You are here

A Miraculous Journey to Israel with my Autistic Son

Click on the picture for the full list of essays

 

A Miraculous Journey to Israel
with my Autistic Son

A Testimony to Yahweh God’s
Mercy and Power

Sister Pearl Bong

 

Shalom! Peace be with you. How time flies! It has been twenty five years since my son was diagnosed with autism in 1994. If you have not read my testimony titled “A Special Gift From God” and my sharing on “Spiritual Lessons Learned In Raising An Autistic Child”, I hope you will take some time to read through them and to learn about the miraculous arrival of my beloved son Brendon whom my husband and I embraced as a very special gift from God. To this day, I marveled at how Yahweh, the only true God, had led me and my family through a triumphant life journey with Brendon.

Throughout the past twenty eight years, our compassionate God Yahweh has never ceased to pave the way so beautifully for Brendon through many big and small miracles. It was much too overwhelm­ing to experience how Yahweh God had removed many obstacles along the way which I often perceived as missions impossible. Yahweh God’s intervention in His perfect timing would oftentimes leave me dumbfounded! My little mind wonders, “Who could grasp Yahweh God’s infinite wisdom? Who could fathom the depth of Yahweh God’s love for mankind?” I could only say I stood amazed at how Yahweh God made all things beautiful in His time. His unfailing love for mankind is indeed beyond description!

The longing of my heart

Over the years, there has been a deep longing within my heart. I longed to walk on the path where Jesus or the crowd of witnesses had walked and to visualize the events of the Bible unfold before my eyes. With that in mind and the strong burning desire within my heart, I prayed and asked Yahweh God for His provision, and certainly I would love to set my feet on the Bible Land if it were Yahweh God’s will. Oh well, after committing the desire of my heart to Yahweh God, I waited patiently for my dream to come true. Why do I say that a trip to Israel would be to me a dream come true? Precisely because I knew it would be another huge challenge to embark on a totally different journey together with my son Brendon. You will understand why I have such thoughts as you read on.

While committing my vision and dream into Yahweh God’s hands, lo and behold, in October 2017, our pastor announced in church that there would be a “Visit Israel Trip” from 10th to 23rd November 2018. Interestingly that was the first “Visit Israel Trip” for our Singapore CDC English Service in thirty years. My heart rejoiced when I heard the announcement. Immediately I cried out to Yahweh God and I prayed, “Father in heaven, you knew my heart’s desire and you have answered my prayer. Yes, I am determined to set my feet on the ‘Bible Land’. That was my simple prayer of thanksgiving to Yahweh God.

After a short discussion with my husband, I discovered we shared the same vision. How wonderful! Our decision to sign up for the trip was firm and we speedily registered for a family of three (i.e., my husband, me, and Brendon). A week later, I realized I had totally forgotten to weigh my son’s condition before submitting the registration for the trip. I believed it was Yahweh God’s intervention at that instant. It seemed at the point of registration, I was like someone who was undergoing a “temporary memory loss”. If I had considered deeper regarding my son’s mental handicap, perhaps I might not be courageous enough to say “Yes” to “Visit Israel Trip.” As I look back, oh how I thank our God Yahweh for helping me in making that prompt plus wise decision.

The biggest obstacles ahead of us

To date autism remains as an incurable lifelong psychological disorder. One of the symptoms of autism is “Obsessive compulsive behavior”. Until this moment, it remained a tough challenge for my husband and I in dealing and coping with Brendon’s obsessive compulsive behavior issues. Our worst nightmare was to cope with the constant switch from one obsessive behavior to another without any knowledge of when each obsessive behavior will persist. We have to be very alert at all times in order to capture the change in Brendon’s behavior so that we will be mentally prepared to deal with each new obsession which could inevitably surface out of the blue. Thankfully we found the tremendous strength and wisdom from Yahweh God to brave through every stormy encounter.

During the period when my husband and I had made up our mind to join the “Visit Israel Trip”, Brendon was extremely obsessed with destroying things or certain building structures which are considered old or worn out in his sight. He was also obsessed with kicking stones and pebbles which appeared along his path. For instance, when he discovered a crack or a defect on a wall or a hole in the ground, his obsessive behavior would act up instantaneously. Subsequently he would lose control of himself and his immediate reaction would be to make the crack bigger or to use his foot to kick hard on the hole in the ground until it became larger. As a result of his obsessive plus destructive behavior, I was often reprimanded for being a lousy mother who didn’t know how to educate my son. It was so painful when others fail to understand the predicament I was in. For all the hardships I have been through, I just had to grit my teeth and bring them before Yahweh God in prayer. Through it all, I thanked Yahweh God for He is my tower of refuge and strength always!

I couldn’t recall for how long each of Brendon’s obsessive behavior lasted. However, despite all the struggles we faced with Brendon, Yahweh God had always been merciful. He had never ceased to keep watch over Brendon. On many occasions, Brendon would never sustain any injuries even though he destroyed things with his bare hands. The only items which often tore apart were his shoes as he constantly kicked on stones, pebbles and holes in the ground excessively. On average we had to buy him a new pair of shoes at every three months’ interval.

How we dealt with the challenges before us

After my husband and I had signed up for the “Visit Israel Trip”, all of a sudden it dawned on me that almost all of the historical sites we will be visiting were full of old building structures, cracks and holes. Can you imagine that those sites are more than two thousand years old? Certainly many of the building structures are extremely old and worn out. Also we will come across many stones and lots of pebbles everywhere! Oh no! A horrifying thought surfaced on my mind. As I thought, “How on earth are we going to survive the fourteen-day trip with Brendon’s obsessive plus destructive behav­ior?” At that juncture, my heart began to waver a little. Never­theless, I came humbly before Yahweh God to seek His guidance. Amazingly, there was a sense of perfect peace enveloping me after I committed my fear before our loving God and Father. The moment I stepped out of my prayer closet, I felt “Wow! Fantastic!” What a relief, and it remained a “resounding yes” to “Visit Israel Trip.” Deep within I knew surely Yahweh God would carry us through no matter what happened.

To this day I am so amazed by how Yahweh God has led us through each and every situation. It was after my husband and I had made the commitment to go to Israel that I began to see the enormous problems I had on hand with Brendon. Initially I thought dealing with Brendon’s obsessive behavior would be the only issue we were going to face. As I pondered, there remained many other daunting issues such as Brendon surviving the long flight hours, following the directions of a tour guide in a group tour for the very first time, and his obsession with eating limited choices of food in Singapore which are not available in Israel.

As I listed down the issues I had on hand, I calmly entered my secret place which is none other than my prayer closet. Earnestly I knelt before Yahweh, my God and my maker. As a child in need of assurance from her father, I called out Yahweh’s name. My sincere plea before Yahweh was, “Avinu, my Father in heaven, please show me Your way and teach me Your path, for Your ways and Your thoughts are higher than mine. I delight in doing Your will and I will gladly follow Your guidance and fully submit to Your will. Help me gracious Father in preparing Brendon for our ‘Visit Israel Trip’. Amen.”

After that prayer, the following week our pastor sent us a text message to ask for our final confirmation on “Visit Israel Trip.” Our decision was final and we would not let anything change our plans at all. My heart was totally at peace and I looked forward to my new and exciting adventures with Brendon and the rest of my teammates. Besides my family of three, one of our church brothers and six sisters were on this trip together. So we were a small group of ten people embarking on exploring Israel with joy and anticipation. Oh how I thanked Yahweh God for granting us the golden opportunity to participate in “Visit Israel Trip.”

Preparation for “Visit Israel Trip”

Seven months prior to the trip, in April 2018, I shared with Brendon’s school coaches regarding the impending fourteen-day “Visit Israel Trip.” I highlighted to them the dilemmas we faced and we foresaw that Brendon might have issues if he weren’t mentally prepared to cope with so many uncertainties in a totally foreign land. The best approach in preparing Brendon for the trip was to try our best to reduce his anxieties as much as possible. We understood that any new and unknown factor could trigger a break­down in him. We were aware of the consequences of meltdowns at public places which had happened far too often whenever we failed to understand the fac­tors which might possibly contribute to Brendon’s negative responses.

The majority of autistic individuals have very high visual capabilities and Brendon is no exception. With the inspiration which stemmed from Yahweh God, around mid April 2018, the idea of a visual guidebook came to my mind. I started gathering information on the various hotels we would be staying at. I logged on to many websites in search of pictures of all the places we would be visiting. After a thorough search, I finally managed to print out a set of pictures which consisted of hotels and places of interest. Thereafter I com­piled a booklet which served as a concise travel guide for Brendon.

Although Brendon is verbal, his understanding of language and expressive language skill is rather limited. In view of his limited vocabulary, I had to write a brief introduction in simple English to describe each picture so as to help Brendon to understand what to expect during the trip. The whole process was quite tedious but truly refreshing and enriching for me as our Abba Father Yahweh had blessed me richly through it all. In fact I had the experience of a virtual tour of Israel before setting my feet on Israel. My heart was grateful to Yahweh God for teaching me to look beyond the obstacles before me and to face all the challenges courageously as He is my source of strength and the anchor for my soul.

In the midst of all the necessary preparations, I deeply appreciate Yahweh God for providing wonderful coaches who had been very patient and kind in rendering good advices always. They have offered their very best service in preparing Brendon for the trip almost every single day for seven months. They would go through the travel booklet with Brendon every day. On their part they designed a set of customized rules for Brendon to follow. Knowing Brendon from the inside out, they feared that he might interrupt others unnecess­arily as he could be quite persistent at times. As a respect for others, his coaches had prepared three sets of question cards for him to use when necessary. Brendon went through an intensive seven months of guided training everyday to learn about the places we would be visiting and also to become familiar with how to make proper requests by using the question cards. The three sets of question cards given were as follows:

  • Hello, how are you?
  • May I ask you something?
  • May I say something I like?

Besides teaching Brendon to obey the customized set of rules and to maintain good manners when communicating with others, the next big hurdle was to educate Brendon on accepting the totally unfamil­iar food in Israel. In Israel the food is mainly a fusion of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. To date research has shown that it has always been a common problem for all parents when it comes to the matter of persuading their autistic child to try out new food. Brendon used to stick to a 100% potato diet when he was very young. During that period of time, I failed to understand how he could eat potatoes for three meals a day; for 365 days a year, he had never gotten sick over it. I recalled that it took many years before he could overcome the fear of trying out new food. As a matter of fact, while in Singapore, Brendon’s daily diet mainly consists of French fries, mashed potatoes, Hainanese chicken rice, Braised duck rice, Char siew rice, Chinese style fried noodles and Spaghetti Bolognaise.

After much thought, I was caught in another dilemma. I wondered which would be the best approach I should take to solve Brendon’s daily meal problems when we reach Israel. All of a sudden I felt there seemed to be a huge mountain standing in my way. I was very lost for quite a while and didn’t know what to expect or what steps I should take next. Just as I was in despair, once again the word of God came as a timely reminder. I turned to the word of God and I read in Philippians chapter 4 verses 6 & 7 which says,

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Indeed Yahweh God comforted my heart when I cried out to Him. As I sat before my computer, our gracious God Yahweh led me to hunt for pictures of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. After I have done my research, I presented my findings before Brendon. I told him in plain simple language. I said, “Son, there is no chicken rice, duck rice, char siew rice or Chinese fried noodles in Israel. You have to eat all these new food as shown in the pictures. If you don’t want to eat these foods, we can’t go to Israel. Is it okay with you?” I was stunned when he nodded his head and said, “It’s okay mummy!” His simple reply was enough to assure me that everything will be fine and that I shouldn’t be overly anxious or concerned about his meals. Oh how I thanked Yahweh God for He is good all the time.

Finally seven months flew by quickly! We were all ready to embark on our new adventures together! Truly, our hearts were full of excitement when we arrived at the departure hall of Singapore Changi Airport. It was with an open heart and mind that I looked forward to learn as Yahweh God leads, be it spiritual lessons through the guided tour or to be the eyewitness of some surprises/miracles through another journey with Brendon.

Over the previous seven years, the maximum flight time Brendon could endure was approximately 6 to 8 hours. As for our “Visit Israel Trip”, the flight hours plus transit add up to a total of eighteen hours. It was quite daunting when I thought about how was Brendon going to cope with the long eighteen-hour flight? Finally the day arrived for us to depart from Singapore to Tel Aviv on 10th November 2018 at 8 o’clock in the evening. When we were on board the plane, my heart was filled with thanksgiving to Yahweh God for He had made my dream come true! To be able to travel all the way to Israel with my autistic son was made possible because Yahweh God is sovereign over all!

The beginning of our journey to Israel

While on board the plane, Brendon did not sleep a wink yet he did not complain about boredom or physical exhaustion. I could see he was grinning from ear to ear as he has always enjoyed travelling. Though he couldn’t express what was running in his mind, I could gauge that he was looking forward to explore Israel in no time! Much to my delight and relief, eighteen hours flew by quicker than I had thought. When we landed at Ben Gurion Airport at Tel Aviv, I couldn’t describe in words how grateful I was to Yahweh God for granting Brendon the perseverance throughout the long flight hours. My heart exclaimed, “We made it because Yahweh God’s power sustained us! Glory be to the most high God Yahweh!”

To cut a long story short, I will proceed to share some of the miracles which I experienced throughout the trip. As I have mentioned earlier, it is a tall order to persuade Brendon to try out new food. On the second morning after we checked into the hotel, we got up at 7am to have buffet breakfast at the hotel cafe. The first item I spotted at the buffet station was spaghetti bolognaise. My jaw dropped when I saw that! It was the first time in my travel history that I encountered spaghetti being served as one of the breakfast items, and among all the food which Brendon loves, spaghetti is his all time favorite. My heart melted as I thought, “Oh how lovely! How marvelous! Absolutely that was a very warm welcome meal for my beloved son Brendon. Thank you so much Heavenly Father for loving Brendon.” Brendon ate two big servings of spaghetti and the satisfaction was all written on his face.

That was the very first heart-warming meal for Brendon. Through­out the entire trip, we made no attempt to persuade Brendon to try out new food because from our past experience, we gathered that he could never be persuaded. We feared he might get agitated and end up throwing a tantrum if we insisted he should eat the unfamiliar food provided. We had tried to persuade him to eat new food when in Singapore, and the consequence was that he flared up, he screamed loudly and finally threw himself on the floor. In order not to create an ugly scene, we decided to keep quiet for we believed Yahweh God is in control of everything. Amazingly, I saw a totally different Brendon in Israel. He gladly accepted the unfamiliar food; he took the initiative to try many types of food without much hesitation. Indeed that was a miracle! I thanked God for removing what was standing in the way for Brendon to enjoy all the food on the table.

If you have been exposed to Mediterranean diets before, you might have noticed their diet consists of lots of vegetables, pita breads and the well known “Hummus” (Hummus is a dip, spread, or savory dish made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice, and garlic.) Pita breads were served everyday as that is their staple food. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I witnessed Brendon gobble up a few pieces of pita bread on many occasions. To be honest with you, while in Singapore, he refused to eat bread at all.

Besides the pita breads, plain rice cooked in olive oil was served at almost every meal. Throughout the fourteen days Brendon would eat rice together with all kinds of delicious gravy and some chicken chunks or kebabs all cooked in either Middle Eastern or Mediterran­ean style. On two occasions French fries were served together with our meal. I watched Brendon enjoying the French fries like never before. After all he used to be a potato lover when he was a little boy. To him that was the best bonus meal ever! How wonderful is our almighty God Yahweh. Cheers!

I recall that one morning, the team gathered for our usual buffet breakfast. One of our teammates had some tuna chunks. Brendon pointed at the tuna chunks and told me that he wanted some. I was very surprised because it was the very first time in twenty eight years that Brendon had shown great interest in trying out tuna chunks. I thanked God for providing tuna chunks which caught Brendon’s attention that morning. Back in Singapore we do eat tuna chunks from time to time but never once did Brendon show any interest in eating them. At first I was kind of doubtful if he would eat it at all. Anyway, I served him a reasonably small portion upon his request and he finished it rather quickly. Thereafter he asked for more and I gladly fulfilled his appetite in that lovely morning. When that incident happened, I couldn’t understand why Brendon had decided to eat so much tuna chunks for the first time in twenty eight years until something unexpected happened on the following day.

On the following day after visiting a few sites, we went off for lunch at a fast food cafe. That was the one and only time we had fast food for lunch.

We were given two choices of prepacked food, namely, “Ham sandwiches” and “Tuna bagel.” As all our meals were included in the tour package, we had to follow the tour agent’s decision on where to have our meals. Oops! There was no sign of rice, no pita bread, no French fries or spaghetti. My heart sank as I thought, “What was Brendon going to eat then?” Just as I was all caught up, Brendon picked up a package of “Tuna bagel.” I was shocked but I guessed probably he would eat the tuna since he has eaten tuna chunks the day before. As for the bagel, I guessed he might not be able to swallow it. That was my thought at that time. Guess what happened? There was absolutely no sign of grumbling from Brendon. He happily grabbed a seat in a quiet corner; slowly but surely he nibbled the “Tuna bagel.” It was then that I realized as to why tuna chunks was one of the items on the buffet spread a day ago.

How marvelous and how great is our God Yahweh who has helped Brendon to be mentally prepared for his next unexpected meal. To this day I cannot forget the goodness of Yahweh God. It has been more than a year since our return from “Visit Israel Trip”. Strangely enough, within the whole year not once did Brendon ever ask me to serve him tuna chunks. I think he has clearly forgotten that he had eaten a “Tuna bagel” in Israel. What an amazing encounter!

For the next part of my sharing, I would like to touch on how Brendon fared at the historical or Biblical sites we had visited. Each morning after breakfast we would hop on the tour bus at around 9am. A local tour guide would guide us through all the Biblical sites from 9 o’clock in the morning till around 4 o’clock in the evening.

As I mentioned earlier, Brendon has “obsessive compulsive behavior” issues. We feared that he might lose control of himself, and that his destructive behavior would emerge without any warning signs. So, did he create havoc when coming into contact with old building structures which are more than two thousand years old? Did he kick any stones or pebbles? Did he dig holes in the ground at all? I thought he would do so since he has the symptoms of obsessive behavior. However to my amazement the answer is “No. He did not. He did not destroy or kick anything at all throughout the fourteen days in Israel.” I couldn’t believe his obsessive behavior had actually vanished into thin air. Brendon showed absolutely no interest in destroying anything at all. After our return to Singapore, his obsessive behavior did not resurface. How amazing!

Throughout the entire trip, I was stunned when I observed Brendon’s behavior. He was pretty much like a normal child who understood that his daddy, mummy, uncle and aunties were going through an educational tour and he should behave himself and not disturb any­one at all. Most of the time he remained quiet, and surprisingly he did not take out his question cards to ask anyone anything even though he was allowed to do so. That wasn’t the usual Brendon that I knew. Hallelujah! Praise Yahweh God for His mercies. Indeed how blessed we were to experience His marvelous hands at work in Brendon.

During the trip my husband had brought along a mobile router which enabled Brendon to have access to Wi-Fi on the go. While waiting for us as we were listening to the tour guide’s explanation from place to place, most of the time Brendon would find a rock, a huge stone or a pavement to sit on. He would tune in to some YouTube Channels to watch videos. One of his favorite animated video is “Tom & Jerry.” He simply loves the way Tom (the cat) fought against the cheeky Jerry (the mouse). The main reason he is so in love with “Tom & Jerry” cartoons is because they are loaded with funny actions and totally no verbal conversation ongoing between the cat and the mouse. Kudos to the creator of “Tom & Jerry” cartoons!

From time to time I noticed the smile on Brendon’s face. Each day the duration of our tour lasted seven hours. Can you imagine that for seven hours a day, Brendon moved along joyfully with the group; he chose to sit on countless rocks, stones and pavements coated with a thick layer of dust and dirt that is more than two thousand years old? Perhaps he could be the only person willing to sit on those dirty surfaces. We took many photos of him sitting everywhere and every corner in Israel. I couldn’t believe Brendon waited seven hours daily without a single word of complaint and he had done that consistently every single day for fourteen days. Again, that wasn’t the usual Brendon that I knew. As I reminisced on those good old days, indeed our Lord God Yahweh knew how much my husband and I needed the peace to stay focused throughout the trip in order to visualize all the events which had taken place during Biblical era. Yahweh God took care of everything in ways which were beyond my imagination. Our God Yahweh is awesome!

The “Visit Israel Trip” was by far the most adventurous and challenging trip not just for Brendon but also for all of us. We moved from hotel to hotel as we ventured out to explore all the sites where the significant Biblical events took place. Just to name a few, one moment we were at the wilderness overlooking the place where Jesus was tempted. The next moment we were at Elah Valley, the site where the battle between David and Goliath took place. At a few of the sites, we had to walk up and down some sloppy, very slippery plus uneven grounds. Nevertheless Brendon was full of vigor and he did not breathe a word of discomfort even though the going was tough. In fact he was always the first to reach the final point as he is the only one in the group who is in his late 20’s and certainly he is the fittest among us all. Truly it wasn’t an easy trip but the joy of the Lord is our strength. Seeing Brendon in good spirit has spurred me on. I thanked Yahweh God again and again for encouraging me through Brendon’s positive outlook and his never say die spirit!

In the city of Jerusalem

For our “Visit Israel Trip” we had the longest length of stay in the city of Jerusalem. Some unforgettable incidents happened while we were there.

We checked into a hotel in Jerusalem by the name “Jerusalem Gardens Hotel & Spa” on Thursday, a day before the Sabbath which starts on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening. That allowed us to get a feel of the atmosphere in Jerusalem during the Sabbath. One interesting fact to note is that the hotel lifts continue to operate on Sabbath day but they will stop at every floor and the lift door will open and close at every floor. We were staying on the 11th floor then. It was an awkward feeling and surely we needed lots of patience to travel up to the floor where our hotel room was as the lift door would open and close eleven times.

As on any other day, we were out Friday morning and we got back to the hotel after our tour for the day. It was the Sabbath when we arrived at the hotel lobby at around 5.30pm. After a long and tiring day, Brendon was very eager to get back to our hotel room. He dashed into the lift quickly without knowing that the lifts in that hotel actually functioned differently from the lifts in Singapore. He meant to press the “Hold” button while waiting for me and my husband to get into the lift, but in that hotel once you press any button, the lift will start to travel up to the designated floor. Before we could get into the lift, the door was shut and it went up and up. We were very anxious when we couldn’t get into the lift in time to join Brendon.

At that moment, I almost suffered a nervous breakdown. My husband and I sought to find the quickest way possible to go up to the 11th floor to look for Brendon. My heart almost jumped out as I was very fearful and in great shock! As Brendon has extreme difficulty in communica­ting with people, we feared he might not be able to seek help from others. That was my greatest nightmare. In my helpless state, I could only cry out to Yahweh God for help. That was the first time we lost our son in a foreign land.

My husband was much calmer than me during such a panic situation. Immediately He told me to take the next lift and go up to the 11th floor to see if Brendon was waiting for us outside the hotel room while he waited at the passenger lifts lobby in case Brendon comes back to the lobby to find us. I listened to his instruction and took the next lift to go up to the 11th floor. When I reached the 11th floor, there was no sign of Brendon. My prayer to Yahweh God intensified and I wept. I asked Yahweh God to protect Brendon from harm and to lead him safely back to us. Thereafter I took the lift and returned to the main lobby. When the lift door opened, I saw my husband and Brendon appear right before my very eyes. Tears of joy welled up in my eyes as I hugged Brendon tightly. Oh how I thanked Yahweh God for answering my prayer.

After calming my nerves, my husband shared with me that he had waited outside the passenger lifts area but Brendon wasn’t in any of those lifts. Later he spotted Brendon calmly walking out from the cargo lift which was near by the passenger lifts lobby. He guessed that when Brendon went up to the 11th floor without us, he quickly got out of the passenger lift and switched over to take the cargo lift to come down to the main lobby. After that shocking incident, I guess Brendon probably thought it would take much too long for him to wait for the next passenger lift to go down to the main lobby. Therefore he opted for a quicker way to go down. That was a pleasant surprise! Totally unbelievable! The truth of the matter is that Brendon had never taken a cargo lift before. How on earth did he figure out that the cargo lift could take him to the main lobby? The only explanation I had in mind was Yahweh God had sent a guardian angel to lead the way so that Brendon could get back to us as quickly as possible.

Later in the evening, our team gathered for a meeting to share with one another about what we have learned. My teammates were very shocked to learn about Brendon’s misadventure but miraculously he returned to us safely through a rather unusual means. As we closed our meeting with a word of prayer, we were very thankful to Yahweh God for His steadfast love never ceases. It was such a wonderful experience for my husband and me, knowing that our God Yahweh is forever faithful and He loves us dearly.

Miracles at The Temple Mount

Miracles continued to happen the following day. Our next miracu­lous encounter was at the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is a holy site within the Old City for Jewish, Christian and Muslim people. In Muslim tradition, it is the third holiest site after Mecca and Medina. Security is very tight at that site and there are strict rules to follow such as we should keep our volume low, men and women are not allowed to stick too close to each other, and holding hands is not permissible. The whole area was heavily guarded by security officers. I felt rather uncomfortable when I was there.

When we were on the move, as usual Brendon would use his mobile phone to search for things to keep himself occupied while waiting for us to explore the site. Unfortunately, of all places, the mobile router died on us at the Temple Mount. Can you imagine what might have happened if Brendon really kicked up a fuss at that sacred place? My husband and I would definitely be dead meat. At that juncture, we were really caught in a fix and we expected an outburst of anger, much like an explosive volcano eruption from Brendon.

To my amazement, nothing of that sort happened. Yet another time I saw a totally different Brendon. He had never behaved in that manner over the last twenty eight years and that was not the Brendon that I knew. Whenever things weren’t going his way back in Singapore, Brendon’s normal reaction would be to throw temper tantrums regardless of where we were. Sometimes he would cry his heart out for at least twenty to thirty minutes. We have tried all means to coax him but nothing ever works. In the end we had to raise our white flags and just leave him alone until the storm subsides.

At that crucial moment, what was Brendon’s reaction? Actually I thought that all hell might break loose but the outcome was the exact opposite of what I expected. In fact no storm was brewing. Brendon accepted the fact that the mobile router wasn’t working and he remained calm when I told him that he should just give his mobile phone a short break while enjoying the beautiful surroundings before our eyes. On my part there was very little effort in calming Brendon down. Over the years although Brendon has limited verbal commun­ication skills, he has high visual capability and a photo­graphic memory for words. He could write any length of words at one glance. Before we left Singapore, I had prepared a communicat­ion booklet for Brendon to carry along with him. He kept it in his backpack and he had been using it from time to time to write down his thoughts and to learn new words along the way.

When the router failed to work, Brendon took out his communicat­ion booklet and used it to communicate his thoughts while keeping himself occupied. He did that out of his own accord. I was stunned at how quick his little brain worked and the whole issue was resolved. There were no hassles and no struggles whatsoever. My heart was at peace when the situation remained calm. Oh wow! At the end of that day I thanked Yahweh God for allowing the router to fail us for a day. If it were not so, I might have missed the opportunity to see another miracle.

Indeed new, every morning new! We had a good sleep the night before and we woke up the next morning to discover that the mobile router was back to normal working condition. Search me. I had no clue as to why the router didn’t work the day before. Anyway, Brendon was very happy that he could connect to Wi-Fi once again. He continued to watch more episodes of the battle between “Tom & Jerry” on his favorite YouTube Channel. How lovely! Yahweh God is good. He has given my husband and I another opportunity to experience his wonderful working power.

More amazing experiences at The Western wall

In the remaining time I will share about a unique experience I had at the Western Wall. The Western wall is Judaism’s holiest place in the Old City of Jerusalem. The wall and the plaza in front of it form a permanent place of worship, a site of pilgrimage for Jews and a focus of prayer. Many Jews and Christians would come from all over the world to place their hands on The Western wall and to make their petitions known to Yahweh God. Most of them would write down their petitions or prayer requests on pieces of paper and place them between the huge stones.

While I was there, my sincere prayer to our heavenly Father was, “Abba Father, gracious God and Savior, may Your church be the light of the world which shines brightly in the midst of darkness so that the world may know who You are and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. Amen.” As I behold our God Yahweh and uttered those words, all of a sudden the Holy Spirit touched the depth of my innermost being. Tears began to stream down my cheeks uncontrol­lably. Many reflect­ions of the miracles which happened in Israel kept flashing across my mind. I thought, “Who am I that our God Yahweh would choose to reveal Himself through all the miracles that has happened thus far?” If it weren’t for Yahweh’s mercy and love, my dream of going to the Bible Land might not have come true! Indeed glory be to our God Yahweh.

On the 22nd of November 2018, the evening before we returned to Singapore, the team gathered once again for our final meeting to share about our experiences. With one heart and one mind we committed our journey home into Yahweh God’s hands. I took out the three question cards from Brendon’s backpack and showed them to my teammates. I told them that Brendon’s coaches were worried he might have difficulty in communication with others. Those quest­ion cards were meant for him to use when initiating a conversation with others. In the end he didn’t used them at all. Frankly speaking, that wasn’t Brendon’s style of conducting himself. Back in Singapore when we were in the midst of a conversation, he would always interrupt without any good reason. We had to stop him and tell him that it is rude and unacceptable to interrupt when someone is talking, but he had never followed the proper code of conduct. It was incredible that Brendon did not ask anyone a single question during the fourteen days in Israel.

The end of our journey

Finally we have come to the end of our journey. At the end of our trip I gave Brendon a big hug and a pat on his shoulder. I said to him, “Well done my son! Dad and mum are so proud of you!” It took us slightly fewer hours to fly home. With a heart full of excitement, Brendon looked forward to returning to his home sweet home. Although it was another long journey, Brendon remained cool and calm on our return flight.

When we touched down at Singapore Changi Airport, it was a great relief for all of us. We arrived safe and sound! Thank Yahweh God for that. Just as we were about to walk to the baggage claim section, suddenly Brendon unzipped his backpack and took out the three question cards. There was a moment of silence and I heard him exclaim, “Oh no! Brendon forgot!” What he meant was that he had forgotten to use those question cards while in Israel. All of us burst out into laughter when we saw his funny yet unexpected expression. He was a bit unhappy for not remembering to use those cards.

In a situation as such, I have to be quick witted. Immediately I tried to appease him and I said, “It’s ok Brendon. If you wish to, right now you may use those cards to ask one of the uncles or aunties some­thing.” Surprisingly he didn’t take my suggestion seriously. Quietly he put back the question cards into his backpack and followed us to the baggage claim area without a word of despair. He had never behaved in this manner over the last twenty eight years. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a totally different Brendon. Oh wow! Miracles continued to happen when we arrived in Singapore. I was stunned!

An autistic individual normally follows a fixed routine. Once he/she forgets to keep up with it, behavior issues will surface. Over the years, whenever Brendon forgets to do something, his usual response would be an outburst of anger, followed by a temper tantrum. On many occasions, whenever Brendon was in a fit of anger, he would vent his frustration by destroying his toys, tearing up his books and dismantling the toilet pipes under the sink. There was once he even ripped off the skirting in his room. I almost suf­fered a heart attack when I saw all the damage he had done in a fit of anger.

Finally we were back to our home sweet home. As always, Brendon’s usual practice after a long absence from home is to proceed to his bedroom and he would giggle non-stop. That was his usual way of expressing the joy of being back to where he belongs. I expected him to behave in that manner when we got back from Israel. However, he was totally silent. He hopped onto his bed and lay down quietly to rest. I was waiting to hear loud and long giggles from him but there was nothing at all. It was total silence and absolute quietness!

Again that wasn’t the Brendon I knew. I was so amazed and I said a little prayer of thanksgiving to Yahweh God, “Abba Father, thank you for allowing my husband and I to experience a totally different Brendon. Oh how good and how pleasant it is to experience all the big and small miracles even until this point in time! We are eternally grateful to You, my God and Savior! Amen.”

The old Brendon is back!

Before I end my sharing, perhaps you might wonder: Did the “old”, so called usual Brendon make a comeback? Yes, he did. The “old” Brendon finally returned after two days of good rest. At last I could hear him laugh loudly and the sound of giggles coming from his room. Oh how I missed those familiar sounds. For the first time in my life I realized those sound were like music to my ears! Oh wow! My handsome son is back! How beautiful! That was what I have been waiting for. As he has missed our favorite local food for two weeks, the first thing he requested was his favorite Hainanese chicken rice. What a joy to see him gobble up the chicken rice within five minutes. Cheers!

After a few days of good rest, finally everything resumed normally except for one thing: Brendon is no longer obsessed with destroying things. After Brendon had visited all the more than two-thousand-year-old Biblical sites in Israel, it had perhaps shed a different light on Brendon. How lovely! As I have shared earlier, before our “Visit Israel trip” Brendon’s shoes would never last beyond three months. I used to burn huge holes in my pocket as I spent lots of money to buy him new shoes every three months. However the pair of brand new shoes I bought for him to wear during the Israel trip remained intact until today. Each time when I gaze at that pair of shoes which had walked on the soil where our lord Jesus had walked thousands of miles, it reminded me of Yahweh God’s goodness and lovingkind­ness towards Brendon and my family. Praise Yahweh God from whom all blessings flow!

When I look back at all the miracles that had happened and the great learning journey throughout our fourteen days in Israel, I thank Yahweh God for granting my family and the team a fruitful trip. It was seeing the actual Biblical sites that helped to clear up many of my misconceptions. Amazingly after our “Visit Israel Trip”, Yahweh God in His mercy opened my mind to enable me to go deeper in the understanding of Biblical history. Over the years I would often get a headache when I am exposed to Biblical history. Everything about history was hard for me to grasp as I found history to be a dry and boring subject. That has prevented me from digging down deep into the word of God, particularly in the understanding of the Old Testament. I must admit that I was a totally hopeless student in any subject related to History.

The joy of exploring Biblical history

After the “Visit Israel Trip”, Yahweh God instilled in me the desire to explore Biblical history. Much to my delight, I could finally understand history in a deeper sense, and that had never been the case since the first day I become a Christian. Without my realizing it, I have spent every single day for more than a month totally immersing myself in studying Biblical history. That was the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me and I am eternally grateful to Yahweh God for that. Having said that, I realize I have learnt to approach the word of God with a totally different mindset these days. With a grateful heart I will end my sharing with these words from Isaiah 40 verse 31 which says,

But they who wait for the Lord (Yahweh) shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Indeed how encouraging are those words from Isaiah. As I have testified, indeed there is none like Yahweh God who is full of compassion, mercy and love. It is the prayer of my heart that more and more people will come to know Yahweh, the one and only true God and to know Jesus Christ, the only perfect man, the one whom Yahweh has sent into this world. As the scripture says in John 17 verse 3,

And this is eternal life, that they know You (Yahweh) the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You (Yahweh) have sent.

May all glory, honor and praise be to the only true God Yahweh. Amen.

 

All Bible verses are quoted from the English Standard Version (ESV 2007 edition)
Photos (c) were taken in 1997 by Bentley C.F. Chan
Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
Palestianian boys in Nablus

 

(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church