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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.