Tuesday, January 31, 2012

на вы!




one time when i experienced
-40 degrees
i took a picture of it.
and it was almost like you could see the air
completely frozen in place,
zinging and stinging every thing it touched.
back then
i wasn't even properly outfitted for such weather,
i wore what i had
(i was a humble missionary!)--
oh wait, i take that back,
i did have a fur hat.
i wish i had a picture to show you.

and now,
beyond my wildest imaginations
i live in almost as harsh a climate
as i did in those days.
after a mild holiday season
which hovered around freezing,
temps have dropped to zero and have stayed.
this year is the first year i've had a fur coat.
the second year i've had uggs.
hats are not fashion accessories but necessities--
nobody is without.
you take out your hand to make a 30-second phone call,
and you can't move it by the end of the conversation.
scarves are also not optional.
there are little clouds of steam
floating in front of everyone's nose
everywhere they go,
and your nose hairs freeze with every inhale.
i must admit,
it's during these short, dark and unrelenting days of winter
that i am forced to ask myself,
how did i end up here?

my husband has always told me,
с природой на вы!




Thursday, January 26, 2012

desert country


oh yes,
the safety question.
let's just say, that i was prepared for much worse.
and in fact,
i see a whole lot more security around here
than i did there.
never once did we feel
even a little bit uneasy--
not even crossing the borders into the west bank
(where a wave of the passport
was all that was needed),
and not even in jericho at night.
security was a non-issue.

and so the last part of our trip
was spent traveling south from jerusalem,
which found us in desert terrain--
which offered some stunning views.
especially those from masada,
king herod's desert fortress
perched at the top of a mountain.










we also had a picnic
and took a little hike
at the ein gedi nature reserve
where the kids entertained themselves
by spotting ibex ("mom, i see an iback!")
and hyrax--
those little mammals you see in the tree.






and from there
it was finally on to the dead sea--
something that milla had been begging us
to move up in the itinerary from the day we arrived.


she wasn't even afraid of the mud.



we got there at the end of the day
when all the crowds had cleared out
and we had the whole beach to ourselves.
and while we didn't have a whole day to float around
(an incredible experience),
it had been worth the anticipation.


and after that we gradually made our way
back to tel aviv




and back home to moscow's zero degrees,
with fond memories in our pockets!




Tuesday, January 24, 2012

O Jerusalem


jerusalem.
what a place.
nowhere else in the world
can claim to even be similar.

one of the most memorable,
awe-inspiring, intense, and впечатляющее
places i've ever stepped foot into.



we stayed in the old city.
arrived at night
and saw the western wall from above
almost first thing,
which remained one of the most
captivating places during our whole stay there.


we got our own chance
to put our own little prayers in--
as tradition bade.


the church of the holy sepulchre,


and the church that stands
at the garden of gethsemane


which stands and looks over a spot
so holy
my camera felt a sacrilege
but i had to have my own image
to help me remember
the feeling that i felt there--
pondering what these very trees witnessed
2000 years ago.



a quick afternoon trip
to bethlehem


took us to the church of the nativity
where the kids lit their own candles




where we paid homage
to the place where the Holy One was born.


and also to the tomb
where perhaps the Savior was buried
to rise again.


unforgettable.


sacred.


perfectly indescribable. 




Thursday, January 19, 2012

northern israel


in the north
we drove through haifa,
and saw the bala'i shrine
at dusk--
with it's amazing view over the city
and the ports.


then we spent a day in akko--
visiting the old city,
the citadel,


the turkish baths,


the mosque of jezzar pasha,


of course the old market,
and ended with dinner on the pier at sunset
and a little carriage ride
for the kiddies.


from there we drove east to the kinneret (galilee) area.
we stayed in a little bed and breakfast,
and from here visited all the sites.

we spent a day and a half in nazareth,
which gave us clouds and a bit of rain--
but allowed us to see
the church of the annunciation




as well as make a visit
to nazareth village--
the village designed to demonstrate
what life was like during the time of Christ.
it turned out to be one of the highlights
of the area.





we spent a little time in tiberias,
running around on the pier,


and sipping lemonade,
as we did in every restaurant
because those israelis really get the lemonade thing.
and of course "pitahummus"--
as the kids devoured anywhere they could.


at the mount of beatitudes,
we found the monastery closed.
and so we were relegated to stopping on the side of the road
and making our own way onto the mount,
in the peace and quiet of our own company.
and to be honest--
we, as i'm sure many do,
often found it much easier to feel the soul
of these holy places
when we were not thrust into the crowds and lines
and churches and shrines built on them,
but instead left to ourselves
to ponder,
as we did climbing here
and looking out onto the sea of galilee
as others once did
at the feet of the Savior.



the temple relics at capernaum
also lacked the crowds late in the day
and allowed us the peace
to be in a place He was 2000 years ago.


and from here
we headed south!
but that i'll have to save for another day.