Brussels Belgium visit

A few weeks ago, I decided to fly home and see family.

I wrote earlier this year about new cheaper flights between Belgium and Israel.   So I did exactly this route, planning to spend just 1 1/2 days in Brussels.

The flight was reasonably pleasant, apart from the troubles booking.   I remembered some former colleagues originally from Antwerp told me there is quite a large Jewish population in Belgium, mostly in Antwerp.   Getting off the plane I could here some of the Orthodox Jews speaking in Flemish.

Getting off the plane in Liege, meant to I realised I was at a fairly remote industrial estate as the airport is quite small, after waiting for a bus, the drive didn’t speak any English so I just followed the journey where was going to.

This is the weirdest railway station I have seen, in the main part of the town of Liege.   About 30 minutes later I was in Brussels.

 

This pleasant street with a Citroen 2CV car seems to be a good representation of the Franco- influence of Belgium.  But actually there is more to Brussels than just being France’s neighbour.

 

Cartoons are very popular here.   The locally produced books in stores are alongside Japanese Manga, and of course, Herge’s adventures of Tin Tin which is painted on a few walls as it was penned from here, and Tin Tin is something of an icon here.

Restaurants here are great!  There is a small alleyway I found with plenty of nice places with fantastic value for money.   Me and my Australian room mate I met went to this place and got a nice steak and frites with red wine for 10 Euros!   The next day I went to the place two doors away, and has Paella with white wine for 12 euros.

 

As far as food, everyone has to experience a proper Belgian waffle.   This isn’t a lame supermarket sourced frozen thing, but comes out of one of these purpose designed metal grilling appliances.   There is a load of different places to chose from to grab one to take away or sit down, this place had a 5 kilo jar of Nutella chocolate spread in the kitchen.   1 Euro for a plain one, 2 Euros with strawberries and ice cream.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the large number of Arab people in Brussels.

Brussels has a lot of immigrants, mostly from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, all countries that speak a mixture of Arabic and French.

 

On the left is an Arabic bank which provides Shariah compliant services.   On the right, this very long boulevard is nice and has a lot of computer and technology shops (like London’s Tottenham Court Road?) Arabic restaurants and it seems most of the businesses here are owned by Arab people.

How long did it take for me to see in an Islamic community promoting dislike of Israel and the Jewish people?    Sadly, not very long.   This Islamic book shop on the right had plenty of that in the window.   Ok, Israel is far from perfect.   Maybe this shop could have books warning youth against Hamas, Hezbullah and getting into extremism?   Or, show the mass slaughter of Muslim people in Syria.   No such chance.

There is a lot of people begging out of the streets, and the majority of them seem to be Arab.   I was saddened to see an Arab woman looking forlorn at the pavement so I went into a bakery and bought a sandwich and gave it to her, she looked at it, so not sure if she was surprised or if not really hungry.    I know domestic violence amongst Arab people is common in the middle east and I am sure it must happen here as well.    Distressingly, I don’t know of any Christian organisations that could help with women in this situation, although it would need some very specially trained people to deal with this.

The Mannkin Pis.   The iconic statue of a young boy urinating in a fountain which has been copied many times.   Although it is quite small but has a large crowd of people getting their pictures in front of it.

Some of the huge office buildings in the east part of the city that part of the EU.   Another place that can bring out strong negative emotions.

Oddly, Brussels seems quite prosperous apart from the beggars I saw, no closed down shops, I think there were plenty more tall offices being constructed in progress.This sign looks like it could have some funny slogan, but couldn’t think of anything at the time.

 

This is the Arc de Triumph.    No not the same one as in France.

I went in here to the Brussels car museum, in one of the corners of this majestic place.

Brussels is a pretty huge place.   I think a lot of people from other EU countries can easily come and work here, and to be honest its a wonderful place.

Here, in the town square, something important was happening, not sure what, but there were several big cars with people getting out that I am guess are government officials.  There was a stage and some live music, I left as I wanted to get some lunch.

On the right here, part of the old buildings in the square are being repaired, so a fabric cover over the scaffolding has an exact copy of the buildings whilst the work is being done.  Quite clever.

The red flowers in the window boxes and canopies in front of the cafes here reminds me of the ones in the 1990s Stella Artois TV ads where the man selling flowers trades his stock in for a beer.

I got chatting to a girl in a restaurant who was from Slovakia who just been accepted after a job interview.  It seems theres a lot of people from other parts of Europe and Africa here.   I can see why.    Its a beautiful city and I think an appealing place to come and live and work.

I didn’t get any pictures later, but here I got on the Eurostar which took me to London in 2 hours, although the train didn’t feel like it was going that quick, surprisingly enough the bit under the tunnel is actually only 20 minutes!

 

Riding on a Colt

Zechariah 9:9 from the OT talks about a prophecy of a future Messiah of Israel:-

9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

In my neighbourhood I noticed this:-

This banner on the car says “Baruch ha ba melech moshiach”   in English:  Welcome to king of the messiah.

My thinking is the Ukrainian Rabbi fella (actually he died in about 1994) which some religious Jews think is the Moshiach and maybe someone’s interpretation of the scriptures here was the Moshiach would come on this Mitsubishi Colt!! *

Actually I do get Arab children coming up my street on a donkey sometimes.

The New Testament explains the fulfillment of this:-

Matthew 21

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Talking of the Mount of Olives, further up this street is a park you can stand and see across Jerusalem.   This Google Streetmap below shows the Mount of Olives, you can see by the ‘whiter’ area of the hill, as it contains thousands of graves.

* My mistake, this is actually a Mitsubishi Lancer.

Making Tekhelet

This is seems to be an unlikely creature significant in Jewish culture, its a type of crustacean from the Mediterranean which of course all shellfish are unkosher.   Actually I don’t think anyone eats this.

Part of social trip I did with my work is to visit this centre by the shore of the Mediterranean that show tourists these creatures.   The reason why these things are prized as if you gather them up and dissolve their insides in a jar, you get a blue dye once mixed with some chemicals.

The Tzitzit, the four strings that dangle from under a religious Jew’s shirt have this blue dye.  You can see blue stripes similar to this on a prayer shawl too.

Well, me and my fellow volunteers got about 30 of them I think.

Blue and purple dyes during the bible were expensive, so this was probably quite a profitable industry to get into.

The man who was giving the talk at the Tekhelet tour reminded us of this passage in the bible.

Zechariah 8:23
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’”

Interesting as me and my colleagues who tried holding the man’s garment from US, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Holland, Paraquay, Korea, New Zealand, and Israel and UK – yep, at least 10!

You can see about this interesting educational visit here:- http://www.tekhelet.com/TekheletMarineTour.htm

I tell you the truth

Early this year I went to see my Dad at a prayer conference at a hotel by Mount Scopus.

As I was cycling back, I went through the Ultra Orthodox area of Meir Shereem, which looks a bit like this, except it was about 11pm:

Without asking for a directions, an older Hassidic gent with usual black hat, garb and bushy grey beard came up to me and asked me something, when I asked him if he spoke English, he asked me if I was lost, I said I was just looking to get back to the town centre and despite riding through this street a couple of times before I had lost my bearings.

The man was helpful and also seemed kind as I didn’t ask for assistance he approached me.   He wasn’t a native Sabra Israeli, he had a strong Eastern European accent, perhaps Hungarian.

It was only as he gave me the last part of the route he said I needed, he exclaimed “I tell you the truth….”

This shocked me quite a bit.   Probably I know its maybe the most common phrase spoken by Jesus.  Its in Matthew 18:3,  24:40, 25:45, Luke 9:27, 12:44,  21:3, John 6:26, 32, 45, 53.  13:21. 16: 7,  20, 23. 21:18.

Not sure how you would say this in Hebrew, but anyway its just very interesting to see some of the things I imagined from Jesus’ time would be said today.   Actually if you are curious you can try this Google search:

This is in all through the first bits of Gospels but I don’t see it in Mark.   I guess as Matthew, Mark and Luke report on parallel parts of Jesus’s life, but from different viewpoints from the perspective of three men who observed Jesus’s life, a taxman, a teacher and a doctor, maybe explains it.

Judah’s visit to Jerusalem

This is my friend Judah Gabriel Himango, he is a fellow believer from the US I have known for about a year or so, we are quite similar sharing a keenness for problems solving in IT, although Judah is a web designer and programmer.

Hes likes to use his coding skills not just at his regular job, but also to serve the Lord, which one of these is his excellent Chavah Radio site an online radio station with Hebrew worship muisc, listeners can just hear what being played and add their own choices of songs to be played next.    Judah is using the same web site model to providing Arabic worship music to Egyptian Christians too, as well as other web sites teaching on which guitar chords to play this type of music too.  I think radio has always had exciting potential for providing worship material and teaching to those who can’t get it.

As well as we have similar interests in biblical theology and technical things, Judah happened to be flying on over to Eretz Israel to do some IT training courses, so stopped off on the way to stay at my place in Jerusalem as he needed a place to stay and didn’t mind my couch, it was fun to show him around places, we must of done 8-10 miles of walking easily I think.

Here is Judah close to the Pillar of Absalom with the Mount of Olives in the background.   I like to often get several pictures to join together to make a panoramic image, but as they were at a slightly odd angle I couldn’t quite cut the edges without losing detail, so its left as it is 🙂

We saw the UN HQ near my house, the Haas promenade, many bits of the old city including Jaffa Gate, praying at the Kotel, bartering Arabic quarter, grab food, then off to my church King of Kings Jerusalem.

Here is the Golden gate again, this is the place where our Lord Jesus will come back according to scripture.   Doesn’t matter its bricked up  and has an Arab cemetery in front.    I am sure there are spiritual power tools to make a way through 🙂

While we were there, I have just noticed this sign, whats odd, is the bit that says the “last path” (up to the Mount of Olives) and the other one “Gate of Mercy”  I have not seen this before!  interesting clues of the future!

We had enough time to quickly show him around the ministry I work for at Bridges for Peace and the nice old historic building which belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Later we had dinner with our mutual brother in the Lord and wonderful musician Teddy Chadwick of Yerubilee blog who produces worship music on a harp.   A small country like Israel and things like Facebook frequently mean you find different groups of friends who know each other from wildly different places.   This bit was a new experience for me as this was a brand new Yemenite restaurant in Jaffa Street which I have never had food from Yemen before.  He later went off to see some of his family, then headed to Netanya to see other friends and do his IT training.

He is a terrific guy I finally met in the flesh and love his enthusiasm for sharing his love for the Lord and writing about his experiences.   We will stay in touch and hopefully meet again another time 🙂

Here’s some of his writings of his experiences:

http://judahgabriel.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/israel-liveblog-divine-presence-at.html http://judahgabriel.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/israel-liveblog-mt-of-olives-islamic.html http://judahgabriel.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/israel-liveblog-finding-my-brother-in.html http://judahgabriel.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/israel-liveblog-mediterranean-delights.html