

Once we’re on the ground in Israel, we’ll post periodic updates and photos. Check back often or get update notifications using the subscribe options on this page.

We’ll be sharing our experiences online with you, our friends and family, to not only bring you along on the journey with us, but to also solicit your ongoing prayer and support. Most of us on this trip have been preparing mentally and spiritually for what will be a life-changing time of service with our international community. So please pray that we would be diligent in our preparations and we would all be ready to learn what God has to teach us!

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