Israel Diaries # 2: Busted Cameras and Holy Pilgrimmage

Our folks hooked us up with a sweet camera as a combined bday present for Janny and I this year. With our travels and the baby on the way, we figured it was time to replace the duck tape ridden version we have been using. Unfortunately, we have either not figured out how to properly use the new one OR there is something wrong with it. We have a ton of sweet pics, but are unable to get them onto our computer. I was hoping to mainly post pics and only say a few words…not happening. Hopefully we can find a “techy” in our class tomorrow.

As I last mentioned, the class is really involved, but it is allowing us to explore the country academically and physically. Our professor has his PHD from the local Hebrew University and is an American citizen who lived her for 20 years. He is brilliant and has some great perspective. Is also quite devotional at times. We have really connected with our classmates (who range from 19 to 60 years old) as we go out to local restaurants and cafe’s most every night to watch the World Cup. It is HUGE over here.

Today we visited Bethlehem, Herodian, Garden(Orchard) of Gethsemane and the Mt. of Olives. Over the past few days we have stayed in Jerusalem and done extensive study and exploration of the Old City of Jerusalem (Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Temple Mount, the Upper Room, Calvary, Jesus’ Tomb, David’s Palace, etc…) Stunning stuff.

Our professor said something profound that struck both of us in a similar way. He spoke of the Western minds’ desire for accuracy, data and information in visiting these sites (questions like: how sure can we be that this is REALLY the place that…happened?) He went on to say that the religious of the Middle East (specifically Israel) don’t seek data, but instead they worship and remember. As we travel these grounds and ask the hard questions based on thorough scholarship, it is shocking how many places can’t be confirmed as 100% accurate locations of the original event/structure. The point isn’t accuracy, the point is worship. Such is the posture we hope to adopt moving forward.

Hopefully we get the camera fixed!

Israel Diaries # 1: World Cup and Maccabee Lager

Picture of Old City Jerusalem from the window of our hotel

Well, this is the stuff that makes Janny and I come to life. This is our 3rd day in Jerusalem after about 24 hours of travel and a 10 hour time change. Our favorite part of traveling is learning and embracing new culture(at least new to us!). Travel forces us into a posture of humility and intrigue as we have to feel our way through the new setting by trail and error. This has definitely been true of our first few days in Israel.

The main reason we are here is to study at Jerusalem University College for a 3.5 week graduate course. I have FINALLY finished about 30 hours of pre-work and so we were able to rest and get a taste of the city for these first few days. We check into the school today.

The hotel we have been staying in (we are now moving to campus housing) is a 0 star and is packed with other low budget travelers from across the globe. We have already traveled with, exchanged email addresses and watched the World Cup with people from England, Holland, Costa Rica, Switzerland and a bunch of locals. Although the facilities are modest (to say the least!), we have an incredible view of the Old City and the Mt. of Olives…and it came with free breakfast! Nothing like hummus and tomatoes @ 7am. It is located in the Arabic part of town and the guys that run the place are super friendly and accommodating. We were told not to stay in this part of town, but we have really enjoyed getting into the rhythms of this culture. Most are Muslim and we can hear the prayers 3 or 4 times a day that are amplified through the streets. They exhibit so much devotion, it is quite admirable.

There is an upper lounge at the top of our hotel where we can watch the World Cup games. Super fun. I offered to get some Hebrew Lager for myself and our English friend David and quickly realized that Muslim’s don’t drink alcohol, so we had to leave the area. We ended up finding some Hebrew beer call Maccabee Lager(LOVE the history! If you’re not familiar with the Maccabee’s influence in the Jewish story, click here) and enjoyed the USA vs England match. Janny had this guy on his heals with her strategic smack talk. We just liked to hear him fire back comments in his English accent.

We have been able to walk the Old City streets and are excited to be moving to our new hotel which is actually inside the city walls. Our favorite meal has quickly become falafel and Turkish(or Arabic) coffee. We will share more about the city and some of the sites next time.

Any tips or insight, please feel free to throw it in the comments. We should have internet pretty consistently.

Cheers and Shalom from Israel!

Off To The Homeland

So these past few weeks have been absolutely nutso in the world of Jon, Jan and Harry. Well, not so much for Harry.

Janny has been busting her tail to finish up her school year with the 4th graders she has been teaching, moving us out of our little house up in Mt. Hermon and working some weekends as an esthetician. She had her last day with the 4th graders yesterday and she was honored in front of the whole school for her work and influence she has had on the kids. I am SUPER proud of her and that school really lucked out on a quality teacher!

I have been in a mad scramble to finish finals, fill up and empty out UHAUL trucks, writing for YS(lastest article was published yesterday:)and completed my time teaching adult education. Been crazy, but we can both see the end in site and it has been great stuff.

Now we are turning our sites towards Israel! We leave Wednesday morning and will be studying at Jerusalem University College. It is a 6 credit graduate course that focuses on Geographical Settings of the Bible. Honestly, with the chaos of life we have barely been able to get excited, but now it is sinking in…and it is awesome! We will be living 1 block from the Wailing Wall and will have a day of lectures followed by 1-3 day field trips through the actual locations that were discussed in the lecture. There will be LOTS of pictures and new insights. I will be blogging and posting pictures of our experiences often.

We are not overly concerned, but unless you live in a cave, you have heard of the “flotilla incident” this past week. It has stimulated some unrest and it will be interesting to see how it plays out in our time over there. Please pray that we can model peace and hope as we wander through a region that has been plagued with anything but.

Youth Specialities and Israel

The count down is on! Janny and I will be flying to Israel on June 9th and spending over a month studying at Jerusalem University College. We will be staying just off campus in married housing, which is about 1/2 block from the Wailing Wall. It has been incredible seeing this fall into place and we are pinching ourselves at this opportunity to physically walk through the Story. I will share more about this trip soon.

Also, I have found writing to be a great outlet and platform for dialog over the past couple years. I have been working with Youth Specialties over the past year on my book, which has been demanding and tedious at times, but overall a rich experience. Just this past week, I was invited to be a regular blogger on the YS webpage and a contributing author in their monthly articles(basically an online magazine). I am really grateful for this opportunity to share some stories/insight, while connecting and learning from others along the way. It has been fun and challenging to continue to try to work and live into what I am most passionate about as things are often ambiguous and culturally “unorthodox.” I don’t think Janny and I plan on being “normal” anytime soon:)

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