After my first 24 hours in Israel I can honestly say my life will never be the same. Imagine where my mind will be after my full week here!? It’s hard to put into words just how amazing this experience has been so far, but I will try. (Please excuse the typos – We are about to run out for the day but I wanted to get this posted before I left!)
Day One was spent on a tour of the Barzilai Medical Center which treats many of the injured from Gaza and Israel. We were privileged to visit and hand out toys in the children’s ward. Afterwards we were off to a high school in Sderot which is right on the frontline of Gaza. Yeah, I was scared. But when I realized that these kids live in this fear every single day, I recognized how truly privileged I am and suddenly felt fearless, and really damn thankful too. Saw my first bomb shelter ever on campus…
We also visited a Police Station in Sderot where we saw firsthand just a few of the remains of rockets fired at Israel.
Lunch was amazing… (so that’s what hummus is supposed to taste like…) Hey #Merica, just so you know, our hummus is no Bueno compared to the real thing!
We ended day one on a tour of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Base where I met the most extraordinary people in my life. In particular, my conversations with the women on the frontline were the most compelling.
Here are the 3 Things Israel Confirmed for me in just One Day
1) Being educated is so sexy – As we sat in a conference room at the IDF and listened to the personal stories of these young men and women in the military, it became clear that even through a thin language barrier, these were extremely educated people… I mean, kids. They knew e v e r y t h i n g in great detail about their country, its history, statistics, facts and everything else in between. It was really powerful to be amongst such intelligent individuals who were as passionate about defending their country as they were about knowing every single thing about it. Also notably impressive was that there was no sense of “man vs woman” or women being treated differently just because they were women. Nope. All equal here.
Dinner later that day with former Israeli Ambassador of the UN Gabriella Shalev was equally significant of the importance of obtaining a higher education. Her resume was miles long and I just felt so honored to be in her presence. There is something soooo attractive and alluring about a beautiful and educated mind. She didn’t have to say much for all of us to feel how powerful she was.
2) Loving your job is as important as drinking water every day. – On the bus leaving the base, a few of the female soldiers got to ride back with us. My friend Kristen who is also on this amazing adventure with me asked one of the women, “how do you stay so happy?” – Her response was that she wakes up every single day “so excited” about what she does. HELLO BRAVE AND SELFLESS WARRIOR… I found that to be absolutely incredible. This woman in particular is 24 years old and has been serving for five years. She said, “I promised myself that every day I would be excited and to never let go of that promise.” Five years later, and I can honestly say its been a while since I’ve seen someone light up so when talking about what they do. This is a woman who risks her life that I’m talking about!!! So the next time I want to complain about work in America, I’m just gunna shut the heck up… wow.
3) Never judge a book by its cover. – If Israel had a “cover” title based on what the media portrays, it would be “danger” “warfare” “disagreement” “pain” “death” “conflict”… and yet after just one day I’ve come to realize that this couldn’t be any further from the truth. When I told a few people where I would be going for a week, I got a lot of responses like “but why?” “have you been watching the news?” “don’t you know what’s going on over there?” “why Israel? Now? Really? Are you crazy?”
And I would lying to you if I said that these same thoughts didn’t cross my mind too. They certainly did. However, I think this is what life is all about – getting out there and seeing the world firsthand, not just the exotic and “safe” places, but also the places that are seemingly in trouble. If God presented this amazing opportunity to me, I know it’s with great purpose and I trust He will protect all of us throughout the journey. There is a reason I am here. Reasons I haven’t even been able to fully process quite yet. (I’m honestly still a bit in shock that I’m here. Thankful is an understatement though.)
At the welcome dinner receptions, all of us were presented with necklaces that read, “One nation” on them. The presenter explained how significant it was that we always remember that despite all the things we “see” and “hear” about Israel, that there is still an immense sense of inner beauty all around this place. It’s within the hearts of the innocent children and families who really just want a quiet and peaceful lifestyle. It’s in the hospitals which despite ample difficulties, still manage to perform lifesaving operations and provide treatments. It’s in the selflessness of the military and their passion to serve their country. It’s everywhere and it’s so clear you can almost touch it with your bare hands. Never judge a book by its cover. As a former reporter I cant tell you how much the news annoys the crap out of me…
It’s important to stay informed but don’t get sucked into believing every little last “detail” that gets dragged on and fabricated in the media. That’s annoying and stupid.
Time to head out for Day Two! We are going to The Old City of Jerusalem and visiting the prayer walls! I am in shock that I get to experience something so amazing as this. Thanks to everyone who sent prayer requests to me on social media. I read each and every single one of your messages and will take them with me today. STAY TUNED FOR MORE POSTS LIKE THIS! 🙂