Gaza’s prosperous regions

Saw this interesting article the other day.   Seems just like Portsmouth or Jerusalem that have people in poor and rich areas, not all of Gaza is hit by poverty, even if the media shows it this way.  Interesting that shopping malls and big swimming pools have recently opened when there is supposed to be a shortage of building materials.

This is not to show that I don’t care about people in Gaza, its just more that their problems are less caused by Israel and more by rule from Hamas and Hezbollah who keep them in bondage, and kept the worldwide media in the dark by painting a different picture of what is happening, where other troubled places like Sudan get much less coverage in the news.

Dead Sea Odyssey 422 metres below sea level – 2: The lowest camp site on earth…

( 1 )( 2 )( 3 )( 4 ) – more soon….

In my characteristically quirky random way of doing things, I didn’t mention what we did before going to Masada.

Marcel, Magnus and myself stocked up with food and supplies at a Talpiyot supermarket for camping expedition in Marcel’s work’s Fiat Doblo van.

The camp site we stayed at was pretty good in terms of location.   The toilets were nasty to say the least, the camp site itself was free but the toilets required some coins put into a turnstile gate, but this was not working, probably as no one was taking care of any cleaning or maintenance.

When choosing a place to put our tent, some of the other people were a bit noisy, there were several cars playing Arab music rather loud, we had to get to sleep early as we planned to get up at 3am (!) to walk up Masada to see the sun rise over the Dead Sea.

So we pitched the tent closeish to the beach.  This just required a scrape around of any big stones to get the ground as flat as possible for sleeping on.

The tent is borrowed of Marcel’s Swiss work colleague, it took us three attempts to put it up as its quite unusual in design and took several goes at trying to work out if the sticks go on the inside or outside…

Another problem we hit was the ground was too hard to get the pegs in.  After bashing them with a big rock and bending them in the process, a better idea was just to tie the guy ropes to some bottles of water.  It was quite windy, so keeping the tent upright was best achieved with at least two of us in the tent at once. 🙂

Something hit me when it got dark…  This is the lowest place on earth, this is the lowest camp site on earth, AND, our tent is lower than everyone else’s.   Therefore we spent the night in the lowest tent in THE WHOLE WORLD!!!!  YEAH!!!!

( 1 )( 2 )( 3 )( 4 ) – more soon….

strange back/chest ache and visit to the doctors

Thanks for people who prayed for me as of late.   The illness I has this week was a strange one.

I had pain in my back not on my spine but on the muscles below my right shoulder blade.   This seem to also hurt on my right hand side and then onto my right chest.  In addition this I had some spots and a rash as well, this wasn’t too noticeable as I have acne on and off for a while.

I had various ideas.   Was it sleeping in a funny position, problems with my bed not giving me the right posture?  Allergy to a new brand of deodorant?  Bugs in my room? (I often get mosquitoes in my flat and a friend got bitten by a poisonous spider last week)

Last weekend I went to Christchurch congregation to their morning service, (just inside Jaffa Gate, in Jerusalem’s old city walls) the service was ok but the audio system was less than satisfactory so I didn’t really get a lot of the word that was spoken, but in addition to that, there are old style pews which really didn’t help my back at all.

I left it until the middle of this week and eventually visited a doctor at a clinic in Diskin Street which is in a Ultra Orthodox area and got a quickie appointment the same day at 5.45pm.   When the doc saw my back and chest it only took about 5 seconds of diagnosis for him to tell me that I have Shingles.

Seems this illness stems from Chicken pox, and like most kids, I spent a lot of August 1988 with this contagious rash which meant I couldn’t go on a church camp and generally meant I had a mostly miserable summer not being able to go out anywhere.  But as my South African GP told me, traces of this hide in your spine so a specific ‘stripe’ of your body gets this, I don’t have that many spots but it is very painful with my muscules hurting quite a bit.  This has made part of my chest ‘twinge’ a bit which is worrying although not near my heart or my left hand side which is good.

Something I take for granted, is prescription medicine we have in the UK.  Now I don’t know what this is like to regular Israeli families, but as a foreigner I have to pay for treatment of course and use my health insurance to claim for this later.  To get any drugs following a consultation with a GP at home I think costs a fixed amount of £6-7 or so.   Here my medication I got which I have to take five times a day, cost me 389 Shekels as well 400 Shekels for 15 minutes with the doctor.  In total this has been about £133, so really pray these pills do the trick and I can get better soon….

Apostle Paul on twitter

Was thinking the other day, about Twitter the hugely popular way of making a commentary of life events, things in the media and often how celebrities get followed and current news events get shown.  I was perhaps a bit mean with my earlier writings thinking it was a bit naff, but lately I was thinking about someone who told me that maybe the Apostle Paul in the bible was the world’s first blogger, so imagine in Paul was on Twitter too, it would be interesting to see as one of the first followers of Jesus who brought Christianity to the gentiles, travelled around various corners of the Mediterranean and got put in prison a few times, how his tweets would of looked like….

SaulOfTarsius I’m outside the Sanhedrin with my fellow Pharisees.  Today we are stoning some guy called Stephen.  #MyBenjaminTribe #MyRomanHomies

Feel the urge that I need to do some writing for some reason.
sent via Papyrus

SaulOfTarsius Sorry not been online for a while, crazy week.  Only just got my eyesight back

SaulOfTarsius Had serious meeting with the boss.  Put me straight about some things.  #Salvation #FoundMoshiach

SaulOfTarsius Thanks everyone in coming to my baptism, it was a nice day

SaulOfTarsius PS YHWH told me to change my name from Saul to Paul.

SaulOfTarsius @Ananias, thanks for relaying what I needed to hear.

SaulOfTarsius Follow my new active account at @ApostlePaul

ApostlePaul Now in Damacsus.  Had some help to get there whilst my sight returned #Damasq #Asyria

ApostlePaul Praying with my new friends @SimonPeter and @James #Apostles

ApostlePaul Writing a book, I am going to call it Acts. Got a feeling, it will be one of many.

ApostlePaul Oyvavoy… Has it been ten years I have been speaking the good news in Damascus now?
via carrier pigeon

ApostlePaul @Barnabus thanks for the invite to Shabbat, look forward to helping your congregation in Tarsius.  #Tarsius #Nicetobehome

ApostlePaul Went and rebuked Elymas the sorcerer whilst staying Cyprus.  Also got a Roman soldier following Christ.  #Paphos #Κύπρος #Cyprus

ApostlePaul Leaving Cyprus to go on a mission trip to Asia Minor tomorrow, looking forward to it. #AsiaMinor

ApostlePaul Was a pleasure to stay with you #Lydia G-d bless.

ApostlePaul Myself and @Barnabus are off to Jerusalem meet new Christians #Judea #ישראל

ApostlePaul Spending 18 months working in Corinth with @Silas and @Timothy #Κόρινθος #Greece plan to see Ephesus some point soon.
via Greek post office AD52

ApostlePaul In Jerusalem in prison.  At least I escaped from being killed in the temple.   #depressed #WhatAboutRightsOfRomanCitizens #CaesareaJail

ApostlePaul said to the soldier today ‘is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?’ I’ll put that in Acts 22.

ApostlePaul Out of Jail.  Roman bureaucracy takes a long time, its only taken 18 months.. But Governor Felix has let me out today.

ApostlePaul Off to Malta.  The Lord told me this ship really isn’t safe and I dont like the look of those clouds, or how choppy the sea is. 😦

ApostlePaul Ship got wrecked.  Oh well, Maltese people offer unusual kindness though. #Malta

Please note, biblical extracts are very approximate and locations are probably not in chronological order.

July 2010 and IT work in Jerusalem

At work I have been setting up a back up system for all three of our offices as the current system wasn’t working well or flexible for our needs, so I have deployed Cobian (which I really like as its free, open source and easy to configure with support for compression and encryption and reporting) and its crucially important as an IT administrator to be well rehearsed for a worse case scenario.   I am also thinking my job has some different slants, in terms of do IT people prepare for possible war.   One example is if our staff have to go into a bomb shelter (most houses, businesses and public places have one)   how we get announcements of what is happening.   I don’t think mobile phones work in heavy concrete shelters, and neither do laptops or smart phones using wireless internet either.   I have been told the government uses radio announcements for this kind of scenario, but then again I am not sure if they have these repeated in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian languages, all widely used here.   I thought one theory would be to put a wireless router (in a locked enclosure, so no unauthorised person can plug in a network cable or tamper with it)  in the shelter in one office, but then again that particular office has a shelter shared between 3 other businesses, so it doesn’t belong to us nor is it possible to drill holes or wire cables through a wall.

This week, there are announcements that significant numbers of Israelis have had details hacked by Turkish hackers see this news story.   Seems to be more common people deface web sites or illegally get personal information as a political statement.   I think I need to think about making sure all our servers and critical systems are fully patched.  Last year I saw a public presentation by the IDF who had an IBM Thinkpad laptop still with XP SP1 (I can tell as Service Pack 2 and later no longer shows the words ‘home’ or ‘professional’ upon booting up.) Microsoft stopped supporting XP without service pack 3 sometime ago now and the update isn’t that difficult, and apart from needing new wireless drivers for sometime laptops there is little possibility for this update to cause a problem, testing would need to be done with specialised apps but I have not seen any real issues.   I merged Service Pack 3 with our CD of our volume licence version of XP (do a google search for ‘slipstreaming’ if you want to learn to do this) so this is done transparently when I do rebuilds of PCs at work, saving me a lot of time.   I don’t think complacent in IT security is any worse here in Israel, as many of my previous employers were years behind on installing service packs, using an outdated web browser or had cut corners on inadequate antivirus apps that were not upto scratch.

If you have done IT administration or know articles for places where people may face danger, do feel free to comment.   I am not interested in anything political, just ideals for sensible practical plans for technology to keep people safe and work in times of uncertainty.

I have tidied up my blog and should get my original domain name back soon, I have removed some people from the links on the side, hope no one is offended, but I got rid of some dead links and blogs that had not been updated in a while.

Bibles for Pakistan and Christians facing persecution

At the beginning of this year when I was at home, I felt an urge to give some money to a Pakistani Christian ministry that supplies bibles to believers in Pakistan.  Its interesting here as there a lots of people coming to Christ but its very hard to get bibles in their native language (which I think is Urdu in Pakistan) so Pastor Shahid Paul aims to get bibles provided which costs them around $500 per box 100 including shipping.

I often worry about the lack of sponsorship I still am trying to live here in Israel, but for this ministry they also seem to be finding it hard.  I know there is a recession, but I guess with various charities it may be hard with limited resources to shout out to places about your ministry.

But very tragically, Pastor Paul the man who is in this organisation said that a fellow believer friend was murdered by Muslims.  There are gangs that frequently go around attacking Christians and burning down their houses, as apostasy or leaving Islam often results in a death sentence in many nations still today.

Its easy to get angry and blame Muslims for this kind of tragedy, but instead we have to both pray and support for our fellow brothers and sisters out in extremely hostile places where the gospel is not heard and that those from other backgrounds who have had hate taught can only change also with prayer out there, also pray for the unbelieving Pakistani people.  “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23 : 34

check out some of these links from Pastor Paul from Pakistan

Pray for my back

A couple of days ago, I had a sore back, not on my spine, but below my shoulder and armpit, and also on my side.  Theres a slight rash as well which I am not sure if is coincidental.  I can now feel it on my chest also on the side.

Its like the muscles that are around my chest are sore.  I am not sure why, I thought it might be that I slept in a funny position.   I am a little bit worried I might need to see a doctor, as I really don’t what it is.

Please pray for me to get healing.   Thanks.

Priestly tombs

Took another visit to some of the tombs in between the outer walls of the old city and the Mount of Olives

This is Zechariah’s tomb

Here is the tomb of Absalom, King David’s rebellious son who got his hair stuck in a tree and was killed.  Both of these you can’t enter the gap underneath.   Apparently a lot of the stone work was unfinished and the back of the tomb the stones and not hewn as neatly as the front.

There are some more interesting caves and places to explore..

…but it appeared to be all closed and locked up when I was there.  Some ancient writing can be seen though if you have sharp eyes to look high up.

Jerusalem’s Clover Map

This plaque is outside some University building in Jaffa Street, albeit with the street looking like a mess for the long overdue electric light rail project with road dug up.

Its a good pictorial view of Jerusalem and Israel being closely wedged between Europe, Africa and Asia.

This sign shows its origins.  Seen it featured on a few post cards.

Garden of Gethsemane

On Saturday morning, I went up to the Mount of Olives.  I have several pictures and writings from visits here before.  Here and here.

I wanted to go to the town of Bethany to see Lazarus’s tomb, a location of a miracle Jesus did, one of many of bringing people back from the dead.

On top of the Mount of Olives is an Arab district of the city and the dividing wall runs along the top of here.  Sadly after much searching, and I tried to ask a few people who all seem to give me different ideas, I was not able to find it, and I gave up and went home.   It seems from a taxi driver you have to go through the dividing wall, walking through there is not an option.   I decided to logistics of this seem awkward as seems that the taxi driver has to hang around outside to take you back, or get several taxis one to the dividing wall and another one on the other side in East Jerusalem.

I was originally hoping to meet my Arab believer friend (he is an ex-Muslim) who lives up here, but was not able to get hold of him.   Instead I decided I would pay a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane at the bottom of the Mount of Olives, but this was closed on Saturday afternoon, so headed off home.  This reminded me I have some pictures of when I visited this place before late last year I thought I would share these from a previous visit.

The entrance in the side.   This box on the left was from a Arab trader selling camera film, memory cards and batteries.  The garden is free to visit and is always busy with tour groups from all over the world.

Where Jesus sweated and spent time in prayer.  These olive trees are apparently 900 years old!

This place is mentioned by Matthew and Mark, after Peter denied Jesus and the cockerel crowed, the last supper, and before Judas pointed out Jesus to the guards that arrested him.

Matthew 26 : 36 and Mark 14 : 32 specifically mention this place.  I did have some pictures of the insides of the church but not sure where I put them.  The outside of the church with its bright coloured muriels above the pillars as well as the beautiful gardens are really striking.   This is a must see place in Jerusalem.