It has been too long since we have last written, but the holiday season here in Israel can be an all consuming season. With Rosh Ha Shanna, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot coming one after the other, it is difficult to keep your days straight sometimes. We had a wonderful holiday season here. The Mitchell parents were here for much of it and it was fun to celebrate for the first time with Aviel. We have some very good news to share with all of you who have been praying for us over the years. Callie received her Israeli ID card and here temporary residency this past week! It is a long process that culminates in an interview that we have to go through separately. We were asked the same questions and then our answers were compared to prove that we really are a couple. The questions themselves were not difficult, but the atmosphere in the office was oppressive and unnerving. Thank the Lord for His grace! We got through it and now Callie is officially a resident of Israel. We are still waiting for a small thing to finish for Aviel and then our family's status here will finally be settled. Please pray that the Lord would give us the strength and patience to push through this last obstacle. It has been a long and difficult road, but all of your prayers have been wonderful support for us.
Israel is in desperate need of prayer at the moment. It is rare that we are able to write anything else, because of how quickly everything happens here. The "peace process" has been on the rocks for a couple weeks now and seems to be on the edge of collapse. For those of us who are praying, we can see the huge trap this whole thing has been from the beginning. The US Administration has pressing as hard as it can to push through an agreement. There have even been declarations that the boarders of the "two states" will be set in three months time. With the talks now stalled, and looking like they will stop completely, the Obama Administration has returned to the thing that can be tried when all else fails......bribery. These "incentives" (weapon sales, promise of UN vetoes in Israel's favor, a presence in the Jordan Valley after the agreement, a promise no other freeze will be asked for) are being offered to Israel IF we extend the freeze on settlement building. We can also easily see the veiled threat behind these incentives. If Israel doesn't extend the freeze, the US won't do these things for Israel. The Prime Minister is weighing these things right now and "testing the waters within his coalition. We need to pray that he will be able to stand firmly on the word of the Lord concerning this Land. It doesn't matter what is offered, if Netanyahu moves according to the Word, he will lead this nation into blessing. Please pray that he would hear the voice of the Lord and act in obedience to it.
Both of us breathed a huge sigh of relief this week after Callie received her residency here. The Lord has been with us through the whole thing, but it has been a long, tough road. Our status as a family in this country hung on this one meeting with the Ministry of Interior. It is a process that has fairly clear steps to take, but things usually never work out smoothly when it comes to Israeli bureaucracy. Sometimes it seems like there is no reason for the things you go through here and it is hard not to develop a bitter attitude in the process. It also challenges how we tend to think how our prayers should be answered. With so many people praying for our situation, it would be easy to expect that the Lord would cause everything to go smoothly for us. However, the Lord never promised us that when we prayed, things would get easier for us. He promised that He would answer us when and in what way He knows to be best. We all have expectations about how the Lord should answer our prayers. We also have a tendency to get into a little bartering arrangement with the Lord, trying to convince Him that our good conduct should warrant a quick answer and an easing of our tough situation. Many times, we go through things so that we can
learn how to depend on the Lord. If every prayer instantly made our life "easier" we wouldn't need to have persevering faith. If we could enter into a bartering relationship with Him, the Lord would be no different than the ancient pagan deities. He hears our prayers because of the love relationship He has with us. It is because He loves us that He allows us to go through difficult things, so that we can come out stronger on the other side. He never leaves us, and He there to gently talk us through it. The Lord can absolutely answer our prayers in an instant, but it is a mistake to think that this is the way it "should" happen. It is shocking how often our thoughts can stray to how God "should" do things. Thank the Lord that He has patience with us! The Lord has graciously brought us through this tough time, and we thank Him that He has answered all the prayers. Blessings to you!
Devin, Callie and Aviel