A Canvas, Old City Jerusalem

The Holy Land

Each year our ministry leader, Joanne, announced that we were going to the Holy Land; then her voice dropped, as she said,  “This may be our last trip.” This statement always bothered me because of my secret obsession to purchase original artwork. How was I ever going to have enough money to pay for a painting?

How I managed to convince my husband Mike to give financial support for these missionary trips is still a mystery. His reaction was always the same because he worried about my overseas travels – not so much for my safety but of the expenses I would incur. Only through the providence of God was I able to make all these trips. Mike always supported my missionary efforts, but after the fifth trip to Israel, he took a different role.  He decided that he would only pay for half of the expenses of the trip. How the rest of the money came together is somewhat of a conundrum.


I was employed but my position was more of a volunteer, teaching Bible studies at several public schools. On the last  year of my employment, I earned  a total of $600! I also tutored after school, and for years I had dedicated one day a week to watching my grandchildren, also receiving a stipend. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by benevolent friends and family who graciously donated cash to help me pay for my trips. The money may come in at the last minute, but for us missionaries it always comes through.


Dov, Robert, Linda and Jim (our team)

The Guide

Part of our ministry was to carry the Cross down the Via Dolorosa in drama on Good Friday, so our travels were always during Holy Week. On this particular trip we were assigned a new tour guide, Dov, pronounced with a long O.  Dov was a tall, slim Jewish man who left a lasting impression. Since we spent so much time with our guides, we got to know them pretty well. Dov was different, as his gentle mannerisms and kind words filled with knowledge of the Holy Land made him unusual, even unique.

Dov’s eyes revealed his pain, and it took several days for him to share that he had recently lost his son to suicide. His pain was raw, but he knew to place it on the shelf when he came to work. Our group was different because we were in one accord, we ate the same spiritual food, and Dov was safe with us. We were praying for God to give him and his wife special graces to get through their horrendous trial.  We bonded because of his broken spirit, and our love filled his heart with hope. He was our physical guide but we were his spiritual balm to comfort.

Dov knew all the ins and outs of the Old City. We had just visited the Temple Institute, an organization that is dedicated to getting all the instruments prepared for the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Our team was in the gift shop when I asked Dov if he knew of any local artists. Dov said that he had a friend who was an artist, and that his gallery was within the Old City. I told Joanne that I wanted to go with Dov to the artist’s shop and her reply was to not take too long.

The Painting

For about  half an hour, Dov and I ran through the worn cobblestones of the Old City, passing all types of different shops. I had never been to this section of the Old City, but we were focused on reaching the art studio of Dov’s friend, so there was no stopping us.

By the time we arrived in this section of the Jewish Quarter, I was winded. As I was catching my breath,  Dov introduced his friend Eli Olayon. I looked around the art gallery until my eyes fixated on a beautiful painting of the Western Wall. I had a total of $200.  We still had a few more days in Jerusalem, plus an extension to Turkey. I thought to myself,  “I could sacrifice for this purchase and borrow a few dollars from other members of the team.” I picked up the painting and asked, “How much is this one?”  Eli answered, “$500.” I quickly set it down and asked if he had anything similar. He pulled out a whimsical copy of a painting on thick paper. “This one is $45.” I took a deep breath of disappointment and said, “I’ll take it.”

God’s Favor

As he was rolling up the artwork to place  into a tube, I told him that our ministry traveled to the Holy Land every year. I explained “For more than 30  years our  team has been coming here.” Then Eli  said, “Well if that is the case, why don’t you make payments on the painting that you really want? Give me your credit card and I will deduct $100 a month.” I looked over at Dov for approval. Dov looked surprised that I would question his friend’s integrity. I gave the stranger $100 cash, and much to my surprise, I  agreed to the deal. I was in shock and felt so foolish that I handed over my credit card information to a total stranger. Again, Dov reassured me that his friend Eli was trustworthy.

When we  returned to the group, it was well over an hour later. Joanne did not hold back about how inconsiderate my actions were. While she was berating me, her voice fell on deaf ears.  All I could think about was that I had given a stranger my credit card information. I told no one in the group about my foolish venture, not because I was being discreet, but because I was afraid of their criticism as well.

Return To The United States

After I returned to the United States, I’d check my bank statements every morning for any unusual activity, but all was well. As per our arrangement, Eli was deducting the agreed amount.

Happy Father’s Day

Before the painting was paid off, I received a package from Israel. It was Eli’s painting! The first thing I did was thank God that Mike was not home. Otherwise I would have a lot of explaining to do.

So on Father’s Day Mike received a beautiful original painting by Eli Olayon with a rather lengthy explanation. And, as usual, Mike  finished paying for the painting. He always does!

My Prayer

Dear Lord, I thank you for all the special graces You have bestowed on us. May we continue to seek You in every area of  our lives. Lord, shed light into the hearts of those who live a life of darkness. Deliver those who are addicted to any substance abuse, fulfill the longing in their hearts. Dear Jesus, be with all who are affected by war, bring peace to the wars in Ukraine and Israel and to the hearts of all mankind. Amen.

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Walking In the Steps of Jesus, Part Two

Good Friday

Good Friday is the reason we’ve been coming to Jerusalem for over 35 years. For the reenactment of the Carrying of the Cross, we all know our parts, with the exception of Danny, the newest team member. My part for the last ten years is to play our Blessed Mother Mary. On the third station, Jesus falls the first time, just a few steps away is where Jesus meets His Mother. My role, is to speak to her Son in great agony. Everything on the Via Dolorosa is to bring the attention to Jesus. Even though the Blessed Mother Mary is a part in the carrying of the Cross, the sole intention is for people to see what our Lord went through on the dreadful day. Jim has been playing the part of Jesus for several years. I am amazed at his transformation, and how Jim takes on the look and personifies our Lord with such grace.

The suitcase with our sound system was never recovered from the airline, so that meant that Pat and Linda had to sing a cappella. We all noticed one thing about carrrying the Cross this year. The pilgrims were cold in spirit and did not really react to what they witnessed. The Arabs are always indifferent to what we do, and they always react, some in disbelief, others in mocking us. It was unusual to experience the blank looks, with soulless eyes staring back at us. It was like the state the world is in today, cold and unyielding. Even the young man that we pulled from the crowd to play Simon of Cyrene could not stop taking selfies of himself while carrying the Cross; that was almost comical.

Perhaps, time will tell the difference we made in persons’ lives. You can never get the image of Jesus out of your mind as He was beaten and made to carry His Cross. We all need to remember what He went through for us. We know that God blessed our effort, and if even a handful of people were touched, we accomplished our task. We plant the seed, and God does the watering. In the eyes of the Lord it only takes one person to be touched to make a difference. That person could be the next Billy Graham, or a holy priest.

After the pageant, as much as I wanted to go visit other holy sites, my body said no. All the sleepless hours took a toll on my being, and so much virtue put forth that it depleted my energy. For the first time I was able to get rest.

Holy Saturday

I have not mentioned Joanne, the spiritual leader of our group, because she had not been able to participate due to suffering from Meniere’s disease. She had to stay in bed for a large part of the trip. She always serves her purpose in interceding on our behalf and we could feel her prayers.


We always make time in our schedule to visit the birthplace of Jesus. Bethlehem is almost all Muslim, and very few Christian’s remain in this town.

If you are purchasing any olive wood statues or anything made of olive wood, the best prices are in Bethlehem, and the merchants barter. Rarely can you walk away from the great deals, because they follow you until you cave in.   

The Church of the Nativity was jam-packed with pilgrims from all over the world. We waited over an hour to pray and touch the place where Jesus was born, for just a few seconds, I placed all your prayer requests there. Though we were rushed, I secured my spot on the only bench near the holy spot and continued with my petitions.


Bethany, the town without pity, or a police force. It had been almost 6 years since we last visited Bethany. I had no phone to take any pictures, so what I took in with my eyes was an incredible decline in a society in anarchy. At the shops the cars are parked four deep, some parallel, some sideways, some back in, some left in the middle of the street. Cars are driven on both sides of the road. Cars are abandoned on the side of the road, and trash is also piled on the side of the road. The chaos is everywhere you look. Near the meat market were two tied up sheep, either for sale or for slaughter. Caged chickens were everywhere you turned. What broke my heart were the stray cats, as they were completely neglected, and pretty much all ravenous. I threw a piece of hard bread to one cat and it devoured it like it was delicious cat food.

Our only intention in Bethany is to visit the Church of St. Lazarus and his tomb. This church is stuck in the middle of this dysfunctional city and is the only saving grace of this community. The priest is African and when I spoke to him, he was forlorn. As the church was preparing for Easter Sunday service, I asked the priest how many parishioners he had. He answered, “Sadly, tomorrow maybe 15 to 20 people will be attending the service.” This was a great paradox; being assigned a church in the Holy Land with very few parishioners.

After praying in the beautiful church we headed to Lazarus’s Tomb. I’d forgotten how cumbersome and steep the steps that you have to climb down to to get to the tomb were. At the bottom of the steps is a rather small opening to go into the actual tomb. For some strange reason it felt smaller than the last time I was there. It was a little like a Winnie-the-Pooh moment, making my way the bottom. We had the tomb all to ourselves, and we bombarded heaven with prayers for those in bondage; it was powerful!

St. Lazarus’s tomb

By the time we got back it was dinner time, and we still needed to pack the medicine for the poor. With the aid of angels we mustered enough strength to complete the task of making 25 bags for the poor.

Easter Sunday

When we checked the weather we knew we were in for some rain. Part of my sole purpose in life was to attend an Easter service at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Not one person could give us a schedule; even the Internet could not really pinpoint a time for the services. It seemed that the main service was a midnight Mass, which I was not interested in attending.

When we arrived in the courtyard of the church it was packed. What seemed to be a line was more of a serpentine formation leading in many directions. We made our way and waited, and waited for the doors to open. The sky poured out some light rain, and then some hail. It was cold enough to wear gloves and scarves. Most of us were equipped with unbrellas, but mine kept hitting people, and as many times as I apologized, it would happen again. Finally I handed the umbrella to a tall stranger, and the problem was solved.

After 2 hours the doors opened. I was smack in the middle of a herd of wild buffalo moving in slow motion to get to the door. So many people pushing and shoving their way in. All I could recall was that I remembered there was a step at the entrance of the door, and I wanted to be sure that I did not miss it, or for sure I was going to be trampled. The crowd was so thick that I could not see my feet. I’m happy to report that we all made into the church. We walked in only to discover more crowds and more lines. We prayed at the Stone of Unction (where Jesus’s body was placed after the Crucifixion) and I left the remainder of the prayer requests. I was gateful for the experience of celebrating Easter in the Holy Land, and especially at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.





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Walking In the Steps of Jesus, Part One

God has a perfect plan for each of our lives; part of mine is to pray for others. Following the Steps of our Lord in the Holy Land always restores my spirit.

St. Peter in Gallicantu

Before the trip, my friend Helen and I checked my seating on the Boeing 777, and I was relieved that it was a window seat. Even though we arrived 5 hours early to the airport, I always double check to make sure that I have a window or aisle seat. There was so much commotion at the ticket counter that I never got a chance to check.

My seat was at dead center on a packed plane. To make matters worse, the woman sitting directly in front of me suffered from puffy hair syndrome. I am not exaggerating when I say that, she sat with her chair reclined almost the entire time. Her hair almost touched my face, so this was my 14 hour- cross.

We arrived in Tel Aviv to the news of a lost piece of baggage, which had the sound system and my Bible, and another hour delay. 14 hours from LAX to Istanbul, with a 2 hour layover, and then 2 hours to Tel Aviv, and finally another 1-1/2 drive to Jerusalem. We were beat-up missionaries by the time we arrived at the hotel.

St. Peter in Gallicantu

Holy Thursday was our best day, filled with prayer and reverence. We started our walk to St. Peter in Gallicantu. This church is where Jesus was held in prison for one night before his crucifixion. I prayed for all who are imprisoned in their own minds, and for those in prison. Pat, Jim, Robert, Danny, and I were able to pray in the prison dungeon (deep pit) for over 45 minutes; that was a small miracle. Danny read from Psalm 88, powerful prophetic words that Jesus spoke: “O Lord God, I cry out at night in Your presence…You have caused my companions to shun me..I call on You, O Lord, I spread out my hands to you.”

Upper Room

We entered the Zion Gate to get to the Upper Room, and we did our usual foot washing as Jesus did to His desciples on Holy Thursday. Again, the great favor of God with permission to enter into another room (which is usually closed to the public). Many prayers went forth, the anointing was so powerful. I asked God to bless all who we were praying for. We visited King David’s tomb, which is located almost directly under the Upper Room, and where more prayer went forth.

Western Wall

We exited the Zion Gate to enter into the Dung Gate to reach the Western Wall. Pat and I were able to secure the perfect spot , and we dragged some plastic chairs so that we could sit with our hands on the wall. All your prayer requests were placed on the wall. We were glued to the wall for over an hour. I had also taken many pictures of the prayer requests with the idea of texting them to those I was praying for.

By this time my phone only had 6% charge, and we needed to call our driver. One of the shop owners that we are familiar with offered to charge the phone while we prayed at the Ecce Homo churches located on the Via Dolorosa. With the phone charged we headed down the Lion Gate to catch our bus.

I knew we had walked for hours and wanted to share with the team how many miles we walked. When I reached for the phone in my purse it was not to be found. In a panic, Jim and I retraced the steps where I was but no phone; somewhere along the Via Dolorosa my phone mysteriously disappeared.

When we got to the hotel I used Danny’s iPhone to call my daughter Sonja on one of the two numbers I had memorized, for her to help me locate my iPhone. Sonja found the iPhone located not to far from the hotel. Danny and I went to the front desk to call a cab. The man at the desk told us that this was a police matter, so we headed to the police station instead.

I have never been to a police station in my life and what I witnessed almost locked my jaw permanently. As we walked into the police station the window of the station was riddled with bullet holes. We were greeted by a woman officer who instructed us to go to the third floor for help. Through the “find my iPhone app” my phone was now in Ramallah, which is located on the West Bank. We waited for almost 2 hours to get help. In the meantime, we were part of a side show of 4 pre-teen Arabs getting arrested and questioned. In my mind I wished I had learned more than one word in Arabic. The scene that took place was filled with screaming and yelling; both the police and the young men never backed down. There was such a lack of respect, and the defiant boys had the support of their parents. At no time did the parents interrupt to lead the boys into respecting the police, instead they laughed at the situation.

On the third floor, only the plainclothes officer that helped us spoke English. I was beyond tired when the officer came out to tell us that there was a possibility that the phone could be retrieved, but both Danny and I had to go on the ride. Finally, after the long wait the grim news was that the iPhone was in Palestinian territory, and that the Israeli Police had no jurisdiction. It was too dangerous for them to cross that border. My phone was now in the hands of bad guys attempting to hack whatever information they could.

As we walked out of the police station, the half-covered moon lit the skies for us to catch a cab. To make small talk with the taxi driver, I shared what had happened. The taxi driver pulled over to see the location of the phone and said, “I take to Ramallah get phone, no tonight, I no see dark , tomorrow you call, and I take!” I presumed that angels got us back to the hotel because the old man was as blind as a bat.

I thank the Lord for Sonja, who locked up all my information on the iPhone. The only thing that was lost was the pictures that I had taken on that day. I got used to not having a phone for 5 days, and honestly it was not bad. My Blog is late because I had to get a new phone.

God Bless you who are addicted to your phones like I am. Five days without a phone taught me that life is fine without one, but I’d rather have a phone.

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