Hey everyone! I normally start these posts saying sorry that I haven’t been posting often enough so today will be different. I’m going to start it by saying sorry that this post is going to be really really long and I hope that you can stay interested the whole way through!! I’m going to try to keep it chronological but it’s very unlikely to actually stay that way!!

As always during the week pretty much everyone here goes off to university in the mornings leaving me by myself for a few hours. However the maintenance guy  has been around too which has been awesome. Not only is he a really nice guy, but it’s given me an awesome chance to help him out and do some interesting things. His nickname around here is Macgyver and for good reason. He basically comes here and fixes EVERYTHING. It seems like nothing is too hard for him. He’s been fixing washing machines, Cars, heaters, installed new light switches and this is just what I’ve seen! It’s been fantastic having a chance to see him fix these things and to do my best to learn as much as I can at the same time.

Israel has been an excellent chance to be as teachable as possible and I feel like I’ve been learning so much. A few of the people have had heaps of really interesting lives and experiences out of it. I’ve loved having opportunities to just sit around and talk over a cup of tea. A few of us also watched a really interesting DVD the other day which has really challenged me and opened my eyes to a lot of different things. Luckily they had a fair few copies of it so I’m going to be able to bring it home and hopefully show some of you people when I get back.

As I was saying before I do have heaps of free time here and I’ve been doing my best to actually use it productively. I’ve been spending heaps of time riding the bike around, and going exploring the local neighbourhoods and harbour (spell check is telling me I spelt those two words wrong but i think it’s because it’s american English?? Wait, it’s also telling me that spelt is wrong… I really rely on spell check so I hope it’s not broken!!!). Where was I… Oh yeah, It’s been really fun exploring around town and soaking in the atmosphere of this place.

I’ve also been spending heaps of time reading through Genesis and the early parts of Israel’s history. It brings all the stories to life being here and actually being able to see the places where all this stuff happened. Oh that reminds me, this weekend I think I’m going to go to the Sea of Galilee and kind of just hike around it for a few days. They have tents that I can take and apparently it’s an amazing thing to do and I would really be missing out if I didn’t do it while I was here. I’m really excited about this idea and it sounds awesome to just explore this beautiful place. To just pitch a tent and sleep there for the night! I’m not 100% on the details yet. Not sure what I’d eat or anything but I’m excited by the idea! Apparently hitch-hiking is a really common thing to do around that area and it sounds crazy but I might do a bit of that too! (Don’t worry Mum I’ll take a phone with me and be “careful”…)

I wrote down a few (12) dot points of “paragraphs” that I should blog about and so far I’ve only really covered 3-4(ish) of them… I’ll probably combine a few of them but yeah…

Last Friday night we had Kabalat Shabbat again, which is a tradition upheld by the Jewish people to, well, to be honest I needed to Google this and you my aswell just read the page I found if you’re interested. (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0011_0_10515.html) We do some of the traditional things but in my mind it’s pretty much just an excuse for everyone to come together and have a nice “family” dinner together. Last Friday’s was especially exciting because we had Mexican food!! I’m not sure if I’ve been complaining about missing particular food as much in my blogs as I have been out of them, but it was amazing. There was pretty much everything that I’d been missing! I also met a couple from NZ who have kids my age and they were lovely and we got along really well.

The next morning we had Congregation which was awesome. I’m not sure if I mentioned it in one of my other posts but English is never the first language spoken here. In different places it can be anything from the 2nd to the 5th. Other common languages are Hebrew (of course), Arabic, Russian, Ethiopian, and German. So yeah basically when we go to Congregation there is either a translator speaking up on stage or over headphones. It is amazing be able to meet with other people. It is in so many ways very similar to Australia, just with different people speaking a different language.

A week or so back I said to someone sitting next to me during someone’s birthday that I wished it was my birthday while we were here so that we could all have another cake. When they asked “Oh, when is your birthday” I said, (very very sarcastically) “Oh, umm the 21st of November….” (I’m sure you can probably already see where this is going…). Unfortunately, my sarcasm might not have translated as well as I hoped and they actually believed it was the 21st. Earlier this week we were all sitting around eating and it came up somehow and I realised that they actually thought it really was my birthday. After telling everyone that my birthday wasn’t actually the 21st but was actually in December, I thought that I had managed to avoid an awkward “lie”.

However, it’s really common here that people tend to be really good at giving but not receiving things. Because of this they thought I was just saying my birthday was in December to avoid attention and possible gifts. On Sunday a few of us went out to the nearby shops to buy food. Fortunately as someone was insisting on telling here which was my favourite type of cake I realised what had happened in all the confusion. They still didn’t believe me after I insisted it wasn’t my birthday. I had to get my driver’s license out and actually prove that it wasn’t my birthday before they would believe me. Somehow, even after proving it wasn’t my birthday I still woke up on Tuesday to find a really sweet birthday message. She even came in later that day and gave me food that she had prepared just for me.

Not sure if I mentioned before but I’ve actually been doing a bit of “baking” while I’ve been here. I’ve made Cookies a couple of times as Thank you’s/happy birthdays when the occasion has come up. It’s been a great deal of fun trying to make things I have honestly know about. It was quite coincidental that I happened to be talking to Jess on Skype on the 21st and she gave me the idea that I could try to make a Pavlova while I was over here. It also happened that almost everyone was sticking around after University for the afternoon to hear a presentation and they were getting home around dinner time.

I decided that it’d be fun to try to cook everyone Pancakes for dinner and make a Pavlova for dessert . Because of the small fact that I’d never cooked/made either of these things before I decided it was a great idea to do both. It would also hopefully make up for sort of “tricking” people into thinking it was my birthday. I started around midday on making this Pavlova. I knew it needed to be in the oven for about 90 mins and I knew I was probably going to need something like 5-6 hours to actually prepare it so I started out worried I was only starting at 12ish. Luckily Pavlova’s only really need a few ingredients and I actually had everything I would need to at least get it into the oven.

Knowing almost nothing about actually making a Pavlova I got started. I was surprised by my ability to be able to separate out egg whites! I guess watching  Masterchef with Mum has actually paid off some how! However I had no idea how much you actually needed to beat the Egg-Sugar mixture. I had managed to eventually find a very basic electric beater and literally beat the mixture until the beater broke. I was pretty disappointed that I had broken their beater but was surprisingly really happy with how my “batter” was looking. Somehow, probably due to my incredible skill as a repairman, more likely due to God, but I actually managed to open up the beater and fix it!!

So yeah, I put the mixture onto a tray and put it into the oven at 120 degrees to cook for the hour and a half it needed. After putting it in, I went to the shops to buy cream and fruit for the important top of my Pavlova. I may of completely forgotten to keep track of the time and got fairly distracted by a few things. I ran into a friend while I was there and walked back with her. When I remember the Pavlova and asked her the time she told me it was well past when I was meant to get it out. Close to tears I ran to the kitchen and realised it was still 5 mins before I needed to stop the timer. Praise God. I was SO happy I hadn’t destroyed it yet. Turned off the heat and listened to the wise words of Jess telling me not to take it out yet but to let it slowly cool.

I beat the cream and started on my pancakes. I couldn’t make up my mind on which type of pancakes to make so I decided to just make a couple of different recipes. Having no idea what I was doing I basically just mixed all the solids then the liquids then mixed it all together. This was accompanied by a great deal of prayer. They actually turned out really well! I was so surprised by how easy it is to make Pancakes! I think it was a nice surprise to have them waiting for everyone as they arrived home. I’ve also been writing down all my recipes in my notebook for when I get back!!

As I stopped the oven my Pavlova looked so much better than I could have ever imagined it would. Sadly when I got the Pavlova out of the oven to cover it in cream and fruit it looked much different. Maybe someone can tell why it sunk so much as it cooled down?? Or does it just do that?? So, yeah I covered it in cream and the various fruits I managed to find. It actually turned out pretty great! I was so surprised for my first Pavlova. It was really exciting knowing that I had made it and it actually worked!! Wow, looking back at this I just realised I took 6 paragraphs to talk about me cooking…

Yesterday I got to go with someone to her Bible college. I’ve been really interested in the possibility of going to a Bible college when I get back and I was very excited to be able to get a taste of what it was like. I had already met all of the class because we went to Jerusalem together and it was really interesting just sitting in on their class and listening. One of the subjects they are studying at the moment is “Christian-Jewish Relations”. It was really interesting hearing all the history of the early church and their relationship to the Jewish people. Much of it is a very dark part of Christian history and a very sad time where Jews weren’t treated as the should have been. It was fantastic to experience what Bible college is like and I’m extremely interested in it.

Last thing on my list of dot points is Nepal. I was emailed back by the guys there with a basic plan of what I’m going to be doing there! What I understood is that the first week will mostly consist of lessons teaching me the basics of speaking Nepalese. Then from the 9th-23rd Dec I’ll be going on a trek to the far west of Nepal with two other guys. We then will come back for Christmas celebrations for a week or so. Then again in January I have the option to go on another trek!! It sounds absolutely perfect and I’m so excited about it all!

I’m so pumped about this next week and the following months! Hiking around Galilee sounds awesome and Nepal sounds absolutely incredible. I am so EXCITED!! God is so Good!!

Well I think that’s pretty much it. This is by far the longest post I’ve ever written words-wise (something like 2284 in total). It’s also been fantastic catching up with people on Skype over these last few weeks! My Skype name is Benjamin.Merrick if you’d like to add me. If I’m online there’s a good chance I’m taking to someone already but I might not be!

This is almost definitely enough for now. Hope it was actually interesting the whole way through.

Much Love!



One thought on “Excitement

  1. This is great Ben – sounds like you remembered most of what I taught you about cooking! You were very brave to take on a pavlova.

    your time in Jerusalem sounds fantastic.

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