This Life is Not About Me

israel-1-3  From the moment we take our first breath, we are grasping and desperate for attention, ever yearning after the focal point. As we grow old, we learn what it means to be patriotic, celebrate the fourth of July and be united. Some may stay where they are planted and never leave the town they grew up in while others may venture off into all the nooks and crannies of the world.

Throughout the last few years of my life, I’ve noticed just how small my worldview is. I have this tendency to focus on the day-to-day rather than the big picture. I like to look at things microscopically. I’m not sure if this is something common to Americans (though I think it is) but it’s been eating away at me. My perspective on life is mostly focused on myself…how I can best use my day, how I need my coffee in the morning, how I don’t get what I want. I’m not just saying that my perspective is small because I’m not aware of other cultures or customs, but because I’m not caring and focused on others and what is going on outside of my life. The suffering and rejoicing of others isn’t a big enough part of my life.

I want to be in constant pursuit of the Father’s heart; where He’s leading, how He is yearning for the salvation of many, how He longs for the peple of Israel. As I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more and more I’m realizing more than ever that this life is not about me. As soon as Jesus rescued me from my sin I was brought to life and came to know that the climax of my life isn’t the hurting but it’s the healing and the glorification of Christ. Am I focused on His healing or on my hurting?israel-2-4

As I’ve been in Israel I’ve experienced a lot of clarity on where the Lord is calling me long term. With that comes a lot of attack in vulnerable areas. I’ve stepped back and noticed that the change in culture doesn’t effect me much but the lack of my things is what irks me. I’ve never pegged myself as an extremely materialistic person but as I’ve been out of America I’ve noticed how this is so much a part of our culture. Packing four months into less than fifty pounds was a struggle. It got to the point where I was weighing contact solution and other essentials by the ounce to cut things down. The essentials became negotiables. The struggle was packing for four months: two and a half consists of mostly spring/summer weather and the rest consists of winter. Not an easy task.

For these months, I’ve limited myself to about five shirts, four pairs of pants, one maxi skirt, two dresses and a couple pairs of leggings. Let’s just say you can only wear those things so many different ways and so many times. As the temperatures have gone up, I got frustrated with myself that I didn’t bring certain things and not enough clothes for the warm weather. It almost started eating away at me. Doing laundry in the sink every week started getting old. Then I was reminded by the Lord: this life is not about you. Where is your focus? Is your treasure in heaven? Ahh that was hard. As something so silly became so big I was reminded of these words:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 
-Psalm 73:25-26

I was reading this afternoon in Matthew 6 where Jesus is teaching about our treasure being found in heaven. I began to ask God what this looked like in action. How am I to live here on earth, this place that is not my home and live as if I am a citizen of heaven? I cannot serve God and money or God and comfort or God and clothing or God and beauty. I must recognize that when I serve God all things are fulfilled and satisfied. If He is my master, then all of me can be satisfied in Him.

There have been countless ways that God is reminding me of this truth. I don’t want to live a comfortable life and find comfort in the things of this world. I’m learning what it means to find my strength and hope in the Lord through the little and big things. And I’m learning more than ever that this life is not about me. May He make me more and more like Himself.

Boskey Weekend

boskey-1Studying abroad is a terrific experience. I’ve seen different cultures, lived among people that are not like me and my friends and have seen a different and beautiful part of the world. I’ve been stretched more than I would have ever been in Chicago. However, while in Israel, the majority of our time is spent in a five-star hotel (the second best in all of Jerusalem) in the east-most part of Jerusalem. While it’s amazing, we get incredible food and everything is wonderful, we don’t truly experience Israel cooped up in this luxurious lifestyle. Thankfully, last weekend a few of us got to see what Israeli’s truly live like.

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On Friday, January 23 around 2PM we started our adventure to the Boskey’s. We all took our final exams for our first class, systematic theology, and packed our bags. Crazy to think we are already done with one class in two weeks! Yet another reason why study abroad is so fun! Asaph Boskey goes to Moody Chicago and aranged for a few of us to go visit his family while we’re here. I actually was in Asaph’s orientation group when I first came to Moody! The Boskey’s sent a van to come pick us up at the hotel so we could get to them easily in Be’er Sheva. So so kind…these people are the most hospitable I’ve ever met! David and Daniel, two of their sons, live in Jerusalem nearby so they came to drive with us in the van While we drove through the hills of Israel, we passed through where Joshua asked God to make the sun stand still and other biblical sights. How cool.

It took us about two hours to get there, driving through the summer sun with the windows down. We all felt so at home with such a wonderful family. They offered us nuts, homemade sushi made by their friend down the street, and good conversation. All of them are such incredible brilliant and kind people and it was so wonderful to just chat. Avner and Rachel are musician’s and have a studio in their basement. They’ve been in Israel for about thirteen years and live in one of the nicest neighborhoods in all of Israel. Their home had such a peace about it and I absolutely loved seeing how people live here.

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I can’t put into words how incredibly hospitable the Boskey’s are. I’ve noticed this about most cultures outside of the states. People are so caring and do whatever they can to show they care. Avner is so witty and has such a sense of humor about him. It was so wonderful to reflect on God’s faithfulness and goodness to all of us and to Israel as we celebrated Shabbat. We’ve been in Israel for about three other Friday’s, experiencing Shabbat at the hotel. However, to us it just means that a lot of Orthodox Jews come to the hotel, we have to dress nicely for dinner and we get grape juice or wine. However, being at the Boskey’s for Shabbat was such a different and wonderful time. We all had Hala, a bread that they always have for Shabbat, and grape juice or wine. They read Hebrew prayers and sang songs unto the Lord. Such a sweet and beautiful celebration.

Rachel made all of us curry, salad, guacamole and a bunch of other delicious things. Avner, Rachel, Daniel, David, Lavinia, Andreea, Andrew, Luke, Josh and I all ate together, had great conversation and learned more about God’s heart for Israel. I love that meal times here are a time of fellowship and community. There’s no rush. Although we were all stuffed, Rachel filled the table with six tubs of Ben & Jerry’s and a fancy cake. She is so so hospitable! After dinner we chatted for quite awhile and then ended up watching the Terminal all together (although Dre fell asleep for all of it.) Once it ended, around midnight, Rachel drove us girls to an apartment down the street. One of their missionary friends is best friends with a Moody student who is from Israel. She was at a conference for the weekend and offered for the girls to stay in her apartment. Such a blessing and so so fun. We went to sleep right away, got ready in the morning and then went back over to the Boskey’s.

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Since we had a bit of a late night, we all woke up and had a late start. Rachel made all of us so much food and was so incredibly kind. Yummy orange jam and toast. Sipped what David called the best chocolate milk in the world. After breakfast and a bit of chatting, we all gathered in the living room, beneath the sun pooring in from the beautiful window and worsipped the Lord. Rachel played piano, Daniel played drums, David played his guitar and Jamie sang. It was so beautiful. Such a sweet time of worship. I was brought to tears as my family of God all sought the Lord together. I love that when you become a child of God, you gain such a beautiful family. I recorded our whole time of worship and talk on my phone. We worshipped for almost two hours and talked about God’s heart for Israel. Avner shared with all of us about God’s heart for Israel, Gentile’s, Jews…it was a truly eye-opening talk and I am so thankful I recorded it. He is such a wise person.

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In the afternoon, we went to where Abraham once lived, went to the well and walked throughout the tunnels. It was so great to have so much time and to really learn about it. While being here with such a big group, we don’t have much time to really take in what we’re seeing when we go to different sights. But Avner is an official tour guide of Israel and shared so much information with us. We also went to a beautiful memorial sight which was an incredible piece of modern art…a photographer’s dream 😉 After, we (Jamie, David, Daniel, Andrew, Josh, Luke, Dre, Lavi and I) went to the first ever ice cream shop in Israel! It was so cool. Apparently, Asaph used to work there. The ladies had red lipstick on (maybe too much ;)). I got a scoop of marzipan in honor of my sweet mama. We sat outside and talked and then they took us to one of the malls in their area just to see it. There was a huge American Eagle Outfitters (it had it’s own big building…almost like a department store) which is funny because it’s one of the most popular stores here. We just did a little car tour and then headed back to the house.

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We all packed our bags and headed back to Hotel Yehudah. Jamie and David drove us girls and Daniel took the bus with the guys. Rachel sent us back with the cake and ice cream…all four tubs of them. So, once we got back all of us had what we now like to call girl time. Josh, Luke, Dre, Lavi and I sat on our floor and ate the ice cream with our plastic spoons and talked.

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I will forever be grateful for this weekend. It’s so beautiful to see how such people can impact your life in such a way that cannot be explained. This weekend made me fall in love with Israel a little bit more. After being with them, God confirmed that I won’t be in states for much longer. I’m not quite sure what that means but I’m excited, I’m scared and I have faith. God is faithfully leading me and I am expectant.

Prayer Requests

  • Continued growth in patience.
  • Shine the light of Christ.
  • Spiritual warfare. As I’ve experienced more and more clarity and seen God work so much, I’ve experienced a lot of struggle spiritually. I’ve had a hard time focusing on myself and realizing the lack. However, I am so grateful for friends that understand me and love me in the midst.

The Garden Tomb and Soreq Cave


We’ve done a lot in the past few days. We’ve visited countless biblical sites, beautiful scenes and hiked some amazing trails.


On Monday, January 19, we went to the Garden Tomb which is most likely the place of Jesus’ tomb where the resurrection took palce. Very close by is also the place of His crucifixtion. This is commonly believed by Protestants whereas the Church of the Holy Seplechure is believed by Roman Catholics. Biblically, everything about the Garden Tomb lines up with Scripture. Golgatha is clear in sight with the eye sockets and nostrils. You can read about this in Matthew 27 and John 19. It’s been fascinating to read these things and see them right before my eyes.



“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb…Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” -Matthew 27:57-61; Matthew 28:1-6 ESV



To get to the Garden Tomb, we had to go through the Muslim quater and Damascus Gate. Once we started walking through, I definitely felt like we were in a different place. There was a heavy oppression that filled me. Again, so thankful for the guys that are so protective. In reality, the things we are experiencing aren’t much different from what I live with on a day-to-day basis in Chicago, but the fact that we are in a different country and culture changes things. A lady from England, Anne, took us through the garden. She showed us Golgatha, told us about when the bus parking lot was a field of sheep, walked us through the biblical implications and finally brought us to the tomb. The stone that was rolled away, she told us, would have been monstrous. The track for where it was rolled was huge. The door that had been put on the tomb now read “He is not here for He is risen!” We walked in, sang, prayed and rejoiced. Although we can’t be 100% positive that this is the exact tomb, I believe it is. Everything lines up and it was so surreal and peaceful to be there. It’s incredible that this place has been preserved, a church hasn’t been built on it and that it’s in the midst of the Muslim quarter.


Damascus Gate: Entrance into the Muslim Quarter of Old City and from the outside is the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem
Damascus Gate: Entrance into the Muslim Quarter of Old City and from the outside is the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem

On Wednesday, we heard that there was a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv on a bus. A Palestinian had stabbed 10 people. At first, as I read about this random but hostile event, I was scared. Knowing that we take those buses scared me…although we are never really close to Tel Aviv. However, I started to realize that things like this happen several times an hour in Chicago. Last semester I heard screaming outside my window on a regular basis. Someone was stabbed three blocks from where I live. There is suspicious and violent activity all around me but it doesn’t really scare me. I’ve gotten accustomed to it. The scary part about this happening in Israel is that it’s in a new country and new culture. All in all, I’ve felt a lot more safe than I expected since being here. The only times I’ve felt a bit nervous were in the Muslim Quarter.

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On the 22nd, after class we went to Soreq Cave. This place had no biblical significance other than it was an amazing creation that the Lord made. This cave was discovered after an explosion about 45 years ago. The explosion revealed this cave full of stalactites and stalagmites. It was small but beautiful and a nice little treat after a long day of class. We all bought ice cream from the gift shop for 11 shekels and enjoyed the sunshine. Although our trip started out with snow, it is definitely warming up here!Photo Jan 22, 3 10 07 PM

Some things I’ve enjoyed so much while I’ve been here are our drives through Israel. I am fascinated by the incline of the roads and how these huge buses can get up them. But more than that, I’ve been fascinated by this beautiful land. As we drove back from Soreq, we saw a family in the mountains sitting on a big couch that looked like they’d pulled it out of their living room. I’d much rather watch the moutains and the sun set over them than watch TV. They have a great idea 😉 Horses, camels, sheep and their shepherd. I like this place a lot 🙂

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More from the last few days later…

A Very Israeli Birthday

israel-8 I spent my 22nd birthday hiking the Ein Gedi mountains, gazing at waterfalls, touring old synagogues and getting Shewarma and Green Door Pizza. I think it’s safe to say I had the best birthday to date and probably the best one of my life. Unless something crazy amazing happens on upcoming birthdays, this one can’t be beat. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset I began the morning with double espresso…just like everyday here. That is something I will miss so much once I return to the reality of the states. We have espresso, americanos and all things good here for breakfast in the morning. Regular coffee is now boring. Anyway, at breakfast was the first birthday song of the day. I woke up at 6AM and had a slow, peaceful and early morning. My favorite kind of morning. Honey, our bus driver, picked up all 37 of us and we headed to Ein Gedi. Everyone resolved to sing happy birthday to me 22 times so I was serenaded throughout the day. The roads we were taken through were out of a movie or a dream or some other world. Picture some rolling hills, camels roaming about, and so much green and sunshine. Yes, we saw camels roaming israel-4 israel-3 israel-2 We drove by the Dead Sea. My oh my, what a sight. The mountains and rolling hills on our right and the dead sea on our left. What a life. The dead sea is the lowest place on earth at 394 meters below sea level. All the sights of the day were probably some of the most amazing things I’ll ever see. It was for sure that everyone knew it was my birthday because every time Audriana saw me she went, “Alison!!! It’s your birthday! Happy Birthday!” I love that girl. She has such a wonderful personality. As we hiked, they sang. Only about five minutes in, we found a water fall. And then we hiked up and up. Such a hard and difficult hike but so worth it. It was sure challenging but I’m so glad we could all do it. We were so so high up. I can’t quite put in to words all that we saw so I’m glad I have pictures. Once we got to the peak we came to a synagogue that was build thousands of years before Abraham and Moses. What an incredible piece of history. israel-1Photo Jan 20, 1 40 12 PMProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Photo Jan 20, 1 25 03 PMisrael-6israel-5 Processed with VSCOcam with 1 preset The people were like ants as they climbed throughout the mountains. Some of the places we were right on the edge and could have definitely fallen. Frightening but exhilarating at the same time. Lavinia managed to make it and walk the whole time but she was limping a bit. Once we made our way down, we came to another synagogue that dated back to the time of Christ that had a basiclica structure. At that time, everybody was welcome to come to the synagogue as it was a place of worship that didn’t require sacrifice. Even though we weren’t in the city, there were still many stray cats in the mountains. We even saw wild animals like a herd ibex and some sort of mole rat. The birds that flew about had a chirp that sounded like a scream. Our hike probably lasted about four hours or so. And each moment was breathtaking. One of those hikes I wish I could replay over and over in my head. israel-10 israel-11 We got back on the bus and headed to a look out to one of the oldest monestarys in Israel. Although it was too foggy to see the monestary the rolling hills were breathtaking. Some little kids were selling jewelry and other things. It was so beautiful to look into their sweet eyes but know that this is probably their life. They probably try to sell these bracelets for very cheap all day long and they most likely don’t go to school. They followed us around as we looked and we played some games with them. One of them, the most talkative was named Omar. Dre found a caterpillar and handed it to me on a stick and then Omar flicked it at me. He was a funny guy and I enjoyed joking with him. He didn’t speak much English but Andrew spoke to him in Hebrew and we could communicate a bit. We got back on the bus once more and then stopped at a wonderful lookout spot where we could see the Old City from very far away. What a captivating scene. Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset israel-9 Photo Jan 20, 3 37 22 PM A few of us made a quick decision to get off the bus because Honey offered to drop us off at Jaffa Gate to go to the Old City. Lavinia, Andreea, Mandy, Caroline, Andi, Josh, Cade, Paul, Breton, Luke and I walked through the street as the sun was setting. We walked through the market streets and made it to Green Door Pizza which is right on the border of the Muslim Quarter. We’ve all heard a lot about this place and it was a little gem tucked away. Surprisingly, it had green doors. All the people were very friendly there. The walls were made of brick and a man stood by a brick oven. They asked us if we’d like vegetable pizza or meat. We made an order for seven meat and one veggie. Cade, Josh, Lavi and I went to get Shewarma as the pizza would take 15 minutes. We made our way to King Shewarma or something or other…who knows cause it’s all in Hebrew and Arabic. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with 5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset israel-13 israel-12 I love going through the market streets, talking with locals and meeting all the people. As we walked with Shewarma in hand (seventeen shekels), we headed back to meet the others who had been eating their pizza. We all had some as well. It was a little four piece pizza with some sauce, maybe a little cheese, different kinds of meats and egg. It was nothing like American pizza and it was so good. We chatted with some of the people there for a bit. We made our way through the market streets and headed to the Western Wall so we could see the Temple Mount at night. As we walked through, herds of police and soldiers marched through, just because it’s night time. Once we made it, we realized we needed to catch the bus. We decided to walk to another stop but that led to an adventure. Somehow, we ended up walking on the rooftops of the market because we went up some stairs. From there we wandered for a bit and we got separated. Luke and I got separated from the rest of the group but eventuall found them. They somehow ended up in some boys home and other private building. Such an adventure and so hilarious. We somehow made our way out but it was an experience. We made it to the train and then the bus and got back around 8:10. Exhausted from a long hiking day and an eventful night, I reflected on such a good year as 21 had passed and looked forward to 22. I am so so blessed and this day was just an amazing example of that. I can’t believe this is my life. Thank you all for all the love and birthday wishes. Love love love! [I will be making a post about when we visited the Garden Tomb on Monday soon]

Coffee, Falafel and Friendship

Photo Jan 15, 11 25 15 PM Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Photo Jan 16, 11 22 17 PM Photo Jan 17, 9 25 23 AM Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Photo Jan 18, 1 09 59 PM Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Photo Jan 18, 1 44 01 PM Photo Jan 18, 1 57 59 PM Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Photo Jan 18, 2 57 41 PM Photo Jan 18, 3 44 41 PM Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Photo Jan 18, 5 21 00 PM Photo Jan 18, 12 37 02 PM Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIf I’m going to be honest, I’ll say that it’s difficult to find time to write everyday…even in my journal. These days are full, in a good way! But I want to make writing about each and every moment a priority. Some days start at 6AM, class 8-12, lunch and then homework and reading all day until we go to sleep. Other days start early but we go to amazing sights and have life-changing experiences. Nonetheless, whether we are in this four-star hotel or going to biblical places, each day is a treasure and I am pinching myself in disbelief that I get to be here with these people, at this time, for this purpose.

On Friday we had class until noon, a midterm and then we walked to the park about a fifteen minute walk away. Most of my classmates played soccer while some of us sat on the sidelines reading for class. The dark grey clouds were rolling in and we knew the rain was coming. Dre, Luke and I started walking back just as the drizzles began. Soon enough, we were soaked. But, we saw a car on the side of the road that was selling beautiful flowers. Later on, Shabbat began as the sun fell. Shabbat is a weekly occurence for the orthodox jews. From sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, they partake in a feast and rest. For instance, during this time all the elevators stop on every floor for this 24 hour period. In the morning, we can’t use the espresso machine because it uses electricity. Tons of people come to the hotel in order to partake in Shabbat. It’s a very interesting and fun experience.

Because of this, our Saturday’s are kind of like Sunday’s. We went to church on Sunday at a Messianic church. I think we are supposed to be going there the majority of our time here. I was very surprised at how developed it was. We ended up getting there an hour early so we spent some time on the balcony and Dre and I listened to articles for Systematic Theology. By the time the service started, there were probably thirty people standing because there was no room. I’d say there were probably three-hundred people there. It was such an incredible experience. The whole service was translated from Hebrew to English, back and forth; which I imagine would be quite patience-building for the pastor as he had to preach one sentence at a time. The worship was probably one of the coolest experiences in Israel (and possibly my life) thus far. They sang in Hebrew but there was English for us as well. It was so amazing to worship the Lord in Hebrew and English in Israel. It’s fun to try and speak Hebrew 😉 The majority of the rest of our day was filled with catechisms, reading and zombieland. Our room has become the hangout room which is fun. We’ve been having some movie nights which is fun but sometimes results in late nights and tired mornings.

Sunday was a good good good day. Another one of those “best day of my life” days. We got to sleep in a little bit which is something I am so thankful for. I’ve been waking up in the mornings thinking, “When will I be able to sleep next?” The weather was looking promising today. Yet, by the time we got to the old city, dark clouds were rolling over us but no rain! We headed to the Old City around 11:30 and got lunch at Panoramic Restaurant. We walked through the thin market streets to get to this rooftop restaurant. We definitely paid for the experience rather than the food at 35 shekels for a falafel pita. But hey, it was my first one in Israel and definitely memorable. We had apple sodas on the roof with our falafel, looking all around the city with the Temple Mount just in sight.

After we walked the market and went to Shaban’s. Shaban has a bunch of penants from schools all throughout the world, including Moody. Really cool. We have a relationship with him and he gives us great rates and hospitality. He poured us mango juice and gave us cookies before taking our tea orders; fresh mint tea in little plastic cups. We sipped as we shopped. I found a little utensil that is used to make Arabic coffee. I am planning on getting unique utensils from all the places I go so I am reminded of the culture and each place. Shaban told me how to make the coffee and wrote down instructions in my journal. He also said he would order Shalom Y’all mugs for our group which I am SO glad about. He told us to grab some earrings from the shelf before leaving for free. I just love the hospitality of these people. They treat us all like family.

As we walked through the market streets, I was really thankful for the guys. Although the hospitality is impressive of most, being stared down by most in the streets and called to is something to get used to. Cat-calling in the states in nothing compared to this. We went right across the street to Shaban’s brother-in-laws shop. He had so many wonderful things, including dead sea glass which I’ve been eyeing. It’s something like 2,000 years old and is just stunning. I’ve been wanting to buy sandals from Israel for a few years now as my friends have gone. For only 50 shekels, which equates to about $12, and real leather, I was pretty excited about this. I also got Lavinia some bath salts as she had to stay back since she sprained her ankle. We planned on going to Christ Church for a tour but instead Mandy, Dre and I went to Aroma.

Aroma, sweet Aroma. Anyone that’s been to Israel knows about this little jem. This is like the Starbucks of Israel except way way better. It’s kind of like Inteligentsia in Chicago but prettier. We each got pastries to share and coffees. I had a Mocha Aroma (or something like that) and it was delish. We sat in the sunshine, chatted and it was wonderful. Eventually, we headed back to the Old City and met up with some others. We were trying to contact our professors all day to get permission to go to a church service but they weren’t answering their phones. Eventually, they did and Josh, Dre and I ended up making it. A couple stops on the light rail, going into the mall on  a whim and finding it. The security guard at the mall didn’t know where/what it was so this led me to believe that church’s are somewhat underground here.

It was such a cool experience to be at King of Kings. One of our friends from Moody, Asaph, goes there because he is from Israel. So his whole family was there and we got to meet them. Two of them were leading worship and are Moody grads! All of the people are meeting are so wonderful. At first when we were there it felt like such a modern Israeli church. Hebrew worship and the culture. But as time went on and the welcome video played, it just kind of felt like a Harvest in America. Kind of cool. After we went out to the bus stop but realized we had about 15 minute and weren’t sure if we’d make dinner at the hotel in time, so we grabbed falafel…again. But this time only 10 shekels! So fun. Back at “home”, we finished watching the movie we had started, got free bread which ended up turning into a bread fight but memorable.

I love life outside of the US. I’ve never really been the type of person to have an ideal location to end up. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve seen and experienced the closed-mindedness of Americans and have truly grown to appreciate my multicultural and truthfully better educated friends. I love Israel. I love all the cultures. And I’m excited to see where I end up.

Today was another full day that I’ll have to write another post about. We went to the garden tomb and it was a surreal experience. More on that later… 🙂

Prayer Requests

  • Health. Pray for Lavinia as she twisted her ankle the other day. She’s been in a wheel chair/crutches since Friday and it’s been very hard for her.
  • Safety. Pray that our group would be wise and be safe.
  • Group Dynamics. Pray that we would continue to have our eyes opened.
  • Peace for Israel. Pray for Israel as a nation, that peace would come and ultimately that Jesus the Messiah would return.

Best Day of My Life (everyday)


Mount of Olives!!
Mount of Olives!!
Hikes like this all the time
Hikes like this all the time
Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity
The mountains around Mar Saba...Jordan in the distance
The mountains around Mar Saba…Jordan in the distance
Mar Saba Monestary
Mar Saba Monestary
Israeli snacks
Israeli snacks
A sign in Bethlehem
A sign in Bethlehem

These goofs on the Ramparts walk
These goofs on the Ramparts walk

It seems that everyday as I’m journaling I have to write “Today was the best day of my life!” I can’t really put into words how incredible and captivating this experience is. In the past few days, I’ve gone into the Old City a few times and have fallen in love with it more and more. It’s different than any city I’ve ever experienced. Each place I’ve gone I have been completely speechless of what I’m seeing.

I figure I should start blogging everyday at least a short bit. It’s hard to find time to journal or blog everyday as we experience so much each day and have about sixty pages of reading to do for class. Nonetheless, I want to remember everyday!

On Monday, we went to the Old City in the morning and went on the Rampart’s Walk. It gives an extraordinary view of the old city, David’s Tomb, the Temple Mount and even the Palestinian border wall. As we held on to the railings and walked across the old stone walls, we were amazed at each and every thing our eyes beheld. So much history. So much of what we’ve read. It’s all coming alive.

After we finished the walk, we went to the wailing wall. What an experience. This is something I’ve been waiting to do for awhile. The Jewish people come here everyday to cry out to God. It’s called the wailing wall because they are literally wailing to God for the first coming of the Messiah. However, the Christian goes here to wail for the second-coming of the Messiah. It’s an amazing thing to behold as we realize that although they are not aware, we are wailing for the same Messiah. It is a sobering experience and touching the wall was something I’ve been waiting to do.

After this, we haggled our way into getting a cheap taxi up to the the Mount of Olives. We couldn’t walk because this goes into the Muslim Quarter which is a dangerous area. As our taxi struggled it’s way up the mountain, I could just imagine Jesus walking up the mountain with the multitudes following Him. I was speechless, ecstatic and full of life as I read Matthew 24-28 and Acts 1. This is where Jesus spoke to the multitudes and where He ascended into Heaven. As we were all so full of joy as we beheld this site, we saw the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was tempted. This was an extravagant view of the Holy Land. And to top it all of, we were there for sunset. I’m sure we will go back many times while we are here but that first time was something I will never forget.

Normally on Wednesdays we will be having tour days but the weather was so good yesterday, on Tuesday, that we went to Bethlehem. Bethlehem is under Palestinian territory, which I was unaware of, and so we had to cross the border which is a high security point. Seeing soldiers with machine guns walking around everywhere is not unusual. Once we crossed over, it truly felt like we were in a different country. Definitely not in America anymore. It was very run down, very desert-like and very mesmerizing. There were barely any women. Those that were out were fully covered, although it was probably 75 degrees in the sun. There were children that were maybe 8 years old selling things on the street. There were golden steaming coffee pots in the streets with people selling coffee. I would have liked to try but heard that everyone just uses the same cup. Maybe when I’m feeling a little more adventurous and open to sickness 😉

As the bus climbed through the streets that seemed to be one-way but were most definitely two-way, we were speechless and had “pinch me” moments. The hills rolled and houses turned into little dots as we climbed up and up. It was incredible. All that I am seeing is magnificent and I think I need to find more words in the dictionary that can accurately describe what I’m seeing and experiencing. We arrived at Mar Saba Monastery. We hiked through the mountains with breathtaking views. Incredible. I’ve taken so many photos and I don’t really have time to go through them. So iPhone photos and a few photos from my camera will have to do for now.

While we hiked, we could hear tanks in the distance. A surreal experience but I never feared for my life. The views were amazing. Once we came back down, the men got to go into the monastery as we sat on rock benches with mats and were served hibiscus tea and kinder chocolates. We were surprisingly treated very well for being women in their culture.

After this, we went into Bethlehem and went to the Church of the Nativity which is the supposed birthplace of Christ. It was surreal to be in the city that Jesus was born. Something I will always remember. The church itself was interesting. Something I’m not used to but still very important and monumental in my walk. I also got a nativity scene in Bethlehem made out of olive wood…something I will surely cherish forever.

Today was full of systematic theology, reading outside in the sun in the hills of Israel and lots of reading, laughter and friends. I am so grateful for each moment and for the people here. We had a long conversation with Samuel who works at the gift shop in the hotel. He is 23 and so kind. I love the people here! The days are full and long and I can say that my life has already changed. The Scriptures are coming alive and it’s something that I can’t really put into words.

Prayer Requests

  1. Health. I’ve been feeling under the weather. Lack of sleep and being sick before coming haven’t been helping. Pray that the sickness would go away so I can focus on my studies well.
  2. Community. Pray that the barriers would be broken and that we would all love each other with the love of Christ.
  3. Israel. Pray for the people of Israel. The unrest, the struggle, the fear. Pray that peace would come.

Shalom from Israel

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It’s been about 36 hours since we have landed in Israel. I can’t quite explain what it feels like to be here. I am experiencing a lot of jet lag but so much joy and so much excitement. As we landed and I saw the first glimpses of the lights of this land around 12AM on January 6, tears filled my eyes as I was reminded of Jesus’ character, all that He did here and all that is to come.

Shalom is a common greeting used by the Israeli’s here. This past semester at Moody, I took a class called Faith and Learning which was a study on the integration of faith into the learning process in all forms including mathematics, art, language and how God is completely involved in the process. Shalom was a word that was common in that class but coming to Israel and hearing it so often is so beautiful. Shalom is most commonly know to translate into peace. However, Hebrew is a complex (and stunning) language that translates into more than just a one-word answer. According to Strong’s Concordance shalom translates to completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. The way to shalom is YHWH. Read Luke 2 to see this more. It is such a beautiful thing to hear the people of Israel greeting one another with this term that means so much.

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Our journey here was long. We boarded our first flight to Istanbul, Turkey at 8:50PM on January 5 and didn’t take off until probably midnight. If the rest of our flight went according to plan, we would still be able to make our connecting flight to Tel Aviv. I took some melatonin before the flight hoping to sleep but didn’t end up sleeping at all on the twelve hour flight. I was completely exhausted and so tired but didn’t get a minute of sleep. But, Dre and I watched a couple movies in the meantime. The best part of international flights is the movies. I had an aisle seat with Dre, Lavi and Kevin by me. The turbulence wasn’t bad. The landing took quite awhile and we weren’t able to get off the plane for awhile. A few ran ahead and rushed to gate 220 hoping that we would make it in time for our connecting flight. Although we did all get there while the plane was still there they wouldn’t allow us to board. Thankfully, we got on a plane a few hours later. The majority of us were completely exhausted, dehydrated and ready to be in Israel. Kendra, Luke and I were in row 4, right behind first class (which only had two people in it). So we were swimming in leg room. The Chicago weather followed us to Istanbul as there was a major snow storm. We waited for almost an hour to take off. Let’s just say a lot of deicing took place on our journey. I fell asleep for a bit on that flight, missed the food but got a packet of water. We landed 4:11PM on January 6 Chicago time and 12:11AM on January 7 Israel time. Knowing I was in Israel gave me the energy to get through. The airport was pristine and amazingly clean. We got through customs fine and all got our luggage. Praise the Lord. We all got on the bus and met up with other people in the group that had traveled from other locations. Arrived to Hotel Yehuda, our home for the next few months, and got to sleep around 4AM.

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Day one was an adventure as we caught up on sleep and decided to walk to the mall (about a 25-30 minute walk). However, it rained, hailed and snowed. So, a bunch of Americans walked the hilly streets of Jerusalem, passing by a soldier with a machine gun (a new sight to get used to), and a few cars that honked at us as we stuck out like sore thumbs. Once we arrived and all of us were soaked (including feet…may need to get some rain boots), we were told the mall was closed. So back we went. When Jerusalem gets weather like this, the city basically shuts down. Our professors still have not arrived and are stuck in Tel Aviv. Compared to the weather we get in Chicago, this is nothing. However, Israel is not equipped to deal with weather like this. It was really just a dusting of snow, hail and continuous rain, but the city is shut down.

I am overjoyed to be here. It truly feels like I am living in a dream. The hotel is a four star wonderland and probably the best in all of Israel. The food is truly some of the best I’ve had in my life. SO many fresh fruits and vegetables. Our group is incredible already and I am so thankful. Although not everything has not gone according to our plan, God is in the midst of all things, had a plan and is making all things work together for our good and His glory.

Prayer Requests

  • Jet lag. We haven’t had much time to get over jet lag. Not getting to sleep until 4AM on the first day really messed us up. Although we were exhausted last night and got to sleep around 11, Dre, Lavi and I all woke up at 3AM and could not fall back asleep. So of course, chatting, laughing and memorable moments. Classes are most likely starting tomorrow so we really need to get our sleep schedule together. Pray that we would be able to stay awake today so we can get adjusted soon.
  • Group Dynamics. Pray that everyone would feel included. Please pray that the Lord would open my eyes more and more to those that aren’t feeling included.
  • Spiritual growth. Pray that the Lord would remind us of why we are. It’s all about Jesus. Pray that He would begin to change our hearts and mold us as we are on this journey.
  • Shalom. Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
  • Christ’s return. This is something God has been pressing upon my heart for the past few months. My first prayer everyday should be for the Lord to return.

(Original Post January 8, 2015)

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Writing this feels surreal. Being completely focused on packing and to-do lists for the last five days, I haven’t had much time to process all that is about to happen. I spent practically all of yesterday and today packing the next four months of my life into a medium suitcase and a backpack; packing what I thought I would be bringing, weighing it, taking “essentials” out, repacking, weighing, etc. At the end of the day, with mom’s help, I’m in pretty good shape. Don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have her to help me!

I have a sleepy and snoring Ellie pup next to me. She’ll be doing much more sleeping than me tonight! I’ve spend the majority of the last six months praying and hoping I’ll be going on this journey…and I am. I am spending 1/4 of 2015 out of the U.S. I am going to walk where Jesus walked. I am studying the Scripture in the Holy Land. I am spending a month backpacking through Europe with two of my favorite people; something I’ve dreamed about for awhile.

It’s hard to wrap my head around all of this. A few weeks ago as I lay in bed trying to sleep, my mind was racing about this upcoming season. “Would I be safe? Will we find people to stay with in Europe? Will we run out of money? Will I get homesick?” And then I was reminded of something so subtle but so spectacular. Two years ago I was at Passion conference for the second year in a row. With 20,000 other college students, I had a lot on my heart. I knew that in about two weeks I would be receiving an acceptance or denial letter from Moody Bible Institute. I was anxious, nervous and restless. It was then, as I lay in my bed, mind racing, that I realized, exactly two years later from that very date I will be getting on a plane to Israel to study abroad with Moody Bible Institute. I sort of chuckled as I lay there…God sure has a sense of humor and He most definitely is involved in the detail.

As I remember God’s faithfulness through the seasons I am overwhelmed by His still, small voice saying, “Look. Trust me. Do not be afraid.” His faithfulness is great and He is my protector. He is going to stretch me, change me, shape me, mold me more than I could ever imagine. I think what I’m most excited for is how much this is going to truly change my life and my relationship with the Lord. I know the Scriptures are going to come alive like never before. I am speechless. I am expectant. I am ready.

Prayer Requests 

At the end of every post I’ll be posting prayer requests. I have seen the absolute need for prayer during this upcoming season and am pleading with you to pray for me and for the people I will be traveling with. Your prayers and needed and SO appreciated.

  • Safety.  We’ve all seen the news lately. When I’ve told people about where I’m going, I’ve gotten pretty mixed reviews. Although our group is not right “in the action” and in a dangerous spot, there is still always some danger and caution to take in any circumstance. Pray for our safety and wisdom as individuals and a group. Also pray that we would not face any lost or stolen items. Pray specifically for myself, Lavinia and Andreea as we travel around Europe. Honestly, I have a bit of fear that we will be robbed or lose something while there. Pray that I wouldn’t have that fear and that it wouldn’t happen. Pray we would be wise with locations, people, etc.
  • Travels. Pray that our flights would go smoothly. No delays, just the right layover times, no missed flights, etc. Pray that our luggage would all get there safely. It’s never fun to miss a flight or wait for a plane for multiple hours…especially internationally.
  • Group dynamics. I am very thankful to have very close friends on this trip. However, that’s not the case for everyone. Pray specifically for those that don’t know anyone and are second-guessing going because of the lack of connections. Pray for those that have friendships, that they would open their eyes to those that are not included. Pray for everyone to be welcoming. Although it seems inevitable, pray that cliques would not form. Being with the same 35+ people for over three months can be interesting. So, pray for grace and that tensions would cease and annoyances would be at a minimum 😉
  • Health. As we’re in a new country with new foods, new illnesses, etc. it’s easy to catch a cold. Pray for those with specific illnesses or diseases that they would not face difficulty.
  • Spiritual. Pray that we would experience Jesus like never before. Pray for diligence and urgency to do our class work while there. Pray for increased dependency on the Lord, understanding of what we are seeing/experiencing and faith. Pray that God would reveal Himself to each person in a unique way.

[Original Post Date: January 5, 2015)