Som flera av er medlemmar i kyrkan känner till så har Mirel (psed.) från Stockholms församling just gett sig iväg fem månader till kibbutz i Israel. Jag har fått hennes tillåtelse att dela med mig av hennes berättelse och bilder av hur det är att spendera fem månader på kibbutz. Mirel är en av de många medlemmar vi har i vår kyrka som också har judisk identitet. Vi har tidigare skrivit här på bloggen om att vår kyrka inte har officiella symboler som korset, men att medlemmar ändå kan använda kors ifall de har en bakgrund som medlemmar i någon annan kristen kyrka. För Mirel är det naturligt att använda davidsstjärnan som symbol för sin dubbla identitet. Mirel har valt att skriva på engelska då flera av hennes vänner är inte har svenska som modersmål.
Shabbat Shalom dear family and friends!
That’s how you say ” Have a great weekend” here in Israel. Between Friday evening and Saturday sundown the Jews of all sorts wish each other a peaceful enjoyable Shabbat. So what does it mean? Well-Shabbath means ”Sabbath” meaning the seventh day of the week when the Torah instructs the Jewish people not do work, but rather rest. The Sabbath is a holy day, and it is supposed to be dedicated to God. ‘Shalom’means peace- best described as the ‘peace of God’. People in Israel greet by saying Shalom; it doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, it’s a common greeting in Hebrew. So by saying ‘Shabbat Shalom’ to someone, you are expressing your wish for them to enjoy and experience that peace on Shabbat.Here in Israel, it’s easy to do that, since pretty much everything shuts down. Even the buses don’t run so you really have to plan your traveling, shopping and so on. As members of the church we celebrate the Sabbath day as well, and we keep it holy leaving the ordinary life for a day and focusing on the spiritual matters rather then the temporal. I’m very thankful for my parents who through their examples taught me that the Sabbath truly is a special day. It’s not about what you can or can not do, it’s about what we celebrate. Going to church and taking part of the sacrament, becoming clean through His Atonement, and setting the pace for the rest of the week. I didn’t go to church today, but I am keeping my Shabbat day holy. Wearing my nicest clothes, studying the scriptures, singing hymns, reading General conference talks and reading the sacrament prayer even though there is no sacrament to take part of. It was actually a member of my ward who gave me the advice to read and remember the sacrament prayer. I’m thankful for that helpful piece of advice, and tomorrow when the sacrament is being passed out, I will be there in spirit.
Right now I’m staying in a town called Rehovot, about 20 km outside of Tel Aviv. I’m living with friend Tomer and his family. His parents are so kind, both them and Tomer are taking such great care of me. I feel so blessed! Tomer also has an apartment in Västerhaninge Sweden, the same little town as me. What are the odds that there would be living an Israeli in Västerhaninge? We first became friends on FB, and after 6 months he contacted me after seeing a picture of the temple on my FB wall. Do you live close to VH? he asked And so our friendship began, and since then Tomer is like family, and by the way he is taking care of me here, it’s mutual. We are family now.
This is not my first time to Israel, I have actually been here 3 times before. Yes- I love Israel and that’s why I keep coming back. It’s only about four and half hours away from Stockholm, direct flight and the tickets are cheap. Tel Aviv is heaven for a nice vacation, filled with sun and fun, good food like hummus falafel, shakshuka, cold mint lemonade and food from all of the Middle East and other places as well. Last but not least you have the beach. I’m in love with all 16 glorious sun-basked Tel Aviv beaches, and the minute I spot the blue sea with its open horizon I forget about my troubles (if I’m having any that day) and think- hey life IS really better at the beach, its one of my favorite happy places! My first visit was in July 2014, and that trip will forever be a life changer in so many different ways. I will never forget waking up to the red alert alarm in the mornings, standing in the middle of a street in Jerusalem when suddenly the alarm went off, not finding shelter so we ended up throwing ourselves to the ground covering our heads with our arms, ( as if that would have helped), praising and thanking the Iron Dome for keeping us safe from Hamas rocket attacks targeting Israeli cities and infrastructure.The Israeli strikes, the Palestinian rocket attacks and the ground fighting resulted in the death of thousands of people, the vast majority of them Gazans. Hamas used schools and hospitals in the Gaza strip as ´human shields’ to launch rocket attacks on Israel. They are responsible for the deaths in retaliatory air strikes from the IDF. ( Israel Defense Forces) The war continued for 7 weeks, and we were here for the first. Let’s just say that what was going to be a relaxing vacation at the beach with some sightseeing both historical and spiritual, turned out to be something very different from that. Of course we did do all the things we had planned (except visiting Bethlehem, cause it didn’t feel safe) only it wasn’t that relaxed. We knew that Hamas could lunch rockets at any time, and as soon as we heard something that sounded like an alarm, we got scared. Didn’t know how much physical and physical stress it caused, until I came home and got out of my vacaymode. That’s when the PTSD symptoms came, but that’s a different story. Let’s just say I was afraid to fall asleep, worried that the red alert siren would go off at any moment. Doesn’t make any sense does it? hello I was back, safe and sound in Sweden now, no more rocket attacks. But, your body and mind can play tricks with you sometimes and I got to experience it. Luckily it went away, but it was only after I went back to Tel Aviv and had the vacation that I had been robbed of the first time that I travelled to Israel. A big shout out and thank you to the Mines family for inviting me 🙂 10 days of beach life and I got to celebrate Yom Kippur- what a blessing it was. Anyways, it’s amazing to be back, and I want to tell you about the other side of Tel Aviv, the not so beach nor peachy place, the city’s New Central Bus Station. Articles have been written about this place, and if you Google it you can read much more about it than what I’m going to write. One article says: The Central Bus station still serves as the city’s major transportation hub, but travelers here ”hustle in and hustle out, hesitant to linger too long and get sucked away into it’s confusing halls. Instead, the building bursts with more permanent residents: ”African migrants, teenage runaways, and other denizens of Israel’s forgotten and unsen”. Before seeing it with my own eyes I knew that it wouldn’t be a pretty sight because of it’s different nicknames. I call it the backside of Tel Aviv, and what I saw was pretty disgusting to be honest. People covered in filth and sores, begging for money, and as I saw them I turned my head away wondering if it was a human being or a scary Halloween costume that was begging me for money. It made me feel quite bad, so I rushed away, until I came into the streets I knew: Allenby and then Rothschild. Good old nice and clean Rothschild, now I felt safe again. On my way back to the Bus Station, it wasn’t as bad, because then its dark so you can’t see the filth and the sores as well, only smell it. One might think its a horrible place to be at in the evening, but to be honest the people there aren’t bad. I felt safe, and also there are lots of people out late and I make sure to walk on the main streets. I’ve now been at the bus station three times, once with my friend and twice by myself. Last time I saw some young people I wondered, oh my! how did you ever end up here? Probably young adults who ran away as teenagers from their home thinking the street life would be better and exciting but now they look more dead then alive. I feel sorry for them, at the same time I think they are disgusting. I needed to remind myself that they are God’s children, and he loves them. They might look and act very differently from me, but God wants me to love them, because they are my brothers and sisters. It’s so easy to judge people from the way they look. So today, when I was reading the Ensign special issue called the Lord Jesus Christ, I was reminded of something very important. I saw a painting called ”All the city was gathered together” by James Tissot, and its when Jesus is healing and blessing the sick, poor and needy, the people living in what might have been today’s central bus station area. Also another painting when the Savior is looking under a blanket to see a sick and poor man under it. If Jesus came down today,where would He go? Would He not go and visit the ones that we don’t see, the social outcasts, the beggars, the sick? Jesus loved others with all of His heart. Sometimes his heart was filled with so much compassion that he cried. He ”went around doing good”. (Acts 10:38) He did not judge or condemn, He saved, He healed and He loved. As followers of Him, we are invited to share goodness in this world and to love as He did. I can’t save these people I see begging and walking around in despair, but I can love them, I can smile at them and maybe give them some money if that feels right. Most of all, I can see them as loved sons and daughters of a perfect Heavenly Father. He is sad to see them suffer, and it doesn’t matter if it’s their own fault, He loves them no matter what. Just as much as he loves you and me. I’m so thankful that I was reminded of this today, as a missionary I felt God’s love for all of His children in ways I had not experienced before. Today I was reminded of that.So next time I end up at the New Tel Aviv Central bus station ( that’s not new nor central) I’ll be looking at my fellow human beings, as the sisters and brothers they are and smiling instead of looking away. If Jesus could do it-then so can I.