Dan and Neva Handley
When Vibeke and I came in July 2016 to the Christ Church Guest House in Jerusalem to be interviewed for the position that I now hold, the first person we met there was Dan Handley. He met us at reception, took our bags and showed us to our room. He was gracious and kind, and refused to let me help him with the bags.
Dan and his wife Neva have served for the last five years as volunteer co-ordinators at Christ Church. During my time here I’ve got to know them a bit better, and my impression of them both from that first meeting has been reinforced time and again. And for the last two weeks, as I’ve played the role of Acting Guest House Manager, I have seen from close up what a gift they have been to us, and to all the volunteers and staff that have served here during their time.
They have now decided to move back home to the United States in October to spend time with their family. Yesterday was their last day ‘on duty’. Their decision to move back home is our great loss, and their family’s great gain.
Volunteer co-ordinators do many things, but Dan and Neva have gone way beyond what was expected of them. Creating schedules, planning outings and trips, greeting guests and tour groups, hosting prayer meetings and bible studies, watching over the dining room, resolving conflicts, acting as parents to so many of the young people who’ve volunteered with us, running marathons, taking photographs, being shoulders to cry on, making new friends for our ministry in the Old City… I could go on. It’s clear that they will be a hard act to follow.
While of course we wish them God speed as they return home, and regret their loss, we also rejoice in having been able to share this time with them, to watch them and learn from them. Volunteering with CMJ Israel is not always easy, and often the pressures we all face here in Jerusalem get to the volunteers as well. But the joy of serving God in this place, of making a difference, of blessing the many visitors to Jerusalem from overseas that we meet, and blessing this nation and its people by being here – well, Jesus put it best when he said “It’s more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20: 35).
Dan and Neva have personified Paul’s commission to Timothy to “set an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4: 12). It gives me great pleasure to honour them, and to thank them.
Just last month we also said farewell to Vida Butterfield, Guest House Director at Christ Church for five years. During her time with us at CMJ Israel, Vida did wonders with the Guest House in relation to staff, volunteers, procurement, processes, professionalism and, very significantly, in ministry. Vida was always present, always visible, dancing sylph-like through the day as she moved about the compound at Christ Church.
Vida has left the Guest House in a better shape than she found it when she came, and we are immensely grateful to her. We wish her and David blessings from Jerusalem as they return to the UK.
We’re so looking forward to the arrival here later this month of our new Guest House Director Paul Dilcher who will take over Vida's position, and his wife Karin who will fill Dan and Neva’s shoes as Volunteer Co-ordinator. Please pray for them as they prepare to join us.
Weddings and Engagements
Last month we had two weddings at Christ Church involving staff in the space of a week, a real indication of God’s favour on CMJ. I wasn't able to attend the marriage of Benno and Deborah, sadly. Benno is the son of David and Carol Pileggi; David is the rector at Christ Church. But I was able to attend Idan and Sarah's wedding a few days later; Idan is our Heritage Centre director, and Sarah hails from Sweden.
And what a wedding it was! A mixture of Israeli, Swedish and Anglican traditions, it was an exciting, exuberant event where we rejoiced greatly with the couple. A real treat!
Here's another short video I took at Idan and Sarah's wedding.
And the party just won’t stop. Last week we shared the joy again as our own Fahed and Mary celebrated their engagement. Fahed is Assistant Guest House Manager at Christ Church. Another wonderful event with lots of dancing and a couple that are so well suited to each other. They should be; they met at Christ Church Guest House, where Mary used to work in Fahed’s office!
These things are all signs of God’s blessing upon us. Weddings, engagements, good farewells and jobs well done. We’re grateful.