So we've been counting down the months, the weeks, and then the days. At the beginning we went through a day of doubting that Israel was going to happen. We worked through that and carried on. About two/three weeks ago we had that feeling that the cloud was going to move (think Exodus) and we had to start preparing. But for what? My passport is still not in my hands as the South African Embassy has just shut its doors and seems to be reluctant to reopen them. Also, because of COVID19, Israels borders are still shut. I started cleaning the caravan and unbeknownst to us, dear friends of ours asked a farmer they know whether he would allow some campers on his farm for four to eight weeks.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
We also knew it was time to vacate our friends caravan that they had so willingly let us have. We have had an amazing time. In lockdown together for three months, is in many ways a really scary prospect. Pete is a lot more easy going than me, and I am definitely happy indoors looking after children and preparing meals; and perhaps not as sociable as I could be. But God's covering and grace lay over us like a comforting blanket, and we knew that He was here with us. Our thirteen children (between the two families) played and played and played, day in and day out. We learned about animals and saw some born. Helped where we could and shared the cooking. The boys spent a lot of time on bikes, some learning how to ride, some learning how to jump! My friends two oldest boys spent time with the littlies, built them things and let them get involved with what they were doing. Really special times.
But the cloud lifted, it was time to move on. We have the greatest respect for our friends who have been sleeping in a small yurt for three months. I don't know if we could have done that. But it has been an amazing blessing to us, and we have really learned and grown from this experience.
So the question we had was "how is God going to do this?" The Farmer whose farm we are meant to go to will only be ready sometime after the 6th of July, and we would also like to go and see friends and family down in Cornwall, so there would be a gap of about seven to ten days, and where would we stay? Due to everything opening up from Covid on the fourth of July, everything is fully booked, and its not very easy putting up nine people for a night.
Interestingly enough, last year Pete had come across a five berth caravan potentially for sale. He mentioned it to me, but it was really not what we needed at that time. Due to the uncertainty of when exactly we will go to Israel, Pete has been toying with the idea of buying the caravan as we could all just fit into it, and it would make life a whole lot easier. We do have a two berth caravan, but it means that we can only camp when we have the caravan and the Bell Tent, and if we are possibly moving around then it just becomes a whole lot more difficult we the amount of gear to set-up/breakdown, and we could not use standard camping pitches etc.
So yesterday (Friday the 26th of July) we decided that the best course of action would be to leave on Tuesday and go down to Cornwall for a few days, and then slowly make our way up to the farm while visiting friends and family. Pete's parents were willing to let us park the caravan on the drive, and it would be lovely for them to see the children after four months of lockdown. The caravan is also available, so all perfect then. But as we talked after our meal, we decided that nothing is stopping us from going on Monday. More time in Cornwall and our friends get to move back into their lovely warm caravan with sofas and beds. The most exciting thing is that packing now only takes a day and not weeks, and the caravan is so much easier to clean than a big house was. Job done.
Father always amazes me with his timing and provision. The time is right to go, and the country is starting to open up, so movement is now possible. And also the provision of a caravan. And what a blessing to be be able to go and visit with our friends again, to bless and encourage one another in these difficult times. It also gives me the opportunity to apply for my British Citizenship. I can kick myself now, I should have done it years ago...
Some highlights of our time here:
A few days after our arrival the police turned up. That was a bit scary. We weren't quite sure what to expect. We just explained the situation to them, and they were very understanding. They were very nice, one was a real fan of large families, and the other one's parents had just come back from a Holy Land tour. They left us with their blessing.
Behind one of the barns is the 'orchard', with out any fruit trees! It's a small triangular piece of land with trees on two sides. My friend bought a fire pit, an old steel tractor tyre, and we've spent several evenings there cooking on the fire or having a BBQ, and roasting marshmallows over the fire.
It took me three weeks to get accustomed to our friends eating habits. Because they work so hard they have snack time every morning at ten, and always have pudding. I resisted snack time for weeks, but finally decided that 'if you can't beat them, join them'. Its been years since we've had so much pudding and bakes. I think both mine and Pete's bodies are now in serious uproar about this. We need to get back to our limited carb diet, else we might end up in wheelchairs...
Our friends have chickens, ducks, geese, cats, goats, sheep, cattle and ponies/horses. So we've seen goats being born and learned how to milk them. The two geese are Toulouse Geese. They are beautiful but BIG. It took a while for Reuben and Faith to get used to them. The male is very protective over the female, and not scared of anything. I did go through a phase of trying to stroke him - they do bite quite hard... We saw ducks and chickens hatch, newborn kittens, the arrival of a birthday puppy and our friend took our girls horse riding. Really special times.
Something that has been particularly lovely about this time is that Pete has been at home with us. We just really love having him at home, and to not have his work encroaching on our family time has been amazing. And that is another area that God has just blessed us in. His business is now able to function without him having to be there for the day to day running, and so we can be free to go where Father calls us, and not be completely penniless.
We also had a few excursions, and met up with some of our Shabbat friends, which was such a blessing. We have really missed them, we used to see each other every two weeks, and sometimes every week.
We are so thankful for, and blessed by this journey of faith. Some aspects of course are harder than others, but we are enjoying being able to experience the freedom that this lifestyle affords, Covid aside. The children are wonderful and very adaptable, and our desire right now is to be able to encourage those who are in need of it, that they may also have their lives re-ignited by our amazing God.
Then shalt thou delight thyself in theLord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.