January 01, 2016


1 January 2016

New Year arrived on midnight. Wet howling through the cement walls, the cold gripped and sent us under covers of five blankets and an under-15-degrees-weather-sleeping-bag.  Misty joined us there for warmth. 

Happy New Year, 2016 is going to be a cold one.

During the night, laying with my eyes open in the dark listening to the thunders, I thought of all the unusual events that we went through in 2015.  We had learned that God directs us with eternity in mind; Thus, I was looking for a pattern in the events. I might have found it.

When Willie started cultivating the garden bed below, it looked like a giant ashtray. Debris and cigarette butts gathered in corners and the plants were chocked and dying.  We cleaned part of it and started to look after the plants. New plants were planted in and the city workers added some beautiful yellow flowers bulbs in the summer. The local storeowners smiled and kept watch to ensure that no one used it as a trash can again. Since then, the garden grew, and changed with the seasons. The clean area expended. It is now almost as long as the block itself. The neighborhood responded watching our example.
Jenia in his store

Workers in local restaurants are called often to respond to beggars. When we frequent these places, it is hard to tell who is habitually visiting that location and who has a real need of food.  We've watched the owners hand money or food to the 'regular' and we saw others who sent them away.  During the summer, we saw a man on the beach, who avoided direct eye contact with everyone around him. He carried some bags filled with empty bottles and clothes.  His hand shot forward when he saw us looking, "Yes, I'm hungry" he said when we asked. We ordered breakfast for him. When the restaurant owner realised that we are paying for his breakfast, she reduced our bill and shared in the cost. On the last day of the year, we talked to another restaurant owner. We set up an agreement by which we will buy a breakfast coupon once a month to give away to a needy person. The owner gave us a reduce price.

Israelis are generous; they simply need an example to follow.

Our stairway needs cleaning. In three years, we lost three cleaners. After some discussions with the neighbours, it seems that a new one will not be hired at this time. Dirty stairs bug me. After a month of dust being blown into the staircase from Syria and the Sahara desert, I prayed asking God to "fix" it.  He did. He woke me up at 4:30am and told me to take a bucket etc. and…go clean the stairs.  I did not have much of a choice…so, I filled up the bucket, starting at the top floor, I cleaned the entire area…all 80+ stairs, and bar handles. It took me over 2 hours.  Two weeks later, I was woken up at 5:30am and again I cleaned the entire staircase. So early, I was sure that no one would see me; apparently, they did.

People told me I should not get others to get used to my cleaning; that every floor should do their own area; that this way no one will be hired to clean the stairs…I shrugged my shoulders.  What could I tell them? God told me to do it?!

It took another month and the lady upstairs sent her cleaning lady to do the stairs…two weeks later, she herself cleaned two floors…and on New Year Eve we arrived at the bottom floor, smelling cleaning supplies and seeing the lady down below us, moving a bucket of water and wiping the floors… A pleasant surprise, others followed my example.

Jinjee... Purr
Willie started to feed some kittens outside. At first people said that he should not do that. Later, a local vet picked the cats, neutered them, and returned them to the area. One such orange cat, Jinjee (Hebrew for red hair) now has a shelter from the rain; that outdoor cat is living well being fed by the locals following Willie example.

Often, we are told to live as an example so others will see God in us. I always thought I did. Maybe not; this is the first time I noticed God in the public flower beds, in the red hair cat, and in the cleaning bucket.  I wonder what we will learn in 2016.

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