I invited a friend from across the sea to answer some interview questions for my blog…and, boy did she deliver!
Please welcome Deborah Hemstreet. Debbie is another one of the ‘friends I’ve never met’. Not only did she answer all my questions, but she sent additional, interesting information, along with some accompanying pictures.
The content is so rich, full and fascinating (at least to me!) I’ve decided to post it in THREE segments. Part II will continue on Thursday, October 1, and Part III on Monday, October 5.
I hope you’ll enjoy this International conversation!
First: About Debbie
Deborah (Shapiro) Hemstreet has spent more than half of her life in Israel. She has dual citizenship. Her father was a Jewish believer in Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew), her mother was a non-Jewish believer. Deborah likes to identify herself as a follower of Jesus—with no denominational affiliation other than a member of the Body of Christ.
Professionally, Deborah has been a nurse (LPN), and holds a BA in Special Education and an MA in Technical Communication. Currently she is the English Communications Specialist at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel—the largest hospital in northern Israel. She is actively involved in representing the hospital to the Christian community.
Deborah came to Israel in 1982, and other than for a brief period of time (2007–2011) has lived there ever since. She married for the first time in 2007 and relocated to the USA, she thought forever. However, God had different plans and in 2010 her husband Rich died, and in 2011 she returned to Israel to live.
Deborah has loved creative writing since childhood. She has written a number of poems and short stories, most of which are unpublished. A few have appeared in Israeli publications. She is currently working on her autobiography, and recently published a YouTube video of one of her poems which she set to music, and recorded, and prepared as a YouTube video clip. The poem, “Kotel” (Hebrew for the Western Wall) tells the story of Israel through poetry. Her prayer is that the song will inspire others to see Israel with new eyes and pray earnestly for the peace of Jerusalem in our time.
(More about the song and the video later. Yeah, I’m a tease )
Now for some questions:
Welcome, my friend from across the sea! So wonderful to have you visit. How do you wish to be addressed? Deb, Debbie, Deborah or Dvora?
Debbie is fine, my name in Hebrew is Dvora. For my full name in English, Deborah.
What is the most interesting thing about you?
I have a cousin who was missionary for most of her adult life in Taiwan and China. She, too, taught English!
You live in Israel. Where, and how long have you lived there?
I live in Haifa, Israel, quite close to the Mediterranean Sea. Haifa is the third largest city in Israel. I came to Israel in 1982. I left in 2007 when I got married, and returned in 2011 after the death of my husband.
Give us an overview of what it’s like to live on that tiny strip of land.
Well, quite truthfully, I don’t feel like I live in a small country. I love it though. From the scenery to the culture, there is so much I like here. The music of language that surrounds us: Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian, Amharic, French, Spanish, and many other languages. People from a variety of cultures all live together, for the most part peacefully. I’ve met more people from around the world than I ever did in America, and visited more nations as well. I like the markets, shopping, scenery, visiting the Holy Sites, and being able to live in the land of my ancestors. Israel is like any other nation and is by no means perfect, but I like it here.
You’ve taken numerous vacations to Norway, I believe. What’s the draw? Do you have family there?
Actually, my friends from Norway have visited Israel dozens of times—I’ve only visited Norway once—so far. I have a dear friend whom I met when I first came to Israel. Her name is Solvejg. Long story short, she has been begging me for years to visit Norway. When I agreed to visit another friend in Moscow, I could hardly NOT visit Norway, since the two nations are so close to each other.
I love to travel. My first love, before Israel, was China. I had the opportunity to go to China in 1995 for 6 weeks. I worked as an English consultant for 4 weeks and then backpacked on my own for two weeks. I’ve been to Istanbul three times, Cyprus, Barcelona and England twice, France, Greece, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Egypt, Jordan, and visited Canada several times.
WOW! I am GREEN with envy! What great opportunities you’ve had!
Let’s talk about your writing journey. What are you working on now?
I’ve loved to write since I was a child. I wish I still had those early writings—they would help me better map out my journey. I went through a long period where I wrote only poetry. I have literally hundreds of poems, most of them unpublished. I’ve posted a few on my blog. Interspersed I’ve worked on different short stories, and started writing a few longer ones… I still have the outlines in my head and the initial drafts. Somehow life keeps interfering with my being able to sit and really write.
Last November, for NANO month, I wrote the first 100 pages of my autobiography. I think there are many people who are lot more interesting than me, but I’ve had so many friends ask me to write my story that I thought this might be something worth working on. I’ve prayed about it a lot, and I do believe this is what I should do. Time and distractions can really get in the way though. With my many activities, sometimes I find it hard to just sit and write. However, a recent conversation with a friend made me realize I need to forge ahead. This is a deeply emotional and spiritual effort as well, since I’ve made a commitment to be completely honest in my writing. I believe it is the only way I can really encourage others. If I were to give the message and goal of my writing in a sentence or two, it would be this: Jesus is absolutely and utterly faithful and will never give up on those who are His. If He can work through me for His good purposes, He can work through anyone!
Then I definitely believe you should go for it! You certainly have something to share!
Tell us about the church you attend.
I attend a non-denominational Messianic congregation that is quite similar to the open Brethren style of worship. I like to call myself a Catholic charismatic Brethren Nun
Oh, that’s funny!
Well, folks, are you intrigued? There’s more to come tomorrow with Part II.
Be sure to come back and learn more about Deborah, Israel . . . and that song she wrote, not to mention some great pictures.