A lot has occurred since we last wrote. It’s amazing how much can take place in a few weeks. The most important news is that Peter and I are expecting a beautiful baby the first week of March! We are thrilled and look forward to this new and exciting phase of our life together.
Visa Law Change.
The second change is regarding the volunteer visa law in Israel. The Ministry of Interior has reduced the duration of volunteer visas from five years (what we previously had) down to two years. This has affected all the NGOs in Israel in a dramatic way. Anyone who has been in the country for more than two years on a volunteer visa is required to leave immediately. Already Peter and I have said good bye to good friends and are getting ready to say good bye to more. Succat Hallel has been affected by this and many other ministries in Israel are losing staff members right and left.
Peter and I are experiencing this law change in personal and heartbreaking ways. The person we came to do the studio with was given one month to leave. In his leaving, he has chosen to take all of the equipment purchased (100,000 USD worth) for the studio back with him to the States. All of this is done with the blessing of the main financial donor. Frankly, we are aghast at this decision. We understood the studio equipment to be for the sole purpose of creating music for and from Israeli (Arab and Jew) youth. We are left grappling to understand the decisions of those involved in this, especially since Peter and I moved here at their request and for the purpose of serving this work. We understand the need to depart, but we cannot understand why the studio will not be setup a way that this important work can continue without the director. We have struggled to come to the point where we are able to say, “God, we gave our best to this work, it wasn’t for nothing, and we trust you.”
Returning to the States.
With these things in mind, my pregnancy, the volunteer visa change, the studio ending, we prayerfully considered staying versus leaving. For Peter, there are only sparse opportunities for recording projects, now that he won’t be working full time in the purposed studio. In light of the fact that we have one year left in Israel, we are faced with the reality that we will have to leave soon either way. Our choices are to come back to the States and get set up again with job, home, and car with our six month old baby at the end of our visa next year, or return before our baby is born and have time before the birth to establish ourselves. We decided that it would be wise to do the latter.
One Man sows, Another Reaps.
We remind ourselves that God values relationship more than accomplishments. We have been deeply affected by connecting with believers here, both Arab and Jew and we have made lifetime friends. We have offered to God our gifts in prayer, music and in relationship and we have been changed deeply by the opportunity to do so. We have more to process with the disappointment of not completing our original “mission” here. Perhaps we didn’t get the chance to give what we really had regarding the studio, but we gave everything we could in all other opportunities. One man sows and another reaps.
In light of these changes, If you have recently given to us for this, we want to honor your giving in how our circumstances have changed. What you have given can be re-designated for travel expenses or towards completing the recording we began in June (mentioned in our last update) or returned if you desire. Please let us know what you would like us to do. We do ask that if you give on a monthly basis, that you would consider doing so until the end of November, since I will continue ministry work in Israel through October and this will also help us re-establish ourselves as we return to the states.
Our next, most immediate steps will be as follows: Peter returns to Austin, Texas on the 5th of September. He will stay with friends and begin working full time. I will stay in Israel (with Nutmeg and my growing belly), and continue to serve at House of Peace. I am also doing part-time design work for a large Christian non-profit in Israel through the end of October. We’ve chosen to go this route so that Peter can live as inexpensively as possible and work and save till I arrive. Before I arrive, Peter will have found a home for us and has already applied for financial aid and taken steps to return to school and finish his music degree, most likely in Denton at University of North Texas, but possibly in Austin at University of Texas.
What is yet to be seen, is if our relationships and opportunities could be turned into a yearly summer mission. We do not want to give up on the things that truly are of God. We welcome your thoughts, prayers and feedback. We believe that using music and the recording arts to communicate how God is at work in this volatile land is still an imperative for the Kingdom. We are hopeful. A beautiful new life has been given to us, we look forward to returning to our friends and community in Texas, Peter is excited to finish his degree and we are anticipating the joys of becoming a mother and father. We embrace these changes as positive steps in our growth.
We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Joy (and Peter and baby too!)