A Travellerspoint blog

October 2019

Day 2- Traveling

4:08:42 AM
They say the biggest part of life is enjoying the journey along the way. I have been in a holding pattern at Logan airport since last night. As we begun taxiing down the runway to take off, suddenly the plane came to a screeching halt. Moments later we were surrounded by emergency vehicles and the captain informed us that there had been a fire of some sorts. Apparently a mechanical issue caused an engine to overheat. We were grounded. As soon as it was safe we made our way to a gate, where we sat for 3 hours. Then finally we had to disembark and collect our luggage (a man had to jump the carousel to retrieve my suitcase, which in an odd happening had gotten stuck on top of the shelf above the belt). The plane was unable to fly. We were told to find a hotel and ElAl would reimburse us $250, however, no hotels in the area were close to that per night. So I spent the night....well, the 2 hours that remained of it...in the airport. It wasn't so bad.

So....I'm not even off the ground here yet, and it appears we are scheduled to depart at 8:55 tonight. But there is a reason for everything. I believe it was Yahweh's hand that protected us last night. That exposed the problem before we left and prevented the plane from taking off. And who knows but that there is someone I am meant to cross paths with today. I've been thinning sitting here of my purpose. And while I am not exactly thrilled about arriving in Israel a day late, I am not upset. I am more in anticipation of when I do finally get there. And I am ready for where this journey leads me. The people from HaYovel have been following the events and are prepared to adjust the pickup day and time however is needed, so everything will turn out ok. Everything is working out for my good and for His glory.

Posted by Jordan Long 01:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Shabbat in the Land

4:45 am
I didn't have a chance to write the other day when we got here....

It was different approaching Israel in the dark of night. It was 5:00 am when we landed, so the sun had not yet risen. I kept my eyes peeled out the window, squinting through the clouds to see any city lights. We were flying past a thunderstorm so every so often bright flashes of lightning illuminated the inky darkness. Finally I began to lights on the horizon. As they came closer I could make out the shoreline of Israel, the cities lining the coast. My eyes unconsciously filled with tears as we drew closer to what has become home to my heart. Soaring lower and lower over the buildings, circling back to line up with the runway, the giant bird swooped in for a landing and made a graceful touchdown. Instantly the whole plane broke out in applause and cheers. We had made it to Israel. The length of the delays and everything only made the anticipation greater for me. Now finally we had arrived.

Once we came through passport control, we met the guys from HaYovel in the greeters hall and went out to the bus. The hour or so drive from Tel Aviv to Har Bracha seemed surreal. The thought that I am actually here, in Israel. It was just an amazing feeling. As we turned northeast, the hazy middle eastern sun was just beginning to rise above the mountains of the Shomron, the warm beige colors of the rocky hills mixing with the painted sky. We drove by the Eshel Hashomron hotel in Ariel that we have stayed at so many times. Driving through all the towns that have become so familiar. Those beautiful rocky terraced hills covered in olive groves and scrub brush. It was just an indescribable feeling. The only part that kind of hit as a pang of sadness was that my church family was not there to share the journey with me. It was odd to be surrounded by strangers instead of family.

The Palestinian towns we drove through were like ghost towns. The streets were eerily deserted. Then I realized it was Friday...the Muslim holy day. All the shops were closed up and hardly anyone was out. We reached the Tappuach junction and headed on route 60, which is called the Highway of he Patriarchs. The same valley and nearly the same route as the ancients walked on. Then we began our steep, windy ascent up to the Mountain of Blessing, Har Bracha.

When we got to the base the rest of the harvesters with the trip waved at us from their posts in the vineyard.

We are staying in caravans that look like giant shipping containers. It's like glorified camping. But I actually find it more like a home. And it makes me feel closer to the Jewish communities around us. So many of the people live in these caravans when starting a new community.

Har Bracha, the mountain of Blessing. Where Joshua and the tribes spoke to the people of Israel, reading the blessings of keeping the Torah. Across the valley from us is Mount Ebal, the mountain upon which the curses were written. On the hill above us is the community of Har Bracha, named for the mountain which it sits on. The vineyards come up the side of the mountain all the way to the camp. It is so quiet and peaceful here. Just the sound of the wind blowing through the trees. Anywhere we walk around the camp you can see biblical history. On one side I can see the towers of Jerusalem, on another the mountains of Jordan with the great Jordan Valley between. On the other side we can see the buildings of Netanya and Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean coast. From here we can see the entire width of the nation of Israel.

Once we got settled in our bunk rooms (I have the top bunk which is neat), we walked a short distance down the road to the area of the vineyard that we were harvesting. The workers showed us how to use the clippers to cut the grapes from the vines. Then we worked harvesting for a couple hours, collecting the remaining grapes from the vines. We worked in a rhythm, clipping, dropping the clusters into large buckets, moving around each other to another section of vine. It was a lot of fun. And just looking around realizing, I am harvesting the fruit in the land of Israel. The scripture in Jeremiah 31 prophesies that they will plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria, and that foreigners will be the harvesters. I am fulfilling prophecy.

After we finished we headed back up for a lunch of tuna salad, and then had an orientation meeting. Then we had free time to get ready for our big Shabbat meal Friday night. I wandered the property and for a while just sat looking out over the mountains and valleys. Just soaking in being in the Land. Eventually I headed inside because a thunderstorm moved through and it was pouring for a while. The rain is a blessing here, and comes around the harvest times in the spring and fall. It turned the red dirt into thick, sticky mud that covered the camp and was tracked everywhere.

Shabbat meal Friday night was fun. I sat with a great group of girls around my age. They did a mixture of traditional prayers and songs and candle lighting and blessing over the wine and bread.

Afterwards the lack of sleep was kicking in so we headed to bed. Sabbath morning was a bit more relaxed, breakfast wasn't until 8, and then we sat around in groups talking and had some really good conversations.

Shabbat service was at 10:00 and we sang and read the Torah portions for the week. Then Tommy Waller, the founder of HaYovel, got up and spoke. Then we had lunch (which was vegetarian lasagna made with zucchini noodles), and have about 2 hours until the men and women have separate teachings. I was grateful for a relaxed day to get adjusted to being here. Today we will be out in the vineyards working starting at 6:30 I believe, and Monday we will be going on a tour in the area.

We went for a walk around the camp on the road that encircles it. The wind had picked up and it was a bit chilly, but it was fun.

We had Havdalah, the service to end Shabbat, after supper. A lot of singing and Hebrew prayers. That was neat. Then there was a teaching session and I Skyped with everyone after. The clocks changed back last night here in Israel. Lights out is at 9:00 here, since the mornings are so early. Worship starts at 5:30.

I woke up at 3:00 wide awake, so decided to get up and get ready for the day and get some quiet time before everyone is up and about. Right now the Muslim call to prayer has been sounding for the last 20 minutes from the minarets in the mosques surrounding this mountain. It is an eerie sound in the pre-dawn darkness. Between the caravans I can see the lights of all the towns and cities flickering on the hilltops, sillhouetting them against the night sky.

The camp dog, Gunner, laid down on the picnic table next to me, ever guarding and scanning the horizon. He keeps the wild dogs away and warns of any people approaching. The IDF regularly comes up and drives around to make sure everything is ok.

This morning I was reading the words of the blessings and curses from Deuteronomy 28 and 29. Words spoken on this very mountain. It still never
fails to amaze me to be standing in a place where the Bible actually happened. I'm so thankful to be here.

Posted by Jordan Long 19:44 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Pictures

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Posted by Jordan Long 20:23 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Harvesting the Fruits of the Land

8:35pm
It's almost lights out....we have a really early morning tomorrow. We are all getting on the bus for 5:00am, to be able to be up at Elon Moreh for breakfast and sunrise. Tomorrow is a tour day.

Today we were harvesting in the vineyards here on Hat Bracha, down the slopes of Mount Gerazim. It got pretty warm, but it was a lot of fun. Every so often some of the harvesters would break out in a song and almost everyone would join in. So harvesting in the mount of Blessing, singing while we worked, we brought in the remainder of the harvest from this vineyard. Looking across the ravine we could see the outskirts of Nablus spilling over the hilltop. It was amazing how close it was.

I'm attaching a few pictures, then I need to head to bed.
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Posted by Jordan Long 11:35 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Walking in the Footsteps of Abraham

4:46 am
I didn't get a chance to write yesterday. We were on the bus by 5:00 yesterday morning. We drove about half an hour across the valley to Elon Moreh, the spot where the Lord spoke to Abraham about this land. It's always an awesome place to visit, and we had an experience I never have before- watching the sunrise on the mountain. It was a little brisk, but a beautiful sight as the sun rose over the Jordan Valley to the East. The early morning haze tinged the ravine in various shades of pink, orange, and tan.
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We had breakfast up there, then a teaching session and a time of worship which began with Lord God of Abraham, and progressed to Agnus Dei. Everyone's voices blended in a harmony that sounded awesome in the morning stillness.

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When we left Elon Moreh we headed into the community to a winery owned by a man who is also a scribe. He explained to us the rigorous process of writing Torah scrolls, how the quills are made, how they produce the ink. It was fascinating to see.
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We continued from there to the factory that produces the animal skin parchment that the Torah scrolls are made of. The tanning process is actually quite disgusting and smelly. I didn't even think to take pictures because I was holding my nose the whole time.

Last night we had a former Knesset member speak to us. It was a very full day. I was in bed by 8.

Posted by Jordan Long 19:47 Comments (0)

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