Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Camels and Friends at the Dead Sea

It all started with a camel. The kind we saw on the sides of roadways near the Dead Sea. A couple of the pastors in our group wanted to get a ride and a picture with a camel. So, we stopped by the roadside on their curious behalf. While walking in the parking lot, Jim noticed a snakeskin wallet on the ground. I almost walked by it, but decided to pick it up; the credit card and the large wad of cash inside the wallet was a sure indication that the owner was not going to be happy. I looked to the van that was parked nearby; no one was looking for anything. I went into the gas station/food stand to see if anyone might be alarmed that they were missing the pouch. Not finding anyone our tour guide gave me several suggestions as to what was appropriate to do in his country. God had already spoken the urgency in my heart to return it to this person who appeared to be from Russia. With a name like Svetlana, I was fairly certain it would not be someone from the US. Remember I blogged earlier about being in the movies? This was certainly turning into some sort of drama. I counted the money; over $3,000 in cash! A lost wallet with a large wad of American bills, a credit card from a German bank, a Russian woman missing items that are critical to the success of her vacation. I still did not know anything about her, but I was determined to get this wallet and all of the money back to her quickly. Our host, Mark, savvy with his computer while riding the minibus back to Jerusalem, googled Svetlana's name and by the time we arrived had found out enough information to give us another clue as to where she maybe. He then sent her an email, hoping for the best. Maybe something she had in her wallet could also help us: a paper with a SIM card. Our guide had made arrangements for us to eat dinner out at a neighboring hotel…and it just so happened that his contact at that hotel is Russian who left when she was 5 years old. She was able to decipher the SIM card phone number information that was in the Ukrainian language and made a phone call on my behalf. No answer…bummer. After we got back from dinner, I asked the hotel if anyone knew Russian that worked there. I was connected with the operator, Ya’el. She was so helpful; she called the phone number and with success! She conferenced the call so that I could hear the conversation with Svetlana. Over the course of the next 20 minutes, arrangements were made for Svetlana to come to the hotel and pick up her very significant belongings. She was almost in tears that someone would actually return her wallet with all of its contents. Ya’el promised to follow up with her along the way until the money and credit card were safely in her hands. As I was writing this story tonight, I was prompted to go downstairs and do my own follow up with Ya’el. God had prompted me to bring a new silver beaded bracelet designed with two prayer box charms to Israel. I knew I was going to give it away here to someone. Tonight was my opportunity. As I headed downstairs on the elevator, I was so excited to see if she was still here. Yes; she was getting off her shift at 1 am and I could see her. With great joy, I told her I had something for her and that she was the answer to my prayers. I handed her the bracelet which she instantly admired. With eyes welling up with tears, she thanked me. There we were two women from two different nations, thankful that our paths had crossed. I know that God used her to find Svetlana…I could not do it by myself. I was thankful that God’s Holy Spirit prompted me to act and to give. God gave me back a sense of contentment and satisfaction knowing that I was obedient and it made a world of difference in two family’s lives. The blessing of this trip to Israel has been multiplied over and over. Svetlana gave me a reward which allowed us to have a little extra money in Israel to cover unexpected expenses. God knew that we had a need and He provided as I was obedient. Hallelujah to Jehovah, the God of Israel!

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