Friday, July 20, 2007

From all corners of the Holy Land

July 20, 2007
From South to North and West to East
Greetings in the sweet name of Jesus who walked on this same land that we have the privilege of walking all these four weeks! Since we blogged with you last, we had traveled in all four directions of the Holy Land. We saw some of the delightful sights of Israel and Palestine and met some wonderful people who live in joy and hope and despair and disappointment, but always extend hospitality.

South – Four House Calls.
Bethlehem ( House of bread in Hebrew and House of Meat in Arabic) On Saturday we went to Bethlehem, which is 6 miles south of Jerusalem. We went through Israeli check -point, in the middle of the security Wall. Going out of Jerusalem is no problem. We just walked through waving our American Passport to the guards there. Our friend Abdullah met us in his BMW sedan and gave us a tour. We had written about Abdullah Awaad and his wife Noha who live in the nearby village, Beit Sahour. Beit is house. Sahour in Aramaic means Awakening as in Waking up of the shepherds by the angels. In Arabic it means magic or miracle indicating the same event.
Abdullah took us to “Al Basma” center, meaning the House of Smiles. Abdullah manages a special education (developmentally challenged ) youth home. It is organized by the Arab Women’s Union. There are about 30 children who were doing crafts, making recycled hand made paper and olive wood Christmas ornaments. They were all smiling and wanted to be photographed. They come from very poor families and are happy to have one meal at this institution. Since the institution does not have much money, they are able to provide just one item for the noon meal - Rice or bread or Porridge. They don't get vegetables or meat at all. We were moved to give the manager money to buy some meat and give it to them for the next meal. How fortunate we are – where we are - to be able to afford so much variety in our food. We also bought some souvenirs from them.

Our next stop was the Shepherd Fields church. There is a big cave there and Abdullah explained that the shepherds probably took all the sheep there and put them inside for the night. It seems the shepherds usually slept by the cave entrance to protect the sheep from wild animals. Now I can understand why Jesus called himself ‘ the Good shepherd’. “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out ” John 10: 3. He gave his life for us to save and protect us.

Then Abdullah took us to his beautiful three storey stone house surrounded by Olive, Avocado, pomegranate, apple, apricot, walnut and other trees and grape vines that make a welcome arch loaded with green and blue grapes. It was like the Garden of Eden. We tasted the home- made wine, pomegranate juice and apple cake. Fantastic.
Next we visited a house of a Muslim family of Waleed Issa. (Issa in Arabic means Jesus. So, the house of Jesus.) The Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet and honor him by naming their children after him. We met Waleed, a student in Minnesota last spring. He returns to Bethlehem his hometown every summer and brings a team of Palestinian Muslim and Christian students to US for a tour. They sing and dance at different places in U.S. this time in Minnesota. Waleed was born in a refugee camp in Bethlehem. By sheer hard work, his father made money and got out of the refugee camp. He has his own house; business and all his children are educated. He has 9 children. Waleed’s brother Dr. Mohammed works with John at the hospital. We had a typical Palestinian meal of rice with carrots and peas with ground beef on top called 'Mansif', lentil soup, salad, yogurt etc. We had watermelons and plums for dessert. Of course tea with mint leaves and finally Turkish coffee. They were very hospitable and appreciated us for coming to visit them. I held one of their grand daughters in my hand for a while and she reminded me of Hannah as a little baby.

Waleed took us to visit a huge church, which many tourists miss. But we were glad we went there. It was by a lush mountainside, near a natural spring and so it was fertile land. A Bishop from Uruguay built the magnificent church and the churches from Argentina also helped. They think since this is very close to Jerusalem and has fine gardens, this could be the place King Solomon (David's son) had his royal gardens. In the Old Testament in ' Song of Solomon." the writer, talks about coming to a beautiful garden. Some believe that his area inspired the book. “Awake north wind and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, there its fragrance may spread abroad.” Song of Solomon 4:16. So the nuns here keep the place very beautiful with fragrant flowers, herbs and vegetable garden. They also have a Preschool. We found two nuns from Kerala, India which is the State Sandhya is from.

North. Scenic tour
On Sunday we went with Augusta Victoria Hospital staff on a day trip in the Tour bus. Many hospital employees with children came on the tour. Our first stopover was a mountainous Botanical garden maintained by the Baron von Rothschild foundation. He was one of the first Jewish immigrants to Israel in early 1900s who bought this mountain and other lands here and encouraged other Jews to come here and settle also. He is known as the “ The father of Settlements” He is buried here with his wife. There are many hiking trails down the mountain. The flower gardens and variety of trees grown here, are spectacular. There is even a variety of fragrant red rose named after the Baron. We enjoyed picnic lunch in the gardens.

The next stop, Mount Carmel had a big Bahai temple. It is a religion that started in Iran and combines all the faiths. There is a Baha’ai temple in Winnetka, IL. near Evanston. It is beautiful like Taj Mahal with the same type of architectural style. Mount Carmel is where Prophet Elijah had the show down with false prophets of Baal and Asheroth. An ice cream truck showed up there. John treated the family of the Operating room technician who had five children to ice cream bars. They could not afford to buy the ice cream which were 10 shekels each (2 1/2 dollars). They were so happy and said "Shukron" which is ' Thanks’ in Arabic. It is truly blessed to give than to receive

The town of Haifa, which is on the Mediterranean Sea coast, was our next stop. Our friend Dr. Lotan, ENT surgeon in DeKalb is from Haifa. John with many others in the group swam in the Mediterranean Sea and had fun. The swim in the Mediterranean Sea was great. The water was warm. The waves were just right, not too rough. Some kids were even surfing! We also visited Joppa from where Jonah sailed to Nineveh. There is a big statue of a whale there! We had dinner at an outdoor cafe there with hot dogs and omelet sandwich. The hot dogs were OK, but not like the Chicago ballpark variety.
West: The Jewish Experience.
John being a Rotarian, we attended Rotary meetings, which opened up opportunities for us to meet Jewish people from the west side of Jerusalem. Many that came to Rotary, have lived in the U.S. and then moved to Israel. We attended two Rotary meetings one of which was a gala dinner welcoming the incoming new President of Rotary. They were very welcoming of us. We were seated at the past President’s table. They all seemed very well off, well traveled and sophisticated. A gracious lady sitting next to me, Bernice Rosenberg, invited us for tea at her lovely home a few days later. Bernice had lived in South Africa and England. She and her husband established a foundation to help people in the Republic South Africa. They brought an Indian Muslim lady doctor from RSA to specialize in Geriatrics in Israel last year.
On Monday when we showed up at her house for tea, there was a group of friends to meet us. The tea was more than high tea – cakes, breads, dips, fruits, drinks and what not. She has a maid that helps her five times a week. Bernice is a great artist and has decorated her apartment with several of her paintings, watercolor, oil on canvas and a few sculptures by her daughter. There was also another artist among the guests who has had many shows. Mark Zober, the Rotary President’s husband talked about helping raise money for the Darfur refugees in Israel now, who have arrived here from Egypt. Mark and his wife took us shopping at the Supermarket and Asian market.
There are many Jewish/ Israeli Peace groups who are trying to be compassionate and just to the Palestinians.
“ Women in black” is one such a group, which protests Israeli occupation in illegal places in Palestine. They stand in silent protest wearing black, in the town square on Fridays with placards! Then there are Rabbis against violence, who try to do their part also. Nowadays they are replacing Palestinian house workers by bringing guest workers from Philippines, Sri Lanka etc. We saw a lady in wheel chair in a park with a Philippino helper. The West side is definitely looks more prosperous and cleaner.

East: Palestinian Jerusalem
East side of Jerusalem is where Muslims live and the call to prayer ring loud and clear every day five times a day. The Lutheran World Federation guesthouse in the Augusta Victoria Hospital campus is truly a global village. Today we met volunteers from Norway, England and Canada. The girl from Norway has worked in a refugee camp in Lebanon and has now come here to help out. The manager/ custodian is Ebrahim, a local Muslim man. He is hard working; He gets here, taking two buses, at 6 AM with breakfast. He has a big family and some times his sons come here to help him mop the floor, change beds etc. Esther taught the sons to play checkers.
We are situated in the Mount of Olives with a German Ascension church in our campus. There is also another Mount of Olives with a Russian Ascension church. Our Indian friends live there. That area is generally believed to be Bethphage from where Jesus started his Palm Sunday donkey trip.
We took a bus trip to Bethany – Al Azarieh as it is now called. Al Azarieh is the Arabic name for Lazarus. It is just on the other side of Bethphage, 1 mile away, but because of the Israeli security wall, it is a 45 mts. bus trip. We ventured into the village of Bethany without a guide and managed to spot the Catholic Church of Mary and Martha. Three beautiful paintings adorn the church. The center mosaic is one of Lazarus coming out of the tomb at Jesus’ command. How thrilling it must have been to be in the crowd that day! Another mosaic shows Jesus with Mary at his feet and Martha preparing the food. Many of these churches are built over Byzantine churches and Crusader churches and so they save some of the ruins and display them. We then walked over to what is believed to be the oldest house in Bethany, which was half cave, and half stone house. Some say that it is the house of the Lazarus and his sisters!

Next-door was Lazarus’ tomb. We went down some slippery steps to a dark cave with many crypts. The guide we hired, took fifteen shekels from us and explained that an archway down below was the street level in Jesus’ time. If you went down still further there is another cave, where Lazarus probably was laid. As we came out, we saw more ruins, which the guide pointed out, was once the house of Simon the leper who entertained Jesus. It was where Mary brought out the expensive ointment and washed his feet. Many holy sights are in Christian hands but some are in Muslim hands, maintained by them. This was one of those.

East or west, north or south, God Immanuel was always with us. May that be your experience too. Thanks for your faithfulness in praying for us. We leave here on 25th and arrive in US the same day.
Love and Best wishes.
John Prabhu and Esther Kamali

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Friends of Holy Land

Greeting from the land of peace and conflict, great friendships and centuries of animosity. God is keeping us safe and we are learning a lot. We would like you to meet some of our new found friends here.

Danish friend Hannah: Hannah has been in Jerusalem many times. Her interest in Jerusalem comes from her teaching Palestinian refugee children ( including one blind student ) in Denmark. She is a retired teacher who lovingly teaches these children English, history etc. She also tries to absorb the local Palestinian culture so that she can convey that to the children in Denmark who have never been to Palestine. Hannah was married to a Nigerian man who went back to help his country and was killed. She is a devoted Christian and has a gentle, down to earth personality. She has made local friends from previous visits and keeps in touch with them. She took me to meet the Syrian Orthodox nun Eustina from Nineveh, Iraq and Ida a Palestinian Christian who designed and sewed clothes for Saudi Arabian royalty at one time. Ida reminded me of Alice Brass. Hannah loves to visit monasteries and attends variety of church services. So last Sunday we attended both the English ELCA church service and the German Lutheran service. Hannah is very unhappy with the present Danish government who is very anti foreigners it seems. Even Danes who marry foreigners are not allowed to bring them into the country. I think of Hannah as a gentle warrior.

Danish Friend Hannah and Raida Mansour, a Palestinian Lutheran Parish Nurse

Palestinian Christian friend Abdullah : We met him in Bethlehem. He is a Palestinian Christian. We asked him, isn't Abdullah a Muslim name? He said it could be both Christian and Muslim. Abdullah means 'servant of God'. He used to be manager of the best five star hotell in Bethlehem. But after the first intifada of 1999, the business closed down in one week. He lost his job but fortunately he found a job as a manager of the Retarded children's Lutheran home in Bethlehem. Prior to his work in Palestine, he was in Libya as the Press Secretary for the President Moammar Khadaffi! Now he is living here though both his sons have migrated - one a MIT graduate to Texas and second son a cardiac surgeon to Germany. He has a house that has grape vines and other fruit trees and he says that is his paradise. "Why would I want to move from here?" he said. Someone asked him how long he had been a Christian. Abdullah who lives in the Shepherd's field in Bethlehem replied tongue in cheek "My family has been a Christian ever since the Angels announced the good news to the Shepherds!"

Esther and Abdullah's wife Noha, modeling a saree

Good old Minnesota Lutheran friend Paul : A handsome young blonde man showed up at breakfast table at the guest house one day. Paul has just finished Pre Med from St. Olaf and is here as an intern for a year working with Rev. Mark Brown in the Lutheran World Federation Office. Paul is well travelled and very global in his thinking. He is going to Dentistry school after this year of internship. So John has arranged for him to watch an operation in the Augusta Victoria Hospital. He is participating in all the activities here and was the communion assistant at the Redeemer Lutheran Church last Sunday. He lives at the gate house - pent house at the entrance of the hospital with the Quaker church meeting below his apartment. He is a nice young man with a promising future ahead of him. Many young people come from Germany also come here and volunteer. You can do this kind of civil service instead of being drafted into the army it seems.

Paul at breakfast.

Palestinian Muslim friend Dr. X: What is it like, to be resident in surgery at Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem? Lots of work, calls, no time with family right? This Palestinian resident has much more than that. No official permission has been given for him to be in Jerusalem by the Israeli Government. So he has to travel thru mountain passes to get to work or home and avoid being caught by border police at check points. His daughter cries every time he leaves home. He misses out on the little milestones his daughter reaches such as her first steps etc. Yes, that is the life of many residents John works with. He works all day and spends most of the nights at the hospital. When he does go home once in two weeks or so it is a matter of life and death.
He went out of the country to study medicine in the first place. He went to Nigeria. Several other Doctors here were trained in Russia, Romania, Tunisia and Egypt. However, there is good cooperation between the Jewish and Palestinian Medical communities. The Pathology specimens go the premier Jewish Haddassah Hospital. Consultants from the Israeli institutions come here. For the Cancer committee meetings which I also attend, the head of the Departments of Radiation Oncology from Haddassah hospital and Tel Aviv University attend and give valuable advice. They also choose promising Palestinian Doctors into their Residency programs and treat them on equal footing as the Israeli Doctors.

Surgical team at augusta Victoria

German Lutheran friend Godfreit: Godfreit who is in the guest house with us, is a wonderful friend of the friendless and down trodden. He was a German Lutheran Pastor in a German lutheran congregation in South Africa during the apartheid. He got involved in the resistance movement, got arrested, put in prison, then released and went underground. Since coming back to Germany he has gotten involved in other advocacy programs. Now he is in an " accompanier" program under the auspices of the World Council of Churches. He is like the international observer at the Israeli check points. He has had an interesting life. His son is married to a Jewish girl and they live in Tel Aviv. He spoke at our small group fellowship last week.

Father Arogyam from India: We visited the Church of the Nations which is in Gethsamane, surrounded by Olive trees. There were hundreds of Franciscan monks worshipping at the church and so we could not go in. When the service was over, we met two Indian monks, one from Orissa and Father Arogyam from our State of Tamil Nadu. He is stationed in Bangalore at St. Antony's Catholic church. This was an International conference of Franciscan monks and priests from different countries had come here. Bright young monks from all over the world were chosen. Some countries have sent their youngest monk who is sixty years old. He was very happy meet us. Next time we go to India, he wants us to come and visit him.

600 year old Olive tree in Gethsamane

Church of all Nations: Gethsamane

Esther with Father Arogyam, An Indian Franciscan priest attending an International conference in Jerusalem. He speaks the same language as Esther and John, Tamil.

Esther and John praying in Gethsamane

Monday, July 2, 2007

Views of Jerusalem

Here are some of the sights we were privileged to visit in Jerusalem.

The view near the main bus stand in Jerusalem. With a little imagination, you can see a 'skull' Golgotha or Calvary!

The traditional site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Russian Orthodox Chapel of Mary Magdalene.

Esther at the Chapel of Dominus Flevit.

John and Esther at the Western Wall

John in blue shirt praying at the Western Wall.

The Adventure Continues

July 2, 2007
The adventure continues
Grace and peace to you from the land of Jesus. Our second week whizzed by very fast filled with ‘naughty and nice’ things. Nice things first.
Esther : What would you expect 10 years old Bushra and 15 years old Miriam to do in the summer holidays? You assume that they will play soccer or go on vacation, right? No these two girls and about 10 more children like them, make trips to the hospital three days a week in the special hospital bus from West bank going thru harassment at check points. They bravely hold out their hands to be pricked by needles and lie down in the bed for 4 hours for dialysis. They joke with the nurses and kid around like any normal children. Esther spent volunteer time twice last week with the children at the Dialysis center. Esther made friends with them, played games, read books and dressed them up in sarees to the delight of their parents and staff. She will continue that next three weeks.

Esther organized a small group fellowship with the help of the German pastor Michael and the first meeting was held in the historic100 year-old Ascension church in the campus. We sang choruses and hymns; John led the devotions with the theme “ Called by God.” Esther gave her Faith story and we had communion service as a climax. Esther has taught the caretaker Ibrahim’s son Eloy how to play checkers. So she encourages him to talk in English, as they play checkers every day. The next two days, she will be busy cooking Indian food for the German café.

John: Augusta Victoria Hospital hosted an International conference on June 28th and 29th. The meetings lasted from 8:30 in the morning till 6:30 in the evening. Delicious Palestinian meals were provided. The main topics were Diabetes and Oncology. It was an impressive production and presentation by local Physicians as well as Arab American doctors and Physicians for Peace members from the U.S. Because of the conference, there was no surgery on Thursday. So John worked only three days. However, he managed to perform a thyroid operation and had another chest surgery consult. John tried his hands at the weekly, Volley ball game but many women were concerned that he will injure his surgeon’s fingers. But he assured them that they were insured by “Lloyds of London”. Some actually believed him. Ha ha ha. The Hospital is also playing host to the Jerusalem summer concert series today at the hospital amphitheater.

Let us explain the ‘naughty’ thing we did. We ventured into the famous / notorious West Bank: We went there twice and experienced Israeli checkpoint many times. On Sunday the 24th, we traveled to Beit Jalla, a town adjoining Bethlehem. Most of the Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza strip. But there are Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and others come into the Israeli territory to work and trade. They have to cross only at checkpoints in between the walls with special permits. (The ELCA has a good description of this. ) Permits are issued for three months at a time. Most of the doctors and staff who work here have such permits and yet they get delayed at the checkpoints. The patients who come to Augusta Victoria Hospital from the West Bank need these permits but at times, are denied with no reason. Of the 10 cases scheduled for the next week, but only four show up. The rest did not get permission to come.
However, there is a lot of cooperation between the two Medical communities. Several Israeli consultants come to our hospital. Our Residents and Fellows rotate through Haddassah Hospital, the best in the country.
The Palestinian city bus we were traveling was stopped at checkpoint and everyone had to disembark. Armed military police go in with Uzzis and check the interior. Then they check our IDs and let us get back in. In our case, they questioned a few elderly men and women and children for 45 minutes! They had the right ID. Such is life.
We had a wonderful time visiting with Rev. John Setterlund, an ELCA Pastor in Beit Jalla. The Church also has a boarding house for boys who are from difficult family situations or refugees. John says, “I have no children, but now I have 45 grandchildren”. They love him and he shares the love of Christ with them by word and deed. He also has a ministry of teaching music to students in Beit Jalla including a blind woman. So that was our first adventure into the West Bank. We saw him again on Wednesday at the Rotary meeting in Jerusalem. The Rotarians were very friendly and welcoming. We exchanged Rotary flags.

Our trip this Sunday July 1st was to Hebron, again in the West Bank, but it was unplanned. We went to the English language service at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. John was asked to be the Communion Assistant. The guest Pastor from the Reformed Church gave a very good sermon. We met Esther and Janet after the service. Janet is from Scotland and Esther is from the U.S. They belong to a group called C.P.T. (Christian Peacemaker Teams) They offer organized non-violent alternatives to war and conflicts all over the world. Some of you may remember CPT worker Fox was kidnapped and murdered in Iraq last year.
We traveled by bus with them to Hebron. It seems, they were invited by the Mayor of Hebron to come and help. International presence helps keep the harassment down. They also write reports. We had coffee at the “Resistance cafe’ while a patrol of six Israeli soldiers with machine guns walked by! In Hebron, we visited the tombs of the Biblical Matriarchs and Patriarchs (Abraham, Sarah etc.) which are laid in between a mosque and synagogue. We also shopped for the famous Hebron pottery. Thanks be to God for safe travel to the West Bank to see life as it is-Measures for the security of Israel and its effect on the Palestinians and the Israelis.
This ‘n that: The summer concert series “Sounding Jerusalem” is in full swing here. They use musicians and singers from all three faiths. We attended a concert in the courtyard of the Redeemer Lutheran church last Saturday. They featured a blind opera singer who read her music in Braille. We also found time for some sacred sightseeing. We prayed at the Western Wall, visited the picturesque Russian Chapel for Mary Magdalene and meditated at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. There is also a chapel called Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives where Jesus was supposed to have said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I wanted to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” It has a majestic view of the city and we attended a service there with Swedish Orthodox church believers. They sang and chanted as they went down to the next holy sight. We felt like we were on pilgrimage with them.

Well. Another Sunday has come and gone. After three more Sundays, we will be back in US! Thanks for all your prayers. Esther Kamali and John Prabhu
P.S. We have placed some more pictures in the next blog. Visit and enjoy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The fabulous first week

June 19 – 24, 2007. The fabulous first week
Grace and peace to you from the Holy Land where troubles abound and so does God’s love.

John: John is busy at the hospital teaching the Surgical Residents and observing operations. He had two consults for patients with thoracic (chest) surgical problems. One of them is going to have lung biopsy on Monday. They have a very dedicated Medical Staff- both Christian and Muslim- surgeon, internist, Oncologist and nephrologist. This Hospital has a CT scanner and ultrasound, a good lab but no ER. They do not have surgeries on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Friday is a Holy Day for the Muslims, Saturday for Jewish people and Sunday for Christians. Most patients, nurses and residents come from the “West Bank” with permission from the Government of Israel. The hospital has arranged for a special bus to transport the staff and patients and yet they have to wait long at the checkpoints. So there is delay and frustration.

John in frront of the main gate of the hospital.

John with Rev. Mark Brown

Esther visited the 100 years old stone Church of Ascension on the campus and met with the German Pastor Mike Wohlrab whose grandfather was the first missionary to Tanzania. She is organizing a small group fellowship/ worship service on Friday evenings. Let us pray that it takes off. She went on an ICAHD tour, (Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolition) and learnt about Palestinians losing their homes unfairly. She also enjoyed volley ball/ food and fellowship with (mostly youth) 15-member group from the Southeastern Michigan Synod. On Wednesday, we treated ourselves to Okra - Minced meat Palestinian dinner at the campus café prepared by the volunteers, the proceeds to be used for charity. Esther has been asked to cook Indian food by two different groups. That should be fun. All the spices are available here.

Esther with Rev. Mark Brown, his wife Susanna and another friend Kristian from Germany

Rev Mark Brown, Director of Lutheran World Relief operations for this area is originally from Streator, IL and is a good friend of David and Claudia Nelson of our church. He and his Danish wife Susanna welcomed us and made us feel at home. On June 22nd we celebrated the summer Solstice with the typical Scandinavian dish ”Sushi”! prepared by all of us. John used his surgical skills to carve out the flesh of avocados and Esther expertly spread the rice on the seaweed. We met many dedicated people working for LWF, United Nations, World vision etc.

Esther helping prepare Sushi.

The sushi party

Our sightseeing included a visit to Ein Karem (home of Elizabeth and Zachariah) the Old city of David, the famous street - Via Dolorosa, one-day tour of the Northern areas- Nazareth, Capernaum, Togbah (where Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the five thousand) and finally, the Jordan River. We dipped our feet but did not get baptized! Our guide pointed out the Golan heights, the border between Israel and Syria and the Jordan river which forms the boundary between Israel and the country of Jordan, the Mount of Transfiguration, Mount of Beatitudes, Cana, Jericho and the valley of Armageddon. We tasted fig honey and fresh dates. We met four Indian catholic priests from Rome! And we tasted the famous "Peter Fish".

A wonderful week indeed.
We met wonderful people and also seen some sad sights like the wall around Jerusalem and demolished homes. But God’s word provides hope and motivation not to be weary of well doing. God’s people are busy spreading hope here. We did something ‘naughty’ on Sunday. We will tell you about it in the next blog. We wish you well.
So long. Love
John/Prabhu and Esther/Kamali

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In the beginning

Dearest family and friends,
Here we are in the promised land - in the Lutheran world Federation guest house, watching National geographic special iin the TV in the living room along with friends we met from Australin and Japan! Thanks be to God for bringing us safely here with no problems whatsover with air or land travel. Augusta Victorial Hospital sent us Michael the driver (reminded us of Arch angel Michael ) to meet us in the Volkswagon van. There are 20 guests from all over the world in the LWF guest house and we have met half of them already. At the Hospital cafeteria, we met several doctors, mostly residents and spent 2 hours drinking tea and walking around the beautiful hospital grounds. Life will defintly will be slower pace here.
This marble and stone building used to be King Kaiser of Germany's palace 100 years ago. As we stepped outside the hospital grounds we ran into a camel and his driver in blue jeans and sneakers. We saw West banks on one side and the old walled city of Jerusalem on the other side. What a privilege God has given us to live in such historical, Biblilical land for five weeks. John starts work at 8: 30 AM tomorrow. I have started net working already and will go down to grocery store etc. tomorrow. WE wish you a happy week. Love, Esther Kamali & John Prabhu

In Jerusalem

A hearty welcome

John at the entrance of the Hospital.

Esther at the sign inside the hospital which shows several agencies in the campus including World Vision.

Dr Mohammad Issa brother of Walid who is the guest of our good friend Kate Peer in Minneapolis. He and another surgical resident, Dr Aref gave us a tour of the Hospital grounds.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

June 17, 2007
We have put on the armor of God. We finished packing by 11: 15 PM and are ready to go. We had a busy week hosting ELCA missionaries Oyebades from Nigeria. On Friday during the Synod Assembly of the Northern Illinois Synod of the ELCA, Bishop Wollershiem commisioned us as E.L.C.A. Medical Missionaries and blessed us. All the people assembled promised to pray for us. On Saturday we attended the dance recital of our grand daughters, Hannah, Sophie and Lily. They all performed well, had smiles on their faces and appeared confident and competent. It was a delight to watch them dance.
On Sunday we met Sandhya's Dad Philji and had dinner at India House Restaurant in Rockford. Many members of our family attended and we bid them fond farewell and they wished us bon voyage. So off we go to Jerusalem. Shalom

June 17, 2007

Our dog Lucy bids us farewell.