The Congress does not begin until Monday evening. We decided to get to the host hotel on Friday evening because travel on Shabbat was undesirable and Sunday is Shavuot, another holy day/feast day. Arriving on Monday would not give us the time we wanted to settle in and be focused/rested.
When we walked into the lobby around 3 PM the proprietor of the hotel hustled us to an adjacent shopping mart to purchase supplies for lunches the next couple days and advised everything would close at 3:30. So, we picked up some fresh fruit, cheese, crackers and juice even before getting our luggage out of the car. Next we began wandering around the meeting area talking to a number of others who apparently were thinking exactly as we were. By dinner, I realized the group had swelled to nearly 80!
We have more than two thirds of the delegates here a full two days early! And the peace and fellowship is incredible with a palpable sense of purpose. Many couples and representation from multiple countries, though mostly the US at this point.
Dinner was lively, beginning with Ephraim and Ramona Frank offering praises to Yehovah and a short erev Shabbat liturgy. When Ephraim came to the blessing of the bread, he commented that he had asked Tuvia, the hotel propietor for two loaves of challah. In stead, Tuvia made a massive single loaf woven together expressing the nature of our gathering. The crowd broke out into applause.
Dinner was wonderful. If you like to eat, Israel is the place for you!! (I have pics of yesterday’s final breakfast buffet at the Legacy Hotel in Jerusalem that I’ll share later… Wow!)
The conversations right now, are mostly old friends catching up, new relationships being deepened and a lot of general chatter. Everyone, though anxious to get started, seem interested in knowing and relating to other delegates who have been called to this time and place. It echoes Ramona Frank’s introductory “speech.” She said two words, “Shalom, mishpocha!”
After dinner, an impromptu time of singing and worship began in a side room that grew to about 30 who spent two hours singing, praying and confessing our sin and the sins of our fathers. Following are a couple videos of this precious sweet time. The musicians were amazing, though I gathered that maybe they had not all played together before. We had a fantastic guitarist (who later played the djembe, harmonica and keyboard, but not all at the same time… 😉 ), a keyboardist, two people on djembes, a lady on the violin and a tambourine with many excellent voices.
The worship built to a real time of crying out to our Father for His forgiveness and restoration. After a period of tears and prayer a beautiful joy and then incredible peace spread through the room as we simply sat and listened. Very, very calm. Then joy and music again picked up until jet-lagged participants began drifting out of the room.
Keep us in prayer this week and in the future as we seek our father’s will and walk in the path He has given