Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sweet Israeli Christmas


Oh come, oh come Emmuel... and ranson captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the son of God appear!  Rejoice! Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.  

He did come in the flesh and He will come again!  Praise the Lord!  Let's celebrate! 

This was our second Christmas in Israel, and I am please to say that it was a sweet one.  Christmas is an unusual event and holiday season to experience in Israel, where it is not a main stream celebration.  Christmas music on the radio, lights on the trees down Center St in Goldsboro, NC,  party after party after party...  these cultural expressions simply do not exist.  Even amongst believers in the land, Christmas is approached in diverse ways.  The simple reasoning behind this is that most people did not grow up celebrating with their families, because they are Jewish!  Those who are not Jewish are from nations around the world, which brings a variety of traditions and expectations.

Last December, being away from family caused a great deal of homesickness.  I was more prepared this year, but I still can't always anticipate what I will miss until I realize its not here.  The surprise point of "missing" this year was a corporate worship experience on Christmas Eve.  Only later did I find out about Carroll services that take place in various parts of the city.  Next time we are in Israel for Christmas, we will join in.  Its taking some time for us to learn how to celebrate as a family, but we're getting there!  

Since we were void of a tree last year, due to lack of availability,  when my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, without question I said, "A Christmas Tree!"   She graciously sent a four foot tree in the mail.  It arrived during Hanukkah, which I found a bit humorous.

We decorated it with this lovely set of salt dough ornaments that Aviel and I made together.  


Here they are on our modest but sweet little tree.




It was an accident that our tree was covered in Magan David!  The other stars were left overs from the Holocaust Survivors' Party.  I do enjoy a tree full of stars, though.  It causes me to ponder the promise God made Abraham, that his decedents would number the stars in the sky.  One of these stars would one day become the Messiah of His people, mysteriously bringing the Gentile nations into this covenant through his shed blood.

I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;  Genesis 26:4

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups [Jews and Gentiles]  into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.  Ephesians 2:13-15

***

On Christmas Eve,  Aviel enjoyed watching Charlie Brown Christmas, and Rudolph while Devin and I cleaned and prepared our home to recieve guests the next day.  We also filled our home with lovely Christmas music.  I am always amazed by how worshipful so many Christmas songs can be, as they proclaim the coming of the King.

Christmas morning, we first opened gifts as a family, then shared my family's traditional Christmas breakfast, turkey sausage and egg casserole, homemade yeast cinnamon buns, and grits.  In honor of Christmas being a holiday of the nations, we invested in real pork bacon that we found at Ewoo Butcher on Shamai St.  We hosted Eric and Joan, dear friends from our Kehilah (congregation), and had a delightful time in fellowship with them, learning about their family traditions.

Amongst a few other delicious goodies, Joan brought a Christmas cookie, which she called Grandmother Fingers.  She explained that her German Jewish grandmother, while living in Germany, made this cookie every Christmas to give to her Christian neighbors.  Her mother kept this tradition in America, as did Joan while living in Alaska.  Now her daughter, Sarah (who also happened to be my birth doula), is making the same cookies with her daughter, Ana, in San Francisco (we are sad that they moved).  Eric shared stories of Christmas in Alaska, eating caribou,  working on fishing boats,  and taking their daughters ice skating on a frozen lake.  As a man of the nations -Aleut -Eric enjoyed the bacon, as well as talking baseball, and playing with Aviel.

We were beyond blessed to celebrate with Joan and Eric and will always treasure memories of that morning.

After a family nap, we then headed to our friend Susy's house for Christmas dinner.  Aviel made drawings for the guests while we waited to eat.  Our drawing secession began with just Aviel and me, but before we knew it, others had joined in, drawing dinosaurs, boats... all sorts of art work emerged.  And not only artwork, but conversation and a joyful spirit filled the room.  Susy served a veal pot roast and rice.  Our table was quite international, so we also had a variety of foods from around the world.  My contribution upon Susy's special request: sweet potato casserole.  Israeli's love that stuff.

Upon arriving home, we skyped with our families in North Carolina and Ohio, then crashed!  It was a big, joyful day.

***

I've heard it said that friends are the family you chose for yourself.  Living away from family, I can testify to this.  As a nation of immigrants, most Israelis are away from loved ones, but we've adopted one another into each of our hearts.  Even though we miss our families in the States, I am thankful the for the family of friends that the Lord has blessed us with in Israel.                   

Chag Christmas Sameach!  Merry Christmas!

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

Related Posts:

Some scholars believe the birth of Yeshua coincided with the celebration of Sukkot!  Check out these posts to learn more about this Holy Day:
Sukkot Adventures (2011)
Sukkot Adventures (2010)

Hanukkah Adventures (2012)
Salt Dough Hand Prints
Making Grits in Israel
Sojourning:  Homesickness


Holocaust Survivors Party

Time and space often collide in Israel, a place of prophetic fulfillment both ancient and present.   It is often said that modern Israel was birthed out of the ashes of the Holocuast.  Scripturally, some believe this to be prophesied through the Ezekiel 37 passage about the dry dead bones.  The Lord breathes life into these bones, open tombs, and brings resurrected life back into the Land of Israel.   In my own time with the Lord, I've come to see Psalm 102 as a prophetic text connecting the Holocaust to the Land promises for the Jewish people, as well.

Every so often, the reality of walking in a prophetic topography hits me.  The time/space continuum manifests before my very eyes, and I stand awed by the goodness of the Lord to keep His Word.  What a honor for our generation to be walking in this aspect of Lord's manifold presence as His will unfolds in the earth today.

This Hanukkah, I had one of these experiences as I  stood in the midst of  approximately sixty lives spared from one of history's most horrific events - those who survived the Holocaust.

For my days have been consumed in smoke,
And my bones have been scorched like a hearth.  (v.3)

Because of the loudness of my groaning
My bones cling to my flesh. (v. 5)

My enemies have reproached me all day long;
Those who deride me have used my name as a curse
For I have eaten ashes like bread
And mingled my drink with weeping (v.8-9)

Isn't that a picture of the Holocaust? (From Psalm 102)

My time with these treasured people came through an invitation to help organize a party for a group of Holocaust Survivors sponpered by a non-profit that the husband of a close friend works for.  As a trained interior designer and architect,  I was commissioned to manage the decorations.  Not being an event planner, but a rather a pedestrian, mother-of-a-two-year-old in a land void of big-box retail,  I was nervous about how it would come together. On only two days notice, it was a quite a whirlwind, but worth the little sleep, walking in the cold rain,  and shed tears (because there were some!) to bless these precious people. To be honest,  if I had done nothing at all, the party wouldn't have been any less beautiful, because the joy on the faces of the Survivors was all we needed.


As I prayed over what felt like an overwhelming amount of work,  the word I heard from the Lord was "Do what you know."  This was clear because Aviel and I have been reading the story of David and Goliath in the Jesus Storybook Bible,  over and over again for about two weeks now.  David had an opportunity to use the Kings armor and equipment to fight Goliath, but instead, he opted for the more humble smooth stones and sling approach, because that's what he knew. 

I shopped at stores I knew of, and selected materials that I knew how to work with.  I wanted to fill the space with decorative Stars of David, and flowers.  During the course of researching for my Masters Thesis, I learned that during the Holocaust, while in Ghettos, and even here in Israel, Jewish families used garden making as a source of hope (see Kenneth Helphand for more information).  For that reason, I wanted the Survivors to have flowers, along with traditional Hanukkah motifs.  

Devin, Aviel and I spent the evening arranging tables and setting up the space.  I stayed up late painting Stars that Aviel and I did not finish together, then the next morning I returned on my own to finalize arrangements and to help facilitate the party.  Many of  the Survivors arrived early.  I was the "greeter" and spent some time talking with them while I arranged center pieces.  Most spoke Hebrew and Yiddish, but we communicated the best we could.  They seemed very excited about the flowers as the florist was bringing them in, and they loved the stars, especially after learning that Aviel helped paint them!  "Yeshli yelid, shtiem ve hetzie." (I have a son - two and half) I'd explain, along with a few other broken sentences and hand gestures indicating that we painted together.  I loved watching them fiddle with the stars and laughing together as they spun the little dreidels I put on each table.   

The food was lovely.  The caterer brought a table full of sufganiyot, which is a doughnut served traditionally during Hanukkah.  No sooner than he had set them out, they were all gone!  Seriously!  The Survivors ate them in about 5 minutes time.  He looked a bit panicked about it, and said, "I only brought one for each person and some of them had four or five!"  Since the party was planned for one hundred and we had about sixty in attendance.  Hopefully everyone who wanted a sufganiyot got one! 

At the end of the party, I helped our honored guests fill out a required form related to a financial gift they each received from the host.  What could have been a boring job turned into a blessed event of learning about the families and histories of each guest.  Even through our language barriers, I was able to to talk to them about where they immigrated from and how many children they had.  Learning about their families, caused me to reflect on how not only each of their lives was spared, but also the blessing of the lives of their children.  Because they lived, their children were born, and their lineage continued.  


This will be written for the generation to come,
That a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.

For He looked down from His holy height;
From heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth,


To hear the groaning of the prisoner,
To set free those who were doomed to death,


That men may tell of the name of the Lord in Zion
And His praise in Jerusalem,


When the peoples are gathered together,
And the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.  (v. 18-22)


Though I am not a descendant of a Survivor, nor even Jewish, but someone grafted into the promises of Israel through the blood of Messiah Yeshua, I  was gathered into the prophetic fulfillment of this passage that day.  I joined in the praise of a Holy God, who set the prisoners free, telling of His name-- in Jerusalem.

Each person a true gift, and in God's mysterious sovereignty, spared from death.  May they come into His fullness as He breathes life into their spirits.  May they know their Messiah, that they would be spared from even greater death.  (Ezekiel 37)


Survivors.

***

Thank you so much for all of your prayer support as I helped organize this party.  Though incredibly blessed, life in Israel is also very challenging!  I stand humbly before the Lord, knowing that 100% of what I do here could not be accomplished in my own flesh.  We need your prayers and encouragement more than I can explain!  May the joy and blessings I received from this special day overflow into each of your hearts and lives.  B'Shem Yeshua.

***

Related Posts:

Overwhelmed by Love
For His Names Sake
Hosea 3 
Hanukkah Adventures 2012
Lets Just Call it Chocolate

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hanukkah Adventures 2012

Hanukkah is growing into quite a nice tradition in the Mitchell home.  It is a special celebration for us, because Devin and I became engaged on the eight night in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Yemin Moshe five years ago.  Now that Aviel is old enough to appreciate Holy Days and Holidays, it is especially fun! 

If you are new to Hanukkah, the basic story behind the tradition is that Israel was in a war and only had enough oil to burn in the temple for one day.  Miraculously (according to the legend), the oil lasted for eight days.  Because of the miracle of the oil, we light candles for eight days and eat foods cooked in oil (this should appeal to all my southern friends).   It is the only feast the Jews celebrate that is not listed in Lev 23;  however, it *is* mentioned in the Brit Hadasha, or New Testament.  In John 10:22, the bible explains that Yeshua was in the portico of Solomon, in the winter, during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah).  It is a festival the Jewish people celebrated during the time Yeshua walked the earth in the flesh, so its something he would have likely participated in every year!  

Here's a few photos of our Hanukkah celebration this year!
 
 

This is a giant Hanukkia (Hanukkah Menorah) in Zion Square.  Every night around 6:30, a Rabbi comes out and lights a new candle.  This requires the use of a fire engine with a very long ladder, crane, and bucket.  Its a bit of a party, with music, blessings, speeches...  Aviel and I attended one evening and greeted Mayor Nir Barkat with "Hanukka Sameach!" (Happy Hanukkah)  after he helped light the candles.



We ate sufganiyot, a decadent traditional doughnut,  from the English Cake store on Ben Yehuda St.  This year, our favorite had cheesecake filling.  We also sampled coconut cream, and chocolate!  Another traditional food is the Latke, which is a potato pancake.  We like to serve ours with turkey sausage gravy, a'la Israel meets North Carolina! 

 

Eight nights equals eight gifts!  We tried to keep the gifts small and modest and gave one night to each of the grandparents.  This was Aviel's favorite present this year!  A Thomas and Friends figure-8 track!  It was a gift from Grandsir.  His other gifts included some rubber "duck-a-lings" (as he calls them) for the shower, dinosaur action figures, Veggie Tales dvd from Savta and Sabba, two differnent types of blocks, The Lion King dvd from Mema, and a Balance Bike from Ima and Abba! 

We are developing a tradition in our home of lighting the Candles before dinner, eating together, then opening presents.  This year, Aviel and I made a Salt Dough Hanukkia as a little craft activity.  I like making things with him that we can use around the house,  especially during the holidays.  It helps him get excited about the traditions.  Here are some photos of Aviel and Devin lighting the candles on the eighth night.







Isn't it lovely!

Thank you for celebrating Hanukkah with us this year!  Hanukkah Sameach!  

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12

***

Salt Dough Hanukkia

Ingredients/Materials
1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 tbsp oil
water to moisten

grated washable crayons 
(I recommend using washable crayon because it cleans easily, and the moisture content from the dough allows the pigment to spread).
yarn (about 12-16 inches)
hanukkah candles
bamboo skewer

Instructions
1. Mix flour, salt and oil, then slowly add in water  and kneed until the dough texture is similar to playdough.  

2. Divide into 9 equal size balls 

3. Allow your child to roll each ball in the desired grated crayon shavings.  Kneed and add more color if desired.  

4. Next, have your child use a Hanukkah candle to create a hole in the center.  Giggle it around a little because the hole will shrink slightly while baking. 

5.  Use a bamboo skewer or stick of similar size to make a hole through the base of each ball.  This will be where you string the yarn to connect them after they have baked.  

6.  Place on a cookie sheet cover in parchment paper and bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes.  

7.  After cooled, string the yarn through the holes in the base of the balls and tie in knots on both ends.

Enjoy!  

***

Related Posts:


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Light to the Nations: Snowflakes for Sandy Hook Kids

In light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut, some friends and I decided to get together and make snowflakes for as part of the effort to welcome the Sandy Hook kids into their new schools.  Even in Israel, our hearts have been hurting over this event and we've been mouring with those who mourn. Its important to us to teach our precious little ones to be a "light to the nations", so we wanted to offer some love and support to our American neighbors who are suffering right now.   We explained with minimal detail about what happened, and spent some time praying for the victims and their families.  Then we got to the business of making.

I covered our table with newspaper, and set out some craft supplies...  primarily glitter paint and pre-cut square white construction paper.  The kids had free reign to create on the white paper.   








The littlest one found Aviel's stash of pop-cycle sticks.






After the children painted the paper, we took a little break for a very Israeli lunch of pita, raw veggies, chick pea humas, red lentil humas, salsa, and carob honey balls for desert (Good work on the food, ladies!). The painted paper dried (mostly) while we ate. Then we started cutting the snowflakes!
They turned out beautiful! Very reminiscent of one of our favorite books, The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats.








They'll be in the post first thing Sunday morning (because the Israeli work week starts Sunday!) Hopefully they will arrive on time! We hope these will be a blessing to the children in Newtown. It certainly blessed us to make them.

For more information please visit the Newtown PTA.


Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway,
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

Due by January 12, 2013.


Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matt 5:4


I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

Related Posts:
Sometimes We... Paint!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sometimes We.... Eat Sabich!

Sabich is a type of pita sandwich that we sometimes eat when we're out in City Center. Its a fun little treat first brought to Israel by Iraqi Jews in the 1950's. The yummy goodness consists of eggplant, roasted egg, Israeli sauces, (humas, tehina, mango sauce, and hot sauce) and salad vegetables all stuffed in a fluffy white pita.

We were out doing some errands last week, and stopped by our favorite Sabich stand for lunch. For anyone familiar with City Center, he's located on Shamai St. (next to the Ewoo Butcher).

Here we are waiting our turn.

The shop owner fixing us up.

He fills the pita with the eggplant and egg, then adds all these extras

Aviel dives in for a giant bite!


Bete Avon! (Bon Appetit)
 
 
Related Posts:
Sometimes We... Make Muffins
Sometimes We... Paint! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Turning 30 in the Middle of a War

"How was your birthday this year?"

All things considered, it was great. 

This year marked the change of an era for me (Callie), as my time as a 20-something came to an end.

Yep.  This was a big one.  On November 20, the seventh day of the eight day Pillar Cloud operation, I turned 30!

And 30 came in with a bang!  Missiles, sirens... it was a memorable day for sure. 

The night before, I celebrated a shared party with a close friend.  We had planned a ladies night out, but things changed due to bombs and husbands who had been called up to serve in reserves.  Instead we had a really sweet celebration at a friend's house.  It was a blessed evening where we all offered support to each other, during a stressful time.  The host later apologized for allowing a great deal of the conversation to focus on the current events of the time, but it was honestly just what I needed.  I needed to hear how my friends where processing things at present, as well as how they had walked through past military conflicts.   This was my first war, and there were some veteran Israeli war-time civilians present.  The food was great, my friend and I both received gifts, and the best part of all, our friends laid hands on us, offering prayers of gratitude for our lives and speaking prophetic encouragement over us.  It was a great little party.

The next day, my actual birthday,  Aviel and I headed up to a neighborhood, Ramat Beit HaKerem. We visited a dear friend, a single women - mid forties - whom I lived with while Devin and I were engaged.  Knowing that breakfast is my favorite meal, Susy invited us over for a lovely pancake brunch.  She also selected a few other guests that she wanted to connect me with.  Susy blessed me with the gift of new friends!

After brunch, Aviel and I jumped on bus 5, where he fell asleep and unfortunately dropped one of his beloved Pixar Cars matchbox toys.  I carried my sleeping boy up a the flight of stairs from Hebron Rd, to our street.... then another flight of stairs up to our building... then three flights of stairs up to our apartment...  gently laid him in his bed, only for him to wake up screaming!

I worked with him to help soothe him back to sleep, and just as his precious eyes were shutting....

whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.............

The siren sounded.

Thank you Hamas for blowing a nap on my birthday.

I scooped him up, ran to the door, grabbed my well organized, pre-packed shelter bag (I was ready this time), and headed down the stairs.  We met neighbors on the way down, who suggested that we all wait in the stairwell rather than go into the wet shelter below.  So, there we all sat, for the duration of the siren and 10 minutes afterward.

Aviel wasn't such a happy camper.  The siren was fairly short, but just long enough to be challenging for a nap deprived two and half year old.  We tried some snacks and books while we waited, then he whimpered, "Can I watch Mickey Mouse?"   By the time it was over, I wanted to watch Mickey Mouse, too.

Eventually we said good bye to our neighbors and moved back into our apartment.  I set up a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for Aviel, grabbed my bible and absorbed God's promises from Psalm 91.

One of the greatest difficulties I faced during Pillar Cloud was holding myself together for Aviel's sake.  With the sound of the siren would come a tremendous release of adrenaline, as fear and panic tried to take over. I did my best to remain as calm and normal as possible, so he would feel safe and secure, but I could only hold it together for so long.  This wasn't a siren drill.  Missiles really were being launched at my home city, and we really were seeking safety.  After I took a moment to remind myself of God's faithfulness, I joined my little boy in some Mouse-viewing, then playtime with his toy cars.  We also called Devin to make sure he was safe and sound at work.

Oh yeah...  Its still my birthday! 

I remembered after our phone call. 

A little later, we packed our things, hopped on bus 74 and met Devin in City Center to have a birthday dinner as a family.  The Israeli way of coping with this sort of conflict is to continue on as normal as possible, so out we went.  What a relief to be together.  First, Devin took me shopping!  I found a lovely blue sweater at my favorite store on Ben Yehuda Street.  Then we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Focaccia, with a little detour into a pet store on the way.  Dinner was excellent (so were the left overs the next day), but even though trying to be "normal" is the Israeli way, these events were far from normal for me!  I still felt flooded with emotion, and was glad to be back at our apartment when we finally made it home.   

To be honest, I can even remember what we did when we got home...  and thinking about the second half of the day still makes me teary!  I'm still recovering!  Devin did well to keep it a special day for me, even with all the turmoil.  I am thankful for him...  his character and his leadership in our home.  And I'm glad we went out, even if staying in would have felt more secure.  I'm glad we didn't let the enemy steal away a celebration. 

Well, there you have it.  That is how I entered into my 30's. 

Related Posts:
Overwhelmed by Love
Sirens and Oil Flasks
War Drills, Hamas, and Stuff
Aviel Turns 2
Adventures on the Bus

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Follow Up for The Bridge

The following is the second letter I (Callie) wrote for The Bridge, a church in my hometown:

Dear Family at The Bridge,

Thank you all so much for your support and prayers during the Pillar Cloud operation (Pillar of Defense).   So many of you sent  encouraging notes to my email, and I haven't yet had a chance to respond, but I greatly appreciated ever single one!   As a family, our focus in the last week has been recovering from the surreal events that took place during the conflict.  It has been a sweet time, receiving encouragement from and ministering to  our Israeli community as we've all processed the events together.  It made for an especially unique Thanksgiving this year. 

The sudden cease-fire agreement felt a little like "whip-lash" as we were all being prepared for a ground invasion.  The extreme circumstances, anxiety about what to do if sirens sounded while I was out of the house, and wondering whether or not Devin was going to be called up to serve,  all while trying to keep as much a sense of "normal" as possible for Aviel's  (ah-vee-el) sake,  were incredibly exhausting.  I am not alone in feeling tired!  As a nation, we have all been coming down from a tremendous amount of adrenaline.  My prayer for us has been that the Lord would minister rest to our hearts,  similar to how Jesus was ministered to after His time of testing in Matt 4:11.   Please join me in this prayer for Israelis through the Holiday season. We begin Hanukkah celebrations Dec 8th.  

This event was personally "shaking" for me.  It has awakened my heart to the reality that we are living in the last days.   The formation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 is the greatest prophetic fulfillment of this truth, but one that most in my generation often take for granted.  As a political state, Israel has existed longer than most of our lives, so its easy to forget how miraculous its formation was 64 years ago, and how necessary Israel is in the Lord's plan to bring glory to His name.  

In Matthew 23: 37-38 , after offering a rather stern rebuke to the Pharisees, Jesus says,

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.  Look, your house is left to you desolate.  For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (NASB)

In order for us to see Him again,  the Jewish people must cry out "Baruch Haba B'shem Adonai," (Hebrew of the above heart cry)  in Jerusalem.  This means Israel had to first be reestablished as the Jewish homeland, and Jerusalem had to be given back to their hands of the Jewish people, which took place during the Six Day War in 1967.    

Yet, the bible is clear that at the end of the age, all of the nations will rage against Israel, Jerusalem in particular, as a precursor to Jesus' return.  See Zechariah 14: 1-4

Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. (NASB)

If you've read any headlines, this is happening - has been for years now - but there has been an increase in the last week.  The recent UN vote, upgraded the status of the Palestinians to a "Non-member Observer State"  with 138 votes in favor and only 9 votes opposed.  This has been an interesting follow up to the military operation, and very telling as to where the hearts of the nations are in regards to Israel and the Jewish people. 

As part of the agreement, the Palestinian Authority asked that East Jerusalem be made its capital.  To give some geographic and biblical understanding of what this means, The Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Kidron Valley, The Garden Tomb and the skull rock where we believe Jesus was crucified,  are all within the area defined as East Jerusalem.  The Mount of Olives is the physical location from which Jesus ascended in to Heaven in Acts 1, and it is the physical location his feet will touch down upon His return according to Zech 14 as noted above.  As we wage this war, against principalities in heavenly places (Eph 6: 12), isn't just like the enemy to want to bind this location up with a spirit of Islam - a spirit that denies that God has a son, and that Jesus is Messiah? And in doing so, in dividing the land of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem with this denial, is making agreement with the spirit of the anti-christ as explained in 1 John 1:4:

And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.  (NASB)

As a body of believers in Israel, we are saddened by this vote, but not surprised.  We know according to His word that these events are coming, but we also know according to His word that Jesus wins! 

The calling to live in Israel is not an always an easy one.   When I struggle with homesickness, I often walk to a location where I can see the Mount of Olives to remind me of Jesus' return, and why He has me here:  to further the truth of Yeshua as Messiah in His covenant land.  Please pray for us to have an effective ministry here in the Land.  It is the yearning of my heart to see the Jewish people come to know their Messiah, and to see the Lord's fire fall in this place.  Continue to pray for the small body of believers in Israel to people  of prayer, grace, and endurance.  We are serving on the spiritual front-lines of these events and need support from the church world wide!  

Let the reality of His imminent return embolden your personal ministries.  Be ready!   I'd also like to invite you all to visit our family blog where we share photos and stories of our adventures in Israel,  and to sign up for our email newsletter that Devin sends out about twice a month.  Please send us an email at devin.callie@gmail.com 

Love, Blessings, and SHALOM! 

Callie (Narron) Mitchell

Related Posts:
Note for The Bridge Part 1
For His Name's Sake A break down of Ezekiel 36
Redemptive Space Tina's story of leaving Nisanit, now part of Gaza.
Sirens and Oil Flasks Lessons from the first sirens.
War Drills, Hamas, and Stuff  A little bit about the Hamas Charter

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Note for The Bridge

The following is a letter I (Callie) wrote for The Bridge, a church in my hometown:

Dear Friends at The Bridge,

Thank you so much for your prayers, concerns and loving support of our family and the nation of Israel during this critical time.  It blesses our family to know that your church loves Israel. 

When I married my husband, Devin Mitchell, I knew I was not only saying "yes" to him, but also to a wild adventure in the Lord, that meant committing to live in Israel.   Devin is a believer in Jesus with a Jewish Heritage.  According to Israel's Law of Return, anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent qualifies for citizenship.  He met qualifications, and moved here at 18.  I joined him as his wife almost 4 years ago, and we have been blessed with our son, Aviel (ah-vee-el) who is now 2 1/2.  So here we are, in the city where Jesus physically left the earth, and where He will physically return, hearing war sirens and taking cover in shelters. 

I consider it a great honor to stand with Israel right now.  This military operation, in Hebrew, is called Amud Anan, which literally translates as Pillar Cloud.  I don't know why it is being translated in English as Pillar of Defense, other than the possibility that the strength of the meaning behind "cloud" is lost.  Anyone familiar with the bible knows the Lord appeared to the nation of Israel as a cloud by day and fire by night.  That was his physical presence dwelling among the people.  His Shekinah.  As I've walk the streets of Jerusalem since this operation started, I have a strong sense of his Shekiah in the Land.  I know the Lord is here with us.  I feel as though the Lord has invited me to be part of something very Holy by calling me to live here as Israel fights for her land. 

This is hard truth for the world to understand, but when Israel fights for her land, it is a holy and righteous act before the Lord.  God covenanted this physical place to the Jewish people in Genesis 13: 15,
for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.


Forever. 

If there is any question about whether that stands true, even after the new covenant is established through the blood of Jesus,  Romans 11: 28-29 states: 
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.


We worship a God of promise and covenant.  He keeps His word.  And this, even beyond Genesis 12:1-3, I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you, is why we should stand with Israel as believers.   For the sake of God's reputation and name.  See Ezekiel 36: 22-24

It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.  I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.  For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 


When God restored the Jewish people back to the physical land of Israel in 1948, after being dispersed for 2000 years, He made good on His word and proved Himself as Holy.  This nation has had to fight to possess the Land ever since.  The enemy hates the Jewish presence in the land because it points to a Holy God, and likewise,  anyone who tries to stand against the Jewish people living in the land of Israel is attempting to stand against the Holiness of God.  That is serious. 

We are asked repeatedly, "Are you safe?"  I feel safe.  I know God is our shelter.  That's a promise from Psalm 91.  Also, Jerusalem has  Holy sites and Arab neighborhoods that Muslim terrorist would not want to risk destroying.  This keeps most large scale missile attacks on the outskirts of the city, and in other regions of the country.  So for now, I feel safe.  That doesn't mean I'm not scared though!  Its unnerving to hear the sirens and have to take cover!  Pray for me to continue on with courage!  Devin was required to serve in the Israeli Defense Force after he became an Israeli citizen.  He is now in reserves and could potentially be called up.  Please pray for the Lord to have him exactly where he is supposed to be.  Mostly, we ask the you would pray for the salvation of the Jewish people and for us to be used by the Lord to make known the truth of Messiah Yeshua during this time. 

Love, blessings and SHALOM! 

Callie (Narron) Mitchell 

Related Posts:
For His Name's Sake A break down of Ezekiel 36
Redemptive Space Tina's story of leaving Nisanit, now part of Gaza.
Sirens and Oil Flasks Lessons from the first sirens.
War Drills, Hamas, and Stuff  About the Hamas Charter

Monday, November 19, 2012

Overwhelmed by Love

The love and support we have felt from friends and family, in the last few days, has been overwhelming.  It has blessed me (Callie) to wake up in the morning, check my facebook, to find comment after comment assuring us that we are being prayed for.  I believe in the power of prayer, and trust that the Lord is protecting us, and not just our family, but our nation as well.

Many friends have offered encouragement from Psalm 91 in the last few days.  It has been my place of meditation this week, and the deep truths of finding safety in the Lord are being revealed to me in new ways. 

God is our shelter.

When I wake up in the morning I wonder whether or not its better for us to stay in or go out.  Part of Israeli coping and even attack against these issues is to move forward with as much normalcy as possible.  Maybe that's easy for so many of the citizens who have gone through this before, but nothing about life is "normal" for me at the moment! 

Yesterday, we carried out our normal weekly activities.  We went the shuk and did our grocery shopping, and I got a hair cut.  Honestly, keeping the normal routine helps!  At home, I sit around analyzing every sound I hear from the street.  When motor cycles pass by on Hebron Road, they sound oddly like the beginnings of the sirens.  My heart stops every time.  If I'm not pre occupied with sounds, then I'm spending too much time reading about the war online. 

Getting out of the house helps.  Not only does it help, but over the last few days, I have felt the presence and Holiness of God when I've been outside.  He is here with this nation, dwelling amongst the people in His covenant Land.  I have a sense of safety when we are out because I know God is our shelter.  His word makes that promise. 

Last night, while walking home from dropping something off at a friend's house, I had a sense that I was in a glory cloud, walking on holy ground. I entered into spontaneous praise and worship the whole way home. His presence is so real. We're part of a great move of God over here, as He proves the Holiness of His name. 

“It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land." Ezekiel 36:22-24

Again, thank you for all of your prayers and support.  It has blessed me and I hope you all will be blessed to hear about our adventures as we walk with God through this time of conflict.  I plan to do some more creative writing about what we're experiencing, but I wanted to use Aviel's nap to share my heart quickly and openly! 

Love you all!  

Related Posts:
Holocaust Survivors Party
Note for The Bridge
Follow Up for The Bridge
Sirens and Oil Flasks
Turning 30 in the Middle of a War
War Drills, Hamas, and Stuff









Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sirens and Oil Flasks

The sirens sounded and I wasn't ready.

For the last day and a half, I had this nagging thought that I needed to prepare a bag for a quick trip down to the bomb shelter, if it came to that.   With the battle in the South escalating to attacks on Tel Aviv and Rishon Le Tzion,  both only a forty-five minute drive from Jerusalem, the reality of our circumstances hit closer to home - literally.

I had gathered a few things and put them together, but in the busyness of the day, I just had not finished.

Then it happened.

We were leaving the house for Shabbat Dinner and the sirens blew.  My heart sank.  I rushed to close the window treseme, and gathered up the sorted contents I wanted for our shelter bag, while Devin jumped online to see what was going on.  Since it was short siren, we suspected that we were still safe, but we wanted to be sure.  After some assessment, phone calls, discussions with neighbors, we decided that conditions were stable enough to continue on with our evening plans and headed out for dinner.  Part of the Israeli mentality towards these issues is to continue on with life as normally as possible.

I couldn't quite transition back into normal.  My adrenaline was still running high from what had just taken place.  We still were not sure exactly why the sirens sounded and I feared the war was now at our back door.

On the walk, all I could think about was how foolish I had been to not have prioritized getting our bag ready.  We'd be safe without it, but as the mother of a two and a half year old, there are things I knew we'd need for an extended time in the shelter.  I had planned, but I had not assembled.

Like those silly foolish virgins who had their lampstands, but forgot their oil, I wasn't ready. My flask was empty. (See Matthew 25: 1-14) 

Our shelter bag traveled with us in Aviel's stroller on our walk to dinner last night, and when we got home, I quickly completed and organized its contents - blanket, water bottle, extra clothes, snacks, crafts and toys, bibles, books, etc.  Its next to the door now, with socks, shoes, and jackets.  We slept ready to go if the sirens were to sound again.  Well, at least Devin and Aviel slept.  I was up all night working through some anxiety from the earlier events of the day.   

As I pressed into the Lord while my two guys slept, I asked Him to give me a spirit of wisdom about how to prepare our home and our hearts if this were to happen again.  And I asked Him to help me to be ready for Him - for His return.

When the bridegroom comes, I want my oil flasks full. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shabbat Letter - Pillar Cloud

Dear Family,

It has been far too long since we have written to you all to let you know how things are going for the Mitchell family.  The Lord reminded me to write these letters because of how crucial your prayers are for us, especially for the time we are stepping into now.  There have been so many things happening, that I don't believe I could write about all it without keeping you reading for an hour.  In the letters that will follow, I will go into a little more detail about what the Lord has been doing with us as a family.  The Lord continues to bless the work of my hands at the Anglican School here in Jerusalem, and some real doors have been opened for me that we will have to very prayerful about whether I walk through them.  Callie is enjoying her time with Aviel at home, but there are a few project that seem to be coming on the horizon for her as well.  Please pray that the Lord would give us the wisdom to know how to rightly divide our time as it seems like He is filling our weeks with many opportunities bring glory to His name in Jerusalem.  Aviel continues to grow and mature at an alarming rate.  For all of you who are parents yourselves, you know that it seems like only yesterday that the children were born.  Now Aviel is talking all the time and really showing us the incredible personality he has.  Please pray for us as were continue to seeks His face here as a family.

I must admit, the thing that motivated me to write this letter today was the new operation that has started in Gaza.  Many of you may not know, but since the beginning of October, hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel.  This continued barrage came to a head this past week when there some of the rockets found their targets.  Prime Minister Netanyahu gave the go ahead this evening (November 14th) to start a military operation to stop these acts of terror.  The Operation is called "Operation Pillar of Cloud".  After hearing the name of the operation, all of us in the room felt that this move by the IDF was going to be significant.  No one knows how long this will take or what will happen. Please pray that the Lord would give our leaders wisdom to know what needs to be done, when it needs to happen, and how it needs to happen.  Please pray for the people in the south who are hearing sirens all the time now warning them of incoming missiles.  But most of all, please pray that the Lord would undertake for His Land and His people so that He would get the glory.

As we look at the realities in front of us here, we can't help but fear what is going to come.  I would be lying to say that I wasn't a little afraid about what is going to happen.  I could very easily be called up as a reservist if things get really bad.  What is going to become of me or my family?  It is in times like these that I am so relieved that we have our security in the Lord.  Yes, we will all feel fear from time to time, but there is an ever present hope that stays with us no matter what happens.  As long as we have Yeshua in our lives, we have a hope for the future.  We know that if we are running after Him with all our heart, the safest place in the world is where He leads us to be.  He has lead me and my family to live here in Israel, so I know that we are in the safest place possible.  It may not seem like it, but we are completely safe where we are right now because we are right where He wants us to be.  I pray that we can all remember the hope that we have living within us and not despair.  No matter what trails we face, that hope can never be taken away.

In Yeshua,

Devin, Callie, and Aviel

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Shabbat Shalom

Dear Family,


It has been far too long since we last wrote to you all. A lot has happened since then and everything we have gone through as a family is more evidence of the incredible faithfulness of the Lord. Many of you have been following and praying for completion of Callie’s Master’s degree in Architecture. Even though she still has a bit of design work to finish, her professors decided that after turning in her written thesis, she had done enough to receive her degree. As of June, Callie has graduated from the University of Cincinnati. Thank you all so much for your prayers, and please pray that she would finish her design work in the coming weeks.


I am about to start a new school year and I will have a very busy schedule teaching for two different schools.I will be continuing to teach English at the messianic school here in the city, but I will also be teaching Computer technology at a private school run by the Anglican Church. The two schools share a campus here in Jerusalem, so it won’t be too much running around, but I will be very busy. Please pray that the Lord would give me the strength and the skill to do the job well. I really see both of these schools as a place where the Lord can use me in the lives of these kids, so please pray that I would submit to His leading in everything. Aviel continues to grow and mature. He is a 2 ½ year old boy who never stops talking. Every day seems like he has something new to say. Please pray that the Lord would continue to show us how to be good parents for this precious boy. Finally, as we hope to grow as a family soon (this is not an announcement, but a desire that the Lord would add to our family soon), please pray that the Lord would provide everything we need to thrive as a young family here in Israel.


Israel, as always, is in a precarious position. The Sinai Peninsula has disintegrated into something similar to the wild west. Bands of militants roam freely and are just looking for the right opportunity to attack our southern border. The situation in Syria has become a full civil war. Israel is watching this very closely because Syria has what is generally acknowledged to be the world’s largest cash of chemical and biological weapons in the world. The possibility of these being transferred to Hizbollah in Lebanon is real and it is something that Israel will never tolerate. Please pray that the leaders of this nation would know what to do and when to do it. Most of all, pray that the Lord would watch over His word and fulfill what He has spoken about the nation of Israel. Pray that His mighty hand of protection would be upon this people.


Salvation is a subject that gets everyone in the Body very excited. We love to talk about it, because it is a subject that is so full of hope and expectation of things to come. We live in a world that is completely absent of hope. Just one look at the situation around Israel is proof enough of that. Thank the Lord that our existence here is not dependent on us, but on His ability to keep His eternal promises. Salvation is interesting, because it many times becomes a very self-centered topic. We think about our salvation as something we get and put in our pocket for later. We think, “I am saved! So, that means that when I die, I have got my ticket to heaven waiting in my back pocket.” Salvation is based upon the eternal nature of God. It cannot be separated from His nature. He is a God who saves! We forget that salvation, if it is founded within His eternal nature, has so many facets that we will never be able to see the complete picture of what salvation truly is. What was the depth of the cost of our salvation to the Lord? We will never really know, because we can never really see the full depth of who God is. Why were we saved? Well, the Lord saved us for Himself. He wants to have His precious creation with Him for eternity. He saved us for others. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book about miracles that people are not chosen for their sake, but for those who are not yet chosen. We are saved to be witnesses of the Lord’s redeeming power to others. And yes, we were saved so that we would not have to know eternal separation from our Father. At this point the Lord really got me thinking. I felt Him say to me, “Do you really think that is the full length and breadth of what the story of salvation is?” If all creation is groaning, salvation must be far deeper than anything we could ever imagine. I don’t know about you, but that makes be just sit in awe that I get to be a part of God’s eternal plan for Salvation. Blessings to you all and thank you so much for your love.


In Yeshua,


Devin, Callie, and Aviel

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Adventures at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

One of our new favorite places is the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo! We had our first family visit a few weeks ago and loved it! Aviel had a great time. His favorite exhibits were the ones that allowed him to get close to the animals, especially those that moved and played!

Here's some photos of our little safari... Many of them will be from the back because that just the nature of trying to photograph a 2 year old at the zoo!


The first exhibit in the zoo is Bird Lake where we saw black swans, cranes, flamingos, and a variety of ducks and geese.


Siamang Monkeys make a home on several islands in Bird Lake. Here's Aviel with Abba checking out one guy in a little tree house.


Aviel's favorite exhibit was the Black-footed Penguin.


He loved watching them, saying they were "flying in turquoise water." They certainly did look more like they were flying than swimming!


And he chased them back and forth. He would have done this all day if we had time!


There's his sweet face! LOL


Another of Aviel's favorite exhibits was the Aviaries. This is us in the Tropical Aviary.


I had to hold on to him in this exhibit because he was pretty tempted to throw rocks at these Rainbow Iories to make them fly.



All three of us liked the Syrian Brown Bears.


Aviel figured out how to climb the fence! A little scary, but Abba had him!


Of course, the Chimpanzees are always entertaining. This guy cracked me up. He's religious... in his prayer shawl.


The Chimpanzees liked the wild cats that came to play.


Asian Elephants were next. Aviel said, "Like Horton!" As in Horton Hears a Who.


Next was the African Yard where we saw all sorts of animals from Africa... gazelles, zebras, giraffes, addax, hippos, and so many more!



If you were ever wondering where Noah's Ark ended up... here it is!


And the Children's Zoo...


Aviel LOVED the chasing the chickens, and petting the goats and sheep.


Thanks for sharing our Zoo Adventures! We could have easily spent then entire day wandering around and we look forward to our next visit!

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Adventures