We entered July in two different countries and are finishing July with a celebration of being back together and of the Lord's faithfulness. At the end of June, I traveled to Israel for a 25 day trip to distribute eyeglasses, books, and handmade items to Holocaust survivors. Marta stayed in California with her daughter Jamie. The day I arrived in Israel Marta took Jamie to the emergency room with pain in her shoulder and a migraine headache. A recent MRI indicated that Jamie has a torn rotator cuff, which would explain why she still experiences inflammation, pain, and a limited range of motion even though the injury to her shoulder was almost two years ago. We are waiting for an appointment with a surgeon in August to determine if they will do a corrective surgery. Jamie is not supposed to be driving so it is necessary for Marta or I to assist her in that, there has been some improvement in her health and while I was in Israel, she had the PICC line in her vein removed. Unfortunately, she is still vomiting when she eats food that does not settle well. I am thankful to the Lord for Marta for her compassion and assistance to Jamie and that she is happy for me to serve in areas that the Lord makes available.
This trip to Israel was to join Bruce Becker in distribution of eyeglasses in 14 days of clinics. I arrived a day earlier and traveled up to Jerusalem and picked up 1,000 books including 50 in Arabic. When we do the eyeglass clinics we let people know that we are believers and we make books available in Russian and Hebrew with testimonies of survivors and of rabbis who have become believers. This time we also did our first day of distribution of glasses to Bedouins in the desert region of Israel. In total, we traveled to 11 cities and distributed over 700 glasses to over 600 people, most of them took one or two books and we gave out about 900 books, also we gave out about 250 handmade items to the survivors. I carried over a suitcase of the handmade eyeglasses cases, aprons, and bags for walkers and wheelchairs, the survivors were delighted to receive them because they are beautiful and they were touched to know that they come from believers in the "Sewing Klatch" of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I also carried an additional suitcase of hundreds of new eyeglasses, it was good that I carried it because my friend Bruce had a flight delayed and the 3 suitcases he was carrying did not arrive. Unfortunately, Israeli customs focused on an error in how Bruce filled out the form and charged him $700 dollars in taxes and a fine. It was also disappointing that the bureaucratic process caused Bruce to need to travel to the airport on two of the days that he could have been distributing eyeglasses. It was the first time that there was such challenges and yet the overall goal was reached and even exceeded. One reason I say that it was exceeded is because we did not know if we were going to be able to give the books in Arabic to the Bedouins or if we would be able to share with them. They were happy to receive the books and on the day of the outreach there were 15 of us believers and we had three groups serving, one group for the eyeglasses clinic, one group sharing stories from the scripture with the women in Arabic, and another with the men, both of those groups also shared with the children in the village. I am not able to share pictures of the people from that day over email, if you see Marta and I, there are a few pictures I took from a distance that I can show you. After the outreach to the Bedouins, everyone who participated was commenting on how receptive the people were. They were even invited back to help prepare the Bedouin children prepare to return to school. Our friends will plan a week of school preparatory classes and also Bible stories at the end of August.
In regards to the eyeglasses clinics for the Holocaust survivors, we experienced many open doors as we went to locations where we had not previously distributed glasses. In more than half of the locations we had a few people tell us that they were believers, during each day of distribution we had many people excited they could see clearly and who eagerly receive books, often asking us if they could have two different books as they loved to read. One elderly lady asked Bruce, "You are giving me reading glasses, distance glasses, sunglasses, and a new book? How much do I need to pay? She had such a humble voice that I heard her from where I was sitting and observed as Bruce told her, "Nothing, they are gifts." She replied, "I have never received such gifts". Then she stood up and grabbed her walker and her handkerchief and as she started to walk she wiped tears from her eyes. There are many times that people are so appreciative because they understand how much it costs to buy glasses in Israel, they have experienced diminished vision because of age, or they have had cataract surgeries and have had there vision change but they have not updated their glasses. So when they receive free eyeglasses that allow them to see they are also eager to read. They are of the generation that books have a big importance and electronic devices a lesser importance so it is a great combination to give them eyeglasses and books that the show God's faithfulness and salvation to the Jewish people, even in their trials.
The day after the last clinic, I flew back to California. The discomfort of traveling through the night and having connecting flights was forgotten as I saw Marta. She is such a faithful and supportive wife and we were delighted to be back together. The next day we moved from the house where we had been living with a retired couple, as they made the decision to sell their house and move to a retirement community. We are now living in a room designated for people who serve the Lord, it is in our friends home in Santa Ana, we should be here until the end of October. We are so thankful to each of the people who have opened their homes to us as we are here assisting Jamie. We have yet to receive an answer from God about where we will live and serve in the future. It seems that this is a season for us to support Jamie, to do outreach trips, and to pray for the future. The end of October both Marta and I plan to travel to Israel and the first 12 days of November there will be an outreach group coming to serve in Israel from Calvary Chapel of Downey. Pray for Pastor Hector and his wife Diana and for Marta and I to have wisdom as we put together this outreach trip. They will have 20 people and with Marta and I it will be 22 people that we will be moving from place to place desiring to reach Israeli with the love of God and the message of salvation.
One last thing to mention, would you be interested in touring Israel with us and also interacting with the people whom we serve there? This year I was invited to teach at a few locations that an organized tour group visited, during that time I met the owner of the tour company, Rabi. Rabi enjoyed my approach in teaching and as he learned of our ministry with in Israel, he offered to put a trip together in 2019 where his tour company would arrange all of the hotels and details for the trip. There will be a licensed Israeli tour guide and I would also share in teaching and in facilitating interaction with Holocaust survivors and those we know in Israel. Rabi is living in Long Beach and has been a tour guide for 20 years before starting his company. He is a believer and he wants believers and unbelievers to experience and lands of the Bible. I discussed with him that fact that many people do not travel to Israel because of the high costs of traveling there. Rabi has a unique position of being able to make reservations directly and to know where to stay in beautiful hotels but not to be overcharged. Marta and I are excited at the potential to see friends and family join in a tour to Israel and have contact with those living in Israel. Pray as maybe 2019 is a time for you to travel to Israel, pray and think about the time that would be best for you to travel and let us know, as based upon your interest we will put the trip together. Write to us or call with any questions.
We are so grateful that many of you are praying for us and for those who are helping us to be able to have places to live and the finances to serve.
- Pray for Marta and I to remain humble, with hearts to trust God as we continue in this season of instability with Jamie's health and our living situation.
- Pray for the doctors to have wisdom with Jamie, for Jamie to be healed, and for her case with workman's comp to be settled in her favor.
- Pray for the survivors who have received books this year to read them and to come to faith in Jesus.
- Pray for us to discern God's will, for us to have a place to be at home on earth as we await heaven.
- Pray for Hector and Diana and Marta and I to have wisdom in putting the outreach trip to Israel together for November 2018.
- Pray as we will also distribute a few hundred handmade quilts and books to Holocaust survivors in November.
- Pray for the Lord to use our lives for his glory as we are here in California and for His plan for us in 2019.