O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...

    Her fingers lightly brush across a column, unearthed nearly 2,000 years ago...
    The surroundings are not impressive. The space is about six feet wide, twenty feet long. There are large stones in the ground that serve as the road. She finds herself nearly twenty feet below "normal ground"... at least, that's as much as she can judge. The idea that ancient Israel is literally beneath her feet is a hard concept to grasp. Modern Israel is somewhere above her, though she's not underground. It's dank and smells a bit musty, but this is the City of David, on what used to be the main road leading to the "new" Jerusalem, near the pool of Shiloach. A pool, which, unfortunately, cannot be fully uncovered due to the property it is located under. There is a large mural on the wall which depicts what it could have looked like back in the first century AD. The tour guide, Hannah, explains a few details before they go see the real thing.
    As the smooth texture hits her fingers, her mind suddenly flashes back. An idea, a daydream of a possibility allows a smile to play on her lips. It is possible, after all, that He did think of me here... knowing I would come one day and think of Him.
    They turn the corner and a wide excavation opens up before them, its characteristic stones baking in the hot middle eastern sun. It was here. This is where Jesus sent the blind man after He put mud on the man's eyes. An empty place only 1/4 excavated. No water, just debris. An earthen wall rising up where the Arabic garden stood in opposition, fencing off her view. What must it have been like? Stretching out, a smooth pool cool and refreshing. The wide steps lead down as she tried to picture the scene before her. Tried to imagine what the man must have felt like... dipping down in darkness and coming up to the light. What did he see first? The water? The people? The walls and the hills of Judea? The pillars? The sun?

Did the very sight of sight steal his breath away?


    There is no possible way to describe to you what it is like here.
    The streets are not lined with gold, though they are sought after unto death nonetheless. The old walls are rough and rich with history. The country is indeed beautiful, but you would be surprised to know that those Judean hills were completely desolate just a century ago. Millions of trees have been planted since 1948.
It's not that it's magnificent or larger than life. It's just life.
    Yet there is mystery here. There is something that draws all the world to turn their heads towards this little strip of land called Israel. It's been said that the center of the world is Israel. And indeed, in ancient times, it literally/geographically was the center of the world. And at its center was Jerusalem. At its center stood the Temple, and the center of the Temple was the Holy of Holies where God sat on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant as Shekinah Glory. In the west they write from left to right. In the east they write from right to left. Something keeps pointing back to His land.
    There is no way to describe it to you. There's no way to explain its diversity, its complexity and its paradoxical simplicity. It's the ancient world wrapped inside the modern world. Somehow, here, they have managed to coexist - accomplishing the impossible.

This is the place that it all took place.
How can I not stand here and be amazed?


Here and Back Again

It's 11:11pm, my last night in Santo Domingo for a little while. My mom helped me pack my things and I'm bound for something incredible, extraordinary... unbelievable.

I'm on my way to Israel.
Can you imagine? I'm left speechless. I'm left in awe. I don't know how to feel, how to react. All I can do is think, ponder and wonder what it will be like. What will that feel like? What will this look like?
I owe much gratitude to the friends who have helped me prepare for this journey and provided for me where I needed it. Whether financially or prayerfully. I needed both, and still appreciate the latter.

What can I say?
I'm shocked that summer is already over. Where has the time gone? And yet I was so thankful to be home. So thankful for the rest. So grateful for the lessons learned. The support of my family and friends... 

What shall I do?
My heart is ready to burst with expectation, my tears are ready to cascade over my cheeks in tiny bittersweet streams... who am I to deserve such grace and favor? The honor of a call aligned with passion. I've much work to do yet. But the perspective change is finding joy in the hard work of a job well done. The work itself, not just the outcome, must become the joy, the drive.

Am I actually going? Really...?
It still doesn't seem real yet.

This summer was great. Three missions teams, youth camp, dog-sitting, babysitting, dancing in the rain, visits from old friends and a surprise visit from a friend who traveled across the planet for just 2 weeks home. I've laughed, delighted in stargazing, chased a giant crab out of the laundry room, been interviewed for a t.v. special, lost to my littlest brother in Scrabble - twice, finally had a Dominican fiesta with my youth group, dyed my hair auburn as a last minute model stand-in... gone to the movies, read, journaled, and been enlightened by God in so many ways.
[It's all part of that secret journey.]
What's next?

בְּטַח אֶל־יְהוָה בְּכָל־לִבֶּךָ וְאֶל־בִּֽינָתְךָ אַל־תִּשָּׁעֵֽן׃
בְּכָל־דְּרָכֶיךָ דָעֵהוּ וְהוּא יְיַשֵּׁר אֹֽרְחֹתֶֽיךָ׃
-Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.

He will not miss a step. Love always trusts. I'll take hold of His hand and let Him lead step by step. I know the tune, I can follow the melody. I have the musicality. I love to dance. Now all I must do is draw close, hold fast to Him, and let Him lead.

καὶ νῦν ἰδού, ἐγὼ δεδεμένος τῷ πνεύματι πορεύομαι εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ συναντήσοντά μοι μὴ εἰδώς 
-Acts 20:22

And now, compelled by the Spirit,
I am going to Jerusalem,
not knowing what will happen to me there.

Baruch atem ba'Shem Yeshua Ha'Mashiach!
This year in Jerusalem!!
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