How was your vacation?” Every time I return from a teaching trip with First Fruits of Zion, someone from my home community will ask, “How was your vacation.” Really and truly.
This happens every single time. Having now just returned from a teaching trip to Washington and Canada, I have written up a summary of my latest “vacation” in anticipation of the inevitable query.
Toby Janicki and I have now returned from a mid-January teaching tour that included visits in Washington and several stops in Canada. How did we end up in Canada during the coldest weeks of the year? I’m not sure why we chose January, but we were initiated into the Canadian winter with temperatures dipping to thirty degrees below zero on the Fahrenheit scale (without wind-chill). In January, Canada seems really big and really snowy, earning its reputation as “The Great White North.”
First Fruits of Zion has an office in Canada. The Canadian office makes it possible for Canadian constituents to get our materials without the hassle of customs fees and foreign currency exchange. The Canadian office also helps us find our way around the Great White North. The Canadian office put this marathon teaching trip together.
We taught eight of the ten days of the trip presenting more than twenty hours of lectures in six different venues spanning half the continent. For ten days we were almost continuously teaching, traveling, or sleeping.
The vacation began for me on Sunday, January 10, with a flight from Minneapolis to Seattle. Ironically, while I was in the air, the Seattle Seahawks were in Minneapolis, playing against the Minnesota Vikings in what was certainly one of the coldest NFL playoff games of all time. I was glad to exchange Minnesota’s January temperatures for Seattle’s even if the Seahawks won the game.
I met my colleague Toby Janicki at the airport, and we made our way to the beautiful Messianic Synagogue Beit HaShofar, arriving just in time to set up for the meetings. This was my first time to Beit HaShofar. I had always heard rumors about the fine craftsmanship and beautiful woodwork of Beit HaShofar’s sanctuary, but I had never before had the opportunity to visit. We felt honored to teach in such a stunning sanctuary.
We had a good turnout for the presentation. We based the lectures for our new seminar, The Bread of Tomorrow, on Vine of David’s new translation of the Lord’s Prayer as presented in Aaron Eby’s book First Steps in Messianic Jewish Prayer. Messianic Rabbi Jason Forbes of Beit HaShofar put us up in the synagogue’s elegant guest house, the Lichtenstein House—a facility named after the nineteenth-century Messianic luminary Rabbi Lichtenstein. (Which Rabbi Lichtenstein? Isaac Lichtenstein or Yechiel Tzvi Lichtenstein? Rabbi Forbes would not say.)
Monday morning we hit the road and headed for our next location, stopping along the way to connect with some other Messianic Jews. Monday night we taught The Bread of Tomorrow to a great group in Bellingham and stayed with some FFOZ Friends for the night. Tuesday morning we crossed the border to teach the seminar Israel and the Nations in Surrey, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver. The appearance in the Vancouver area gave us the opportunity to reconnect with Anne Mandell and her family. Anne is a designer and creative team member with First Fruits of Zion. We did not have time for much catching up, however, as we had to catch an early flight the next morning.
From Vancouver we flew to Calgary, Alberta where we presented an evening seminar to a packed house at Beth Shechinah Messianic Congregation. Rabbi Calev Goldberg of Beth Shechinah specifically requested a teaching on the subject of two-house theology, so we obliged by offering our perspectives in a seminar titled One New Man and the Ten Lost Tribes. While visiting Calgary we stayed in the home of long-time FFOZ Friends and connected with some visiting Israeli disciples of Yeshua also lodging there. We left early the next morning to catch a flight to Saskatoon.
We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday teaching seminars at Faith Alive Family Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Over the three days at Faith Alive we presented the new The Bread of Tomorrow material as well as Israel and the Nations and several other teachings. Extreme sub-zero temperatures may have deterred a few from attending the lectures, but we were pleased to see the events well-attended despite the cold. Sunday morning the church provided us with the amazing opportunity to address the whole congregation with the gospel message of the kingdom of heaven—a great privilege. We also found time to film some television segments for the church’s broadcast show.
That same Sunday, Joel and Camille Cavers of the Canadian office shuttled us to Regina where we again presented The Bread of Tomorrow seminar to a small group of about twenty or thirty that gathered to hear the teachings. Early the next morning, Monday, January 18, we caught a flight to Winnipeg where we taught at the Messianic congregation Kehilah Haverim Mashiach. Messianic Rabbi Michael Wodlinger of the Winnipeg congregation asked us to teach on issues of distinction between Jews and Gentiles, so we obliged by offering teachings about the Jerusalem Council and Acts 15. The seminar in Winnipeg was sparsely attended, but we met some wonderful people and enjoyed our time there before catching flights for home the next morning.
“How was the vacation?” Despite the cold, the love from the brothers and sisters in Washington and Canada kept our hearts warm, and we left Canada grateful for the opportunities God opened for us there. The trip gave us a chance to reconnect with a lot of FFOZ Friends in Washington and Canada and to introduce our teachings to a lot of new people.
First Fruits of Zion offers a variety of teaching seminars designed to educate and build up the body of Messiah. We are offering to hold seminars in your community. Contact our Event Coordinator if you would like to host a seminar in your area.