My Roommates Are Great!

In response to an unspoken (but implied 😉 ) request by one of my readers (why do I feel like I’m writing an article?) I’m writing an update that is theoretically supposed to be shorter than the last few I’ve written. Actually, to be completely honest, I’m more writing this now because tomorrow morning we leave for a 6-day trip that, combined with all I will write here, will result in a note that NO ONE would read because of its ridiculous length. I have to say thank you right now, though, to those of you who do read this. I hope it’s all making sense and not boring you. If they’re anything you want me to talk about regarding Israel let me know. I don’t want to be too repetitious but would like to keep these interesting. 
Last Thursday night, as I mentioned in my last note, Cassandra, Savannah (instead of Jenessa), Lacey, and I worked in the moshav restaurant. We began in the kitchen for Ammi “polishing” then Lacey and I were moved to serving in the conference room for Karami. After a while Lacey moved back to helping in the kitchen and I continued to work in the conference room with an Israeli girl name Gi’reet (well, that’s how you say it). Karami kept forgetting that I didn’t speak Hebrew so after a few reminders, I just gave up and tried understanding what he meant by the few words I do know and learning as I went. It was lots of fun, and after finishing serving, tearing down, and resetting everything for a 60+ person banquet the following day, I returned to the kitchen to clean up from the bereat (circumcision) celebration going on there and reset everything for breakfast the next day. It was a big celebration, and after a lot of hard work we finished it off by enjoy some of the great dessert out back. John Glass came and enjoyed it too (Nice timing, John. Don’t work; just come for the food. Lol) Oh, and we got to wear the cool aprons while we served. We felt rather official. Lol They finally let us go around 11:30pm after which time I went straight to the miklat to study for my Land and Bible quiz in the morning. After a while, I fell asleep there listening to the others there studying the information I needed to know, and I actually did pretty well on the quiz. Yay!
On Friday, we had morning classes then packed up and drove an hour and a half to En Gedi and the Dead Sea! There we set up camp, which basically consisted of a 15’ x 15’ tarp on which we sandwiched our sleeping bags together so each person got about a foot and a half of sleeping space. Then we all changed and went swimming in the Dead Sea!!! It is simply amazing! It really is just like I heard – I did float! In fact, it’s like wearing floating devices on your limbs so that it’s hard to pull your feet under water, hard to maneuver, and hard to walk. It tastes awful! I resisted the dare to lick the water (sorry, Corey!), but I did accidentally get some in my mouth – ick! Some people got it in their eyes and they either had to rush out to rinse off in the shower or cry it out.
After floating around for a while, we went over to the mudpits where we covered ourselves in the black Dead Sea mud. The mud is very smooth and supposed to be very healthy for your skin. Whit was the best in that all of his body including his lips, ears, and eyelids were covered and his blonde hair stood out against the black. Jared looked like Superman in his Venom outfit, and Corey gave himself a big nose, big biceps, and a gross beer belly with a deep belly button. Amazingly it wasn’t hard to get the mud off. We climbed back into the Dead Sea (and blackened the water) then rinsed off in the powerful, cold, outdoor showers.
We returned to camp wet and smelling like salt to enjoy our bag-dinners of a turkey/cheese sandwich, chips, an orange, pretzels, and cookies. Very soon after the guy started the bonfire, which we all gathered around, for the sun was going down and the temperature dropping.
Praus led us in some worship songs for about 45 minutes, during which time we competed with the other campers in the area who insisted on blasting their Arab and/or Hebrew music from the stereos in their trucks. Abner then led us in a short talk which resulted in his sending us out in small groups to find a quiet place and either spend some time in prayer as a group or split off and spend time alone. My group (Jared, Molly, John, Noel, and I) headed off towards the shore and decided on splitting up, so I spent about 20 minutes sitting, thinking, and praying on the literal shores of the Dead Sea. It was an opportunity of a lifetime.
To be honest, it was a powerful time of silence. I prayed a lot. I desired God to speak to me. I desire to hear His voice, to hear something profound, and to be powerfully convicted, torn with the Truth, or overflowing with joy. No. Not now. There was only silence.
I prayed. I searched my heart for some hidden sin. I poured out my heart before the Lord. Did you ever feel your prayers bounce off the ceiling? Imagine now a ceiling so close that the words can barely leave your lips. Such was my time there.
I remembered 1 Kings 19:11-12, which says ‘So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD ” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.” I listened for His still small voice, His gentle blowing. I longed for it. He didn’t speak. He was silent.
That kind of scared me. I desired Him, and I was sensing more than ever how much I needed him.
Noel called out that our 20 minutes was over and we should head back. I got up to go and only then did I feel as if the Lord spoke to me reminding me of Psalm 42:1, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God” and how awful life would be had He not saved me. I could barely stand 20 minutes of His silence let alone living my whole lifetime removed from Him. Even now as I write this I remember when Jesus was on the cross and the Father turned His face away. Talk about scary!
When we returned to the campfire, Abner spoke on using the time we have in the dessert to honestly evaluate our walks with the Lord. He shared a personal story of a friend who walked away from the Lord and challenged us to stop lying to ourselves about where we are with God and to look honestly at ourselves to see where our desires really are. Are you noticing a pattern too? =) The more I learn the more I realize how little I desire God as I should now “deceitfully wicked” my heart is. More and more I see how I live out the first part of Psalm 37:4 (“Delight yourself in the Lord…”) and how merciful God is in blessing me despite my lack of merit.
We sang a few more songs then enjoyed some cookies and milk (mmhm).
Speaking of cookies and sweet things, this is sort of a side note, but I don’t have much of a sweet tooth – never really have. I’d much rather something salty or spicy. Yes, I like chocolate but rarely do I have it. As a result, every time one of the faculty gives us sweets – “post quiz treat” or Bible study goodies – I end up giving it to one of the guys. Finally Jared came up to me and said, “Ashley, we need to make a pact.” Lol….therefore, pretty much any sweets I don’t want, Jared gets. Lol. Back to Friday night…
Afer cookies and milk, a small group of gather on the sleeping bags and talked about our plans for the next year and listened to Abner tell us his two biggest mistakes in life: “not going to DisneyLand his freshman year” (long story – it had a lot of repercussions) and “not marrying Johanna earlier” (they had almost a full year engagement!).
Around 11:30, we hit the sack and were up by 6:30am – the sun rises early over the Dead Sea. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast, packed up, and headed off on our hike.
We hiked up the mountains next to the Dead Sea, a steep mountain that led us up to the spring at En Gedi where David stopped while fleeing from King Saul. Abner spoke to us about the conditions when he was running, and we spent some time reading Psalm 63. We didn’t appreciate the spring as much as David would have because the weather when we hiked was perfect while it was scorching hot when David ran from Saul. Even last semester’s IBEX’ers understood his plight better as they climbed the mountain in 100-degree temperatures.
We continued to hike over the cliffs and along the edge of the mountains on our way to the dry canyon pass. However, the canyon was so full of water (flash floods are a problem in the wadis – valleys – in Israel) we couldn’t make it through, so we turned around and found another way to our destination, Nahal David, where we enjoyed swimming, climbing up waterfalls, and jumping into the natural pools. Actually, I didn’t personally swim. After all, who would have been taking pictures?
A random fact from Israel – not too random actually ‘cause it’s what we had for lunch following our time at the waterfalls – is that turkey is called pastrami here. There’s another name for bologna too, but I can’t remember it right now. After lunch we headed back to Yad HaShmonah.
Sunday was our free day. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do – go to Tel-Aviv, go back to the claustrophobic caves at Maresheth-Gath, etc. – and eventually gathered a group (Molly, Noel, Jared, James, Karen, and myself) who decided to go to Jerusalem, eat a falafel, then spend the afternoon doing homework at Christ’s Church. We did, and it was a lot of fun that ended with a crazy and very memorable bus ride back. The bus driver was going to drop us off at the wrong place, so Jared talked to him and he agreed we could get off a later point. Then the driver proceeded to step on the gas and whip around this hill-community without doing much slowing down. Molly made a comment: “We’re gonna go flying off this mountain” just before he hit a speedbump without slowing down. The older lady on my left went flying a good foot and a half into the air not holding onto anything, and I’m sure I flew up too – I just don’t know how much. I collapsed against the window dying laughing and even the driver was laughing. He was ridiculous!
I could go on… there’s always more. However, it’s 1:36am, and I have to be up at 6:30 (arg..) so I should go.

Have a wonderful day, and Lord willing, the next time I’ll be writing will be about our trip to Masada, the Negev, Eilat, and Jordan!!!!!!! =)

PS. Regarding the title, that says it all. They really are great. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s