Sorry for the big gap between this and my last post! It’s taken a little while to settle in and get enough time to be able to write this blog and to actually work out what to write about.  But I’ll just kinda try put in as much as I can really remember.

Monday I flew out of London at about 10:30pm and unfortunately BA did manage to find me a seat on the plane. This also meant that I flew into Israel at 4:30am. Unfortunately I don’t think I managed to get any sleep that night and it also turned out that there is a lot less English in Israel than I had hoped! However I did manage to find my way to Haifa and meet up with the people I am staying with. They are all amazing people and it has been such a joy to get to know them all. The first people I met were a couple from Germany. They gave me a “tour” around my new home and most exciting the bomb-shelter which in my mind was a very strange addition to the backyard. I then proceeded to sleep basically the rest of the day.

When I finally woke up I found a map of the local area with a note from Yoel (or Joel in English) offering food if I could find his room. Eventually I did find him and my stomach was very grateful. Yoel is from the USA and is the only other person in the house who’s first language is English. He, like almost everyone else in the house studies Hebrew at the university in Haifa. He has been so so helpful to me and just been a great friend. I can’t really remember what I did the rest of this day because many of the days have kind of all fused into one in my head but it doesn’t matter too much.

The other girls in the house are Christina, Amy, Kye Young and Ruti (I have no idea how to spell this name, Sorry!). Christina has been the other person I’ve probably spent the most time with. She is also from Germany and I’ve been trying to learn German from her. She knows way to many languages for a 20 year old… Oh, I decided that Hebrew was far too hard to attempt to learn in just a month but I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to master German. More importantly Christina’s class went on an excursion to Jerusalem yesterday and I was able to go with them! It was so nice of everyone to let me go with them and I was so thankful for the experience. It is a really amazing place and it was pretty unbelievable seeing what it would have been like back around 0 AD. Oh and Hezekiah’s tunnel was pretty amazing! I think I will have more chances to go back and see Jerusalem which I’m really looking forward to!

The house that we’re all staying in is basically on the side of a pretty big mountain, overlooking the sea. It’s really nice to sit outside and enjoy the view on a clear day. When I got here I was put on the “middle” floor all by myself which was actually kinda great. It felt like I had my own little house all to myself. Oh each floor is kind of designated to different things. Andy, Monika and all the books/library live on the bottom floor. All the long-term team members live on the top floor, and everyone else lives in the middle. Because I was the only “everyone else” I had a whole floor to myself. Sorry it must be confusing the way I’m saying this. We had guests come for the last few days so I had to move upstairs into Yoel’s room. It’s also been really good living with him because I always like being around people and cooking is a fair bit easier with someone else.

Talking about food, shopping has been SO hard here. I feel like I would have had a hard time in Australia buying food. In Israel everything is in Hebrew to start off with. Their Alphabet isn’t even the same!! The amount of range of foods is also significantly different. Easy things like sausages, burritos are just not for sale anywhere. Fortunately there have been a fair few nights where the group have all eaten together and I got to help someone else cook the food rather than having to think of something to cook for myself! I did cook pasta with a “tomato-ish” sauce and “meatballs” which was pretty good if I say so myself.

The main things that I’ve been doing around the place is just like general maintenance (I actually fixed the group’s bike!! I have no idea how I managed to do this! I’ve never done anything like that before haha). But yeah things like cleaning and just helping cook have been things that have taken up the majority of my time. Several nights a week we’ll go out as a group and give out books and things like that which has been great and has led to heaps of really good conversations.

The other day was Kye Young’s birthday which was heaps of fun because everyone in the house and our nearby friends all got together. Not only was it a good chance for me to meet everyone but it was also really nice to be a part of the celebrations. Yonah (Jonah in English. I know it just seems like you change J’s to Y’s…) and his wife (I’m really sorry but I’ve forgotten her name) came over to celebrate along with Jase and his wife Melissa. They have 2 and 4 kids, respectively (not sure if this is even the right word), and they are pretty hilarious and heaps of fun to play with. Sorry I’m getting really sidetracked and I feel like this post is really unorganised (and filled with way to many side comments in brackets)…

At the party Yonah’s wife, whose name I sadly can’t remember, handed me this ring and asked me if it fit me. I tried it on and as I handed it back to her I told her it pretty much fit me perfectly. Strangely to me she told me to keep it and not wanting to offend someone I had literally just met, I hesitantly said ok. Those of you who know me pretty well know that I never wear rings or really any sort of jewelry, I actually quite liked this ring though. Later on I found out much more about this ring. Apparently sometime ago Yonah had managed to lose his wedding ring. Because he had not gone out and brought a new one his wife had decided to go and buy him one herself. Unfortunately she bought a ring that was too big for him and because it wasn’t too expensive and she couldn’t really exchange it, she had decided to give it to me. Everyone was very pervasive in convincing me that I should keep the ring and I still have it. I’m not sure, but I might now have a wife, husband and 2 kids…

Pretty much everyone here in the house and even our friends nearby are from 3 places, Germany (Christina, and the other couple), South Korea (Kye Young, Ruti, Yonah, his wife and 2 kids), USA (Yoel, Jase and his family) and then that leaves Amy from Hong Kong and Me. The only two native English speakers in the house are Yoel and I, but that hasn’t really stopped these people turning into my family here (sorry real family…).  It’s been amazing bonding and just doing life with this group of amazing people and I am so so blessed by that.

We’ve actually had 2 more guests staying with us just these last few days. They were the previous leaders in Nepal! They were there for a short 20 years and it has been so amazing being able to talk to them about Nepal and from everything they’ve said it sounds incredible! They have made me so excited about my time there and it pretty much sounds perfect for who I am and what I really enjoy doing. Unfortunately for this blog though they have been having 15 hour blackouts everyday there so it’s seeming pretty unlikely I’ll be able to write much but that’s still a good 3 weeks away and we’ll get to that when it comes!

I’m sure I’ve probably missed writing about stacks of stuff but hopefully I’ve given you a pretty good idea of what it’s like here!! If you guys have any questions or if there’s anything you’d like to hear about more please just ask! You can comment here or on facebook or write me an email if you’d like. It’s always nice to hear from people at home so don’t be shy! I miss you all heaps and am really looking forward to being home.

Much Love,



7 thoughts on “Israel!

  1. Ben, this is great. It is wonderful just hearing the little things and you will be glad to have something to look back on when you get back home. It so reminds me of my recent trip to Korea where I had to cook for myself also!! I ended up deciding eggs were pretty safe as I could tell what they were! Keep the stories coming when you can. Love you, Dad

  2. Sarah merrick

    How many rooms will your new spouses and kids need here when you all get home? We might need to do some extensions.
    Great blog buddy. Had me laughing out aloud at work. It’s just all so ‘you’! I’m looking forward to you practicing some of your new cooking and maintenance skills when you get home too.
    Love you heaps. Keep the news coming!

  3. Caroline

    I laughed and laughed and laughed at the ring part of this blog! Loved it. You are an amazing storyteller, Ben Merrick. You should do something with that. It’s so good to hear what you’re up to…. you sound like you are having a blast and experiencing so many new and great things. So very cool. Thanks for taking the time to write the blog and I agree with your dad that you will be glad you’ve done this cos you would not believe what you forget when you get back home. It’s great to have a record it of all. Man, we miss you back here. Can you hurry up and get home, already???? We miss that cheeky smile. And your mum is desperate for you to cook on her new BBQ …. maybe your specialty “meatballs and sauce stuff” ???? 🙂 tonsa love, Caroline

    1. I feel like I’ve actually done a bit of work on my meatballs and pasta recipe. It’s actually tasting really good! Sadly I must say it’s definitely that I want to stay here longer rather than coming home any sooner. This trip has been so amazing but I am very much missing everyone and everything back home

  4. Tom Hudson

    Loving it mate! keep up the writing and remember people are praying for you. Have you been to any cool churches? I’ve always wondered what middle eastern churches were like…

    1. Thanks Tom!!
      I have been to a couple of pretty awesome churches actually. It’s really interesting actually but you’re probably going to have to remind me to talk to you about it when I get back 🙂

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