17 January 2012

Shalom, Israel

Wow, what a whirlwind of a trip Israel was! I loved Israel so much more than I imagined I would. I expected that I would find this country interesting and be glad for the experience, but I did not expect to fall completely in love! This was the first time I traveled anywhere and seriously did not want to return home. In the past, I've always loved traveling, but was more than ready to return home at the end of the month. This was different. I could imagine myself living here....I developed a passion for the culture and for the people. I would miss the incredible friends I made here, the pastors that became friends, our shepherd Tsuriel, the refreshingly tasty and healthy food, the passionate Jews AND Muslims, playing in the Dead Sea, singing Hebrew songs...among countless other things. 

Before leaving for Israel, I kept hearing how this trip would change my life. It's not that I didn't believe these people, but after all - that's a term that's thrown around a lot - "change your life." I don't think I realized that it had changed my life immediately after the trip...but months later, I could tell my view on the world, life and devotion to the Lord had changed significantly. This trip also opened my eyes to the places I could travel to in the future! No longer was my heart only set on Europe, but I realized my passion for wanting to see other cultures. I developed a confidence that ignited a (then potential, but in 2012 at time of writing - definite) journey through Asia. I'm excited to go explore other places, but I know that no other country will ever top this one, no matter how many countries I travel to. This one held special significance and was an unexpected treasure that I never thought I would have discovered.

Graffiti in Ben Yehuda

We spent our last few hours in Jerusalem spending time together, in our small group. We walked along a mall just outside the walls of the Temple Mount area - which was quite interesting! I've, obviously, never been to an Israeli mall! We also had a chance to walk around the famous street of Ben Yehuda and along Jaffa Gate. I enjoyed spending time with everyone before our departure back to the States...knowing that some of these people we might never see again. While we've held many reunions since the conclusion of our trip, there are still some great friends that I have not seen since this trip (which took place in Feb/March 2010.) But our bonds are stronger than those of mere acquaintances and I know I will see them again, soon enough.

Me and Rick in front of the Dung Gate

                                                                                               Pastor Sam taking a few last photos

Rick and Nick in Ben Yehuda

Rick, Christy and I just outside of the Temple Mount area

Love these guys! Our driver, Ben Hass, Rick, Pastor Sam and Tsuriel

Again, love them! Rick, Nick, Amber, Christy and I

Cheeky girls, me and Christy - saying goodbye to Israel and looking forward to our next adventure!

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