Have you ever wanted to go to Israel?

What’s stopping you?

More important, why is it stopping you?

How is what you have “not enough”?

Are you certain it’s not enough?

Here’s what happened the last time I led a group to Israel…

We received a list of items need by Bridges for Peace, where we served in Israel.

  • New baby clothes
  • Children’s toys
  • Toothbrushes
  • Backpacks for kids for school
  • School kits (pencils, erasers, crayons, glue stick, scissors, pencil sharpener, etc.)

We gathered as much as we could pack, and we lugged around our extra suitcases for the first several days until we began serving. We combined our bags and packed them on the bus. We rolled them into the building where they would sort, store, and distribute the items, and we started unpacking.

11.4.14 Bridges for Peace (5)

 

Little by little, those working and serving at Bridges for Peace that day came to see what all the commotion was about. They found an explosion of suitcases as we filled bins.

And they had tears in their eyes.

We started with a list, but what we didn’t know was donations were down because of the change in airline baggage fees.

We didn’t know they had been out of baby clothes for three months.

We didn’t know the baby clothes we had brought were enough for six months.

We didn’t know they had been praying for provision and witnessed God’s answer.

They cried for joy, hugged and thanked us.

11.4.14 Bridges for Peace (23)

We cried, too…partly for joy, and partly because we wish we had known. We wish we had done more.

It was pretty easy to gather items, pack them, and roll them on and off our planes and buses. What we thought was “not much” was an abundance for those in need.

Yes, we could do more, but what we did was…something.

Look around. You are surrounded by needs in your home, church, community, and world. You can’t solve every problem or meet every need, but you can do something. Don’t let “not much” stop you. It might just be more than enough.

And don’t let your “not enough” stop you from exploring the possibilities of journeying and serving in Israel. Space is limited, so we can get to know each other well and serve and travel well. Click here for more information.

Travel to Israel

Join me November 1-14, 2016, as I lead a group to journey through Israel, with an optional add-on trip to Jordan. This is the third time I’ve led an adventure trip to Israel, and each time, I learn, grow, and make lasting friendships.

What’s different about this trip?

We will serve the people of Israel. Yes, we’ll experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of Israel, but we’ll also interact with, get to know, and serve its people. This trip is available for both women and men, individuals and groups, but space if very limited!

Serve. We will work along side an organization that continually builds bridges among people in the region, repairing relationships between the Jewish people and Christians, which has been damaged for generations through misunderstandings, persecution, apathy, and more.

Tour. We will journey to such places as Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Caesarea, Haifa, Sea of Galilee area, Jordan River, Nazareth, Cana, Dan, Masada, Jericho, Dead Sea, Judean hills, Mount of Olives, Western Wall, Mt. Zion, Hezekiah’s Tunnels,Garden of Gethsemane, Bethlehem, the Garden Tomb, and much, much more.

Experience. We’ll visit an olive oil factory, participate in an archaeological project, and shop in the Old City bazaars. We’ll see the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple model at the Israel Museum and take a reflective journey through the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. We’ll walk along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and Sea of Galilee, float in the Dead Sea, walk through the sand of the Judean hills, and have an opportunity to be baptized in the Jordan River.

Journey. Journeying through biblical lands isn’t simply a journey into the past. It’s a journey into God’s presence. You will be amazed at what God teaches and reveals to you as you seek Him in preparation for your trip, during your time in Israel, and in reflection afterward.

Optional: For those who choose to extend their trip several days to experience Jordan, we’ll have additional free time in Jerusalem before driving to Madaba, Mount Neb, and Petra, where we’ll spend the day. We’ll continue to Amman, then Jerash, to explore the ancient Roman decapolis and modern city.

Call Robin at Lifetree Adventures at 877-783-3066 to reserve space today. This will truly be a trip of a lifetime, one that impacts your faith and challenges you to grow.

Read Susan’s blog posts of previous trips.

Digging Deeper. Climbing Higher.

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

The first time I visited Israel, it was as if I sliced through a tell and looked at the grandness of the cross-section. As tell (or tel) is a layer of civilization. It’s a mound-like structure created by a long series of human occupation and abandonment. As I experienced the cross-section, I savored as many details as I could, but I mainly tried to see the bigger picture so that I didn’t get confused by disconnected pieces.

I connected more pieces when I returned. I recognized roads and oriented one location to another. I steeped in familiar places and discovered new ones. With nearly every step, something “clicked” as if I could identify something familiar with something new. Not all the connections were between the two trips. Many were between places, stories, people and the Bible. Some involved research and reading I had done in preparation for the trip.

If my first trip was like slicing through a tell, my second trip was sitting at various layers and studying details.

Of course, the more I experience, the more I know there is to experience. The more I know, the more I want to know.

Learning is a lifelong adventure. No matter how much you know, there is more to learn.

Faith is no different.

No matter how strong your faith, it is only a fraction of the faith you can have. We can focus on the faith we have and be content. We can also focus on the faith we don’t have and give up on growing. Neither is productive. Instead, we can claim the faith we have, stand firmly on it, but continue to examine, tear down, build up, and take one more step at a time.

Faith is a journey. It is an adventure.

When Piles of Stuff End Up in the Museum

©yadvashem.org
©yadvashem.org

“You can’t take it with you” takes on a whole new meaning when it’s piled up in Yad Vashem, the memorial to honor the Holocaust victims of WWII. Piles of shoes, photos, books, dishes, clothes. Each thing is something taken from someone. Each thing represents a person’s life. Each thing is a reminder of the horror of disregard for human life, the lack of dignity and respect. Each thing is proof that we can’t hold on to the stuff of our lives. We can choose to give it away. It can be ripped away. We can leave it behind. But eventually, we will be separated from our stuff.

What does our stuff say about us? How tightly do we cling to it? How important is it to us?

What are you leaving behind? Stuff? Words? Teachings? Advice? Faith?

You are leaving something behind. Be intentional. It is not all under your control, but you can steward the time and resources God has given you. Trust Him. Choose well.

I want to live in a way that chronicles my life so that no one else has to chronicle it for me.

When We Don’t Believe the Warning

“We’re going to climb a mountain.”

We got off the bus at Ein Karem, and Dany pointed toward the hill and said we were going to climb it. It wasn’t a mountain, of course, but most hills in Israel are called mountains: Mount of Olives, Mount of Temptation, Mount Ebal, and so on. We started to walk…downhill. I chuckled under my breath, “Sure, we’re climbing the mountain.” We were always walking up or down. Nothing seems level in Israel. But this time, it seemed we would begin with a downward trek. We walked several blocks and visited Mary’s Well, then turned toward the Church of the Visitation…which was up a very long hill.

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, apparently our guide wasn’t joking with us after all. He was preparing us.

How many times do we get a warning but just don’t listen or pay attention to it?

God says, “Let me prepare you for the climb you’re about to make.” We still might get out of breath on the way, even with His preparation, but if we don’t let Him prepare us, we often cry foul: “I don’t feel ready for this! I’m not prepared! There’s no way I can do this. Why would God expect me to be able to handle it?”

He doesn’t expect us to be able to handle it. He expects us to handle “it” with Him. “It” is everything. We can do nothing apart from Him: “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” (John 15:5)

By the way, the climb was worth it. The view from the Church was beautiful. The views from God’s vistas usually are.

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

No Cameras, Just Pictures

We visited the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, whose synagogue houses the famed Chagall Windows: 12 abstract stained glass windows representing the 12 Tribes of Israel. No cameras are allowed. The windows are beautiful, arranged with three on each side. We began on one side as a recorded voice explained details of each window. We had time to search for specific motifs and colors. They are beautiful windows, but they became more vibrant with each detail: the opposing animals in Simeon’s window, the white spot caused by a shrapnel hole in Issachar’s window, the large circle of unity in Benjamin’s window.

how-to-take-a-screenshotWe could take no photos, which was, at first, a disappointment. I took hundreds of photos to document our journey throughout Israel. I planned to share them with everyone in our group so that they didn’t have to sacrifice any part of their experience by limiting their view to the camera lens. They would have to miss out on the Chagall windows as they looked through the photos.

Or, would they?

It wouldn’t have taken much time to snap one photo of each window. I still could have stared at each and noticed the details, but savoring each one, knowing I couldn’t take a photo, made me pay even more attention. I searched the colors, animals, and sections of each one to remember them well. I took pictures with my mind.

I’m fairly detail-oriented most of the time. In fact, if I’m not careful, I can let details distract me from the big picture. How about you? With the easy access to phone cameras and quick shares with the world through social media, we have a lot of images to see. We can slip into trusting the documentation of our lives (and others’) by photos instead of doing the tough work of looking at the details on our own. We need to look around and notice the specifics of colors, patterns, and people around us.

We need to set aside our cameras. After all, God gave us a built in camera no one can take away or limit. What photos are you taking and repeatedly searching in your mind?

For more information about the Chagall windows, click here.

Touring Styles

There are many ways to “see” Israel. Most people sign up for a trip to Israel because they want to “walk where Jesus walked.” They do…sort of. I’ve watched throngs of people get on and off buses, follow a guide who sometimes has to use a microphone to be heard. Where microphones aren’t allowed or available, people hear what they can as they trek from one stop to another. It can be a good experience,

…but there’s a difference between touring and journeying.

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

The trips I’ve led have been a little different. We try to combine touring certain “essential” locations with exploring some less familiar ones. We keep the group small, so we get to know each other well and can help one another with questions along the journey. After all, journeying through Israel isn’t about sites as much as about heart. It’s not about gaining head knowledge as much as inviting life change. We serve the people of Israel so that we’re invested in people of today. We might be drawn by the past of Israel, but we engage in the “now.” We look people in the eyes and serve with our hands.

It’s not a perfect approach. I always long for more. As I connect one place with another, I wonder what it would be like to hike instead of drive. I savor conversations inside the hotels and at coffee shops, which makes me want to seek out and enjoy even more connections with people. During the adventure of daily itineraries, I wonder about the simplicity of routines. I come across the people living everyday lives and want to walk alongside them. Yet I have to balance the expectations and opportunities of a limited block of time.

No matter what the approach, I have to be available to journey the way God wants me to journey. That means, being available to notice, change, reflect, and learn every step of the way.

Are you touring or journeying? How available are you? How committed are you? Flexible?

Learn from others, but let God lead every step of the way.

If you’re interested in receiving information about the next women’s trip to Israel (Fall 2016) when it is available, click here.