Beauty for ashes

Beauty for ashes

You never know what you can live without until you have to carry everything in one bag on your back -JS

This week has been the craziest and probably most frustrating time of my entire life, we didn't get our Macedonia visas and had to come to Israel earlier. I have never felt the need to make notes of what happens to me until I experienced this week and knew I had to tell you guys all about it.

I am currently sitting in my tent and decided I HAVE to write. Everything I am using now fits into my bag- my tent, sleeping bag, matras, two shirts, underwear, my toiletries, socks, ipod, bible, towel, headlight and bowl.

But let me rather start with Friday, 25 March. The Hidden World team got on the airplane and arrived at 2 am on Saturday  the 26th in Israel Tel Aviv. We slept on the airport until a relevant time to take a bus or train. Oh boy, were we in for a ride. We woke up and decided to make Oats at the airport with boiling water we got from a restaurant. Then we found out it is Sabbath day and on this day Jews don't do anything. There is no public transport on a Sabbath day and Jews don't drive. So in Israel, at the airport, on a Sabbath we decided to hitch hike. Mostly also because our team money has not been paid in, leaving is penniless. Trying to hitch hike everybody told us basically that we are idiots for being without money in Israel on a Sabbat-man do Israelites love their money. But we did it and got to the sea of Galilee, Tiberias.

Carrying my 23Kg bag we looked for a camping place, walking up and down hills,  but it was already dark and everyone felt drained. I started asking God if I really need to do this year. It is already so hard and I've only been here one week. I knew that in a split second I can call my mom and tell her I want to come home and live the rest of my life in better circumstances than this. It was already dark and everyone was tired and hungry and we pitched our tent on a terrain made of rubble. We couldn't cook dinner so we each got half a packet of dry two minute noodles. Yum, dinner.

The next morning we woke up and we saw that we are actually sleeping on a parking lot section of a camping place, but luckily the camping site had showers. We decided as a group what we wanted to do next. Most said we should do the Jesus trail and explore while we still have the opportunity to do it because from here on out we'll be immensely busy. We packed up and found this breathtaking beautiful view of the Jordan River where we would camp. There was people at the spot before us. They left the place completely dirty. Guess what happened next? My team turned into hobo scavengers and started looking through the garbage for anything useful. Coming out was two onions, two bags of instant pudding, two half empty bags of pasta and a half empty bag of Cus-cus. Our leader found half a bottle of milk and there we were: Celebrating Jesus' resurrection with instant pudding made of milk and water- all left as garbage by a previous group. We decided we're doing the Jesus trail and everyone has to be packed and ready by 8am.

The next morning everyone woke up and it was pouring raining! The arrangement was that we have to be ready at 8, this is Global, you do it. I have to get out of my warm sleeping bag and dry tent to go out and put it all in my one bag in the pouring rain! How is that not insanity?! Four tents was still up when we decided to hide until the rain is over and read some Bible together. We are in Israel and that's why we read one of the Gospels together. It stopped raining and we went to a Hotel to store our bags and take only what is needed. Everyone was doubting but Leader said: "We're going." So there we are, going. It feels crazy to go on a hike when the weather report sais it's going to rain. Back home I would be dry and save and warm.


We decided to make lunch before going. Our Leader decided to go fishing while waiting. She befriended a fisherman and he gave us two fish,  and then 10 and at the end we had 25 fish. There we sat, teammates, gutting and cleaning fish on the rocks at the sea of Galilee. Putting the fish in a plastic bag, that's how we carried it for the day's hiking trip.

We climbed a mountain. It was high and hard and you never had to carry 15kg on your back up a hill before. Everything you need is packed. The food, water, tent, ect. With each step I needed to ask God to help me with the next. One girl on the team would see clouds and say: "Nope, their passing us." When they clearly were coming right for us. I thought that one girl can't change the weather by just wishing clouds away... it didn't rain again. We could see the whole sea of Galilee from the top. It was amazing beautiful.

As we walked the team saw Grapefruits. It tastes horrible to me, but wow, they were such fans. They were like little children getting chocolate for the first time. "It's fresh!" "Guys, this is so nice." "God must love me!" "God blesses us!" It became darker and we knew we would have to find a place to camp. We found the perfect spot. It had a view and flat ground, no water but we could make it work... and then came the smell. 10 meters away there was a dead cow puffed up. We are definitely not that desperate! We came to a farmers little plot and he let us camp there inbetween the sheep and cow poop. The whole terrain also had these plants that burn where you touch them. Our bathroom was a far away rock bolder thing and the water was where the horse was kept.

We were all busy braaiing the fish on a grid we borrowed from the farmer, who could not understand english so we explained how it looks with handsigns and signals, when the cows decided they were coming through our camping site. They almost ran the tents over and we just stood there watching from behind a tree.

The night was cold and the dogs and horses competed througout. At home my rest would be great and warm and peaceful. I needed to go to the bathroom, but the rock was too far away. I forgot my headlight in the tent but it's fine because the moon was bright. I decided to go close by but didn't want everyone to hear me. I went closer to the river. Stepped on a rock, missed the next one and fell into the water with my shoe. I found a good stable rock to use. As soon as I got my pants down and ducked I felt an agonising horrible sting. The burning bushes touched all my bare skin! I jumped up, went close to the tents and got into my tent feeling sorry for myself and trying to rub the burning away.

The next morning was great. I realized that God is in control of the whole year and this means that He is also in control of everything now. If someone asked me if I want to go home, I could never say yes, because I know that this is were God wants me to be. As a Christian the promise is not that it will always go well. But with God we can be in any circumstances and have peace. What a gift! Maybe it feels like we're trading beauty for ashes, but I'd rather have obedience to God than comfort.

So now I am in my tent and thinking about my day. We were walking today, everything was flat. We had great conversation. We got a lot of bananas, grapefruit,  nartjies for free. We are camping at an amazing spot for free that looks over the Sea of Galilee. We just bathed in the sea of Galilee. Now we are making dinner and enjoying a peaceful time together.

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:39 KJV

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Comments 1

Guest - Hannah on Friday, 01 April 2016 08:22

Thanks so much for the update Jay! I love how the Lord exchanges our ashes with his beauty and our tears with his joy. You don't know how encouraging it is or me to hear Gods incredible work and what he is doing over there! It teaches me more and more about him and helps me be part in prayer! Love you so much! I just want to bless you in Jesus' name!

Thanks so much for the update Jay! I love how the Lord exchanges our ashes with his beauty and our tears with his joy. You don't know how encouraging it is or me to hear Gods incredible work and what he is doing over there! It teaches me more and more about him and helps me be part in prayer! Love you so much! I just want to bless you in Jesus' name!

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