PART THREE – Israel to Bernalillo
The Third Dimension (cont’d)
(More of) The Feast of PENTECOST
At the end of Part Two of wHaT tHe LoRd HaS dOnE wItH mE, the Lord informed us it was now time to go to Israel.
In the late winter of 1978-79, in Dauphin, Manitoba, the Lord gave me this song as He prepared us to go to Israel. A challenging path is the path of truth, but it is also an exhilarating one. Each segment of this path brings its trials and troubles, and its rewards, with continuing consistent evidence and assurance that staying the course is more than worthwhile.
(Click HERE to listen to “The Path of Truth,” or to read the lyrics.)
I gave two months notice at work, which gave Dal Fulford plenty of time to find a ceramist to replace me. I didn’t feel free to tell anyone where we were going, only that we were selling everything and leaving the country. We began advertising all our worldly belongings for sale.
A lady professing to believe came by to purchase some of our things. She asked why we were selling. We told her the Lord was giving us instructions to sell everything and obey something we weren’t free to talk about.
She was skeptical and recommended that we speak to “Pastor Greg” of the Pentecostal Bethel Tabernacle, with whom we had visited nearly two years earlier. “He is such a wonderful, loving man of God. You really should talk to him and not do things on your own,” she advised.
I knew we were dealing with Satan. The Lord gave me a song of the event.
We were learning that Satan’s servants are ever there, with Bible under arm and God’s praises on their lips, prepared to do battle “in love.” The strange thing is that while I recall the Lord giving me what to say to this woman, I don’t recall what it was.
(Click HERE to listen to “The Father Gave Me Words,” or to read the lyrics.)
When I consider what God had in mind and what He did in sending us to Israel, it is little wonder the enemy made the effort to stop us. What a marvelous development coming up!
We held a moving sale at our apartment. Such financial dealings were always a challenge, because money was a problem to me. How much do I charge? Did I sell it for too little or too much? Some hard bargain seekers would come; it didn’t matter how low the price was on anything, they would want it for less. We sold our Queen Anne stainless steel cookware for much less than it was worth, and many of our wedding gifts went for a song. Some people went away fairly happy, some much happier than they let on while dickering!
“The customer always complains that the price is too high, but then he goes off and brags about the bargain he got” (Proverbs 20:14 GNB).
We were down to the last few days before leaving by Greyhound bus to Winnipeg. It was now nearly two months since the Lord said, “Now is the time.” Most of our goods were sold or distributed to others. We only had remaining our biggest possession, the car, to sell. How would we do this?
The lady who was taking over my job was a ceramist/potter from Winnipegosis, about thirty-five miles north of Dauphin. A week or two before we were to leave, her car broke down and she needed transportation home, so I lent her our car. When she returned the next day, she said her son might be interested in it.
They arrived the day before we were to leave, dickered on the price some, and paid us cash for the car. What a timely gift from the Lord it was, while lending to someone in need! He has often shown Himself faithful in such circumstances.
Who thinks giving doesn’t pay?
Who says there is no God?
We paid my parents a visit the night before we left. They knew we were leaving, but they didn’t know where we were going.
During the visit, I spoke to Dad about hearing the Voice of the Lord, relating incidents to him. I was surprised to hear him express some credulity, because in the past he simply swept aside the idea of having a personal relationship with God. He said, somewhat marveling, “Well, if you do hear His Voice, you are one in millions!”
He had an expression on his face that indicated something was dawning on him. That expression would be a faint hint of something I would see of him six years later, in very different circumstances – a world apart, in fact.
The next day, they drove us to the bus depot and saw us off. As we sat in the bus, I saw them on the platform, both very sad and crying. We were all crying.
Throughout my Christian life, my father refused to believe me. He also couldn’t and wouldn’t understand that what God had done in me made an irreconcilable difference between him and me, not only in terms of thought and way of life, but in very nature.
He lingered for the old Victor, not willing or able to accept that I had died. If only he had desired, not the grave for the two of us, but the resurrection! What man in his right mind would trade the skies and birds for the earth and worms?
In all sadness, I turned my back on him, but I don’t regret it; no, not for a moment.
I wrote a poem about him and our relationship:
You linger at my grave, longing for your son;
I’ve left the darkness for the light, and what is done is done.
The change in me is not perceived by frail human sight,
And so you think that I am wrong, and you are surely right.
Reason fails to comprehend the things in my new life;
Explanations will not do, they only lead to strife.
People, habits, and memories call, but I’ve traded old for new;
I’ve traded all that’s bad and false, for all that’s good and true.
I’m a stranger in this world, whom you have never met;
I’ve only kept this outer shell on which your heart is set.
My life is hid in Jesus Christ; believe me you will not;
Your heart is very hard and cold, for truth you have not sought.
I’d rather walk on foreign soil, than to this evil world be loyal,
And trade the rags of dirt and toil, for robes magnificent and royal.
Kingly blood flows through my veins, as I am led down holy lanes;
I’ve left the world of sorrow and pains, and climb the heights for greater gains.
Someday I know I will return for others who will come
And each man will, in his own time, till all are in the sum.
Great and glorious will be the day when all men drop the sword
And raise their hands in harmony to praise our mighty Lord.
I think one of the greatest battles I ever had was to forsake family, more particularly my parents, most particularly my father. His draw on my heart was very powerful and, in his last years, his state was so pitiable that it was very hard for me to refuse him anything. It was agonizing, indeed.
(Click HERE to listen to “A Deadly Pull,” or to read the lyrics.)
We were leaving Canada with the sense that we wouldn’t be returning, having sold all our possessions, not free to tell anyone where we were going, and departing from a peculiar, almost apocalyptic, scene.
We had been subjected to –20 degrees F; temperatures that began at the end of October and remained, for the most part, until the beginning of April, just before we left. Meanwhile, there were almost record amounts of snow, so much that maintenance crews couldn’t dispose of it. Cars were buried in driveways, homes were deep in snow, and city sidewalks were as trenches almost everywhere, walls often over our heads. Snow came and remained, piling up.
When a late spring arrived, the snow began to melt all at once. As we traveled by bus to Winnipeg, there was nothing but water as far as the eye could see, through much of the countryside. It was as though we were in a ferry crossing a lake, except for the roadside markers to guide the Greyhound bus on the highway through the water.
We thought we were escaping the judgment of God on Canada. This took place at a time when, politically, socially, legally, parliamentarily, economically, and atmospherically, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, had devastated the country with a socialistic, cynical spiritual influence, and the majority of people seemed to love to have it so. They saw him as a hero, and many still do. (To us, he was evil incarnate – a selfish, arrogant scoundrel.)
He was even a nominee, years after he died, in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s contest, “The Greatest Canadian.”
A Much Deserved Tribute: Thankfully, the winner of the contest was one who deserved the honor of that national contest title infinitely more than Trudeau – Tommy Douglas, former Premier of Saskatchewan, and founder and leader of the New Democratic Party.
Tommy did great good for the country, winning sorely-needed basic rights for the common man by establishing governmental laws, policies, and infrastructures. Perhaps his most notable accomplishment was universal healthcare for Canadians who couldn’t afford most basic treatment.
Things have changed, however, and the NDP is no longer what it was in Tommy’s day, not by a long shot. And the governmental policies aren’t as he originally intended them. All is greatly corrupted – the usual course of this world.
For example, Tommy never intended that Medicare coverage should include abortions, sex changes, and the broad range of sorcerous pharmaceuticals we have today. These are horrid travesties of a policy meant to meet serious needs, not meant to murder, poison, and cause mayhem.
Back to our story: I had just turned thirty-three. In the seventh year of my spiritual conversion, we had no idea we were headed to Israel to meet a new long-time friend to be, who would become closer and much more than a brother.
Marilyn had a vision of Pierre Trudeau and Canadians. He was feeding the chickens, scattering feed to them with one hand, while in the other hand he concealed an axe behind his back, ready for use.
We booked a direct El Al flight from Winnipeg to the Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel.
The seat rows were uncustomarily compact, and my seat was dysfunctional – it couldn’t recline. The whole plane was packed, so they couldn’t give me another seat; I sat upright all the way.
I believe the flight, with time change, was about fourteen hours – about nine in real time. They didn’t give satisfactory compensation for inconvenience. With honor, they should and would have.
Why did this happen? The Lord was dealing with my fears and sympathetic notions. I was afraid of losing our luggage with transfers (fear inevitably breeds mistakes and invites trouble). I had also wanted to support Israel (El Al being an Israeli company). I concluded we would have been better off booking with another airline, with a stopover. Perhaps my reaction shows how little I was willing to suffer unselfishly?
Arriving at the Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv, we had no idea what to do or where to go. We knew nobody there, didn’t speak the language or understand the customs, and had no plans, reservations, or connections.
Cab drivers swarmed. I was dressed in gaudy summer clothes and appeared the ideal sucker for those inclined to take advantage of tourists. We were also lily-white in complexion, fresh out of a six-month life of deep freeze, with little more sun than a deep freeze would afford, into a land of tanned skin. It seemed somewhat the reversal of coming out of a hot sauna and diving immediately into an icy lake, as Swedes are reputed to do.
I was skeptical and fearful of con artists, for I had experienced them in Tijuana and elsewhere, back in the sixties, so we passed up a respectable and respectful older cabdriver, waited, and finally got a con artist (as things work). He saw us coming, bounced our luggage around, packed other people into his car with us, charged us 50% more than he should have, and at the end, persistently demanded a tip, all the while scorning us.
He dropped us off at a cheap old hotel in Tel Aviv, the Nes Ziona. The manager was unpretentious and friendly. Prostitutes frequented the lobby and rooms, indulging U.N. peacekeeping soldiers and young tourists at all hours. Clicking their high heels on the uncarpeted floors at night, they disturbed both those asleep and those awake in neighboring rooms.
Marilyn was understandably not impressed with our humble accommodations, so we upgraded to a better hotel down the street with less of similar activity. While there, we began considering our options and decided to go to a kibbutz or moshav.
At the hotel, Marilyn fell quite ill. Stress alone could have been the cause, as could the heat – the xhamsin winds were in season, hot and dry from the eastern desert regions. Marilyn had fever, headache, and nausea, but she finally recovered.
We were told we could volunteer on a kibbutz as laborers, so we made some phone calls, thinking we would try it out until something else came up. A moshav (something like a kibbutz) offered to take us, though we refused to be vaccinated and were passing the maximum qualifying age as volunteers. By then, we had somehow learned vaccinations weren’t good.
We enlisted another unscrupulous cabdriver, compliments of the desk clerk, to “take us for a ride” to Moshav Habonim on the Carmel coast, about 50 miles north of Tel Aviv and 20 miles south of Haifa.
At Habonim, they took one look at us, with our clothes and white complexion, decided we wouldn’t last long, and thought they would get it over with. They assigned us to our quarters; we found them filthy and began to clean house. It took us all day, the day we were supposed to have to settle in and be given an accommodating tour of introduction and acquaintance, as was customary with new volunteers. That introductory day never happened for us, though it did happen for all other volunteers who came after us.
The moshav members initially despised us, which they confided to us months later, after realizing they had misjudged us by our appearance when we arrived.
Habonim was an agricultural community, the residential section situated on a rocky hill beside the Mediterranean. On its premises, it had the rocky ruins of a small Crusader castle. Habonim, which means “the workers” or “the builders,” prided itself in hard work. Unlike a kibbutz, which traditionally has a common dining hall, called a beit am (house of the nations), for the whole community to use daily, moshav families eat in their own private homes. There are other minor differences between these two forms of socialistic communities.
As was the case with most moshavim and kibbutzim, Habonim had many enterprises. It had a vermiculite factory and a dairy, it had orchards of bananas, mangoes, lychee nuts, and avocadoes, and it grew cotton, onions, and other crops. Bananas have awesome, gorgeous giant blossoms – I would gladly call them “blawesomes”!
I had occasion to work in all the food productions and the vermiculite factory, though not in the dairy. Marilyn often worked with other women and prepared meals for the volunteers (they preferred her cooking over taking turns with those who couldn’t cook).
For interesting nature, occasionally we saw scorpions and snakes that looked like, but were not, vipers. I loved the Mediterranean Sea, but the beaches were littered with globs of tar or oil.
There are those who immigrated to Israel and those who were born in the country. An Israeli-born is called a sabra, which is the word for the fruit of a common cactus. And according to North American social standards, sabras can be rather prickly.
We occasionally found a more favorable, even refreshing mentality with the sabras than with the immigrants. One could often have a meaningful conversation with them. They were more realistic, sincere, sober, and humble – not in all cases, but several. Plainly, these people have been born in fire, their lives in constant danger, surrounded and greatly outnumbered by rabid enemies, having to fight simply for the right to exist.
Their outlook and disposition were in clear contrast to those of more affluent privileged Jews born in America, who were often soft (yet hard), proud, selfish, satiated, self-confident, argumentative ideologues raised without fear of harsh danger or life-threatening persecution.
As for the Americans who experienced the army and war, they had a hardness, a callousness the Israeli soldiers we met generally didn’t have. Americans seemed arrogant compared to Israelis. Again, this wasn’t always the case, but often was, at least in our limited experience.
Of immigrants, we found those who came for ideology’s sake and those who came escaping persecution, often coming with nothing to show for possessions. Those fleeing to Israel for their lives were more like the sabras, substantially insecure, but with a measure of humility and a greater sense of reality.
We were seeing a live demonstration of how suffering and hardship can do much good. Being pampered, protected, and afforded one’s desires of the things in this world are often detrimental to body, soul, and spirit. Spoiled children miss out and have a hard time catching up in life.
Some of those we met at Habonim:
Raeli, our first volunteer supervisor. His wife didn’t have good first impressions of us. Raeli later confessed they thought we were lily-white and quite useless.
Leah, a Holocaust survivor.
Doron, son of Leah.
Rafaela, Doron’s wife. She was our second supervisor and took a more personal interest in us.
Ya’acov Pinsker, Rafaela’s father, a wild, reckless truck driver, reputedly responsible for some deaths on the highways, who offered to take us on a complimentary tour while on a delivery trip to the Negev, past Dimona, the location of Israel’s alleged nuclear facility. Against the secret advice of some members concerned for our safety, we accepted. We had asked the Lord, Who gave us the peace to go, and we enjoyed his company and commentary.
Ben Yehuda, the engineer and custodian of the water system of Habonim. He was a bachelor who invited us to his place for slides of his trips around the world, focusing on buildings and architecture. He made us some delicious juice from his pomegranate tree.
Artur Regev, originally from California, U.S., sought us out and encouraged us to be a part of the community; he became a closer friend.
Aharon, Erit’s father, a man who fought in or against the British army when it was still in “Palestine”; I quite appreciated him.
Erit Regev, Artur’s wife, daughter of Aharon.
Moti, the appointed farm manager for a term, with whom we had some friendship. He was looking to leave Israel for greater financial opportunities and independent living, perhaps in South America.
Chanaan, the avocado and lychee orchard keeper whose yard was a beautiful cactus garden with great variety. He invited us for a visit to his home (I had some words for him about God that were encouraging to him).
David Hooker, the bookkeeper’s eldest son. He took us sailing on the Mediterranean.
Jonathan Hooker, David’s younger brother, about 20 years old. He was our thorn in the side.
David and Jonathan’s parents, who raised four children (or more) in a small one-room house. The father was the moshav bookkeeper.
Katriel, a sabra, and his American wife, who was having a hard time in Israel.
Monty, the vermiculite/perlite factory manager. He was an intellectual, an aggressive, outspoken, opinionated man with not a great amount of tolerance or patience.
Eli, Monty’s assistant, married, quiet. He was a sabra, I believe.
Don Salmons, from Texas. He believed he had a calling of God on his life as a prophet and held many strange beliefs, like sleeping with other women, including other men’s wives (without shame). His Anglicized Hebrew with a Texas drawl provided constant entertainment for many.
Shoshanna, Don’s wife, who shrugged off her husband’s sexual exploitations, saying he would grow out of it (he was close to fifty). At a wedding on the moshav, Shoshanna, in her evening dress, cleared tables of garbage after the meal, and got into a garbage can to stomp down the contents to make room for more.
Nadab, a ten- or eleven-year-old, son of a woman sleeping with Don. He was full of adventure, and could speak Hebrew and English fluently.
Victor, married, originally from England, who sought me out when hearing we had spiritual beliefs. He claimed he saw a vision of Israel being invaded and mostly destroyed (with which I disagreed); he and his wife were getting together with Don in their “cult.”
Neil and Linda (Sedorsky?) from South Africa, who were very friendly and entertaining. They were quite uncertain about being in Israel after a life of having wealth, leisure, independence, and servants. Linda related to us as though we ought to be doing things for them. Perhaps it was my dark tan – Neil once quipped that if I got any more tanned, they’d have to reclassify me.
Moshe, a young active fellow turning eighteen and not looking forward to his three-year stint in the army (I have red that recruitment age in Israel is now seventeen).
Ezra Halevi, who thought we were searching for deeper meaning and suggested we go back to our “hometown church,” until he found out that the Lord had spoken to us to come to Israel (he literally gulped with surprise).
Ezra’s daughter Shulamit, who was embarrassed with her father’s approach to us (I wished she hadn’t been).
Yankeleh, a pleasant, rather tender fellow, who tried fitting into the farm scene, but was having a bit of difficulty doing so.
Daniel (“Danny”) Forman, who spoke of his part in the war in which they charged up a hill and took the Golan Heights. He had carefully, desperately sought cover behind every rock as he advanced, and he survived when many soldiers did not.
Ayala Dorzbacher, a pretty young girl, born of a blond father, Michael, and a mother that looked East Indian. Her father was a truck driver hauling livestock feed.
Johnny Chazan, a fellow originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, and who came to Israel in 1935, likely fought in the War of Independence, the Six-Day War, maybe the ‘56 Suez and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Johnny told me he had come to support Israel in its conflict.
I appreciated all of them but one – Jonathan Hooker, the young selfish, arrogant, insulting spoiled brat, though a sabra and army-trained. He knew nothing and everything. He was a test of all virtue. Not at all like most sabras.
Of all people, Jonathan was the one who lived next to us in the same building, noisy and inconsiderate altogether. So goes life…. Habonim’s answer to the Thorndale Apartments.
We met a few volunteers from around the world: Alan from England, a communist who was cynical and rather bitter about religion; Linda, his girlfriend; Simon from England; Angela from England; Lynette from South Africa; Marcus from Switzerland, who was looking for acceptance and purpose; a girl from Australia; and a short young Irish fellow with a chip on his shoulder who indirectly challenged me to a fight – I didn’t bite.
Some volunteers seemed to be trying to find themselves while hiding from everyone else, even themselves, ironically.