Friday, June 26, 2015

For the Children


A couple of years ago, a friend told me about what was happening to two of her sisters. Both sisters had tough things happen to them.  One decided to face the pain and work through it humbly with the help of the Lord.  The other sister was crushed by the disappointment and turned to destructive methods to cope and her children suffered.  This friend talked about how lost one of her nieces was at this crucial time in her life.  The girl had been taught all of her life to avoid certain things and now she was watching her mother destroy her life with those very things she was taught to avoid.  Children learn how to cope with heartache by looking at how their adult role models choose to cope. 

We all cope differently.

I try not to judge anyone.  I know what heartache can do to a good person. 

We all reach for something to ease the pain, numb it, take it away, or make it a little more bearable in different ways.

I am grateful for...

Good Friends. Divine Help. Essential Oils. Prayer and Scriptures. 

There is always the option of reaching for the alternative despite knowing the destruction and the dead end it would bring, however, it is important to be an example of facing hard things and then working through whatever it is with the help of something that will add to the healing vs. masking the symptoms and digging the problem deeper.

Due to my own experiences and seeing the positive experiences of others, I always thank God for the opportunity to teach anyone about more natural, safer and more effective ways of coping with pain (especially if that teaching will benefit children directly) using essential oils.

Despite my health issues, with God's help, I was invited to Israel to teach.  I thought that it was going to be the last class I ever taught.  

ISRAEL - The Miracle

While teaching in Florida, two of the women who had planned my trip, started talking about their upcoming service trip to Israel.  Surprisingly, they said "you should come with us".  Butterflies. The thought created incredible excitement in my heart, mind and gut! I was told the group officiators had been going over to Israel almost every year for the past 10+ years and they (the ministry) had been supporting a Children's Home there with monthly donations as well as yearly visits and special donations. They were going again and they were serious about my coming with them. I could hardly believe what I was hearing!  It all seemed so surreal.

Could I make it? Nobody knew of the internal battle I was fighting. In my heart I knew I needed to go despite the struggles.  Perhaps God would give me answers in Israel to the health issues I was facing. 

When I learned about those we would be serving, I reached out to my essential oil lovin' community to see if anyone would like to donate something to the 'Children's Orphanage'.  $4000 in donations later, I was crying happy tears.  I could not believe the outpouring of love and the generosity of so many. 

Here is a picture of me bubble wrapping the donations to be sent to Florida so that the individual in our group, who was an Israeli citizen, could take them through customs. 


My husband dropped me off at the airport...



When I got on the airplane that would head towards Tel Aviv, a flight attendant announced before
departing "if any of you would like to de-plane (run away while you can), now is your last opportunity."

My stomach tightened. My chest felt tight. What on earth was I doing?

I felt very real fear. 

When the airplane landed in Tel Aviv, I could feel my legs trembling.  There were many times, prior to leaving, that I had thought of canceling the trip, but the thing that kept me moving forward with the plans was when I thought of 'those children' - the children from the orphanage.  The children were from 3 separate countries who had been brought to the children's home for various reasons.  I thought of them and they gave me strength. I also felt that strong internal pull that comes from God.  I knew He wanted me to be there for whatever His reasons were. 

The group I was traveling with, although somewhat experienced with using essential oils, were still young with their knowledge of how to use them. I knew I needed to be there personally to help teach those caring for the children how to use the essential oils properly. 

I arrived in Israel an hour prior to the rest of my group.  The thing that surprised me most was the incredible feeling of peace that I felt once I stepped foot into this area of the airport in Israel.  Prior to that moment I had only felt that peace in special places of worship. 


An hour later, the rest of the group would greet me.  All of the essential oils had made it through customs. Hooray!!!

Graciously, these were the individuals who donated...

Andy and Natalie Goddard,
Jerry and Laura Jacobs,
Steve and Rachel Loth,
Josh and Jennifer Vaughan,
Dr. Michael and MJ Mutchler,
Mr and Mrs. Laura Shull,
Steve and Dawnette Nardini-Nelson,
Dr. West and Glenda Garrison
Leslea Bower-Miller
Healing Hands Foundation (who matched up to $500)

I felt so much love and gratitude for the above listed individuals when I met the children and when I taught the class.  A big thank you to each individual listed.   

The primary oils chosen were...

Lavender
Peppermint and  
A Protective Blend of essential oils.

 When we pulled up to the "Children's Home" (I was corrected every time I referred to it as an "orphanage"), I was concerned.  The area we ended up at seemed to be fitted too tightly with lonely buildings, and narrow streets. Everything seemed so dry and dusty.  Little by little I began to see Jewish people and children walking the streets happily.  I wondered where the 220 children were able to play.  Where was the grass and trees?

I was reminded to never judge by what I see on the outside.

  Once we walked into the Children's Home, I realized it was filled with incredible organization, cleanliness, peace, the place was incredibly beautiful and modern and there were many areas, (safe inside and outside the walls of the home) where the kids could run freely, play and be free.  

The children walked with confidence, they looked like they worked there vs. being someone who was a resident. The children radiated so much self-confidence and they were very happy and friendly.  Some even seemed a little conceited which surprised me but I was impressed by it. 

When we met with the Father of the Children's Home, he explained why it is his home is different and why it is not called an orphanage.  This is not a place where children are adopted out.  These children have been adopted IN and they are part of this enormous 200+ children family for life. 

Individuals come from all over the world to learn from this Children's Home organization and philosophy.

Here the father explains...



I fell in love with the children.  

Several of the girls migrated over to where they could be close to me.  One girl sat by me and then little by little one young girl placed herself closer and closer to where she was sitting on my lap.  I wasn't sure if this was ok or not and so I tried not to put my arms around her like I wanted to.  I just let her continue to sit on my lap.  She would look up to my face and smile. My heart about burst.  She would later take my hand in hers. I felt a strong desire to be one of her sponsors. Individuals do not adopt the children, but they send financial contributions each month so the children can reach their dreams. 

We painted picture frames with the children and then we all ate together.  The ministry I was with had purchased pizza and ice-cream for all of the kids.  Imagine the cost to feed 220 children?  Yes, it was over $3,000 that the ministry donated so that these children could have this fun memory.  It made me smile to watch how happy the kids were and to hear the laughter in the room.  

Here is my dear new friend from the Children's Home...


Isn't she beautiful?  My eyes well up with tears as I look at her.  If you would like to sponsor a child, or find out more about this organization, please go to www.elazraki.org.il.

As you learned from the video, the children do well in school, they have personal tutors, they have group youth and children leaders, they all have their own little 'houses' or areas where they live, each of the children have responsibilities, and they are the ones who raise their hands to answer questions when asked by their teachers at school, and they get the best grades. 

There was a need to have a medical room built so that the children would not have to go to school (no matter what) when they are sick due to not having a medical note from a Dr.  

Once we were all back home, the For Zion's Sake Ministry told their members of the need and they were able to raise an additional $5,000.00 for the Children's Home so that the medical room could be built, and the in-house medical professional could give the mandatory medical note so that the child would be able to stay home to rest and recover. 

I cannot wait to go back to Israel to see the completed room and to see the essential oils lining the shelves along with all of the other typical medical room supplies. 

Father Yehudi Kohn is like no other person I have ever met.  He seems as if he walks and talks with God.  How could he possibly care for so many children in such a miraculous way without the Heavenly guidance and communication?  He does give God the credit for all he is able to do for the children.  He said that he prays daily and receives answers as to what to do in a particular situation.

Beautiful example.  

When we arrived at the Children's Home, I was told not to expect a handshake.  For some Jewish men, that particular greeting is only reserved for women who are family.  I had learned this days earlier when a man shook his head and looked embarrassed when I offered to shake his hand.  I was really confused at the time and asked why two others had shook my hand but then this man couldn't.  I was told "he is religious".  Apparently the Father of the home was also the type of Jewish man who only shook hands with women who are family members. 

At the end of the day, when we were leaving - after the class was taught and the donations were made, and we were saying our goodbyes, surprisingly Father Yehuda took both of my hands in his and said "NOW, YOU ARE FAMILY".  I fought to hold back the tears.  He went on to explain how grateful he was for our service.  

Before leaving we were given a tour of their home.

The house was filled with so many books...


When I saw the fish aquariums, it reminded me of the built-in wall aquarium that was at my friends home from back home - they had 12 children.  I had a lot of respect for that family of 12 + 2 foster children + the 2 parents. Now with seeing how well run a home can be with 220 children, I was in complete awe...

I had a lot to work on once I returned home. Here is their lobby area with the fish aquariums...


A place to dream and laugh...



I loved seeing the young girls laughing together on the swing when they were gifted home-made dolls from one of the members of our group. 


Absolutely amazing how all the kids are required to make their beds each morning, put their clothes away and their toys away after they play. 


Donations made this possible...


and this...


 and this...


and this.


Boys sleep on one end of the building, and the girls the other end...


There was a music room... 


 A place to study... 


This is where the essential oils class was held in Be'er Sheva, Israel.  I sat next to my friend who helped and translated parts of the class in Hebrew as I taught it.  


This is where the food is prepared.  Thanks to generous donations from others the kitchen is now more modern...


This is where we had the pizza party... 

  
Ice cream was also served... (non-dairy due to Jewish religion)


This is where the tutors come to work with the children...




The bathrooms were incredibly clean... 


Each child's needs were being met.  (One girl was going to be going to FL to compete in a marathon).  The Father adopted all of the children and many people all over the world have adopted these children into their hearts and due to their generous donations, these children are able to have an extraordinary life. 

The father of the home said "we cannot change the past, but we can change the future". 

Father Yehudi Kohn showed me how his HUMILITY and FAITH, TRUST in GOD and the GOODNESS of OTHERS, and his willingness to opened his arms  has allowed God to bless these children abundantly through the donations of others - a lesson we can all learn from. 


Beauty and accomplishments in so many places...



Individual chore charts and achievements acknowledged...




Scheduled times for homework and play...





 The fundamental principle of the Torah is the commandment, "Love thy neighbor as thyself". 

Yehuda Koh (the Director of the Children's Home) raised 5 children of his own.  Now, he is raising and has raised over 200 more.  His children (all of them) continue to be his children even after they have left home.  He said that they each need someone to attend their weddings and be there for them when hardships come unexpectedly later in life.

There is a waiting list of over 2000 young adults who hope to serve at the Children's Home when their military service time comes.  In Israel, youth (boys and girls) are required to serve their country for three years when they turn 18.  This Bet Sabah (Elazraki) Children's Home is one example of one of the ways in which they serve their country.

Yehudi is changing lives once child at a time. 

Children feel loved.  Children feel safe.

Children are given the opportunity to develop their talents.

Children know they are part of a family who cares for them.

Children are taught to love God and to obey His law, but are also given the choice to worship as they want to.

Children know their parents will ALWAYS be there for them - no matter what. 

Beautiful. 




Thank you Mike, Bracha, Beth, Cindy and For Zion Sake Ministries.  My life will never be the same.  There were so many other ways in which this amazing ministry served Israel and her people while we were there. I was fortunate to be able to join them and hope that I can brush shoulders with them again - in Israel. 

With much love, 

Steffanie








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