I am a language teach by profession. I taught in a Jewish elementary school in the Ukraine. While at work one day, I learned that as a Jew I could make Aliyah to Israel. This excited me as I felt Israel would be a better place to raise my children. I came to Israel on a boat. It was raining a bit when we arrived. As I stepped off the boat and put my hand on the earth I looked up and saw a rainbow and doves flew over my head. It was a very emotional arrival and I wept right there. I knew I was home.

As I got situated in the Land, I came across believers who welcomed me with open arms into their community. Here and there I would meet believers who told me they were praying for me. I said that was fine, but I didn’t understand why they would do that. I did not know much about God then, but most people in the former Soviet Union are not offended by the idea that Yeshua is divine so their belief didn’t bother me.

One day they invited me to their Shabbat service. It was very strange to me. I understood there was a God, but didn’t understand what that had to do with my personal life. Then the Holy Spirit began to work in my heart – and everything changed.

When I first arrived in Israel, I took house cleaning jobs like many immigrants do. I eventually worked my way up to a shopkeeper. In 2009, I met Pastor Yossi Ovadia and began attending his congregation where I have now been for 10 years. Soon after I arrived, he asked me if I would like to change jobs and work as an administrator for the congregation. Half of the congregants were new immigrants and didn’t speak Hebrew. I was elated. Not only would I work in a godly environment, I would be able to help people just like me and receive a salary that was enough for me to live and cover my debts from the early years of my arrival.

About the time I had finally paid off everything I owed, I heard of a government housing lottery. I was getting older and my kids were grown so I wanted a place where I could live securely for the rest of my life. As Israel has more than doubled its population in the last 30 years, the housing situation in Israel is desperate. A small apartment in Israel starts at $250,000, so most people rent.

To try to improve the situation, the government has stepped in and requires that contractors who build apartment buildings sell a certain number at a deeply-discounted price. Applications are handed in and a lottery is held. The winners have a window of time to get a down payment and paperwork in or the opportunity goes to someone else. I couldn’t believe it when they called me to tell me I had won the option to buy!

I knew I could cover the mortgage, but I didn’t have the down payment they were asking for, nor did I know of a good lawyer who could help me through the process without taking advantage of me. I am so grateful to ISWI who gave me both the money and a lawyer to get me through this. I now have a home in my homeland!