by Leora Mazurovsky, Personal Assistant to Eitan Shishkoff, Tents of Mercy
By Leora Mazurovsky
Fencing lessons for beginners
"A man's heart devises his way; but the Lord directs his
steps." (Proverbs 16:9)
Many months before summer arrived, our team began planning the program and
activities for the annual Tents of Mercy Network camp. This would be the
first one that we'd organized without Katya's oversight and
presence. Yet we knew she had passed the task on to us, and we were excited
at all of the fun and creative ideas that were developing.
Baseball, Israeli style
Then on June 12th three Jewish teenagers were kidnapped and subsequently
murdered. As we watched the tragedy unfold, we did not yet know that the
situation would soon deteriorate into full-fledged warfare. The entire
country remained glued to their televisions and smart phones as rockets
flew and troops massed in the south. I had a particular reason for
obsessively checking the news updates every few minutes ... a decision
would have to be made as to whether or not our camp would be held at its
regular venue near Petach Tikva, within range of the Gaza rockets.
Barely a week before camp was to start, we decided to cancel the overnight
camp and make it a day-camp to be held in the north at Tents of Mercy. At
the same time, our congregational leaders had the inspired idea of inviting
23 children and teens from congregations under rocket fire in Ashdod to
attend as a respite from the traumatizing security situation.
Ashdod boy saying thanks
at final prayer send off
The next seven days were a whirlwind of activity and planning. Staff and
congregants worked together to turn Tents of Mercy's facility into a
"campground". Families from the Krayot and Akko prepared to host our young
Ashdod guests. Shavei Tzion Congregation offered to expand their small
guest quarters to hold 25 volunteers. Throughout we prayed fervently that
the international Ben Gurion Airport would be re-opened, enabling our
support team of volunteers from Texas to join us. They were determined to
come and participate as they have every year, even with the country
essentially at war.
Climbing wall fun
In Hebrew, the name of the current military campaign is "Tzuk Eitan" -
Protective Edge or translated more literally a steadfast cliff. We chose to
use this as a theme for the camp as well, reminding the children and
ourselves that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in
trouble" (Psalm 46:1). Ultimately He is the steadfast cliff, the strong
tower in whom we can take refuge.
I had my worries and my doubts, but God came through. Everything and
everyone came together. For five days we worked and played together - 70
kids and over 40 helpers of all ages. We set aside our worries and were
joyful in Him who is our refuge, strength and true help in troubling and
challenging times. He is the one who made it all possible.