There’s so much to write about. Once again…. and homework still calls, and my 10-pg paper remains unwritten, and my test tomorrow un-studied for, and my books unread, and my laundry still dirty (then again….what’s new? Lol); but I find once again that sometimes I need to step back and allow myself to think. I’m so busy taking classes and studying and reading and writing and typing and yes, laughing and goofing off, that sometimes I don’t allow myself the time to sit down, think, pray, feel homesick, and cry. I’m not crying, but today I’m really missing my family. I’m not consumed and unable to function – I took a final today, I laughed, I ate, and I worked steadily on homework – but I thought a lot about home, about my family, about how much I can’t wait to see them. Maybe it’s because I heard the song “Follow Love” by FFH and that always makes me think of when I left for college, maybe it’s ‘cause I’m tired, maybe it’s ‘cause I texted/IM’ed with my Dad today while he was at work and that always makes it worse…… or maybe it’s just ‘cause I’ve been away from my family since January 19th, and as much as I love Israel and wouldn’t trade these last few weeks for anything, I’m also dying to see my family. Actually, I don’t need an excuse. I miss them… period.
Jumping back in time a little, hehe…I have a lot of catching up to do. That last thing I wrote about was Jordan. Oi vey! I’ll try to keep it short.
Since Jordan, life at the moshav has seemed a lot more luxurious. How can an unheated building with ants and bugs, cold floors, crowded living space, and dirty laundry (hm…I’m sensing a trend…I should throw a load in) feel like luxury? I don’t know. lol…. Actually, Jordan taught me a lot, and it’s been neat to come back here to try to apply it all and then think ahead to home, where I’m sure it’ll be even more of an adjustment.
So much has happened since the last time I wrote that I’m going to try to condense it into the most important/memorable events. Here we go:
Our visit to the Hassidic synagogue – On Saturday, March 15th, we all went to the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem for Shabbat service. We were the first semester to have this opportunity, and I have to say it is a memory I will cherish. We couldn’t read or understand the Hebrew. We couldn’t find where we were in the weekly Torah reading. We didn’t know what was going on, but it was so neat to sit and to observe.
We made a scene coming in. =) Someone had told Randy that there was a spot on the top floor where all of us (guys and girls) could sit together and watch. So, we made our way upstairs to the third floor. We piled out in to the “sanctuary” area only to find our whole group including about 17 guys in the ONLY WOMEN area. Hehehehe… Everyone, even those on the first floor, was staring up at us. Lol…oh well. The guys left quickly and returned to the all men’s section on the first floor, and the service went with no more further disruptions than normal. I say “than normal” because of what the service was like for us on the third floor. I have to say I understand now why the men and women are separated – the ladies are SO distracting. They stand and sit at different times than each other (it depends on where you are in your prayers, so some people pray faster than others), they talk all throughout the service, they come late and leave early, they suffer from hot flashes and take jackets on and off, and at random times throughout the service they get up and force their way through another random aisle on the other side of the balcony to pray, read, and of course, talk there. How distracting!!
Purim – Purim is the Jewish holiday celebrating and honoring Esther for her bravery in coming before Artexerxes and saving the Jewish people from extinction at the hand of Haman. To celebrate this holiday, the people dress up in costumes, have a party, read Esther, and do various things at the mention of the main characters’ names (Haman – hiss, clang keys, drown it out; Mordecai – cheer; Esther – whistle or “ooh” and “aah”). We planned to do the same, so over the course of the week leading up Purim we set about making our costumes. But where do 32 students in a foreign country get an assortment of costumes for costume party they knew nothing about before? Canada! Canada is our “Salvation Army” on the moshav. This small room is filled with various clothes that have been donated by people on the moshav, and which is open for anyone to come and take clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. for free. Before Purim, there’d been a few of us who’d visited there, but when Purim came, that became our haven. It would take too long to describe everyone’s costumes or what exactly they used. We could write a book on how to make costumes out of literally nothing. Let’s just say part of my costume consisted of two pieces of wood and a plastic rim (like one found on a milk container except 4 times bigger), duck tape, hair ties, and a Sharpie marker. Jared was king of the costume world. Using random clothes’ pieces, cut-up sweaters, a strap to a purse, part of jogging pants, tea, fake blood, matches, a scarf, and makeup, he created a whole, completely legit Jack Sparrow costume!! It was amazing! Tiffany also made a really ingenious costume. Using safety pins and three huge, yellow raincoats, she created a yellow ball gown and went as Belle from Beauty in the Beast…and looked gorgeous! I went as Rogue from the X-Men (by this time I’m sure you’ve seen pictures) and made my costume by using various items (dress pants and gloves) from other people and tailoring my own leather-like jacket from Canada. It was so fun! Never have I felt so successfully creative! My 4-H leader would be proud. lol
Easter – Easter in Israel was interesting. Everyone told me it would be awesome. Everyone said that it would be so “once-in-a-lifetime”. I guess it was in one sense. When will I be in Jerusalem again on the day when Jesus rose from the dead? Probably not for a long time if at all. However, Easter in Jerusalem, or in Israel for that matter, was a lot different than I thought. I’m living in a Jewish culture. A Jewish and Muslim culture. Yes, there are Christians here, but for the most part, Israel is not a nation that honors or recognizes (as a whole nation) many holidays except those on the Jewish or Muslim calendars… and even then, they only recognize them in their little areas of the Old City and personally. Personally. That’s the key word for this past Easter. I had to celebrate it personally. I’m so used to being in the United States, where everyone celebrates Easter (even if only as a holiday where we all get lots of candy, dye hard-boiled eggs, and color everything in pink, yellow, and green). Here in Israel life never skipped a beat. We went to a “sunrise” service at the supposed place where Jesus rose (which isn’t accurate) and sang worship songs and praised the Lord (a great thing, indeed), but after that, we returned to the moshav, where we all went our separate ways and worked on homework or goofed off as we would any other Sunday. Any other Sunday. I never thought I would say that about Easter! This strange phenomenon left me convicted that even if the whole nation didn’t celebrate Christ’s resurrection, I must celebrate personally and show the Lord that I am grateful.
Work Day – Work day was so much fun. I got to cook again except this time with Stephanie Schlegel, one of the faculty wives…but more about that later. I was part of Bill’s Bums, one of three groups of us students doing work around the moshav, and my group spent the day at the Schlegel’s house painting their new basement addition. For the last 13 years, the family has been living in a two-bedroom house with one bathroom, a livingroom, and a kitchen. That’s it. That doesn’t so bad for a small family, but the Schlegels have four kids: Rachel (13), Zach (11), Isaiah (8), and Eitan (4). It was crowded. Thank the Lord, after a long wait, they were able to build an addition consisting of four rooms – a family room, a bathroom, and two bedrooms – added as a basement level. On work day we helped sand the walls and paint. After every work day, we have a cook-out/barbecue and watch a movie to relax for the evening. That night Stephanie was in charge of making the dough for the Druze-style pita we would be making individually over an open fire that night. (The Druze are a small sect of religious people – they have their own religion – that live in the Galilee area), so Noel, Karen, and I got to help her make the dough. That was so much fun! (I’m bringing the recipe home so we can make ‘em!)
Galilee – I could take a whole note for this one. In fact, I could probably write a couple of notes on this one. =) We began our trip at 8am, as always, boarding the bus and driving north in Israel to the Sharon Plain. I could list off all the cities we visited but honestly, I know for myself, they will mean nothing unless I spent numerous pages describing all of them – something I can’t do ‘cause I have to pack for Egypt and get ready for Shabbat and chapel and wow, I should clean my room.
Our trip began on Saturday and as well as doing a lot of driving, we visited HaAretz Museum (where I got to see a postal museum! =) ) and Caesarea Maritime, where Cornelius, the Roman written about in Acts 10-11, lived, and where Paul faced Felix, Festus, and Agrippa. It was gorgeous there, and one of my favorite places on the whole trip! We stayed that night on the beach of the Mediterranean Sea at Dor. We had little bungalows about 100 feet off the sand and the food was absolutely the best I’ve had since my own mom’s cooking.
Sunday was spent running around like crazy, driving from site to site and learning more than I think is possible to retain about the Jezreel Valley. We began the day at Mt. Carmel where Elijah called down fire from heaven and God demonstrated His power over that of the false god Baal. That was amazing to think about as I sat there. We then went to Megiddo. Megiddo is one of those places I feel like I never knew existed before IBEX, yet it’s such a key place in the history and future of the church. In the Old Testament, Joshua conquered the Canaanites there and King Josiah was killed by an Egyptian pharaoh; in the New Testament, we learned that Megiddo will be the meeting point of all the forces of the antichrist in Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-16). WOW!
We also went to En Harod (where God whittled down Gideon’s men to 300), drove through Cana (where Jesus changed water into wine), and Mt. Arbel (where Jesus retreated to pray). We climbed down Mt. Arbel, which was really fun! I felt at home doing some free climbing – finally! – even if we did have hand-holds. I had to laugh because I was more comfortable climbing down the mountain than I was walking down the gravel, sloped road at the base of the mountain. I don’t have great foot-eye coordination off the mountain-side. =)
That’s when I decided that we should fake an injury. I recruited Noel to join me in my plot. A sprained ankle seemed like a reasonable injury for our current terrain, so with a little “assistance” from me, she hobbled down to meet the group that had already made it to the bottom. I have to say as much as we felt guilty for this, it was neat to see how the guys in our group responded to her “injury” with sincere gentlemanly action. =) John and Praus ran up to help, and eventually she was scooped off her feet to avoid rough terrain and keep her off her “sore” ankle. Hehehehe…I was dying inside. Call me awful, call me cruel, but it was hilarious to us… especially after halfway through our antics, we had her switch which foot was injured just to see if anyone noticed. No one did. lol
Noel later got reprimanded by our resident nurse for faking an injury, an event I felt bad about because it was truly my idea. Oops.
That night and for the rest of the nights that week, we stayed right on the Sea of Galilee. Honestly, I had an amazing little house with beds for 7 people (even though there were only 3 of us in the house), a whole room to myself, a gorgeous view of the Sea, and about a 30 second walk – no joke – to the water itself. Amazing. =) … and I thought living on the moshav was luxury? I had no idea. I’d forgotten what luxury was. To be honest, I more love looking back at our time in Galilee than I think I did while I was there. That may sound weird because it really was an awesome set-up. The food was good, the rooms were great, the water was awesome, the sun was bright (I ended up so burnt by the end of the week), and the room service was wonderful (clean sheets and towels every day!). However, I realized while I was there how easy it is to slip back into normal life and to forget the lessons of Negev, to forget the lessons I learn daily when I’m in need, when I’m uncomfortable, and when I’m out of my comfort zone.
I like being stretched. That may look foreign – it feels strange to type it. Maybe this will work better: En Gev on the Sea of Galilee lacked most of the aspects of what I love about IBEX. I do have to say it was a time of great growing in my friendship with one of my current roommates Lindy (who is an amazing girl!) and it was an awesome opportunity to live on the Sea of Galilee and go to all those Biblical sites; but there were fewer trials and fewer needs. In some ways, it was a good test-run to see how I will be when I go home. Has IBEX really changed me permanently? Have I allowed the Lord to penetrate my heart with these lessons or merely my head? Have I really learned from my circumstances or just dealt with them because I have no choice? I guess my time at home will determine those answers.
On Monday, we visited the Golan Heights and various places there: Caesarea Philippi, Baniyas Waterfall, Quneitra, and Hazor. I can’t say much about those places, ‘cause I really have to go to sleep now (I’m leaving in 5 hours for Egypt!!!) but look them up. Hazor is one of the few places the Israelites burned when they took over Canaan, and Quneitra overlooks Syria and from there we could see the Damascas Road where Paul was converted!!! So neat!
Tuesday was spent near the Sea of Galilee learning about Jesus and His ministry there. We went to Bethsaida (home of Peter, Philip, and Andrew and where Jesus healed the blind man proving that He was the Messiah), the Mount of the Beatitudes, Tabgha (where Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him), Nazareth, Tiberias (built by Herod Antipas in AD 20). Then we took a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, pausing in the center to read of when Christ calmed the storm with a word, and ate dinner at a nice restaurant. Some people got “St. Peter’s fish” but a lot of us got pizza or pasta. *cough* I was one of them, although I tasted Deborah’s fish, and it wasn’t so bad. That night we listened to a speaker tell us about life on kibbutz. A kibbutz is a socialistically run community where no one owns anything personally – they all share thing for the common good – and until the 1970s, even the children were raised by the community. It’s a strange thing, honestly; and according to the other people in the audience I had the most questions. It puzzled me why anyone would not want to live in a capitalist society.
Wednesday we had a regional hike that wasn’t too bad. We thought we were going to do an all-water hike, where you have to swim through a canyon, etc., but Wednesday turned out to be a just a little too chilly. Instead we walked a nice hike and returned to the beach early for a relaxing time of Frisbee, swimming, and goofing off on the beach. =)
Thursday was my Life of Christ hike. We discussed Jesus’ Great Galilean ministry, which was really neat because that’s what we’d been studying in our classwork. Seeing the places for myself definitely makes it all make sense! In the afternoon, Modern Israel had a field trip, but since it was optional for me, and they were only going to learn more about kibbutz living and the first kibbutz in Israel (and we know how I feel about that… lol), I decided to play on the beach! I did some homework, had a mud/sand fight with the Schlegel boys; played football; got even more sunburned; and went sailing with Rachel Schlegel ‘til Whit and Peter capsized our boat, sent our orange peels floating into the Sea, and ran us along a buoy line that eventually covered us in thousands of squirmy, brown-green worms! UGH. LOL…we had fun, but I have to say, I’ve never dove out of a boat so fast! Lol
On Friday, we had a regional hike that, again, wasn’t too long. We went to just a few places, but it was so much fun. We hiked through the Bet Netofa Valley, which Jonah used to flee to Joppa, walked to Cana (where Jesus turned water into wine and later healed the son of the Roman centurion in Capernaum), and hiked into the caves where the historian Josephus hid and was eventually captured by the Roman general Vespasian. We spent the afternoon goofing off, and I spent mine relaxing in doors to give my sunburned skin a break. I was pretty burned.
On Saturday, we packed up and got ready to head back to the moshav. We had a good amount of sites to hit first, but we would be heading back to Yad HaShmonah when we were finished. We started off with a 45-minute trolley ride (which they called a train and by doing so, got our hopes up…stink..lol) around the En Gev kibbutz. That was fun. We got to see an ostrich and an ostrich egg, a banana grove, and cows they milk three times a day and from which they get 60 gals of milk per day! Then we went to Yardenit, the mouth of the Jordan River where two of our girls Chelsea and Shelsy were baptized! That was neat! They each shared their testimonies with us, we all sang a few of their favorite songs, and Randy baptized them. The last two stops we made were at Belvoir (where we saw remains of a Crusader fort) and Beit Shan (where Saul and Jonathan were pinned to the walls after their deaths at Mt. Gilboa). A funny thing happened at Beit Shan: we were looking around at the different structures when we noticed a random scraggly tree on top of a nearby hill. I looked up and declared just as randomly, “and that’s the tree where Judas hanged himself.” Randy began talking about the area where we sat and finished it up by saying, “You see that scraggly tree up there? That’s where Judas hanged himself.” My jaw dropped to the ground! I had totally been joking!! He went on to explain that that claim, of course, is wrong because it’s no where near Jerusalem. Still. Quite random.
I’m off to bed for a few hours then off to Egypt for 9 days with one backpack on my back with all I should need. Need. That’s the key word. I wanted stretching and learning through discomfort and lack…here we go!!! =) It should be great!
PS. *blink*…. I must be tired…. Nothing’s coming.
P.P.S. I registered for classes the other day. I’m taking 15 units next semester: New Testament I, Christian Theology I, Intro to Philosophy, Directing I, and Interpersonal Communications. They should be good classes, and as you might guess, I’m really looking forward to Directing. =) On another note, I didn’t get the job to be the on-campus IBEX secretary. I was kinda disappointed, but Noel, one of the other girls here, got the job. I’m really happy for her. We find out about SLS (Servant Leadership Staff) as school on Monday (but, of course, I’ll be in Egypt without internet access), so I guess we’ll find out if I’m an RA or SDR or ARA…. Lol..too many acronyms. =) God’s in control. I’m learning that more and more.