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Valdimir’s Letter

VladimirHome

I remember that day…29 of May 2007, the day of happiness, sunshine…no more barracks, no more lying-in-wait to ambush the bad guys, sleepless nights, no commanders above you…

I separated from all the body armors, contents, magazine cases, helmets…and from my 3 year’s girlfriend: my semi-automatic M-16.

No, I don’t want to say that I didn’t like my service in the army…no, it’s highly important to get drafted, to defend your country. I was very proud to be in the combat unit, in border police, to serve my state and to protect the people of Israel…. but that day after 3 years I was happy to get my mission accomplished.

So I enjoyed this feeling for a few days till the moment I had to start thinking about the near future. And the future became not as bright as I thought…

When you are at the army base, you don’t have to worry about anything. You have food, bed, laundry, cigarettes. The army is hard, but you don’t have to care about how to provide your maintenance. In civil life I realized that I just didn’t know what to do. The classes in university, where I wanted to study, began only 6 months after I finished the army. But before that I didn’t even have a place to stay…I had no money, no job, nothing. Not a very a nice feeling, is it?

One of my friends told me about Scott, the American Christian guy who helps lone soldiers and new immigrants. It sounded a little bit strange, because I didn’t know many Christians in Israel, especially those who help soldiers…so I called him and asked for help…

That day changed my life…

Scott and Theresa Johnson are the couple from USA, Tennessee. They moved to Israel in 2001. When I heard their story, I was amazed! They just sold everything they had in America and came here for volunteering, to help Jewish people feel at home. Whenever I ask them why they are doing this, Scott always says: “Because the Lord had chosen the Jewish people for his goals. He promised this land to you, so our obligation is to help Jews from all over the world to come here, to live on their own land, and it’s our responsibility to support them here so they could feel comfortable. We believe in the scriptures, where it is written that when a gentile helps the Jewish people, he will be blessed by the Lord. It’s written in the Bible, in Torah. And we just like to help, because you guys fight for this country, you are the army of the Lord.”

Lone soldiers are Scott’s and Theresa’s priority. They are young men and women who immigrate to Israel alone, who leave their families and come here to join the army, to protect the country.

Scott rents a wonderful house in Jerusalem. It’s on the hill, so you can see the Jordan Mountains and the Dead Sea from their large balcony. After the army I lived there for the whole summer till I moved to the dorms of the University. Every Shabbat their house is full of people, full of lone soldiers, Jews and Christians. I remember few times that there were more than 20 people at the same time!

In the Jewish tradition you should meet Sabbath with your family, to eat a lot, sing the songs and thank the Lord for this holy day. It is not good to stay alone on Shabbat, but this is what happens with lone soldiers. They return from the base and stay alone, because their families are thousands miles from them.

Scott and Theresa give us this opportunity to feel at home…to meet Shabbat with joy, together…

Scott’s wife, Theresa, spends hours in the kitchen on Friday morning to feed all the guys in the evening. She cooks so perfectly that it’s hard sometimes to move after the meal. Every time the food is different and now I can boast that I know what American southern hot food is. Every weekend we have a tradition to cook chicken wings on the fire on their balcony. Well, actually, Scott does it and we are just watching him and trying to steal a piece when it’s ready. Scott and Theresa are so big-hearted, that anybody can stay in the house as long as he needs. The doors are always open. At this moment there are two soldiers who live here permanent, and another three who stay from time to time…

I finished my first year at the University in the political science department. Looking into the future I’m trying to find myself in this global world, a world full of prospects and challenges. Life becomes more interesting, more manifold and busy.…BUT….it doesn’t matter what happens. I always come back to Scott and Theresa’s, to my home, to my family…to get that portion of love that I don’t get anywhere else… Every young man needs a parent’s love, a parent’s care…even a soldier in the combat unit. He maybe won’t say that, because he has to be strong, but deep inside he wants love and to be loved and to hear a word of endearment from his mama before he goes to sleep…

Israel is a country of miracles…

Thinking about it, I wonder how it could happen that a boy from the cold state of Russia could come to the Jewish state and find two wonderful people who are Christians from the United States and who became for him the closest people in the world…

Probably it couldn’t be anybody, but the Lord…

I thank him for that and pray for Scott and Theresa to continue their holy mission in Israel, so that in the end there will be no more lone soldiers without a home or without love …

Zeev Milner

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