Directed Steps
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.

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