Tag Archives: Tel Aviv

Feeling Missed

Over the past couple of months I’ve been taking a break from many “regulars” in my life… blogging, social media, certain relationships, and Chinese Food.  Yes, I just said Chinese Food.  

BACKGROUND: There is a little dive of a restaurant (if you can even call it that) in my neighborhood, run by a Chinese family who also live here.  Once I found their place almost 2 years ago, I have become somewhat of a staple there… they even know my order each time I come it. [So you don’t think I never try anything new, there’s really only 4 items to choose from when you order] 🙂 

Our conversations when I’m there are always a bit limited, as they speak Chinese and only a little Hebrew, but we manage to survive somehow with our Hebrew/Sign Language system.  The father, who speaks the least amount of Hebrew, always smiles and asks me to sit down while I wait…. while the daughter usually cooks up my meal.

PRESENT DAY: It’s been about 2 months since I have gone down and ordered Chinese.  Blame it on my “summer budget” but I haven’t eaten out in forever, including my Chinese Take Out.  Today I decided that I really wanted some Chinese so I walked my butt down there.

As soon as I arrived I was greeted by the father, who immediately said: “Ahhhhhh, How are you? It’s been such a long time since we saw you!”  He pulled out the chair and asked me to sit.  He then asked me : “Number 3?” to which I replied, “Of course“.  The daughter came out, said hi, while the son (who speaks the most Hebrew) and I discussed living in Israel, working, and the Chinese singer who was on the TV (who I still have no idea what her name is, even though he told me a million times).  

After my brief re-encounter with my Chinese friends I left with my noodles and a smile on my face.  It’s weird to be feeling like I was actually missed by a few people that I barely know, but I honestly felt that way as I walked home….

And it was nice feeling missed.

Back to Work

As you can see from my previous post, last week was a week off for me. The week was filled with leisurely travel, relaxation, and celebration…. but as we know, all good things must come to an end, and such is the tale of my week vacation.

If it’s back to work I must go, then this was a perfect way to go back:

First, a field trip to the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem with some of my refugee kids.  It might not exactly sound like work to you, but trust me…. a zoo filled with hundreds of crazy kids running around from animal to animal can drive you to the point where you’re ready to jump in with the lion and take your chances! (but we did have lots of fun too!)

Second, an afternoon in the park playing basketball.  I was finally able to hook up with one of our Professional Basketball Players in the Israeli league (we’ve been trying to put something together for a while now), where he could come down and play with the kids.  It was a huge success, and the kids absolutely LOVED him! The weather is finally nice enough again where we can resume our basketball outreach, and I honestly forgot how much I really do enjoy spending this time with the kids.

Overall, not too shabby for my first two days back after holiday! 

I’ve posted all the pictures from the Zoo field trip and our Afternoon of Basketball on our Shine Facebook Page…go check them out! 🙂

750 minutes

As I was sitting on the bus this morning (Bus 27 be exact) I figured out how many minutes I actually spend on this bus weekly: 750.

For all you mathematician’s out there, that equals 12.5 hours a week.

50 hours (3,000 minutes) a month.

200 hours (12,000 minutes) a semester.

That’s A LOT of wasted time.

Just sayin’

(So tell me… how much time to you spend in transit to your job/school/etc.?  Any empathizers out there?)

Who would’ve thunk it?!?

Since I moved down to the “Central Bus Station” area, everyone always asks me if I feel safe there…. to which I usually reply, “I haven’t had any problems.” I’ve been told to be careful because of all the “Africans” living there and all the violence they cause. But as I said before, “I haven’t had any problems……..


…… and it wasn’t caused by the refugees.

As I got off the bus this morning, I was suddenly caught in an unexpected downpour.  I had no umbrella or protection, so I stood under a building to attempt to wait it out.  It didn’t quite work as planned.

About 5 minutes into waiting, one of the drugged-out prostitues (who was walking down the middle of the street, oblivious to the rain) approached me in the nook of my shelter.  She started rambling on about this and that and nothing she said made any sense.  She did manage to ask me why I was standing there and I told her because of the rain. She didn’t quite get it.

What happened next was pretty crazy, but considering her state of mind, probably not so much in her world.  She grabbed my arm like she wanted me to go with her.  I told her no, that I was staying there and she got furious. She started screaming at me (in jibberish) which was getting on my nerves, so I decided to just brave the rain and make a run for it.

When I went to leave she grabbed my hair and yanked me back. (Literally I flew back, and luckily I didn’t fall).  I  turned around and told her to stop. At that very moment a guy who was across the street ran over and pulled her away from me.  He told me to just go…. so I did.

I heard her start to yell at him, but he was much bigger than both of us, so I’m pretty sure it didn’t fase him at all.

As I ran the rest of the way home, I thought to myself, “Everyone is always worried that I’ll be attacked by some drunk guy down here, yet it ends up being a high prostitute.” Who would’ve thunk it?!?

Well, certainly not me! (though after volunteering at the shelter, I should have imagined it: those girls are intensely violent.)

I’ll admit that I was a bit shaken up when I finally got home, and I just kept thinking, “what if that guy hadn’t come? what would I have had to do if she didn’t leave me alone?”

Thankfully, I didn’t have to find out, and I really hope that I don’t either. What a morning!

2 1/2 More Weeks!

Only 2 1/2 weeks until Christmas?!?


These past couple weeks have been BRUTAL on me, and quite frankly, I’m ever-so-happy to see them behind me!  I’ve been baking and hosting like crazy, and this past weekend was our big Help Portrait Tel Aviv Event.  All this to say that I’m ready for you, Christmas even if you aren’t showing yourself anywhere in my world!

Help Portrait Tel Aviv 2010



Candy Cane Christmas Cookies


My Christmakkah

A Blessing to Bless Others

I seriously can’t believe its already November 1st! NOVEMBER! Not only where did this past month go, but where did the YEAR go?!?  But, the fact remains that yes… it’s already holiday season.

Holiday season in Israel isn’t exactly like Holiday season in the rest of the world….

…but, thanks to Help-Portrait, its starting to feel a little like holiday season to me.  Last year was the first year for Help-Portrait Tel Aviv, and it turned out to be such a blessing.  This year, I’m expecting nothing less.

IN FACT, I’m expecting so much more!  Last night I had a meeting with Professional Fashion Photographer, David Kutcher, who will be taking all our portraits this year.  To say that I’m excited about this, is an understatement… I’m THRILLED!

Not only is he a FANTASTIC photographer, but he’s going to bring an entire studio with him to set up in my place.


And after all… the purpose of being blessed is to in turn to bless others, and I KNOW that his work will do just that!

Can’t Wait!

Capturing Moments: South Tel Aviv Levinski Park, Sept. 2010

One of my favorite little kids who come to Monday Night Basketball Outreach… isn’t he just a cutie!?!

Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement and Bicycles

Tel Aviv. Not exactly the ‘holy city’ like Jerusalem and not exactly the quiet atmosphere of the Galilee…. but every city in all of Israel comes together for this day.

No public transportation. No personal vehicles allowed on any street.  No stores or businesses open…. nothing but a day of country-wide fasting…. and bike riding.

It’s traditional on Yom Kippur, because of the no-car rule, for everyone to ride their bicycles in the streets.  Here are a couple pics down on the beach road of good ol’ Tel Aviv.  I will admit it was kinda cool walking down the middle of the road with everyone else, not having to worry about traffic!

Monday Nights are for Basketball

I am getting ready to branch out and start something new.  Next Monday will be the first day of an Outreach I’m putting together for all the refugee kids in the South Tel Aviv area…. Monday Night Basketball.

There is a huge park in our area where ALL the refugees hang out, and it also has basketball courts. I have a couple of friends helping me out, and I’m pretty excited to see how it all unfolds.  At the same time, I’m a little nervous too.

I have no idea how the turnout will be or how the kids will respond.  I’m hoping that we will have lots of kids show up, but there’s just no telling if that will happen.

So here’s my request: Could you all just say a little prayer for this new adventure?

* An awesome turnout.

* Safety.

* Communication. I’m the only one who speaks Hebrew out of the group, so it might be a bit challenging for me at times.

* Open Doors. I’m really hoping that this outreach will open doors for future endeavors.

* Fun. Overall, I just want to bring some fun and enjoyment into these little lives.

Capturing Moments: Tel Aviv White Night

Last night was the annual WHITE NIGHT in Tel Aviv.  Every July 1st Tel Aviv celebrates various cultures and the arts by putting on a city-wide show… full of music, performances, dances, cultural experiences, food and drink…. oh, and everyone is supposed to be in all WHITE.

There were people everywhere and the vibe was full of energy.  Along Rothchild Street the theme was World Cup, with many different countries represented.  It was pretty cool to watch the Spanish dancers, a US Old-Timers Jazz Band, Elvis lip-singers, Brazilian Samba, and even Italian Opera singers in Drag. (Interesting to say the least)  The beach was also jam-packed with people! Here’s a quick glimpse:

Church Bells or Hell’s Doorstep

My mom recently sent me this quote by a Doctor who works in Bangladesh with Samaritan’s Purse, and it’s stuck with me since:

Some yearn to live within the sound of a church bell.  I’d rather run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.

Wow! Can this guy read my heart or what?!?

As most of you know, these past months have been difficult for me.  I’ve been honest with my struggles, even blogging about some of them.  Life, no matter where you live, or what you do, isn’t always easy.

But, here’s a little secret: I wouldn’t trade mine for anything.

I can’t tell you the last time I actually heard church bells, or anything even close.  I hear the call of prayer at mosques more than often, and as far as living within a yard of hell….well, mine’s more like a meter.  AND it’s right where I’m meant to be!

I can relate to this statement with every breath I take.

So through thick and thin, the good and the bad, the beauty and the ugly…I have to admit… I still choose life within a meter of hell than life within the sound of a church bell.

It’s where I’m meant to be!

End of Week Update

This week has been a crazy one, and I haven’t even thought of blogging. or reading blogs. So here I am, trying to catch up.

Sunday: I moved all my stuff to the new place.  It wasn’t even close to being finished, but I had to move it from the old place. Sometimes schedules don’t mesh, and this was one of them.  I ended up sleeping on the couch at my old place for the night.  Also, a housewarming party for an ex-flatmate, who moved to an amazing place.

Monday: After a few bus trips back and forth with the rest of my personal stuff, I moved into the new place in the one room that was finished.  It was chaos and mess (still is) but I thought, “if I can live in tents in Africa for weeks at a time, I can do this.” (hmmmm, I’m wanting to take that thought back)

Tuesday: The workers continue to come but make baby-step progress. I’m starting to get used to the new bus routes and routines, and being the only white person in the area again is reminding me of being back in Africa.

Wednesday: It literally breaks 100 degrees so the workers only work at night.  6-midnight. Which means that I also need to be out of the place in order to preserve my sanity.  I end up staying up till 1:30 am talking with Alex, one of the Russian workers, about life in Israel versus Russia versus The States. Little sleep and loss of patience is not boding well with me.

Thursday: V.P. Joe Biden comes to Tel Aviv, and through school I am invited to see him speak. Why is it that when important people speak they blast the air conditioning and freeze out everyone else in the place?  We’re the ones sitting and waiting for 3 hours!

Friday: As I type this there is scraping and hammering going on in the next room.  They are telling me it will be done tonight, though I don’t quite see how.  I’m sooooo ready to get my life organized again.  Scrounging through bags/suitcases looking for something to wear everyday is tiring, and I still haven’t found my box of nail polish.  How can a girl live without her nail polish???

Thank God its the Weekend!!!!

Moving day… Again?!?

Last years moving day

It’s already been a week since my last post, yet I feel like I wrote it yesterday.  The same can be said for life right now…its just flying by!  It’s been a crazy, busy week.  There are many factors to this, but the biggest is: I’M MOVING THIS WEEKEND!

Preparations for the move have been causing a bit of stress and anxiety, but what is life without a little excitement?!?

  • As of this moment (Friday morning at 11:28) the workers are JUST beginning to paint.  They still have to install the gas lines and the bathroom amenities.  I move in Sunday. Tomorrow is Shabat. I’m a little nervous.
  • Since I’m a foreigner, I have to pay everything with cash.  This means lots of trips to ATM’s and wouldn’t you know it, this week none of them seemed to work! :/
  • (I won’t even go into detail about the hell I’ve been experiencing with my credit card issues)
  • PACKiNG! … enuf said there

But all these things don’t hold a candle to the one thing I hate most about moving. Since its only a trip across the city, I am just sorta putting stuff in boxes and bags, not really caring about organization.  (My dad would NOT be pleased if he saw my methods this time.) After all, I will just be unpacking everything the next day. Noooo, the one thing I hate most is the cleaning.  Its a never-ending process when moving.

You have to clean the old place before you leave….. you have to clean the new place before you unpack stuff… and you have to clean everywhere else that you’ve been neglecting throughout the year (like under the bed).  YUCK! I hate it!

So, this has been what I’ve been doing with my free time this past week.

What do u hate most about moving?

Everyday Miracles…an update on ‘T’

Some time ago (last August, actually) I wrote about my homeless friend, T, and his battle with alcoholism and life in general.  (Click here for the re-cap)  Many of you had been praying for him and his journey into rehab.  Well, it didn’t quite work out back then.  He made excuses, went down, and came right back to the streets.  He didn’t come around as often, and I’m sure it was due to disappointment he had in himself….

That was last year, and no one had seen or heard from him in months.

The past month or so T has really been on my ❤ like crazy.  I asked around to see if anyone knew anything about him, and I found nothing.  I went to all his usual locations, and nothing. I was seriously worried and knew the only thing I could do was pray.

This past week at soup kitchen, the exact same day I had asked a friend if she had heard anything about T, there was a most pleasant surprise awaiting us.  T was there!  Not only was he there, but he was sober… ONE MONTH SOBER!!!  He looked good and healthy.  For the past month, he has been down in Ashdod, at the rehab he was originally supposed to go to, but didn’t.  Because he was doing so well, they let him come up for the day and visit us.

I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was to hear this news…the tears were even falling.  The cool thing is that in a couple weeks I plan on going down there to visit him at the rehab, to show my support and how proud of him I am. They are even letting him use a phone, so we can call and encourage him whenever we can.

You might not think this is a miracle in the sense of the Red Sea being parted…but if you knew T and the life that he was leading, you wouldn’t hesitate to see this as one.  I call it one of God’s everyday miracles because they are happening all around us…. you just have to be willing to see them.

(Please continue to keep T in your prayers…he’s doing well, but the battle has only begun.)

Finding a Needle in a Haystack

I have to be completely honest…. I’m frustrated!

I’ve been spending time looking at places for the youth center, but to be quite honest its been torture.  I haven’t found one single place that I would even consider, yet alone want to live in as well.  Today I even went inside a place with no floors… NO FLOORS!  There were just piles of dirt all around, and I’m talking about the 3rd floor no less.

After seeing this place, and being horrified by the thought of living there, it struck me…. There are thousands of people living there right now. Most of them are refugees and foreign workers, who can’t afford NOT to live in places without floors.  They do not have the luxury of saying ‘NO’ when they are given a place like that.  And it humbled me.

This is why I must find a suitable place for the center.  I’m determined to make this place a beautiful respite for these kids…. a place to get away from what they experience day to day…. a place they can feel comfortable and at home in.

And though its frustrating and painful, looking and dump after dump, I have to keep on looking.  I have to believe that somewhere out there there IS a Needle in a Haystack!  I just need the endurance to find it.

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