Sunday, January 31, 2010

Israel: Still Controversial After 61 Years

Recently, I sent a fax to a hotel in Jerusalem's Old City inquiring about availability for a group. When writing my fax, I took into consideration that the proprietor of the hotel was probably not pro-Israel, so I chose not to include the word Israel in the hotel's address. However, my address is in Israel (i.e. west Jerusalem), so I chose to keep the word Israel in my own address.

Apparently, the distinction wasn't enough for the proprietor of the hotel, because when I received his return fax, he had scribbled Israel out of my address.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

These Guys are Going on Vacation . . . for 2 Years!

If you are interested in fishing in the fresh waters of the Sea of Galilee in the near future, you have until February 28, to wet your hook because there is a fishing ban coming into effect from March 1, 2010 until February 28, 2012.

It seems the fish population in the lake needs to be replenished, so a plan has been put in place to fix that problem. You can read the whole story, which is being reported only by Israel National New, here.

And for those who are worried about being able to still get fish in Israel, the large number of fish farms in the north should be able to supply the market, but I would expect an increase in price.

Now, where did I put my pole? I'm scheduled to be at the Sea of Galilee just before the ban takes effect, so I need to find my pole.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Galilee Bee Keepers

Due to good winter rains this year, the Galilee is green and lush. And this bee keeper is out in the field priming his boxes for what he hopes to be a good honey harvest.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm Proud

I just want to take a moment to say that I'm proud of my cousins.

The photo on the left is of my cousins, first and first once removed. Jennifer is my first cousin, the daughter of my mother's sister, Terry. Brittney is Jennifer's daughter, my first cousin once removed. Gardina is also Jennifer's daughter, or, at least she will be in short order, which will also make her my first cousin once removed.

Gardina was an orphan in Haiti, and thankfully survived the devastating earthquake that rocked that nation to its core. She just arrived in the US and is being adopted by Jeff and Jennifer DeWitt and their 4 kids.

Gardina had been on their hearts and minds for some time, as either Jeff or Brittney had, on different occasions, visited the orphanage where Gardina lived, and brought reports of Gardina back home to share with the rest of the family.

For many reasons, this is a moving story, which you can read the rest of here

My hat is off to all those who "love the least of these," and I'm proud to count my cousins among them. How do you say, "Welcome to the family" in Haitian-Creole?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Repost: A Way to Help Those Without Clean Water

This post was originally published on October 5, 2009, but the Haiti earthquake has given me reason to re-post it and add some additional information.

(The additional information comes first, the original post with a demo video comes last.)

For those looking for a way to help the people in Haiti, Lifesaver Systems is currently offering a buy one donate one special. The USA distributor site is down at the moment, but may be back up shortly. They currently offer 4000 and 6000 liter bottles and 10,000 and 20,000 liter Jerrycans. (Note: Some have been confused about the size of these items: they produce the designated amount, they do not hold that amount.)

The end cost to produce clean water ranges from $0.14 per gallon for the smaller 4000 liter filter unit to only $0.08 per gallon for the larger capacity 20,000 liter (5,283 gallons) Jerrycan.

Here is Lifesaver Systems Frequently Asked Questions page, which is well worth browsing. (Note: there is a separate page for bottles and Jerrycans.)

Michael Pritchard has invented a water filter system that is inexpensive, easily transportable, and apparently very effective. For those living in developed areas, potable water isn't a daily issue for you. However, in most of the undeveloped world, drinkable water is a matter of life and death. A number of organizations have become involved in sponsoring water wells in various parts of the world. This water filter system should not be over looked if you are interested in helping provide potable water for those that don't have easy access to such.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Checking I.D.

Admittedly, I was surprised to see the police asking Jews for their identification cards at Damascus Gate. The first time I saw this, I had arrived on the scene after the event was already in motion, so I thought I was reading something into the officers' actions. I decided to hang around for a few minutes to see if the police would ask another Jew to present his identification card. After a couple of minutes, they did exactly that.

Here's a photo of the police doing to a Jew what many people think is reserved only for Arabs.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Corn Nuts, One of My Favorites

I was happy to discover roasted corn nuts in the Jerusalem market. Well, . . . not those Corn Nuts®, but close enough to satisfy my salty snack craving. These corn nuts are from Spain, but they taste identical to Corn Nuts®, and that makes me really happy.

When we are in the States, we usually spend a lot of time on the highways, and I have a few favorite road snacks: Jack in the Box tacos (usually 2/99¢, but even better at 3/99¢!), Corn Nuts®,  and quick stop (i.e. gas station snack bar) burritos when we are driving in west Texas. Wow, my mouth's watering just thinking about those treats!

Here's a bin of Spanish corn nuts at the Jerusalem market. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Female Soldiers

This is a group of female soldiers at Jaffa Gate. Two things are happening: First, they are learning to stand in an orderly fashion. Rows and lines aren't learned here in school, at the post office, or a restaurant; they are learned in the army. Some observers of Israeli culture would say, however, that lines are quickly forgotten immediately after a soldier is discharged. :-) In twelve years of baseball here, one of the most frustrating things was to need to repeatedly teach the players how to stand in rows and lines.

Second, the girls are touring the country, much like all the tourists just out of view who are taking pictures of them as they stand at attention. As they tour, they learn about the ancient and modern history of their country, which, to me, seems like a good thing.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Does This Count?

A couple of years ago, I attended a media in ministry conference/seminar that attempted to help those who attended understand how to better utilize various media in our ministry efforts.

The conference was divided into two emphases: the philosophical foundations of using media in ministry and the practical "how to" aspects of filming, editing and broadcasting. Overall, the seminars were interesting and helpful, but I think most of those attending would have liked more emphasis on the practical tools.

The conference ended with the the conference professionals presenting us with certificates of completion. As each of us were called to the platform to receive our certificates, the main instructor - I don't remember his name - would say a word of encouragement to or prophesy about the recipient. Admittedly, I was a little uncomfortable with this, but took my turn like the rest, received my diploma and prophesy, which was that I would "become high profile."

Of course "high profile" could mean a host of things, pretty much whatever anyone desires it to mean. So, how does one evaluate the accuracy of a prophecy such as this one?

Here's what happened: After a few friend's giggled at me about the prophecy, I forgot about it. About 2 months ago, I was surprised to get an email from someone in England who I hadn't heard from since 2005. This person wrote that he was prompted to contact me because he had seen me on television in England on a show that is airing around the UK.

At first, I was pretty puzzled that I was on television in the UK since I am generally not in the news and don't do interviews. Was it something to do with baseball in the Jewish Olympics? Perhaps someone had filmed me teaching the Bible on location and somehow that video made it's way onto a Christian television show, I thought. Suddenly, I remembered the prophecy and that I had, in fact, been interviewed at the conference and that I had signed a release form allowing them to use my likeness and/or words in anyway they desired.

I had finally connected the dots: The man who gave the prophecy that I would become "high profile" had used an interview that his crew had previously filmed as part of a show or advertisement being broadcast on Christian television throughout the UK. Honestly, I was happy to figure out how I was appearing on television in the UK, but that left me with other questions.

Here's one of the questions: Is it a legitimate prophecy if he already had my interview "in the can" and knew he could/would use it in a future production that would be broadcast in the UK? (I suspect it is being broadcast elsewhere, too.)

Oh, one more thing: A friend told me on Saturday that I have recently been on Hungarian television. But that broadcast had nothing to do with the media conference.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grace!

Early this morning, six years ago, I stood next to the midwife near the foot of my wife's delivery bed. I was taking it all in, doing my best to encourage my lovely bride to finish the task that was hers - but mostly standing there numb trying to take it all in.

While "our" delivery was a relatively quick process start to finish, time seemed to drag on. As each stage came and went the midwife seemed more excited than I was, but I was taking it all in with great amazement and wonder.

Finally, our daughter's head crowned and suddenly there she was! It seemed quicker than the flash of a flashbulb; and in one motion the midwife caught her and delivered her into my wife's arms. 

I hope that one moment in time, a flashbulb of a moment, will never leave my memory. I pray that through any future sickness, injury or old age God will be kind to me, allowing me to treasure that sweet and amazing moment until my last breath.

Happy Birthday, Grace!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium

Many of my readers may not have heard of Teddy Stadium or it's namesake, Teddy Kollek. Teddy, as both he and the stadium are affectionately called by locals, was a likable six-term mayor of Jerusalem (1965-1993) who led the city through the post June '67 reunification into a modern city.

The horseshoe-shaped Teddy Stadium first opened in 1992 with seating for 12,000 fans. However, the final stage (north end enclosure) wasn't completed until 1997, bringing seating up to 21,000.  It is surrounded by 5,000 parking spaces, which isn't sufficient and causes the nearby roadways to be lined with double parked cars during soccer games.

Now, some of you will be surprised that you have actually heard of this stadium, but in a place you might not expect: Left Behind. The best-selling Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins end-times series uses Teddy Stadium as the location of at least one critical scene. Unfortunately, I can't remember the details very clearly, but what I seem to remember is that (Anti-Christ?) Nicolae Carpathia gave a speech to the masses from Teddy. If you remember more, please add details in the comments.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Word Picture: Be Careful

"He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own
   Is like one who takes a dog by the ears."
                                                               Proverbs 26:17 (NKJV)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Security Measures

Security issues have been much in the news in the US lately. Here is a photo of Israeli police and border guards checking the identification of young Arab men.

Monday, January 04, 2010

I'm Back . . . I Think

My slow blogging of late hasn't been planned. Rather, it is the result of a number of things, not the least of which has been a lack of desire.

Just before Christmas, I thought I had come down with the swine flu, but it turned out to be something else that included a pretty serious Strep-B infection. Thankfully, I seem to be nearing the end of that awful experience.

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend time with a friend who is leading a seminary group on an Israel study tour. My friend even let me teach a little, which is always a blessing.

Some have expressed a concern for me since I have bid farewell to baseball, asking how I'm doing emotionally and such. Really, I'm doing fine. It was a great opportunity to be involved in Israel Baseball like I was, but it is time to move on.

We are transitioning in ways that we are not always able to share in this forum, but do appreciate our friends' continued interest in our well being and vocation.

Recently, I've been learning much about disagreeing more agreeably, and God has given us a graduate seminar in that topic. May God give us grace to succeed.