“On the 3rd of May we arrived in Israel and took the train to Akko. We are Richt, my wife who is a professional pedicurist and Oeds, truck driver by profession and jack of all trades.
“So we arrived in Akko in the evening, dark already, and took a taxi to Beit Shalom. There we met Elena, the Russian translator, and were taken to our quarters. The next day we had some time to acclimatize and do our shopping; in the evening Susan arrived, whom we hadn’t seen for two years, so that was a nice reunion. The next morning, on Yom HaShoah, our work started for the Survivors.
“Richt went on her pedicure rounds with Elena, and I started smaller jobs here and there in homes of Survivors. I did some plastering, some painting, and we had a case of broken louvered window shutters in one house. Our neighbor, Yudah, has his own business making windows and louvers, so we diverted this job to him.
“On Shabbat we went to service at Or Ha Carmel Assembly, and visited Elijah’s place on Mount Carmel.
“Jerry came from North Carolina, USA and is a construction worker. He and I started the renovation of a bathroom in Kiryat Yam. This proved to be an adventure of its own. Being used to getting your materials most all at one place, in Israel you have to travel around to different stores and towns to get the things you need. Anyway we got started at Rachel and Sofia’s place. How amazed they are that someone from countries far away would come to do something for them! The energy you get when see their eyes light up is amazing; God really does wondrous things!
“On Wednesday 11 May we went to Oshrat Moshav, to witness the Yom HaZikron ceremony, which is to remember all the fallen Israeli soldiers. This was very impressive.
“The next day, Thursday, after work and dinner Richt and I went to the Yom Ha Atzmaut celebrations in Akko center. This is Israel’s Independence Day. There was music, fireworks and ice cream; we had a good time. Shabbat in the evening we had a Shabbat BBQ with guests Hagai, Sima and Abraham who is 92 years old and was one of AHI’s first Russian translators.
“On Saturday Richt, Jerry and I went to Kehilat HaDerech in Karmiel Congregation. The rest of the day we relaxed as it simply was too hot (39 degrees) to do anything. On Sunday I took Richt to the train station as she was going on to another project in Jerusalem. Jerry and I continued the bathroom renovation.
“To lighten the workload for Susan a bit, I was signed on to drive the van. I took all the men to their work sites. We also went to see Rosh Ha Nikra and the Ghetto Fighter’s House museum outside Akko.. Jerry and Ricky finished the bathroom during the week while the rest of the crew and I did plastering, painting and other stuff all around Akko. In the evenings we went out to the Mediterranean Sea to take pictures, go out to eat and have long talks.
“A concert pianist was expected to come with the American crew but he became very sick just before they left. Still, we had Jerry who is not only a construction worker, but also a piano player. With the donations Richt and I brought with us from Holland, AHI was able to buy an electric piano with stand and stool. In the last days of the week we took Jerry and the piano to houses of Survivors for home concerts.
Richt met a Survivor named Michael while doing pedicures and we adopted him. Jerry played for him while Walter and I were fixing the ceiling. Tears were flowing abundantly, that’s for sure.Saturday 21 May we saw Tel Megiddo, an ancient city in the Jezreel Valley- very impressive. We swung by Elijah’s place and then up to Or Ha Carmel Assembly. In the afternoon we all saw the old city of Acre. On Sunday we finished the various renovation jobs and in the evening ate a last meal together. Monday morning I took the American crew including Jerry to the train station to go tour Jerusalem. I finished up around the house and closed the ‘gecko hole’ outside Susan’s bedroom wall so they would stop visiting her. The next morning I drove a rented car to Jerusalem to meet my wife and have a few days of vacation. May 31 we left Israel and returned to Holland. See you back next year!”
Shalom to all, Oeds and Richt, The Netherlands