Link with Tiberias

Rev. Kate McDonald, Associate Minister at St Andrew's Church in the town of Tiberias in Israel, is linked with Dundee Presbytery and during her first visit to the area in June 2017, she was able to visit many of the churches within the bounds.  This included Auchterhouse and elder Neil Dewar is now keeping Kate up-to-date with news from the parish.
 
Here is an extract from Kate's reply (dated 1st October) to Neil's most recent letter, with which he enclosed the latest copy of Connexion:
 
Hi Neil
 
Apologies for being so slow replying! It’s so very good to get your news, and thank you for sending along the church magazine. It’s great to feel so connected to the parish back in Scotland that I was able to visit when there on deputation. 
 
It sounds like life there has been very full. I’m sure folks will be missing Mike — he seemed like a wonderful minister and a real blessing to you all. But I hope Jean and his family are settling in and feeling the warm welcome I’m sure you’re all giving them. 
 
All is well here. The temperatures are finally beginning to fall, and the evenings are gorgeous — low 20s and clear skies. Everyone here is eagerly anticipating the rains, which should be coming in the next week or two. The last rain we had was back in April, and now the whole land is golden and looks so forlorn. Winter here is mild — only about 12-15C during the day, with a bit of rain here and there. We really need a good soaking though; the Sea of Galilee is so low, and there are real concerns that one day it will just disappear completely as the summers become hotter and the winters provide less rain. 
 
We’re currently in the midst of the Jewish Holidays of Rosh Hashanah (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), so work is sporadic and it’s hard to know when shops are going to be open! Yesterday was Yom Kippur, and no one drives on the main roads. Tiberias was actually closed off to cars, with police barriers at each entrance. So a friend of mine and I decided to take advantage of the empty roads and cycle around the Sea of Galilee, with a lazy lounge at the beach halfway. It was good fun, until the last 10km or so when I really wasn’t sure my legs were going to survive (it had been years since I was last on a bike, and 60km was perhaps a bit ambitious…). 
 
I’ve also started hiking segments of the Israel National Trail on my days off. I’ve attached a few pictures of the scenery so you can see how varied the landscape can be here. For all its political difficulties, it’s such a beautiful country. 
 
I’ve had a fellow minister here on study leave, and it’s been great traveling around with him introducing him to all the perspectives on the land and the different communities of people who live here. Everyone seems to have a different understanding of what should be happening here, and it’s hard to get your head around it sometimes. Even now, two years on, I learn something new just about every day. 
 
Thanks again for keeping in touch, and for your warm hospitality when I was there. I hope to come stay in your cottage at some point in the not too distant future! 
 
Much love
Kate
 
You can also follow Kate's blog here.