My Heart’s Desire
By Sherry Weaver
After receiving a Survivor to write to, Sherry went to Israel and met her Holocaust Survivor:
“Let’s drop back in time…forty years back in time. To my eighth grade history class, where I am first hearing and learning about World War II and The Holocaust. I am bored, not paying much attention. Why do I need to know this anyway? All the dates and foreign names, all blending together; I don’t recall much but it was probably enough to get by on my finals. And then it fades out of memory.
“Fast forward twenty-eight years, to the year 2006 when I developed a desire to learn of the Hebrew Roots of my faith. Simultaneously, as I’d begun studying the ancient history of my faith, the more modern history of The Jewish People began tapping at the door of my heart. The ancient and the contemporary intertwined in so many ways. I felt a draw to learn more about these people and their resilience; to learn from both a Biblical standpoint and a modern view. How did these people endure, and not only survive but thrive against the greatest of odds? These atrocities occurred only 70+ years ago, within my grandparent’s lifetime.
“For many years I’d desired to see Israel and bless the Jewish people. That connection became a deepest heart’s desire and was finally fulfilled this past March 2018 when my dream took flight and the soles of my feet stepped onto the soil of the Promised Land! The exhilaration was almost too much as I took in the sights and sounds that I had long awaited to experience. Exhaustion and excitement blended together into one emotion. Overnight I’d become a world traveler!
“Just after we exited our plane we hopped a train and headed north along the Mediterranean coastline towards the city of Akko. Akko is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen! Abundant Hope International’s Beit Shalom House now became our home base for the next nine days, as we traveled to meet, bless and serve Holocaust Survivors all over Israel.
Our journeys took us to The Negev to serve at an International Women’s Day luncheon held for the Survivors. There was live music with songs of celebration and dancing! Plenty of smiles and hugs, and flowers for the ladies and candy for the gents! Saying “ Spraznicom!” meaning Happy Holiday in Russian, became a new and familiar expression as we blessed these lovely folks, reminding them they are loved and special and never forgotten! Many hugged us and spoke sweet blessings over us before allowing us to leave their modest apartments.
I had the opportunity to meet with my own adopted Survivor, Betty. This was such a meaningful time for me. We communicated through our translator. I was deeply moved by the hospitality extended to us through a huge spread of food such as baked quiches, cookies and pastries and fresh fruits and juices and hot tea. I was overwhelmed by the love extended to me by my Survivor and her family. I hope to return to see her again in the very near future!
Among the Survivors, many hearts of these Jewish people ache, carrying the pain and sorrow of suffering from past mistreatment. The trauma of these wounds has placed those from the Holocaust into survival mode. Perhaps this is one aspect that’s kept them.
The approach they have to life seemed forward, without facade, nothing veiled…what you see is what you get, no second guessing. A people who love with all of their hearts and are committed to life! A happy people who understand each day is a gift.
Our small group experienced many adventures while on our “Voluntour” with Abundant Hope International. From Mt. Carmel and its breathtaking views, to the shores of the Mediterranean in Akko, on up to Rosh Ha Nikra grottoes on the Israel / Lebanese border, there was so much beauty to behold! And then Capernaum and The Sea of Galilee, where the waves are so peaceful one could stay and sail on that boat forever! There is nothing like Israel! The People and The Land have a heart that beats as one, as if the mountains and valleys are embracing their beloved and are now permitted and at ease to bloom. The last leg of my journey before heading home was spent going up, going up to the The City of Gold, Jerusalem! I found it to be a city that captivated my heart.
I thank God and Abundant Hope International for the opportunity of a lifetime to bless His people and to experience it from a perspective that I never would have gotten on a typical tour. So much of history is not being taught anymore and many people cannot answer even basic questions regarding the period of WW II and the Holocaust. We cannot recollect what we have not learned. It is my prayer that we all learn and always remember and tell the next generation. With deepest gratitude and a humble heart I am so very thankful for the opportunity presented to me to serve with AHI.
Friendships and bonds were formed for a lifetime. I laughed and cried more in those two weeks than any other time in my life. A joyous experience for which I will forever be grateful! I realize now more than ever that we must Never Forget!
I am thankful for HaShem, He who rides on the heavens, that neither slumbers nor sleeps and guards Israel.