In Everything Give Thanks

April and May were two busy but blessed months and Israel seemed so close. HaYovel were having meetings and making connections with various politicians and influential people, finding favour, and the outlook was good. There was one more meeting that all thought would see our entry granted and so we left Tremore (where we were staying in the old school building) to go and stay at Pete’s Parents for the weekend before flying out. But sadly, although the meeting went well, it did not get us permission to enter. There was going to be a lot more waiting.

We didn’t want to stay at Pete’s parents for too long. They were staying at Pete’s brothers holiday house and letting us use their home, but the holiday season was at hand, and the house was needed. And then our farming friends got in contact, the ones who gave us use of a field last year for our caravans when we were also waiting to go to Israel. This time they offered us a house which came with the responsibility of being a support to his mother who has dementia.

We went up to see the lady we would be caring for (we had met her in the field last year) and it was agreed that we would take over from the family who was supporting her at that time. We were then back at Tremore for a few days waiting for them to move out before moving in.

I haven’t had any experience with Dementia, and I was viewing her as more of a forgetful granny, regaling us with her tales of old times as we sat in her wonderful farmhouse kitchen, dealing with a spout of forgetfulness every now and then, perhaps listening to the same story over and over. Reality proved to be slightly different. We were trying to share the house with her, but she got confused and forgot who we were and sometimes got cross at us and the children. We also woke up a few times in the middle of the night with her switching the lights on and peering into the bedrooms. This led us to shut some doors so that we could function better as a family.

We talked about whether to stay on, and how difficult we were finding it to be here. The children were not comfortable going outside and stayed inside unless the farmers children were around. I was reading the book of James one morning, and this verse leapt out at me: James 1:2. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. Well, if staying here was going to lead to that, then we will stick it out. Something else that kept me going was the realisation that the house needed clearing. This is something I’ve always enjoyed, so with the approval from the farmer I got started. It was very satisfying to see the rooms cleared, and we’ve ended up for four bedrooms, a lounge and a room which I have earmarked for sewing or packing. I also started clearing the room next to the lady’s bedroom, thinking that it would be nice to turn it into a sitting room for her, as she spent most of her time sitting in the kitchen at this point.

And no word from Israel. Sometime in July I decided that we were not going to get to Israel, so we might as well get settled in here. The children only had a tiny courtyard to play in, but we asked the farmer if we could have use of the Orchard for them, which happens to be opposite our gate. We planned to plant some vegetables and maybe have some chickens or even a turkey for the winter. We could stay until next year, and go to Israel in the new year when all this nonsense will hopefully have died down.

And then word came from HaYovel that they are getting good support from many different people who are supportive of their work in Israel, and there also seems to be some changes in entry restrictions/exceptions. So it seemed there was a chance we might still be able to go, and I was so disappointed. “But I have so many of my own plans now…”. After much seeking and praying, Pete was convicted that staying here is not in line with Abba’s plan for us. The longer we stay the harder it is to stay focused on supporting Israel. We wondered whether He was testing our hearts, to see if we really wanted to go to Israel, or whether we would be swayed by comfort and all the pleasant things of farming life. Even though the situation here was challenging, it was also good too. Anya was having Piano lessons from the farmers eldest daughter. Pete was learning a bit by being on the farm and could lend a hand when needed.

After much of clearing was done in the house it was decided that it would be a good idea to convert his mothers living space into more of a Granny Flat, installing an AGA (awesome British Cooker) and moving her sofa and special furniture in too, as well as building a kitchen in the conservatory. This took us two or three weeks and was a roaring success. We were quite hesitant about the changeover day and were expecting a couple of weeks of real stress. But, thank God, she was thrilled, and we have only had a couple of minor episodes of her wanting her old kitchen back. We on the other hand were thrilled to have a real kitchen after cooking in the Cold Room for a good few weeks, with only a table top oven and a single table top induction hob. It’s amazing how much you can live without when needed.

It is now mid September, we have entered into the feast season, and it’s a time of repentance and looking into ourselves. What needs working on, what needs to be submitted anew to Abba? Looking back over the last three months, I think as a family we have done well. We have all swam in the deep end after being thrown in. I am proud of the children for dealing with the difficult situations, even though it meant that they were mostly indoors. They were cheerful and got on with other things. I am proud of my husband, the leader of our family who leads us so well. He has stepped out of his comfort zone many times here, and although he ended up not doing masses on the farm, he stepped in when needed, helping with milking or fixing something that broke. Without him we couldn’t have created a beautiful Granny Flat and he has helped me get more organised with structure so that the days don’t start too late. I am also thankful for what I have achieved with clearing the house and being a carer of sorts, and coming to the realisation that I would rather be growing my own children and spending the time with them. I am getting to know myself better, yes I can tackle most things, but some things I can only carry for a while before it gets too heavy.

I reflect on the times when maybe I should have dealt with conflict situations better with my children, we are definitely improving in that area, as well as thinking about those times that will stay with us as a family, and bring us closer together. Lana’s Batmitzvah was one of those. After planning a party with our friends we postponed twice, and then decided to celebrate at home one Shabbat. It was beautiful and intimate and just amazing. And then we all inhaled helium from the balloons and laughed and just had fun as a family. I think that is one of the nicest things of this season, that we can just be us and have so much fun.

I want to end with these verses from Deuteronomy 32:3-4

“For I will proclaim the name of YHVH.

Come, declare the greatness of our God!

The Rock, His work is perfect, for all his ways are just.

A trustworthy God who does no wrong, he is righteous and straight.

Our God is a God who does no wrong. His commandments, His statutes, His laws, His regulations, His Word, decisions, actions and will for our lives is perfect. Either we submit and see the good, learn from Him and rejoice in everything, or we struggle and give ear to our flesh. Whatever situation we are in is from God and it is our choice to choose blessing or cursing in it. Choose life, that you and your seed may live.