Well, yes, it was my birthday, but there were no cherries on that cake… rather, the expression is from the Hebrew… and in English, “the icing on the cake.”

You see I did have a lovely birthday celebration with many of my friends, and my godchildren, and the Chinese congregation. What a mixture of languages and cultures, from American, Hebrew, Arabic to Chinese! Languages wafting through the air like incense.

And then “Abba” Wong (I call him Abba because he and his wife have been like adopted mom and dad to me here in Israel in many ways.) asked me to come in to talk with my future Chinese students. When I had first heard about teaching English with the English Bible as a text book again, at Noa’s baptism, I was thrilled. Could it get better? I didn’t think so. As soon as I made the commitment, the thought was in my mind, what book should I begin with? My mind quickly wandered over several, but knowing most of my students would be ladies, somehow, I couldn’t shake the thought of the book of Esther.

So now Abba Wong is asking me to come and meet some of my future students, one of whom is a guest professor at one of the universities in Haifa. We greeted each other, exchanged names, and then I was asked to share a little about what I would be teaching. So I prayed, and felt peace, even though the professor was a man, to say that we would be learning from the book of Esther. His eyes lit up. “Really?” and then he continued, “I’ve tried reading the Old Testament, and the only book that I think is not boring is Esther!”

Did I need further confirmation that good doors are opening before me?

So on Saturday, several friends mentioned they thought I needed to get my ticket back to Israel as soon as possible, since prices are going up. I had tried from the US to contact ElAl to check the price of tickets for returning Israelis, to no avail. In the meanwhile, I finally found a reasonable ticket for August 7… which would still let me have a Sunday with my congregation and family before returning. But reasonable only if ElAl would not work out.

Finally succeeded to get them on the phone. The ticket was reasonable, but only from JFK to Tel Aviv. I would have to purchase the Grand Rapids to JFK portion separately… and THAT was a horse of a different color. No direct flights to JFK and paying for each piece of luggage… made the other option cheaper.

So, the office is closed today, tomorrow I order my return ticket…

All that overshadows the bad news I received from my doctor on June 16… my blood work for the new job came back and I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes Type 2. So I’ve started on meds, and am trying to be more careful about what I eat.

The Lord is good, and His mercy endures forever. As I considered all these things this morning, all I could do was lift a grateful heart up to my God and thank Him for how He does care for me and direct me so gently. Carried by His grace every day, surrounded by His love… what more can I ask for?