Shalom Fellow Israelite,
As mentioned in our earlier note this week, we are back in the land. Jet lag seems to be over now and we are busy getting settled into daily routines (including yesterday’s celebration of Israel’s 68th Independence Day). But before time slips away we want to share some of the amazing events we experienced in North America. (These are the contour lines, as it were, of the trip and do not include the actual content and message that Abba has laid on our hearts to share). We have never had so much favor from Abba, in every area of the journey, as we did this time. We left Israel on March 1st, were met by friends in Tampa, Florida and taken to their lovely home in Sarasota. There we had a couple of days to recuperate and enjoy the blessings of love poured out by this couple. On the 4th we jointed hundreds of Ephraimites at the B’ney Yosef North American summit in St Petersburg, which was like a family reunion. YHVH’s presence and anointing upon those 3 days were electrifying. What was especially precious was meeting Batya Wooten, with her wonderful sense of humor that she has been maintaining in spite of several years of no minor difficulties. We also were very impressed by the choice of elders for BYNA, as well as by those on the executive board, all of whom have taken up the task of organizing and moving forward with the vision of the reconstitution of our national aspirations.
After the summit we stopped by and shared at a congregation where we had been in 1997-98 when it was still a home group, but now has grown into a community, having their own building and a vision that has not waned for the restoration of all things. We also had a few days with a very dear friend and his new wife before leaving for the B’ney Yosef National Shabbat in Northeast Georgia. Here Abba arranged an additional divine and unexpected erev Shabbat appointment, along with a wonderful time of celebrating our Messiah Yeshua’s faithfulness in restoring us to our forefathers and national identity. From there we drove to Ralph, Alabama, to be with friends who have been actively encouraging and supporting us over the years. The following evening we shared with their congregation near Birmingham. It was a very special and attentive group whom we had the privilege to address. The following morning we picked up a friend from Aqaba, Jordan at the airport and continued on to a home meeting in Houston, Texas being again another divine encounter with very precious brothers and sisters. Sometime later our hosts sent us a video of a canoe passing by on the street where our car had been parked, as their area suffered from the floods which hit Texas. From there the 3 of us drove to San Antonio, Texas for a couple of days of relaxing fellowship, a B’ney Yosef National Shabbat, and a professional tour of the Alamo. The level of commitment and dedication of our brothers and sisters amazed us, and what’s more we were very pleasantly surprised to meet a very good friend who drove a long way with his family just to be with us, as well as to bless all present with his gift of music.
Another surprise encounter awaited us in Western Texas, which was a last minute arrangement by friends who had heard we were in the vicinity. And so we had our inspiring sit-around-tables gathering in lovely Fort Davis, above a traditional ‘drug-store’, next to the beautifully renovated and quaint guest rooms. Driving through the magnificent countryside of Northern Georgia, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona left us in awe as to the Almighty’s creation.
Our next stop was in Carlsbad New Mexico, where we attended a gathering with a very enthusiastic group, energizing us for our long drive to Mesa Arizona along breath taking vistas. A four day stay with very close friends was very revitalizing, not to mention the very intriguing Purim celebration on Friday and Shabbat at their congregation, the anointed music and the opportunity to address the lively group that gathered there, some of whom were friends whom we have not seen for many years.
Reno, Nevada was to be our next stop, but a couple of days break was in line as our traveling companion, who unfortunately had taken very sick along the way, had a close childhood friend in Las Vegas. Much to our dismay, she felt that she needed to recuperate and we left her there, to be well taken care of by her loving friends. Reno was a wonderful experience, where once more we met with some old time friends as well as making new ones, at a lovely Shabbat dinner that we all shared, and then in the Shabbat fellowship meeting that lasted through the afternoon.
Mount Shasta in California was ‘waiting’ for us on our way from Nevada to our next two appointments in Oregon. We spent the night at a horse ranch, with a view of the beautiful white capped mountain, but not before an evening of sharing with our hosts and their guests, whose interest in the homeland was very encouraging.
A long drive through the pine forests of Northern California ushered us into the beautiful State of Oregon, where we had a delightful experience in Talent, both at the home of our Israeli-savvy hosts and with the group that gathered in a civic center. Having to leave far too quickly, we made our way to Salem, to meet with very dedicated individuals who are serving Abba and His purposes under all circumstances, and who greeted us with equal dedication and love. Our final stop on that leg of the journey was in central Washington, in Ellensburg, where we were hosted very generously by friends with whose group we have had years-old relationship. It was a wonderful experience to be with these special individuals, and to be joined by some others from the area and share from the depth of our hearts. The visit was concluded by a lovely and relaxing boat ride along the Columbia River, with our host as the ‘captain’.
The next day we turned in the car in Seattle and took a short flight to Calgary, Alberta where, once again, loving friends went out of their way to make our stay enjoyable to the utmost. They took us to some amazing sites where there was still evidence of snow, and to their fellowship where we met very devoted brothers and sisters with whom we spent the entire Shabbat in very meaningful sharing.
From our too short of a stay in Calgary we flew back to the States, landing in Chicago only to be greeted by friends from Israel who happened to be there at the same time. After a couple hours visit at the airport we took a bus to Rockford, Illinois and spent a lovely evening with a dear friend and continued the next day to Wisconsin, where we were hugging, sharing and catching up with Ephraim’s family and more old time friends. It was so good to see them all!
After the week in the ‘home turf’ we flew back to Canada and prepared to conduct the Pesach seder and to share during the high holiday, an appointment which had been designated for Barrie, Ontario. After a day of relaxation at a lovely resort in the Blue Mountains (courtesy of a very special couple) we set forth to share the seder meal, and two more days of teachings with a versatile group of people with whom we were honored to spend that precious time. A special treat was to meet up with veteran friends who came a long way to see us and spend those days with the local congregation.
Much traveling was in store for us in our Ontario spell. A two hour drive brought us to Sudbury for an afternoon and evening gathering that was arranged by another very dedicated and loving couple, who were our hosts for the next three days. After that wonderful experience they drove us for another two hours to their Elliot Lake home, where we had an opportunity to get to know each other, and some of their close friends from the Ojibway tribe. We were grateful for the opportunity to meet and share with these very exceptional people, and to learn about the first nations of the area.
As our trip was coming to a close we had a seven hour ride, replete with beautiful sites of lakes and snow patches and lots of formidable inukshuks (stone piles set up by the first nation people to serve as landmarks to show the way), on the road to a Brad Scott seminar. Since we had a speaking engagement in that area (Hanover, Ontario) on the coming Shabbat, it allowed us to participate at least partially in this edifying seminar, and also gave another opportunity to meet again with old and newly made friends. The Shabbat gathering was a very encouraging finale to the two months long series of meetings and appointments, which Abba by His grace allowed us to have.
The cherry on the proverbial cake of this wonderful tour, were three days spent, once again, at the beautiful resort where we had been before, all thanks to the generosity and servants’ hearts of a very special couple, who day and night took care of us in every way. What’s more, they provided room so that some very close friends, who live seven hours away, in Up-state New York, could come and spend some precious time with us.
On the evening of May 5th we flew home from Toronto.
At Tel Aviv airport we were surprised and relieved to see our daughter waiting for us (as we had planned to travel home by train). The sun was shining all the way from the airport (as it has indeed done almost every single day of the trip). We arrived in time for an erev Shabbat meal that was shared in a warm and loving family setting. It was a perfect ending to a perfect trip that our Heavenly Abba arranged for His very grateful children.
A big “thank you” to all our hosts, who loved, wined and dined us (and so much more) through our 9 week journey.
Ephraim and Rimona