Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My heart breaks for Jerusalem

I recently returned from a ten day trip to Israel with my parents... it was a whirlwind of sightseeing, a rollercoaster of emotions.

We went around Galilee, a sea you can easily see across and drive around in an hour or two, and saw where Jesus lived, ministered and performed miracles.

We stopped along at Qumran and Masada along the Dead Sea. Masada being the single most impressive excavated monument and Qumram, impressive for its recent role played in modern Christianity with the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Essenes.

I'll be honest- I was a little cynical for the majority of the time, second guessing the magnitude of all that we were seeing, as it has been essentially destroyed by man's hand in commemorating, even capitalizing on the tourism, with gaudy monuments and churches built atop these storied places.

Cynical until standing at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, which was the single greatest experience I've had in my life, fittingly indescribable: there really is no adequate vocabulary for The Divine Spirit.

Meeting one of my mother's childhood friends one night who has lived in Jerusalem for almost 30 years, raising her family and dedicating her life to Israeli-Palestinian peace and conflict studies was a very interesting time to spend.

The most depressing place we went to was Bethlehem, on the West Bank side of the border. We had to leave our Israeli guide in Israel and pick up a local Palestinian guide for the couple hours we were there.  She was unbelievably upbeat. Her husband taught at the University of Michigan for a while, but they elected to return to Bethlehem. Kind of unimaginable. Home is home, I suppose. It was sad to look out on Shepherd's Field, where it is commemorated that Jesus Christ was born to see the modern high-tension border that cuts through it, as well as the nearby Church of the Nativity, a place where man has once again wrecked havoc over something sacred. Of course, my interpretation of sacred being subjective. Hard to explain in a blog post...

It was a huge privilege to go. I wish everyone could. However, exiting Hezekiah's Tunnel the last day (cool experience) and hearing gunshots from the Temple Mount at the al-Aqsa mosque, (where I was standing the day before!), makes me prone to think Jerusalem will not be safe to visit for much longer, and the state of Israel may even fail to exist as it stands currently. Who even knows?! It's just sad to presume the conflict that awaits all the people, more than perhaps the institution that is "Israel" itself.

Overall a fascinating and heartbreaking trip, with so many thoughts I don't want to expound upon in a public forum.
I pray for some semblance of peace to them.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bible Belt, here I come!

So I opened my mission call Thursday and I am going to North Carolina!

I'll be completely honest, at first, I just kind of sat there going "Huh?" thinking all these kind of stupid things like, "Dang, I'm not learning a language" or "but I have first cousins and one of my best friends from undergrad lives there?!" or "why am I going somewhere so close to where I've visited before (the DC area/suburbs)?"

But a few minutes later, and after I saw the collective relief of my parents that I didn't get sent to somewhere destitute and dangerous in the Amazon or Finland where there is 4 hours of sunlight a day for months on end, I started realizing that this is the best place for me!

My mom's first reaction was "It's civilization! They have a WHOLE FOODS!!"

Sure, it's not "foreign-sexy-cool" but it's not as if my strict, to the hour 6:30am-10:30pm schedule allows for much, if any, leisure or tourist time. Plus, from what I've heard, the South IS a foreign culture to a Californian or a Northeasterner!

My brother went to Southern France and he has mixed feelings about his experience...I think he's even a little jealous I am going somewhere where people already believe in God and are kind. Indeed, my plight could be worse: I wouldn't want to be tasked with teaching existential Euros about morals (HA)! I have the rest of my life to travel!

Then I think about Asia and how insane those languages are and how potentially frustrated I could become, sitting in some little apartment somewhere with only one other person (my "companion" who I am with 24/7) with whom to hang out.

I remember I flew through Charlotte earlier this year and there was a lady in the airport restroom wiping down the long sink after everyone's use and smiling, bidding everyone a nice day as they exited. I was caught way off guard!

There will be unique challenges in the Bible Belt, as only I can imagine... I've never dealt with Evangelicals, so that will be interesting...yikes! But I also hope I get to be in some soulful congregations. I grew up singing MoTown and I'm all about a peppier church experience!

Anyways, I'm really excited, leave at the beginning of May. Another plus is that I don't have to be in the MTC ("Missionary Training Center") for very long. I've heard it's a great experience, but again, I don't know if I'd want to be there for 3 months. But who knows? Maybe I'll end up missing it.

ALSO, my mission has a theme song! Haha! This has been on REPEAT:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Under the radar

While living in NYC, I said 95% of things in this video:

Decided that figure was a satisfactory amount of Gotham lexicon acquisition that I could move on to the next adventure... so I moved out!

I miss the food and my friends. Don't miss the dirt or feeling dirty all the time.

I got job offers in Boston and San Francisco, but a couple of pretty poignant experiences right before Christmas led me to the decision to serve an 18-month mission for my church.

Should be a great adventure, be it Tucson, Arizona, or Tallin, Estonia. I have no input into the decision, and no clues that would lead me to believe where they might send me, but I find out any day now! The suspense has been killer, needless to say.
Wherever it is, I'm really excited to serve people and teach them about Jesus Christ.