Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In Israel....and Mom I Landed Safe

As the title states, I have made it to Israel. It is currently 7:00 am and the sun is up outside. I also found out that today is New Year's Day. Happy New Year!! This is marked by Rosh Hashana.

So before I go meet up with my host family I want to thank those that helped me get to the airport and tell you about the trip so far. Thank you Mom, Mark, and Grandma for the ride to Chicago. They also helped me eat my last meal in the US which was none other than Giordanoes Stuffed Deep Dish. Yummmy in my Tummmy

Then it was bye to the family and hello security line. Before I knew it I was on the plane to London and fast asleep. It was an 8 hour flight, and I slept all 8 hours. As we landed, I woke up and was ready to go exploring on my 11 hour layover.

First stop was fish and chips at a local pub called The Mitre Youngs.
The fish and chips were really good and I got a spot of tea with my email.
Also for future reference do not try to use a London accent. I did and failed miserably.

Then it was time to "Experience God"                                                         at the park. The book I am reading                                                         through with my home church, Granger Community Church.   

Kessington Palace

Kessington Garden

Afternoon Tea is a must in London
I saw this when I was getting on my flight to come to Israel. How fitting is this?

And finally I arrive in Israel. This is a picture of a menorah outside of the airport  in Tel Aviv. So now I am here and ready to go.  Lord my prayer is that you will make me moldable, flexible, and available here in Israel.                                                                                                                           

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My bags are packed...

I am ready to go! My flight leaves at 10:45 pm tonight from Chicago. I have packed light, but I have everything I need. For those of you who are interested in what I am reading while I am gone my reading list is: The Holy Bible (ESV Study), A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Moonwalking with Einstein, Disciplines of a Godly Man, and Experiencing God. It seems like the perfect list for me to grow and learn about God. There were other books I really wanted to bring, but I would rather spend time reading the Bible not reading a book about reading the Bible. That is the Bible will be my focus and get the most attention.

My ChipIn widget is something that I put on my blog a few months ago. It allows people to give online while I am in Israel. I have had a total of 6 contributors online through this program, and I want to thank all those that contributed. But yesterday I was showing a friend my blog when they told me that the ChipIn widget would not let them give. Somehow the widget said the event had ended. I am here to tell you that this event is not over. The Devil will try in every way to shut down this trip and distract me from God. I pray for God's protection and power over this trip. And since this was caught before I left I was able to restart the event. This is why there is a new Chipin widget and is says 0 contributors. I pray that this does not discourage those who have already given because I want to thank those 6 contributors. I do not need a machine to tell me how much you all matter to me. So thank you for everything the prayers, the support, and the love.

For those who are keeping a tally of the length of my hair/beard this is how far I am. The sideburns are growing very slowly, but I am sure they will catch up. I mean they do have 8 months. But the beard is one of many changes I am making. The second and very important change is I am taking myself out of this global network: AKA twitter, facebook, cell phones, facetime, etc. Yes I will be keeping a blog, because I will be keeping a journal anyway. But this is only done once a week. The focus is on God not electronics or any thing else. I do not want any distractions. Yesterday when I took my phone into Verizon to have it shut off for 8 months it felt so weird, but at the same time I felt a sense of freedom. The freedom came from the fact that I will not have a cell phone tying up my time or taking my intention. My Pastor and great friend DC Curry said it best when he said, "A belief in God does not bind you or imprison you. It frees you from the things of this world." I live for God in freedom not bondage!! Thank you Lord!

Whelp see you later, United States. Bye my friends and family. Thank you for loving me just as I am and running along side of me as I run with Christ. I will see you in eight months.

Your Friend,


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Subway Guy

God has been reaffirming my trip to Israel. The pieces of the trip are falling in to place, things that should not workout are, and I keep meeting random people. I met a guy at Subway when I was filling out my paperwork to take the year off of West Point. A recent graduate and I were having lunch when a guy sitting in a booth across from us said, “So which one of you guys is going to Israel?” What?!?! How did this guy know? He might have overheard us talking about it, but that is beside the point because he knew so much about Israel.

This random guy has lived in Israel, Egypt, Morocco, and some other Middle Eastern countries. He spent 90 days consecutively in Israel, but goes back often for 2-3 weeks at a time. Some of his time spent in Israel has been taking people from Youth for Christ to Israel on mission trips. This man was a God send, and he gave me tons of advice.

First, he told me to deamericanize myself.  I actually do not think this is a word, but I knew what it meant and he explained it. He said that Americans get a bad rap in Middle Eastern countries because they are often lumped into categories of rich, ungrateful, and lazy. They know Americans by the ones who talk all the time, but do very little. The best way to prove them wrong is not by saying, “I am an American and will prove you wrong…” The best way is by not speaking, but doing. By working hard and attempting to learn their language and customs, they will respect you so much more and they will be friends with you for life.

Second, friends made in these countries are friends that will die for you. Sometimes in America, especially with Facebook friends, we have shallow relationships. A friend of a friend’s cousin that we probably never met, but has 2 mutual friends with us often gets accepted as a friend on Facebook. This person you probably will never see, let alone die for. But relationships in Israel are not made on a computer. They are made by working next to, being genuine, and talking about life. Because of this you experience a deep and meaningful relationship that will last for a lifetime.

Last, he told me about a sacrifice a young Rabbi made to become a follower of Jesus. Something that we take for granted.  This Rabbi was from the lineage of David and had been learning and teaching for 17 years. He was set to be in charge of a Temple when he began to believe in Jesus Christ. He believed that Jesus came down from Heaven as fully man and fully God to give His life for our sins. He believed that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah! This immediately ruined his social and family status. In fact, he has a gravestone in Israel from where his family buried him. His family had killed him (in their minds) and done away with everything that could identify him. They threw away his passport, identifying papers, and clothes. This man, to this day, cannot travel outside of Israel, because he does not have a passport. He also cannot own land because to his family and the Israelite government he does not exist. He travels around Israel sharing the Gospel and the knowledge that he has from being a Rabbi to anyone that will listen. He seeks shelter wherever he can find it, but he never regrets his decision to believe in Jesus.

That’s crazy!! One random guy at Subway provided me with so much insight. Thank you, Lord, for putting this man in my life.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I heard this song on the radio the other day, and it really describes why I am going to Israel. "I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me to do myself." In an earlier post, I discussed that God has called me to Israel and that it was so strong I felt like God would send a whale down the Hudson river to swallow me up and take me there if I did not listen. It is crazy, because I sort of have a plan for what I am doing in Israel....shepherding (which is going to be awesome). But every mission trip I have been on plan A rarely ever happened, because God would call us to plan b or c or even z. Pastor Mark Beeson heard a voice from God in which He said, "I have provision you know not of, more than you can ask or imagine." I know for a fact that there are things that will happen in Israel that I cannot even imagine right now. And that is fine with me, because God has everything under control!! He always does.