Life-changing events often originate in imperceptible ways; only later we realize a new era has begun. When Guy suggested that John rent Rachamim’s house, we never imagined we would still be running a hostel thirty-six years later, that the Shelter would host guests from over ninety countries, and that dozens of men and women, old and young, would begin new lives here and be freed from their pasts.
Back then, we had no clue that the Iron Curtain would fall in 1990 and that our hostel would absorb new immigrants from the former Soviet Union. With China at that time isolated behind the Bamboo Curtain, we never dreamed that thousands of Chinese would visit our hostel and some would become our best friends. In 1978 we could gaze out our window at the Jordanian city of Aqaba a few kilometers away, but it was inaccessible to Israelis. Little did we know that Jordanians would be guests in our hostel and that they would warmly welcome us in their homes.
In a world where wars rage all around and where distrust, discrimination, and discouragement reign, the Shelter has been an oasis of hope and reconciliation, a beacon shining on a stand, and “a shelter and shade from the heat of the day and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain” (Isaiah 4:6).
(From the Epilogue)
Come, Stay, Celebrate! tells the history of the Shelter Hostel beginning with John and my journeys to faith, our meeting and later immigration to Israel, life in a tent in the Sinai, and establishing the hostel. The book, using touching and humorous personal stories, doesn’t hesitate to include the lows and disappointments together with the highs and victories.
The reader will find himself challenged, encouraged, and entertained as he discovers how God uses ordinary people to participate in His extraordinary work.
Q: Where and when did you and John meet?
A: We met here in Israel hitch-hiking outside of Bethlehem on Christmas day, 1973. John had recently started to believe in Jesus and I was getting interested. Six months later we met again at a Bible study in Jerusalem and that’s when our relationship began to develop.
Q: Why did you start a hostel?
A: Since we married, we’ve always been involved in hospitality; we love sharing our home and lives with others. We began in a tent in the Sinai, had an open home in Key West, Florida, and in Eilat always had people staying with us. We decided we needed a hostel in order to accommodate all our guests. And with four children, we weren’t able to travel as we did when we were younger, so having a hostel allowed us to continue to meet people from all over the world.
Q: Did you ever feel like giving up on the hostel work?
A: This is our life and we can’t imagine living anywhere else or doing anything else. However, when the municipality was battling us with license problems, John was sometimes discouraged.
Q: You organized the book according to waves of people groups. Do you have any idea what will be the next group?
A: We had no idea about the previous groups – Russians, Romanians, Chinese, and Sudanese – until they appeared, so we can’t imagine what the future will bring.
Q: In December 2014 the Shelter celebrated its 30th anniversary. Do you think it will still be around in another 30 years?
A: We obviously won’t be here at that time, but we are still enjoying the Shelter and have no plans to retire. On the other hand, we are praying and looking for the right person to continue the work.