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The end of the journey...or is it just the beginning?

have fallen behind again. One day blends into another here. The other day we left by 530 to drive south of Jerusalem to a small community in the Judean hills where we had the opportunity to pick olives. It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive. Olive harvesting was actually fun. We had to take small plastic rakes and basically comb the olive branches to detach the olives. A few times I climbed up into the middle of the tree to reach the taller branches. It was hot and dusty work, but a lot of fun.
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We could see the Dead Sea and the mountains of Jordan from where we stood, right on the edge of the desert. 
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Once we finished, we ate lunch in the olive grove, then drove to Gush Etzion a short distance away. There we saw the very emotional presentation on the pioneers who tragically were killed there during Israel's war for independence when the communities were destroyed. No matter how many times I see that, it never stops being emotional. After there we drove to another community where Ari Abramowitz lives. Ari ias a man who hosts a radio program and has been one we have followed for a long time. He also spoke at our church, which he remembered. From the hilltop there we could see Jerusalem. The view was amazing. We saw his house, the synagogue they're building, and a retreat center they are hoping to open to the public eventually.

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By that time the sun was beginning to set over the desert hills, painting the sky pink and orange. The drive back to the base took almost 3 hours with the traffic in Jerusalem. We pretty much ate supper and went to bed. Yesterday we harvested grapes in the community of Ofra. Many of the grapes were table grapes this time instead of wine grapes, and the wine ones we harvested grew on tiny clusters. It was harder work climbing through thorns and thistles to access the vines.
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After the harvesting was finished there, we headed up to the community to eat lunch in the park, which had green grass- a luxury here in Israel. Then we had a tour of the community and of the hilltop above, on which stood at one point a community. About 2 years ago the community was destroyed when the Israeli Supreme Court deemed it was illegal. What we are seeing here in the communities is that the very move to help ther Palestinians is actually both hurting them and creating more division between them and the Israelis- divisions that would not have existed otherwise.

After that we drove to ancient Shilo and toured there.
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So much more excavation has been done just since our last trip to Israel. It was amazing, as always, to stand in that spot where the tabernacle once stood. I picked up a piece of pottery and held it as I thought about what it would have looked like in those times. What the story of that pottery was. Who made it? Who was the person who brought that vessel up to Shilo for the feast at the Tabernacle? And how did it all relate to me? What was the connection that brought me here to this same place? For me, a love for God. A love for His people, a love for His land. Being part of something bigger than myself, helping rebuild the ancient ruins in a way. The people have returned to the land of their ancestors. And now we are helping them plant vineyards and harvest the fruit. Working alongside the people of God. For the first time in history. Last night was our grand finale dinner...they served Shawarma and special dessert and gave us our certificates for completing the 2 week harvest.

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Today we headed to Shilo once again for the last grape harvest of the season.
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I was part of picking the last grapes for 2019. It was as amazing feeling. And I believe quite significant for it to be at Shilo. It's a connection to the ancient roots. The vineyards are once again planted here on the mountains of Samaria. The bible speaks of the vineyards at Shilo. And now here we are again. It it's like the archaeologists who dig up the remains, then put the pieces back together to form a picture of what once was. Now we are living out the fulfillment of the prophecies spoken back then. I'm thankful for this trip. For everything I was blessed to be a part of. For the people I have met and my fellow harvesters who became like family over the past couple weeks.
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Saying goodbyes as people begin to leave is hard. We have experienced so much together. We have seen the amazing impact on the Israeli farmers we have helped, and even others who heard about who we are and were taken aback by Christians helping them. For that, it its priceless. We truly fulfilled our mission. It has been an amazing trip. Yet I am eager to return home now. There is a sense of completion. I believe I did everything I came to do. And now it's time to return home tomorrow and see what the next steps are to walk out. It is the a journey. And this journey has only begun. Shalom from Har Bracha, Israel.

Posted by Jordan Long 09:18 Archived in Israel

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