Showing posts from February, 2011

The Western Wall

February 27, 2011 Sunday, Day 7 (Friday, Saturday and Monday will follow as soon as I can write about them, but I just had to share this experience, which I wrote about right away.)  By Belinda We passed through a turnstile and metal detectors, while our cameras and bags were passed through an opening to our left. They were picked up and weighed manually by security personnel before being given back to us. Waiting in line to go through the security check a young woman, also carrying a camera warned me, “Don’t take photos of the Jewish people. They will get angry and they’ll smash your camera.” I thought back to a couple of days prior, when on our way out of the market in old Jerusalem, fascinated by the beauty of the people and children, I had pointed my camera lens in the direction of an elderly Arab couple, sitting cross legged on the ground against a wall; the man wearing a red  keffiyeh;  an Arab   headdress; selling herbs.  In the instant that I raised my camera, the old wo

On the Mount of Olives

 By Belinda Late on Thursday afternoon, before heading for our hotel, our last stop was the Mount of Olives. Some of the trees that cover the mount are ancient. This is the site of the Garden of Gethsamane and also of the  Church of All Nations . The  Church of All Nations , also known as the  Church or Basilica of the Agony , is a Roman Catholic  church located next to the Garden of Gethsemane . It enshrines a section of bedrock where Jesus   is said to have prayed   before his arrest.  As the sun began to sink on this day, I could hardly believe that I was really in Jerusalem and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Pastor Wayne Lucas of Alliston Pentecostal Assembly, one of the churches with several members on the trip, read to us the scripture describing Jesus' agony. Mark 14:32-42 (New International Version, ©2010) Gethsemane   32  They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples,  “Sit here while I pray.”   33  He took Peter, James and John along


By Belinda We dismounted our camels. Our guide Danny said the story goes that when God had created all of the animals, he had a pile of spare parts left over so he put them all together and made the camel. That would explain a lot! They sure did look and feel like an ungainly hodge-podgy creature, with the exception of their oddly long, glamorous eye lashes. The Judean desert was left behind us as we drove towards the place we would be staying for the remainder of our time in Israel; the centre of strife throughout history; the scene of the most significant events in the Jewish and Christian faiths, and the place of our imaginations and dreams--Jerusalem. As we drove towards it my anticipation grew. It felt like the ultimate in "Are we there yet?" moments. The bus grew quieter, I think we all felt the same deep emotions, but for each of us there were no words... Pastor Dave stood up and announced that we were about to enter the tunnel that would lead us into the city.

Sometimes a Picture Says More than Words

 By Belinda After leaving Scythopolis we travelled, (or schlepped,)  across the Judean desert to a place called Genesis Land  where we had an appointment with some camels. We were greeted by Eliezer, Abraham's servant, and then Abraham himself, who was the epitomy of hospitality and welcomed us with tea and dried apricots, dates This beautiful tapestry hung in Abraham's tent. This facial expression shows the mood that the camels were in. They had attitude! Imagine getting on a camel and being on it as it raises itself to its feet. It is not for the faint of heart! Vita will probably kill me for posting this photo, but it's easier to ask forgiveness...her facial expression was priceless! :) Disembarking from a camel is even scarier than when it gets up from the ground! And there is no elegant way to get off.

February 24, 2011 Schlepping to Scythopolis

By Belinda Thursday Our guide, Danny, told us that we were going to “schlep” to the next place on our journey. “Schlep”—a Yiddish noun for a journey, especially a long and arduous one—or to carry something heavy. There you are friends—a word you can incorporate into your conversation today. We started this day by schlepping to  Scythopolis , pronounced Skitopolis (although it was not an especially arduous journey.) The city was named after the Scythians, an ancient people who moved into the area from what is now Iran in the second century B.C. but before that it was the site of the city of Beit Shean or Beth-Shan, the ancient Canaanite city, conquered by the Israelites, where the bodies of King Saul and his sons were hung on the walls by the Philistines, after they defeated the Israelites and King Saul committed suicide.   The next day, when the Philistines came to rob the dead, they found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa. They cut off Saul's head and stripped off

February 23, 2011 Day 3!

By Belinda (who is behind, but doing her best!) Wednesday People in our group heard from family at home in Canada who they were texting, that snow was falling thick and fast over there, while we basked in the sunshine and felt alternately grateful and guilty. We started Wednesday by driving to Banias, known in Jesus’ time as Caesarea Philippi. There, cliffs rose steeply from the ground; rugged stone of deep gray and salmon pink. The sound of cascading water came from gushing waterfalls known at The Gates of Hell. Suddenly Jesus’ words, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it,” came alive with a play on the name of this familiar landmark—all the energy and power of a gushing waterfall! Context made sense of the words in a way that people who heard them originally would have understood. And it was here at Banias that Peter made his confession of faith in Christ (Matthew 16:16.) We next drove to Korazin, destroyed by an earthquake and still in th

Second Day: Tuesday February 21—Searching for Jesus

By Belinda In spite of the sounds of Tiberius--a city that is vibrantly alive long into the night--on our first night in Israel we sank into our beds and slept as only exhausted travelers can. It had been an eleven hour plane journey followed by a full day of touring. We looked down from our hotel window onto the streets, lit brightly with a rainbow of neon signs and busy with people and vehicles--admired the view—and went to sleep. The next day, restored, we found one another in the dining room and with varying degrees of daring, sampled unfamiliar tastes and textures from the abundant buffet. There were salads, dates, cheeses, boiled eggs, omelettes, fruits and all kinds of cakes. At 8 o’clock sharp, our guide, Danny Appelbaum, met us in the lobby and we boarded the bus to begin day 2 which started with a walk through an alley crowded with market stalls. Our senses were bombarded with vibrant colour, smells, sights and sounds. We had been warned by our guide Danny, to be prepared

February 21st 2011--Day One

By Belinda Friends, a very busy schedule, slow internet and exhaustion! These are my excuses for not posting yesterday. :) Thanks Susan, for posting the itinerary! We are leaving Tiberias today for Jerusalem, but I am going back to day 1 and will try to not leave a day out as I record this journey. Wow, it is wonderful to be here. ************************* The silver winged cylinder sliced through silent sky. It encapsulates life; a baby’s cry carries across the three parallel rows of seats on and I hear scraps of sentences as people share details of grandchildren. “She’s five going on 10.” “Yeah, mine too.” And other details of family compared; strangers learning the landscape of one another’s lives. Finally, lights are turned down, window shades lowered and all falls silent. We sleep; or try to. Eleven hours into the flight a new day is starting in the Middle East, and we descend through layer upon layer of cloud, into Tel Aviv. The airport is modern and beautiful. “Welcome to Israel

While Waiting for News...

Posted by Susan... If you are like me, you've been checking in to WHS numerous times a day to see if Belinda has been able to post anything more since her report on the beginning of the trip which went up here on the blog at the end of their first day in Israel on Monday.  She shared with me a little treasure after cell group last Thursday night.  Acopy of her itinerary.  Mind you, she thought I was a little crazy asking for it, but I didn't care.  I like to know where the people I care about are when they're not where they're "supposed" to be!  Especially when so far away from home.  I'm crazy enough that I even I looked up the time difference between here and Israel.  In Israel they are seven hours ahead of those of us who are in the Eastern Standard time zone -Toronto.  So I'm just thinking about going to bed in the next half hour or so, and Belinda is probably just about to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock in their hotel room somewhere ne

The Journey Begins with Excitement

By Belinda The morning of our departure dawned Canadian winter crisp and bright; the sky rosy pink and cloudless. Joyce arrived first, dropped off by Fernando, then Pastor Dave and Esther arrived. The men managed to wrestle 5 people's luggage into the trunk of our Honda CRV and we were just preparing to get in ourselves, when Dave began checking his pockets with a look of perplexed disbelief. No passport. He retraced his steps mentally, and could only think it was in the hallway back at home in Tottenham, so we followed their vehicle back there, only to find that it was in a red bag, safely stowed with the mountain of cases in the back of the CRV all along. No worries, we were now on our way. At Lester B. Pearson airport the rest of our group of 28 began to gather. I sat down by a window to wait. A young woman next two me made a call on a pink cell phone. "Hello," she says, "I'm with (she names a company) and I missed my flight, can you help me?"

Next Week in Jerusalem

By Belinda Tonight I wrote to a friend in Israel with whom I'm hoping to connect during our trip, "We'll be staying in Jerusalem at...." and I gave the name of our hotel. We'll also be staying in Tiberius. Jerusalem...Tiberius! Will we really, really be there? This was the packing and preparing day. As I procrastinate on the most important things I have to do, this meant that I cleaned my oven! But because I recently took a training on time management where the trainer advised us to Swallow the Frog  (do the thing you don't want to do first), and am trying to put it into practice, I confined myself to the oven and didn't clean my fridge from top to bottom too. I don't know why it seemed such a monumental task to get ready today, but what with laundry, ironing, packing, photocopying passports and credit cards in case they get lost, the day flew by. It is so long since Paul and I have gone away together. I'm usually off to England on my o


By Belinda Cell group, and Tippy shares a home made birthday pumpkin pie with Barb whose birthday was last week. Both of them love pumpkin pie much more than birthday cake. I hope that this almost 13 year old never stops looking forward to our Thursday night cell group dinners as much as she does right now. Each week I look around at the 11 or 12 people crowded in tightly, passing plates of food; such a diverse group of married and single people, male and female--and I feel happy--to be there at the table; listening to the conversations; enjoying the enjoying, glad I belong. Last night, as I prepared the dinner after work, I was filled with personal insecurities as I pondered my week. I lead such an amazing team of people, and there are times when I feel inadequate--and inferior! I think, "They deserve better--in fact they are better--than me." This was one of those weeks--a week when I wondered if I had enough to give. Susan arrived early. I had just finished mopping

Welcome to My World

Fridays with Susan... Belinda and I talked after cell group last night.  She grabbed a second cup of coffee and sank into the lazyboy next to me in the Gathering Room (as I call their large back room - I guess it's actually the family room).  If I had wanted more coffee, I would have got up and filled up my cup too, or asked her to, but it really didn't seem worth the effort.  It had been a long week so far. During the course of our conversation, she mentioned having been in Lala-land for a brief period of time while something was going on that escaped her circle of awareness.  I said, "Don't you mean Belinda-land?" She said, "No, Lala Land," and went on to describe how this event in her life unfolded in plain view, but she had essentially missed it because she wasn't paying attention. She calls that "Lala Land?"  She has no idea. My cell phone rang in my lap while we were talking.  I could see it was daughter Beth.  I wondered wh

We Have Shekels!

By Belinda There are two open suitcases on our bedroom floor and we have shekels. I guess that means we really, really are going to the Holy Land! Four days from now (Sunday) we will be in the air and almost there. I have read the contents of the large white envelope containing our itinerary and other important information several times and as you can see, I will be wearing a name tag that says "Lyne Burston" for the duration of our vacation. I'm adjusting to the name change. :) (This is because Paul calls me "Lynne"--short for Belinda--and it lost a letter in the booking process.) On Saturday I bought a bathing suit because we'll be visiting the Dead Sea. I explained to our four Burston grandchildren who were visiting that day that the water is so salty that you cannot sink. Their eyes grew wide with interest and the littlest one said, "Then you don't need water wings?" I am feeling a little nervous. This is so out of my comfort zo

Mothers and Daughters

It was early one February morning, almost 13 years ago, that Paul and I drove to Markham-Stouffville hospital while trying to comprehend the fact that our baby girl was about to deliver a baby of her own. It was a planned C Section and she was so brave, delivering one liners to all and sundry in her inimitable way of dealing with nervous tension and emotion--keep it light--keep on laughing. That day we wondered where the years had gone. It seemed only a blink of an eye since the day she was born, and I could bring back every emotion of that day as if it were just yesterday. I had so much gratitude for the gift of Brenda; a sister for Peter, two years old when she arrived, and a gift which we would unwrap one day at a time for years to come. God gave us Miss Sociability; an instant connector with people--just like my mum; her Omie. She is hyper-punctual; a little obsessive; an overachiever at whatever she tackle--just like her dad. We are very different, and that is a good thing b