An experience of a lifetime
By: Kimberly Troup
August 8, 2017
On my trip to Israel in March 2017, I was privileged to have two kindergarten teachers from my children’s public school go on the tour with me. Since I knew their heart was for children, and I have personally visited several kindergartens on my previous trips to Israel, I made a special request for our tour to visit a kindergarten. And we did. We visited the kindergarten in Tekoa, because that community fit best with our schedule and we wanted to be sure and go in the morning when there would be children in the class room.
As we were on the bus leaving Jerusalem going to Tekoa, I received an almost frantic call from Aviva, our hostess in Tekoa. She was very apologetic, but she explained to me that my unusual request had raised all kinds of red-flags with the security people in the community. We could go into the classroom, but no one was allowed to take any pictures of the children, and we had to have an armed guard escort us into the kindergarten. They were not sure what to do with a group of foreign tourists who wanted to enter a class-room full of their most precious possessions! When I looked at it from their perspective I could appreciate their fears and I was grateful that they had allowed us this small glimpse into their daily lives — even something so mundane as seeing children attending class and learning their Alef-Bet and numbers.
A Pastor from a small church in Illinois had sent me 3 large boxes of school supplies as a donation for children in Israel. I knew this was the place where we were going to distribute her gifts. In addition, I had told everyone on the tour that if they wanted to bring some small gifts for children, we would be able to bless a community by distributing them in one of the kindergartens.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the teacher. She knew we were coming and she had prepared a presentation for us. When we arrived, the children stood and recited the prayer for the State of Israel, the prayer for the IDF soldiers, and then they sang Hatikva for us. We looked on at these precious children and we were moved to tears. There we were, standing in the middle of Judea, in a classroom full of 5 year old Jewish boys and girls singing and praying in Hebrew. It was the fulfillment of prophecy, right before our eyes. That day, a couple of elderly Jewish women, supporters of our work in Israel, had joined us for the day. They were especially moved as they watched these children sing their hearts out in their own language of prayer, in Hebrew. We had come to give gifts and to bless them, but we received an amazing gift of blessing instead.
When the children finished their singing and praying, we started to unload our gifts of crayons, construction paper, playdough, markers, and blocks. We created a HUGE pile of school supplies and toys in the middle of the floor. The teacher looked at all of this and frankly, was a bit overwhelmed. She wasn’t expecting the gifts. But it blessed her in such a profound way and she was so appreciative. She was overjoyed to meet such wonderful friends from around the globe.
Our time was up so we said our good-byes and left the classroom. I actually felt sorry for the teacher as I wasn’t sure how she was going to keep the kids focused on their lessons for the rest of the day with so many new and exciting toys and goodies in the room! But that wasn’t the end of the story… A couple of weeks later when I got home, I received the following letter from Aviva and I want to share it with you:
Dear Kim, and the entire CFOIC Heartland family,
Every year I meet a bunch of groups from Christian Friends of Israeli Communities. We have received a lot of support for Tekoa and I, on a personal Level, as a mother of four, feel very connected with every group that comes to visit. There are times that we tour the community and just talk about life in Judea and times when we talk about security problems in Tekoa. We have built parks together and worked on the club house for the teenagers so that they have a place to hang out.
This past visit was extremely special for us. This past visit when you requested that we see a kindergarten I was not sure how we would make it happen. First I needed permission from security officials, and then from the town. Next I needed to get a teacher to agree to have 20 adults come into her classroom and disrupt her day.
Weeks have gone by and I am still in awe. It was so special when the group came in and the kids welcomed them by saying the prayer for the IDF soldiers and the prayer to protect Israel. I was stunned to see that so many of the wonderful people on the trip had tears in their eyes. The kids then prepared questions for the group. We showed the kids on a map of the world where all the people on the trip came from and for the first time they understood that people from around the globe care about them. The group gave out lovely presents for the class. The kids were so happy and so excited to receive gifts from complete strangers just because they care. I explained to the kids that these people and many many more love us just for living where we live and want us to be happy and safe and that is why they sent gifts and came to visit.
It was beyond amazing and special and way more than I ever imagined when you first brought up the idea.
I received a message on the day after the group came- A mother of one of the children just wanted to share that when she asked her son “But WHY WHY? did they come and Why did they bring you gifts??” her sons response was “JUST BECAUSE THEY LOVE US MOM!” My heart melted, it is the truth.
I would like to thank you again for the amazing experience, for the awesome gifts- the class teacher said that the supplies will last her a life time she is so so so grateful, for the love and care that you always show and for the support that not only do we as the adults of the community feel, but now thanks to your visit and gifts, our kids feel so deeply also.
Please share this letter with the group and the church who sent the wonderful gifts.
May God give you and all the people who take part in CFOIC Heartland the strength and means to continue doing the awesome work that you do.
May we continue to make this world a better and safer place for our children, and teach them about simple pure acts of kindness.
Aviva Yisraeli on behalf of the Gan Smadar Kindergarten and Tekoa
The Kids in Tekoa enjoying their gifts!
P.S. I would like to personally invite you to join me on my next trip to Israel. You too will be able to meet the people and be a blessing to those living in Judea and Samaria!