Cyprus & The Old Monastery

 

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With Kim & Wini, our friends who run the Old Monastery Guesthouse and Prayer Room in Lapta, Cyprus

Long time, no blog!  Art and Julee have been busy since my last blog. The last blog was a summary of our time in Israel; on March 23rd, a little over a year since we had left, we returned to Jerusaelm, the “place where it all began” according to the 3D movie they show in the City of David visitor center.  In that year away, we sold a home in Tacoma, bought a home in Baja, Mexico, spent several months staying in Arizona with my mother and father while my mother defied all odds and recovered from her “terminal” illness, bless God. We spent time with my 3 favorite grandsons in Port Townsend as well as welcomed a new 4th favorite the end of October when Cameron and Ruthie produced their first, Orson Angel Nicklaus. We welcomed Carly back to Seattle after she had lived in New York for the past few years, and we celebrated Thanksgiving at Carly’s and Eric’s new apartment next to Seahawks stadium in downtown Seattle with our whole family gathered together for the first time in a couple of years.

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Julee enjoying her coffee in Sandra’s guesthouse in Larnaca, Cyprus.

In March, it was time to return to Jerusalem, and to the place near the Old City where we have spent 15 months out of the past 3 1/2 years. It has been good to be back, renewing old friendships and making new ones. We live with some pretty incredible people and get to spend time with our two precious Israeli families who have adopted us. Shabbat dinner on Friday nights at Avi’s house is a blessing and always entertaining!  And what a privilege to spend Passover with the Gerassy family in their home in the north near Haifa, including a very special “Seder” dinner at their house with 18 family members present, including Julee and I of course!

In the prayer room with friends in Cyprus, including Rosie the dog.

In the prayer room with friends in Cyprus, including Rosie the dog.

We first came to Israel in December of 2010 as tourists on pilgrimage, scouting out the land, with no inclination that we would spending a great deal of time here. We wandered around on our own for the first two weeks or so, walking miles each day as we explored the nooks and crannies of Jerusalem. Cameron and Ruthie joined us for the last week, and it was at that time that we met Kim (woman) and Wini (man) from New Zealand. They took us under their wing, introducing us to the City of David and Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Tombs of the Kings. We were hooked, and when we were invited to come back and live (on 3 month visas), we knew it was to be an important part of the “camino” of life… our own pilgrimage.

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Kim and Wini were involved in prayer rooms in Jerusalem for several years before starting one in Egypt in 2010.  They turned that one over to some local Egyptians in early 2013 and were led by amazing “coincidences” to north Cyprus at that time to take over operation of a guesthouse. The guesthouse is owned by people who have a vision and desire to operate a prayer room in the midst of the compound surrounding the guest rooms. So of course we had to go visit our friends and check it all out!

At dinner overlooking the ancient harbor in Girne with the Kiwi's

At dinner overlooking the ancient harbor in Girne with the Kiwi’s

Our trip started with a 50 minute flight from Tel Aviv to Larnaca in south Cyprus. Since we arrived late, around 10 pm, we booked a night at Sandra’s beautiful B&B a few minutes from the Larnaca airport. Sandra graciously picked us up and brought us to her home. We spent a restful, peaceful night followed by Sandra’s amazing breakfast. Kim and Wini weren’t to pick us up until late in the afternoon, and Sandra was able to break free and have lunch with us just down the road at the local restaurant. We had met Sandra in the prayer room in Jerusalem previously but didn’t really know her well. We were thankful for the opportunity to change that, at least a bit. Kim and Wini joined us for the last part of our lunch, then it was on the road for the 1.5 hour drive from Greek Cyprus in the south, across the border and into the new country of Turkish Cyprus in the north.

Kim and Julee at the castle in Girne, with the mountains separating north and south Cyprus in the background.

Kim and Julee at the castle in Girne, with the mountains separating north and south Cyprus in the background.

Our stay in north Cyprus couldn’t have been better.  We got to know the other precious members of the team while there, Heather from England, Sarah from Chicago, Anne from Norway, and Ali from Syria. Julee and I prayed “original design” prayers (the model we learned from our church in Tacoma) over several of them, and they blessed us the whole week we were there with their company, touring us around, taking us out for Cyprus type food, and praying for us the day we left and sending us off with gifts of love.

The Babel gardens down the street from the Old Monastery, the place of our "coffee fix" on a couple of occasions.

The Babel gardens down the street from the Old Monastery, the place of our “coffee fix” on a couple of occasions.

Henri Nouwen wrote “What is our task in this world as children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus? Our task is reconciliation. Wherever we go we see divisions among people… in families, communities, cities, country’s, and continents. All these divisions are tragic reflections of our separation from God. The truth that all people belong together as members of one family under God is seldom visible. Our sacred task is to reveal that truth in the reality of everyday life. Why is that our task? Because God sent Christ to reconcile us with God and to give us the task of reconciling people with one another (2 Corinthians 5:18).”

This is the heart of prayer room ministry. Praying “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, in human lives, as it is in heaven.” Reconciliation. Redemption. Restoration. Praying it until we are ignited and burning to live it, each in their own unique, creative, free way.

There is a place at the table for you!

There is a place at the table for you!

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Last Days in Israel 2013

We are quickly coming to an end of our latest “shift” in Israel serving in the prayer room. The last two weeks have been especially sweet with Julee’s brother Steve and his wife Janice staying with us. It has been such joy to share life and experiences with them in Jerusalem and other parts of the country.

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Steve pointing out to others the hills of Lebanon and Syria.  We were very close to the borders here at Tel Dan, the site of the remains of the ancient city of Dan from over 3000 years ago.

 

 

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Inside the tombs of the prophets on the Mount of Olives with our guide.

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The Meditteranean Sea near the Lebanon border

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With one of our adopted Israeli family members Shay and Smadi.  We will say goodbye tomorrow night at Shabbat dinner to our other precious friends that have adopted us, Avi and his family.

What a privilege and what an education we have had serving and growing and living life to the fullest as we come to a close  to this chapter of our pilgrimage. Thank you, God…

 

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Wonderland in Winter

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After years of drought, Israel is in it’s second year of wet and cold weather.  When we first visited the Sea of Galilee two years ago, docks and beaches were high and dry with the lake edge many meters out … Continue reading

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Our Heritage

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We are nearly a month in at our current shift in the prayer room here in Jerusalem. We quickly fell into the routine upon arriving: shifts in the prayer room, meeting and hosting guests from around the world. Thursdays on the Temple Mount. Vegetable shopping forays in the Arab market outstide the Damascus gate, falafel sandwiches and fresh juice in the Old City, walking to Avi’s house for Shabbat dinners on Friday night with his precious family.  We made the bus trip north to spend a weekend with our beloved Gerassy family last weekend.  Shay was home from school, the boys Ram and Garl were home from the military, and mother Smadi put forth another memorable meal for over 20 persons on Friday night.  We feel rich… rich with the relationships we have developed here.

We have learned so much in the past two years, of which nearly half of that time has been spent living in Jerusalem. We have among other things been seeking to know and understand our spiritual roots, our spiritual heritage that springs from a Jewish story and a Jewish Messiah who is the Christian savior.

We have also in this holiday season been reminded of our own personal heritage: our amazing parents, Art and Ernie Nicklaus and Fred and Jeanne Archer.  I know I wouldn’t be on the pilgrimage I am on without the encouragement from the time I was a young boy of my mother and father. The set of Bible Story books that I devoured as a youngster; dragging me to the Episcopal church, seeing that I was baptized and confirmed as a young teen, giving me a little book upon my high school graduation called “All Men Seek God”. And setting an example for me as loving parents with an undying commitment to family, and unbreakable family relationships.

Julee’s mother and father have also had an influence on both of our lives that is incalculable.  Their unconditional love and acceptance of me from the very first time I visited their home has never for a moment dimmed. I cannot walk through their door today without hearing encouraging and loving words from both of them. Julee is a princess because her Mom and Dad are royalty in my eyes.

So we honor the four of you, and the many deposits of love and faith you have made in our lives. Mother, in a fight for your life right now with a difficult illness, my love and admiration has no bounds. Dad, your dedication to Mom at this time and to the family for the past 60 years is inspiring and worthy of honor.  Fred, you never had to tell me what it means to be a man of God; you just showed me by living it.  And Jeanne, you are and always have been one of the most beautiful women I have ever known, from the inside out.

God bless our mothers and fathers…

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Christmas in Israel

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Christmas blessings from our family to yours, and truly Peace on Earth, good will to all men. Something I have learned while being here in Israel:  Those who purport to know claim that Jesus wasn’t actually born at Christmas time. … Continue reading

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Return to Jerusalem

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It has been over six months since my last post… so let me quickly bring you up to date on our ongoing pilgrimage of life: We arrived in Tacoma June 1 and settled back into our little apartment in Tacoma. … Continue reading

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Back in the USA

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We arrived home Friday night June 1, more than ready to re-connect with family and friends whom we have greatly missed the past 3 1/2 months!  Our friend Gary Feltus has so willingly been our airport chauffeur both coming and … Continue reading

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Living da Vida Blesseda

We have been in Spain now for two and one half weeks; time flies when you are kept so busy you don’t know if you are having fun or simply at the point of exhaustion!  Actually we do know we are both tired and having fun, working at the Albergue with a group of fun and friendly people from the Netherlands plus Sarah from Ohio.

The Pilgrims pour in every day and fill our hostel (called an albergue here).  We rotate jobs.  I have been an assistant cook twice and cut a finger both times, plus a burn thrown in for good measure last night.  At this rate they will have to send me home before I empty the first aid kit prematurely.

Besides our work duties, we get to meet and hang out with the pilgrims from around the world that pass through.  We visit, sometimes help doctor blisters, hand out ice packs for sore knees and twisted ankles, pray for them, and at night give each a gospel of John in their native language.

Julee made Egg Plant Lasagna last night for 28 people.  At 6:30 PM she tested it and turned to me and said “this is a disaster”. But when we served it at 7:10 it was perfect and everyone absolutely raved over it.  She and I cleaned this morning, her on bathrooms and me sweeping and mopping floors, which I can usually do without hurting myself.

We have had some free time in Spain too, all of which has been wonderful.  We are in the Navarre region in the northeast, in and around the Basque region.  We spent two nights in Logrono before starting at the hostel, and we have made two sightseeing trips locally with the team, once to the ancient and picturesque village of Vianna, and once up into the mountains to see the eagles. We have also taken long hikes on our two days off, the day before yesterday to Los Arcos and back (25km) through breathtaking countryside.  And so pictures worth at least a thousand words follow…

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above and below, pics from our time in Logrono

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Bert and the team in Vianna, above and below

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below, the plaza in Vianna

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above, Julee with our village of Villamayor de Monjardin in the background

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above and below, the Navarre region from our mountain top view

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Above, the albergue (hostel) as the pilgrims  first see it when climbing up into the village

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Above, Julee on the trail of the Camino during our walk to Los Arcos, pilgrim in the background. Below, taking a break in Los Arcos, having Sangria on the plaza (just for you, Melody and Susan!)

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Leaving Israel

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Just before leaving Israel 2 weeks ago, you probably know that I left my IPad on a bus and lost it!  So no blogs recently.  But I have been able to borrow a computer here at the hostel in Villamayor de Monjardin in Spain where we are volunteering, and so, back in action… Here are some photos from our last week or so in Jerusalem. Above is our team at the C.O.D. plus Pastor Garrett from our home church in Tacoma who visited and spent a week with us.

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We spent a wonderful weekend with our friends Smadi and Itzik who live in the north,.  We made a day trip to visit their son Ram and went out to dinner at a beautiful restaurant that specialized in fish dishes, at a nearby kibbutz.

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Julee and Ram.  Ram was dressed up along with friends as a circus performer this day for a special celebration in the park for young children.

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I climbed up in the tail to take this shot as we were landing in Madrid.  Its a little blurry as the wind was blowing in my face extremely hard.

 

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lost computer,no blogging for a while!

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