“Visiting Survivors” by Martha Mellinger

 “Aren’t you afraid to go to Israel just now? Will it be safe? Will you be in harm’s way?

These are the questions my friends were asking during Israel’s  Operation Protective Edge War as I was contemplating another trip there to visit Holocaust Survivors. Two things came to mind as I prayed about it. First of all, Yeshua never told his disciples to be    concerned about their safety and protection as He sent them out, and secondly, if there was ever a time that the Survivors needed a comforting presence it was now. I bought my ticket and went.

My first visits were with the two Survivors I have adopted. Tereza and Valentina wereVelezhanin, Valentina Oct 2014 (Small) each waiting at their doors, beaming.  I smiled as I remembered our initial visits two years earlier when they were more tentative and guarded.

The second visit, a year later, was more relaxed, but now, what a contrast! There was lots of laughter and  hugs!  It was like family! We gave gifts, told stories, ate good food, and  took  pictures!

I went on to visit the Survivors that some of my friends had adopted, delivering their pictures and letters, then texting pictures and messages back to the adopters.  One Survivor was given a handmade scarf that just happened to be her favorite color and matched the Mirochnik, Betya (Small)blouse she was wearing. Another Survivor was given a teddy bear which brought a huge smile. She hugged and kissed it like a child, telling us that her mother’s profession was making teddy bears Feuermann, Cipora (Small)and dolls. That teddy bear brought back the memory of her mother and was “better than money” she said! A beautiful handmade sweater was presented to another Survivor and it just happened to match the color of her eyes! And when a knitted shawl was wrapped around the shoulders of a Survivor she quipped,                       “Now all we need is Santa Claus!”

All of the Survivors expressed how much they appreciated getting letters!  Some said it helped to fill the lonely days to get the mail. Others said it was interesting to hear about their adopter’s life. One said their adopter wrote about everything … the weather, her family, her garden, her work!  Another Survivor said she liked to hear funny stories about the adopter’s grandchildren and some said it was just good to know that someone was remembering them! It was not unusual for the adopted Survivors to show me a stack of all the letters and cards and pictures they received from their adopter.

Does it make a difference for a Survivor to be adopted and visited? I know it does!  We   often find them tearful and sad and so very lonely but leave them smiling and urging us to stay longer and come back again anytime and soon!  They remember every letter, every visit, every smile and every hug. They remember love!

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