Thursday, August 18, 2011

To America We Go

We’re sitting in the airport now, waiting to check in (we got here very early to make sure we got through security in time, but we can’t even check in for another hour). Perfect opportunity to write the last (I suppose) blog post.

It usually takes me a long time to process things, whatever it even means to “process” something. This time, however, I’ve been forcing myself to try to make an attempt at this processing while I’m still here in Israel (all so that I can write a blog post!). 

This has been such an interesting trip, different from any I’ve ever been on before. On past trips, all my time was scheduled and planned, we had things to do and people to see/talk to every minute of every day. Opportunities for sharing were handed to us, and that, I believe, is the real reason why so many people like going on “mission trips.” It’s easy. You’re on a trip with a set-in-stone mission. 

It’s not real life.

 It’s just, “Here’s a person you can talk to and then never see again. Recite all the things you know about your faith.” I’m not saying everyone has this view, or that every mission trip is like this, or even that this is necessarily a bad thing. However, after truly living here (if only for a month and a half), I’ve realized how different going on a “mission trip” is from living a life of overseas missions. I worry that too many people think they are one and the same. “Oh, I loved going to China/Africa/Brazil for two weeks…It changed my life…I want to live there and be a missionary there someday…etc, etc, etc.”  

It’s really not the same.

I regret not realizing this earlier on. I regret not spending more time at the coffee shops (don’t laugh…), where I could have met more people and talked to them. In our efforts to save our own money, I think we passed up many an opportunity to simply live the Israeli life and, in the midst of that, share Christ. Instead, we spent the majority of our evenings watching movies. Not that this is a bad thing; fellowship with believers is good, and necessary. Time by myself was good, and necessary. But it still wasn’t the main reason we came, and I feel like I may have made it my main reason.

HOWEVER. Our time was most certainly not wasted here. We were able to greatly help a ministry that can reach locals so much better than I can. I kind of wish our “mission trips” did more of that, and less of us acting like we know the best way to reach a culture other than our own… just a thought. Even just in learning about what their ministry does, I learned that the Arab culture is SO much different from what I thought, and, if left to my own devices, I probably would have done a horrible job trying to reach them myself. So I’m very thankful for our sort of “behind the scenes” approach.

 I don’t always have to be the one planting/watering seeds. My attempts here would have fallen on rocks and thorny soil. But, if I can help a sower that knows where to throw the seeds so that they land in the fertile soil, let me please do that! 

I’m so glad we got to both see how this culture lives, and also help JEO reach this culture (their own culture). I know we can continue to help them even from America. And I know I want to come back and help in person (sooner rather than later)! 

We are both so grateful for everyone’s continued intercession for us. YOUR work was not in vain, and did not go unnoticed. 

We’re going to get in line to check in soon…we’re on our way! 


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This past weekend, Alyssa, Nate (our fellow volunteer) and I borrowed a car and went on a roadtrip throughout Israel! Friday, Nate and I planned our excursion and figured out directions on how to get to each place. We planned to go first to Tiberius and see the Sea of Galilee, then head up to Capernaum, then across the country to Caesarea and the Mediterranean. Saturday morning I woke up around 7am, did my hair and got all our beach stuff together. I made hummus, turkey and cheese sandwiches for us to eat and packed them up in plastic grocery bags (since we don't have ziplocks or plastic wrap). I've discovered a very successful way of using them in place of those things, though! We set out on our journey around 9am, with our backpacks and snacks and headed to the parking lot a couple blocks over. 

We got in the car, then realized that one of the roads we were planning to take was closed because of I, with my excellent navigation skills, suggested another route, which ended up being much more straightforward than the original one! Shabbat ended up being the perfect day to go, because there was hardly any traffic. So we were off, headed to Tiberius. After about two hours, we saw signs for Nazareth, so we detoured and drove through there a bit; we didn't get out, but saw the city, and decided it seemed like a decent place for Jesus to spend His childhood. Then we headed to Tiberius, drove through the city a bit, which looked strikingly like downtown St. Pete (Beach Drive area)! We found a place to park close to the Sea of Galilee and then went down to the rocky shore. I love rocky shores.

We didn't swim there, just climbed on the rocks. Then we ate our sandwiches and some Doritos we had found at the market the day before, and, of course, Twizzlers! Then, we set out again on the road which supposedly leads around the sea of Galilee, to go to Capernaum. However, after driving on that road for about an hour, we assumed we missed it and turned around (I think it was actually just farther than we were expecting...). So we decided to go ahead to Caesarea. But, on the way, my "excellent navigation skills" turned sour, and I directed us in the wrong direction, which led us to Haifa (upon seeing signs for it throughout the whole trip, we determined that Haifa was "everywhere;" everywhere we went, Haifa was also that way). Eventually we decided we should just find somewhere that has internet so we can look up where we are and how to get where we're going. At one point, we said we should just go where the Spirit leads us, and immediately after that I noticed a sign pointing to Aroma (Israel's version of Starbucks) surprise there. But we also almost immediately saw signs for the road we had been looking for, so we followed those. Then I suggested a wrong turn again, and we found the Mediterranean, just in Haifa, not Casesarea. So we got out of the car and checked it out - it had really course, dark sand - so different from Florida beaches! Haifa seemed like a really cool had big huge mountains, but it was also right on the coast! So we backtracked back to where I misled us, and followed the signs again, finally heading in the right direction. When we got to Caesarea, we headed straight for the beach, and saw a huge Roman aqueduct. So, like the rocks in Galilee, we climbed it!

It runs parallel to the beach. The sand there was more like Florida sand. Then we went on the beach itself and swam in the sea, etc. The water had a lot more waves than the gulf, and it was really clear! Then we went back up on the aqueduct and jumped around in some sand dunes. Then we drove over to the main ruins of Caesarea and, again, climbed all over those! I took an art history class last semester on Greco-Roman art, so it was really interesting to see a lot of the things I had learned about. None of the ruins were off limits. There were people having picnics and little kids running around all over the ruins, and they still use the ampitheater for outdoor concerts! That would have been really cool to see. There were big columns, arches, marble baths, mosaic floors, all sorts of things. 

It was also right on the beach, so that's where we watched the sunset - it was right in front of us, and one of the most beautiful ever!

After that, we left (this is when I took over driving the car) and headed towards Tel Aviv (because that's how we would get to the road back to Jerusalem) and saw a McDonald's sign on the way, so we attempted to find it; instead we found a big mall, so we ate pizza in the food court instead of McDonald's. Olives and cheese on half, Pepperoni (real, thick pepperoni), onions and cheese on the other half. Then we got watermelon sherbert popsicles on the way out. These are Alyssa's and my new favorite treat. Then we started to head home - we went through Tel Aviv, which has things lit up everywhere. Buildings had lights all around them, even the overpasses had LED lights (like rope lights) on them! Finally, after about an hour, or hour and a half, we started seeing signs for Jerusalem, and made it back home without even looking at the directions I wrote. It felt great to have our own little car and just go wherever we wanted to. It was undoubtedly the best trip we've taken so far!

In other news, we leave a week from tomorrow and will arrive back in Tampa on Friday the 19th around 9am! We are both so excited to see everyone again, and we're so so so so so thankful for all your continued prayers. And don't worry, we'll still have at least one more post before we leave. ;)