I suppose a lot of people are wondering how I’m enjoying seeing my friends and spiritual family now that I’m back in Israel. What can I say except that it is wonderful and overwhelming.

I have visited Cee at the Chinese Restaurant a few times in between bus rides, to visit with her and my God children. I am amazed each time I see them by how much they’ve grown. Each time I arrive, Matan comes and gives me a big hug, Noa runs to tell everyone, “Debbie’s here” and Yotam has a big hug and kiss for me. I call their grandparents “Abba” and “Emma” because they were so much like parents to me in my first years in Haifa. Emma is recovering from a stroke. While her left side is still affected, she is working hard and has regained most of her mobility. She couldn’t stop hugging me when we greeted each other for the first time.

Perhaps I was most surprised by Ximan, the youngest daughter of Cee’s sister, Nee. When she saw me she came and hugged me, and would not let go… the joy in her face!

And these reactions are drops in the sea of love in which I am immersed as I visit with different friends. I could spend my time feeling guilty that I have been gifted with such amazing friends, when I know so many others who don’t have the friends I have… or I can be thankful for the great grace God has showered on my through the gift of friendship. I choose the latter.

And when I am with these friends, who are the family God placed me my first 25 years in Israel I begin to understand what “home” is. Not a building, but the place where you know you belong, you are accepted, you fit in… I have come home.