Mini-conference on Storytelling

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Two weeks from today (November 2nd) has been marked on my calendar for weeks. It’s the day of our one-day writing conference: “Storytelling: Bringing the Past to Life.”

If you’re a Vancouver area writer, you’ll want to give this a look. Here is the delectable lineup:

9:00 a.m. – “The Drama of Biblical Fiction” by David Kitz (president of The Word Guild).

10:00 a.m. “Writing the Play Tolkein” by Ron Reed (eminent playwright and founder of Pacific Theatre, Vancouver).

11:15 a.m. “Twentieth Century Historical Fiction and Memoir” by Rose Seiler Scott.

1:30 p.m. “How to Save Your Family History through Short Stories” by Jim Martens.

2:30 p.m. “Writing Historical Musicals” by Allen Desnoyers, composer of “Pier 21 – The Musical”

The day winds up with an evening performance of “Pier 21 – The Musical” (ticketed separately).

Location:

South Delta Baptist Church
1988 – 56th Street
Delta, BC

This conference is sponsored by The Word Guild’s Surrey and White Rock Chapters. More details and a registration form are available HERE.

Arty changes

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My artist corner where, on this day, my toothbrush supervises me drawing her portrait in my sketch journal.

It’s been quiet on this site lately (with just the Israel trip and a few book reviews) as I’ve been pursuing a new interest—in art. Art, as in learning to draw and paint, has used up most of my creative energy and writing has taken a back seat.

I’m at the point where I am ready to go public with this new, albeit still morphing, reality. As a result there will be changes here and in my other online haunts in the days ahead.

Some of the changes are already made, some are in process.

  1. I have imported poetry posts from Violet Nesdoly / Poems to this site. I did that to streamline my current online writing presence to one blog (and have the poems display cleanly on this site with no WordPress ads). I plan to delete the poetry blog shortly.
  2. All the writing pages are now sub-pages of “Writing.” You can get to them by hovering your mouse or track pad over the “Writing” button which activates a drop-down menu. They are also listed and linked on the “Writing” page.
  3. I have put up an “Art” page with its own sub-pages. Here I will display some of the current pieces I’m working on.
  4. POETRY BOOKS and the novel DESTINY’S HANDS are still available for purchase.
  • Info on purchasing poetry books is HERE.
  • Info on purchasing Destiny’s Hands is HERE.
  • BLANK NOTE CARDS with images from my paintings are available for purchase HERE.

Hidden Secrets (review)

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Hidden Secrets (A Green Dory Inn Mystery, #2)Hidden Secrets by Janet Sketchley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With batches of fragrant muffins and mugs of herbal tea, served up in an idyllic seaside setting, Janet Sketchley lures us into discovering the deadly secrets of the Green Dory Inn. Hidden Secrets is Book 2 in the Green Dory Inn Mystery series.

Thoroughly modern, with cell phones and drones, there are also elements of old sea tales with rogue ships and rum-runners in this cozy mystery. The Christian faith of the two main characters, Landon and Anna, adds value and heft to this hard-to-put-down read.

The believably imperfect characters (many of whom we met in Unknown Enemy, Book One of the series) remind me of the characters in Jan Karon’s Father Tim books. But the main player here is a 24-year-old college student, Landon, whose secretive personal past adds complications to the fast-moving plot. Sketchley has included a character list at the beginning of the book to help us keep straight the cast of characters and their relationships to each other. Though it works nicely as a standalone, reading Book One of the series would help you feel like you’re reconnecting with these folks.

Sketchley’s descriptive, yet tight writing and savvy plot combined to make me wish the book was longer. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am happy to hear that Sketchley is beginning work on Book 3.

I received Hidden Secrets as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

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As the Ink Flows (review)

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As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian WritersAs the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers by Glenda Dekkema

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though books of devotions abound, As the Ink Flows is a unique collection of ninety meditations written by five Canadian writers for writers—and speakers too.

Section divisions (The Craft; Inspiration; Know Yourself; Well-Being; Personalities; and Faithfulness) demonstrate how wide-ranging and thorough this book is.

Devotions are short. A quoted scripture verse, two to five paragraphs on the day’s theme, followed by a one-line prayer completes on one page. Each is followed by a “Let the Ink Flow” page which consists of a thought or idea on which to reflect and a writing prompt. Space on these pages makes writing directly in the book possible (if it’s a hard copy).

I found these devotions by turn encouraging, probing, affirming, illuminating, and challenging. What a useful guide for worship, gratitude, prayer, meditation, and future direction for writers or speakers at any point in their career, from “should I give this a try?” to “been there, done that.” Highly recommended for Christian speakers and writers of any genre.

I received this book as a gift (ebook edition) from the publisher in exchange for a review.

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Israel Trip – Days 10-12 (Jerusalem Encounter & Home)

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Jerusalem Encounter

On Wednesday and Thursday, June 19 & 20, we took in the morning and evening sessions of the Jerusalem Encounter Conference. Having seen the Israel of the past, this conference was our window into the Israel of the present. It featured worship by Aaron Shust and Miqedem band, presentations from members of the Fellowship of Israel-Related Ministries  (FIRM), and speakers form various places in Israel and abroad.

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Miqedem Band leading worship at the Jerusalem Encounter. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

My eyes were opened to the many Messianic Jewish organizations at work in Israel. A few I became aware of: Be’ad Chaim – Israel Pro-Life Association; Jerusalem Institute of Justice which assists Jewish people fearing discrimination due to their faith; Maoz Israel – a Tel-Aviv Messianic Jewish organization; Streams in the Desert – an organization that helps struggling families in the Negev area; and Medallion – an organization that produces and publishes Christian literature for children.

Display of Medallion, the company that produces children’s books. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

The conference took place at the King of Kings Church Pavilion in Jerusalem. After one of the sessions, we took the elevator to the top floor where the church has a Prayer Tower. The receptionist went out on the balcony with us and pointed out sites and buildings, telling us how they were prayer reminders for the various aspects of Israeli life. The views from the top of the Prayer Tower were incredible!

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Scene from the top of the Prayer Tower, King of Kings Church, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Another panoramic view from the top of the Prayer Tower, King of Kings Church, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Scene from the top of the Prayer Tower, King of Kings Church, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Another view from the top of the Prayer Tower, King of Kings Church, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Views of Jerusalem from the top of the Prayer Tower, King of Kings Church, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

My husband and I went on a few other unguided walks in the city. One afternoon we wandered through the Mahaneh Yehuda Market. Some of the stalls that caught my eye.

Stalls that caught my eye at the Mahaneh Yehuda Market. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We also enjoyed our seven-day stay at the Prima Kings Hotel in Jerusalem.

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Sunrise from our 5th floor window of the Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

On one of the lower floors was the hotel’s very own chapel or synagogue with lovely stained glass windows, depicting eight Jewish feasts.

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Stained glass window depicting the feasts of Passover and Sukkot. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Stained glass windows depicting the Jewish feasts of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and the New Year. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Stained glass windows depicting Shabbat (Sabbath) and Shavuot (the giving of the Ten Commandments). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Stained glass window depicting the Jewish feasts of Hannukah and Purim. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

(Note: I think I have these feast depictions right, but I can’t read Hebrew, so if I’m wrong, please let me know in comments and I’ll correct them).

Meals were terrific—generous and tasty. The breakfast buffets including hot food like eggs and potatoes, a variety of breads and cheeses, vegetable salad, falafel, hulvah, dry cereal like granola with a whole section of add-ins (raisins, nuts, etc.) yogurt, fruit and of course coffee and juice. The dinner buffets were similar only with meat and fish entrees and even more salads and of course a tempting board of sweet desserts.

Breakfast dishes were beautiful with square plates, large bowls, and matching mugs of heavy pottery in a striped grey and a turquoise pattern. (I’d love a set of these!)

Breakfast dishes at the Prima Kings Hotel, Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Home – Friday, June 21

The day of our departure was at hand. We boarded our bus at the hotel in Jerusalem at 7:45 a.m. for Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

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Leaving Tel Aviv – June 21, 12:25 p.m. (Tel Aviv time)

Our Air Canada flight left Tel Aviv at 12:25 pm. (Tel Aviv time) June 21st. We landed in Toronto 4:30 p.m. Toronto time, then left Toronto at 6:00 p.m., arriving in Vancouver at 8:00 p.m. Vancouver time (which was, by our internal clocks still on Israel time, 6:00 a.m. June 22nd).

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Circling Toronto – 4:10 p.m. June 21, 2019. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly

What a wonderful trip! It has given me a new understanding of Bible geography. When, a few days after getting home, I read in my Bible how the risen Jesus while in Jerusalem told His disciples to meet Him in Galilee (Matthew 28:10), I realized they had a long walk ahead of them.

It has brought to life the stories of Jesus. He could have been pushed to His death just outside of Nazareth. His question to the disciples at Caesarea Philippi – “Who do you say that I am?” becomes particularly significant, asked as it was, in the setting of a pagan temple. The disciples noting the grandeur of the temple and praising its large stones is not surprising. The fact that the sight of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives made Jesus weep (as He thought of its destiny) now makes sense.

I also have a better sense of modern Israel, as I hear about it in the news, and remember the many organizations that are working, especially in the Messianic Christian community to help it become established and grow. This trip will help me be more faithful and knowledgeable as I obey the mandate to Pray for the peace of this beautiful and significant land and city (Psalm 122:6).

Israel Trip – Day 9 (Jerusalem on foot)

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Day 9 on our itinerary was a “Free Day” with no scheduled tours. Our tour guide had the day off and offered anyone interested a several-hour walking tour to places in Jerusalem we had not yet visited. Hubby and I jumped at this opportunity.

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I Love Jerusalem (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Jerusalem with Mount Zion (Church) breaking the horizon. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Our guide took us first to view some tombs from the first temple period. Seven caves were found at this site. From the information plaque:

“Seven burial caves from the late First Temple period were found at the site. The caves, which were hewn into the cliff above which the Scottish Church of St. Andrew was built, were found partially destroyed by later quarrying. All the caves were hewn into hard limestone and were meticulously designed… These caves were intended for family burials over a number of generations.

“… High burial benches on which the deceased were laid were cut into the walls. Raised headrests were carved into some of the benches. Spaces were hewn under some of the benches to serve as repositories for bones that had been collected in order to make room for the newly deceased.”

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Our guide, pointing out the foot rests in the burial benches. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Vince, trying out the burial bench. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Repositories, where bones and last earthly treasures were stored. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Because valuables were often buried with the deceased, these graves were the target of robbers. Treasures they missed were two tiny rolled up silver scrolls meant to be worn as amulets. As per the information plaque:

“After the scrolls were unrolled, it emerged that they were made of pure silver, measured 27 x 97 mm and 11 x 39 mm, and had been incised with inscriptions in early Hebrew made by a sharp delicate instrument. Both plaques bore versions of the biblical priestly blessing (Numbers 5:24-26), attesting to the fact that this blessing was familiar in the First Temple period (the seventh century BCE).

“The Priestly blessing … is the oldest biblical text, dating from the late First Temple period (the seventh and early sixth centuries BCE).

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The oldest biblical text, found on silver scrolls. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We passed a striking fountain: the Loewen Brunnen Fountain.

Montefiore’s Windmill

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Montefiore’s Windmill. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly

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Relief art honoring the contribution of Montefiore. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

The Jewish banker and philanthropist, Moses Montefiore built this windmill in 1857 to serve as a flour mill. Three years later a Jewish neighbourhood came into existence here. Today the windmill is a small museum dedicated to Montefiore’s achievements.

We walked through a picturesque Jewish neighbourhood.

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A pretty Jewish neighbourhood. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

From here we walked into the Old City where we passed through the Armenian Quarter and into the Jewish Quarter.

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A Street in the Armenian Quarter (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

The Jewish Quarter is relatively new. It was sacked by the Arabs in 1948 when Jewish homes and synagogues were destroyed. Israel retook it during the Six Day War in 1967. The map and large mosaic murals have been created since then, as a representation of the Jewish Quarter’s life and commerce from past times.

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A busker entertains us in front of an a map of ancient Jerusalem. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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This mosaic mural displays a rich variety of oil and wine vessels, bowls, amphorae, and more for any occasion and every purpose. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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This stall displays the spices that were essential for seasoning and preserving food, for medications, and more. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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This stall presents some of the domesticated livestock of the Land of Israel in the Byzantine Period as well as in earlier periods. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The fruits and vegetables shown in this stall reflect Byzantine mosaics showing the produce of the Land of Israel. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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This mosaic shows some of the fabric patterns and weavings. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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A mural depicting a Jewish market. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Our guide took us finally to a section of the Jerusalem where a portion of the city wall built by Hezekiah has been unearthed. If only stones could talk!

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A part of the Jerusalem wall, built by Hezekiah. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

 

 

 

Israel Trip – Day 8 (Masada, Qumran, Dead Sea)

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Monday, June 17th was our eighth and last official tour day. We headed out of Jerusalem by bus early for Masada, Qumran, and the Dead Sea.

Our drive to Masada took us past miles of date palm groves. Soon we caught sight of the Dead Sea, gleaming oily blue in the distance.

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Groves of date palms. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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View of the Dead Sea. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Masada

At Masada we boarded the cable car that took us up the mountain. Before looking around, our guide gathered us in a shaded area and told us the story of Masada.

This fortress settlement was built up as one of King Herod the Great’s palace complexes, though rarely visited by him. After his death, Jewish zealots conquered its Roman guards and took refuge there. They converted the palatial rooms to their uses, even constructing a synagogue. They lived in Masada for about seven years, taking advantage of the fortress’s designed ways of collecting water and storing food.

The Romans came after them, laid siege to the fortress and finally breached it by constructing a ramp on its most accessible side (in April of 73 C.E.). When the Romans entered the complex, they found the entire population dead, having chosen to commit mass murder / suicide instead of yielding to Roman rule. (The story is told by Josephus, who, it is said, got this account from two women and five children who hid during the massacre).

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The view as of the surroundings as we travel up Masada in the cable car. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The ramp Romans built to breach the fortress of Masada. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Casemate of the Scrolls. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Ernie and me, in the synagogue, Masada. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Masada cistern. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Guard room, Masada. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Panoramic view of the storage rooms. Our guide told us that the Masada inhabitants destroyed and burned only half of the stores, so that the Romans would know they had not starved to death. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Looking down from Masada. Cable car is halfway down. Terminus and parking lot is at the top left. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

After descending from Masada and shopping at the Ahava Store (which sells skin care products made from Dead Sea mud and minerals, along with other tourist goodies) we boarded the bus again for Qumran.

Qumran

The desert community of Qumran was once the home of the Essenes, a devout sect of Judaism. It was in caves near here that the Dead Sea scrolls were found from 1946 to 1956. These scrolls were probably the work of the Essenes who spent much time copying Scripture. They also placed great emphasis on purity and we saw many mikveh (ritual bath enclosures) as well as channels dug to aid the movement of water.

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Ceremonial bath enclosure or Mikveh in Qumran. (Photo © 2019 by V.Nesdoly)

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Channel for water flow at Qumran. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Pottery kiln at Qumran. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

 

A short walk took us to a lookout where we viewed Cave 4.

We ended our day at the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea

Earlier, when we drove by, our guide pointed out the sink holes that are developing near it—a response to lessened amounts of water feeding into the sea for various reasons.

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The dark blotches on the shore are sinkholes. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Now our bus dropped us off at the one of the Dead Sea beach areas. We left our valuables locked in the bus, changed into swim wear in the busy change rooms and walked a short distance down to the beach. (No photos because I left my camera on the bus).

The water makes you as buoyant as everyone says it will, which is tricky because splashing around in the water, even to regain your feet, is not a good idea lest you get the extremely salty water in yours or others’ eyes. I experienced a little of that; it burns!

All around people were coating themselves with the salt-laden mud/clay that you can dig up with your hands just under the beach rocks.

After coating yourself with mud thus, you’re apparently supposed to let it dry before washing it off to obtain maximum smooth-skin results. I discovered that even without leaving it that length of time, it did smooth and soften my skin.

I’m glad I experienced the Dead Sea in this way, but I was quite ready to rinse off in clear, fresh water and get out of my very salty swim suit.

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Deserted Dead Sea beach houses seen as we drove away. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)