What A Beautiful Day!

Dear family and friends…this is an unusual post for me. It contains no pictures and very little text. However, I hope it conveys the joy I feel in my heart right now.

Yesterday I attended a wedding…a very special wedding, and witnessed what I consider to be a miracle. For security reasons there are no pictures and  I won’t mention any names. Let me give you some background.

About four years ago, Cynthia and I became involved with a group trying to bring a young woman to Canada …let’s call her A. She had escaped from her homeland where she and her family were being persecuted because of their religious beliefs. At the same time, her fiancé…we’ll call him B, escaped  for the same reasons. He’d already been imprisoned because he would not deny his faith, but had been removed and put to work outside the prison as he had some special skills, useful to the local army or police. He bided his time and escaped.  During their escape, and subsequent travels in search of a country where they could be safe, they became separated. He went south, she traveled north. They were separated by thousands of miles.

After a while, A found refuge in a foreign country and also found out she was pregnant. She gave birth to a daughter C. She managed to support herself and her baby by cleaning homes and working at a day-care. Eventually A met a young Canadian woman who lives close to where I live. She was traveling abroad  and ended up working in the same daycare as A. They became friends and shared stories. The young Canadian came home and with her parents began to look for ways to bring A and C to Canada. This is where Cynthia and I became involved as part of the group helping to bring A and C here. Eventually, after more than two years, A and daughter C came to the valley. After one year of support by the group, A is now self supporting. After much searching on-line and through the media, A eventually found B and they managed to stay in contact. .

Fiancé B was working to stay alive in a very difficult situation in a different foreign country. Another church group here in the valley was looking to sponsor a refugee. Members of our group contacted the other church and suggested they try to bring over B.  The other church group agreed. They too began the long process of filling out forms and attending endless meetings. Members of our group helped where they could, though I had withdrawn somewhat after Cynthia died.

Finally, B arrived earlier this year and has rejoiced in joining A and meeting the daughter who for years he didn’t know he had. C loves her daddy.  C and he had learned a little of each , bit by bit, through Face-time and Skype after contact  had been made. B is now already working hard as a cleaner at a hospital . He also helps out with a landscaping company in the summer. He is well on the way to becoming independent of the support group.

Yesterday they were married at our local church. They were surrounded by the two groups who brought them. The atmosphere was electric, filled with love and joy. They danced their way out of the church and into the reception in the church hall, with C dancing behind them. It was a spectacle I will never forget.

My heart was filled with joy and love at seeing their happiness. These three people have been given a chance to start a new life in an amazing country. Cynthia and I did our little bit in this process, but I feel that our reward has been so much more.

Thanks be to God!

A +B +C= LOVE

‘Bye for now and God bless.

Advertisements

Israel and Jordan: October 2018

I was privileged to travel to Israel and Jordan with Ben, Josée and a group of friends. We were about 30 in total and the whole trip was organized by more friends, Ron and Judy Hamm, in conjunction with Immanuel Tours of Jerusalem. Our trip began on Oct. 06 and we came home Oct. 26. We were actually on the tour  from Oct. 12 to 25. Our trip would take us north from Tel Aviv through Caesarea on the coast north to the Golan heights. From there we turned south and traveled through the West Bank to Jerusalem. After Jerusalem we journeyed as far south as we could go to Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba and crossed the border into Jordan. We then went north through Wadi Rum to Petra and on to the Dead Sea. After the Dead Sea the trip took us as far north as Jerash in Jordan. We then came back south to Amman and departed for home from Amman via London.

Travel-Map-Israel-Jordan

Starting the trip we flew to London and had little time before going on so we visited Windsor and saw the castle.

At Windsor Castle.

We flew from London to Tel Aviv via Zurich, Switzerland and the company, Immanuel Tours, picked us up at the airport to take us to our hotel. We arrived a few days before most of the group so we looked around on our own.

Arrival at Tel Aviv

View across Tel Aviv from our hotel room.

We visited the markets in Tel Aviv and Ben and Josée even walked down the coast to Joppa and back.

Spice merchant in the market at Tel Aviv

On Oct. 12th the tour began and took us to the site of Caesarea Maritima farther north on the coast from Tel Aviv. There we saw the site of Pontius Pilate’s coastal villa and many other Roman ruins including the amphitheatre.

The governor’s villa at Caesarea Maritima

The Amphitheatre at Caesarea Maritima

We visited northern Israel, the towns of Capernaum and Caesarea Philippi and saw outposts on the Golan Heights. We stayed at a kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. We took a ride on a Gospel Boat out on the Sea of Galilee and saw so much more. We walked in the places where Jesus walked over 2000 years ago. At one point four other members of the tour and I were able to renew our baptismal vows in the River Jordan. Pastor Ted and friend Dan did the honours.

Entering the historical ruins at Capernaum

The Synagogue at Capernaum

On the Gospel Boat

Outpost at the Golan Heights

Entering the Church of the Annunciation at Nazareth

The kibbutz at Ein Gev on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee

Leaving the baptismal site with Pastor Ted on my left and friend Dan.

En route to Jerusalem we stopped at Abraham’s place where camel rides were available. We walked down through the Garden of Gethsemane, saw sights in Jerusalem, visited the old city and saw a light and sound spectacular at the citadel of David.

Hip problems stopped me riding

Josée braved a ride

Ben and Josée with the Dome of the Rock in the right rear.

Walking down to the city via the Garden of Gethsemane

Our entry into Jerusalem through the Lions’ Gate.

After a few days in Jerusalem we motored south to Eilat, the southernmost town in Israel, on the Gulf of Aqaba. We had one night there before crossing the Jordanian border and heading to Petra, Masada, Qumran to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and on to the Dead Sea itself.

Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba at the Red Sea. Most southerly town in Israel I believe.

Crossing the border into Jordan on foot.

Red Dunes at Wadi Rum. We had a two hour jeep ride into the desert.

Spectacular scenery at Wadi Rum.

Transport is available through Al Siq (the snake) at Petra

The Treasury at Petra behind Ben and Josée

After Petra we traveled to the site of Masada which was one of the other main attractions of the tour for me. The story of Masada is amazing. I won’t share it all here as it would take too long, but it is a story worth reading. The siege of Masada was one of the final events in the First Jewish–Roman War, occurring from 73 to 74 CE on and around a large hilltop in current-day Israel. The siege was chronicled by Flavius Josephus, a Jewish rebel leader captured by the Romans, in whose service he became a historian. You can read more here

The view from the top at Masada looking back to the plains below.

Ben exploring the ruins atop Masada.

The Roman built siege ramp which led to the top of Masada

Josée (right) and Debbie enjoy a mud bath at the Dead Sea.

There is so much more I could tell you about this trip. Suffice to say it was so well organized by Ron and Judy working with the company. Immanuel tours treated us marvellously for the accommodation, food and transport were all great.

If you’d like to see many more pictures of the wonderful places we visited, click here. Each slide you see is titled at the lower left corner. Enjoy and God bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Never Tire Of Telegraph Cove.

Here’s another post I’ve been meaning to do since early August.

Cousins Sian and Jay came up from the Seattle area in the first week of August They stayed for a week and I enjoyed having them here. Mostly we did short trips around the valley and spent some time with my family here in the area.

However, we did make the 3+ hour drive to Telegraph cove one day. Here’s a map to give those of you overseas and idea of where we went.

Comox to Telegraph Cove: Vancouver Island

The object of the trip was to board a vessel owned by Stubbs Island Whale Watching and go in search of marine life. We hoped to see orcas, humpbacks, dolphins etc and we weren’t disappointed. We gathered together on the dock to get a team picture before we left. Even the skipper squeaked into the shot! (Back left)

Team pic

 

Leaving Telegraph Cove.

 

The surface was flat calm which suited Sian nicely.

Much of the time the surface was like this.

Soon we were all absorbed in scanning the surface for whales. We failed to spot orcas but saw three humpbacks feeding together in one spot.

 

All Hands On Deck.

 

Humpback lunge feeding (Photo from Wikipedia) As stated I did not take this picture, but this represents very well what we saw.

 

The whale watching trip was a great success.

Soon, the week was over and it was time for Sian and Jay to leave. However, we did manage to end it well with a family night out for dinner.

A family dinner ended Jay and Sian’s visit

That’s all folks. ‘Bye for now and God bless.

 

 

 

Everything Was Gouda.

Well, I have been so lax in getting new posts done. I thought I’d correct this today with a quick note about a trip I took with Ben and Tim. We visited Holland in April/May bound to do a 12 day cycling trip on a route picked out by Ben. We flew in to Amsterdam and stayed with host friends John and Lia at their B & B in Aalsmeer.

While at Aalsmeer with John and Lia, Ben guided us on the bikes to Flora, the world’s largest centre for flower distribution. If you visit Holland, make sure you go this place. It is amazing.

We were fortunate that Ben had made friends with B & B hosts Lia and John on a previous trip. Not only did we get to visit them this time, but they arranged tour bikes for Ben and Tim, and an E-bike for me. (I knew I’d never keep up with the others on a regular bike!)

We spent a couple of nights in Aalsmeer with John and Lia, visited war memorial cemeteries in Arnhem as well as interesting other places such as the outdoor museum and the magnificent gardens at Keukenhof. The trip was a huge success as far as I was concerned. I got to spend time with my sons. I met new people and made new friends. The food was great, the beer was better and I only fell off the bike three times in the whole trip! What more can I say? (Well, actually, if you’d care to see more pics you can click here. ‘Bye for now! God bless.)