Posts Tagged ‘trip’

Laura Again

So my kids have been complete terrors recently.  I’ve been yelling and disciplining and yelling some more.  I’ve been confused and upset with them.  I want so much to show them love but this week I have had a tough time loving them.


It's Me!

But things are changing.  I simply (well not simply) decided to just let it go!  I’m starting over.  I’m going to discipline them in ways they will recognize (detentions) and I will love them in ways that they will recognize (time spent with them in friendship).  So this week we’re working on that.  I’m going to be happy again – because I can.

I can be happy because God loves me.  I can be happy because God loves these kids.  I can be happy because life is great and because I am different and changed and new.  I can love because love was given – freely to me.  Who am I to keep it for myself?

So this week’s lesson for me is patience and love.  Continuing to love and show grace even when it isn’t deserved.  I had a conversation with a student the other day about letting something go because grace is the point of it all.  “We were given grace even though it wasn’t what we deserved so how can you keep it from someone else.  If you do, you don’t hurt her, you hurt yourself.  You allow her to keep control over your heart and you will destroy your joy.  So give grace because who you are is joyous and loving and I don’t want to see you lose that.”  After that I had to swallow I big piece of humble pie.  Sheesh.  God definitely hit me with a 2×4!

So anyway, we’re starting over.  We’re loving and caring and encouraging again!  We’re Laura again.

Jerusalem Trip on 9/11

The Gang

The Gang

Last weekend one of the other teachers and I took three of our students to Jerusalem.  This is a big deal because they aren’t actually allowed to go into Israel since they are Palestinians, but since they are under 16 it is easier to get them through the check point.  Here is what happened:

My teacher friend – Big Red – met me at the school and we hailed a taxi to go get one student.

Big Red Leading The Way

Big Red Leading The Way

She wasn’t ready – teenage girls!  We waited and she finally came upstairs then it was off to get the other two students in Beit Sahour.  When we finally got back to the first student’s house (her father was driving us to the check point), the taxi driver tried to get 60 shekels from me!  This is because we were speaking English and he thought he could rip us off!  But Super Dad came to the rescue and told the driver you can take 20 shekels or you can take nothing so the driver left with nothing!  It was awesome!

We finally make it to the checkpoint and met back up with Big Red who’d gone ahead of us to scope

Check Point

Check Point

things out.  Things being scoped where … interesting.  You see, it was Ramadan Friday (every three years every Muslim has to go pray at the Dome of the Rock) so it was PACKED!  We finally decided to just push our way through the pack to get to the check point.  The goal was to make the students look very American so Big Red took the passports from everyone (theirs don’t have VISAs) and act like we were clueless to our task.  We told the girls not to speak and to act like they didn’t know Arabic.  This was easier said than done!  Big Red led and I made sure all three girls stayed with him and weren’t touched by the men around us.  Once we made it through the mob we quickly were escorted by soldiers to the “right line for us.”  And very soon we were on Israeli soil.  The girls didn’t even realize we’d made it through.  : )

Once on the other side we had to find a taxi or bus to get us from the check point to our destination … the mall.  We walked and walked and walked and then stopped at a monastery to take pictures thus starting the taking of over 275 photos!  I told the girls, “Go

We Made It!

We Made It!

frolic around those rocks and I’ll take your picture!”  Only one frolicked but we got some great photos of them laughing and playing around.

We quickly got bored of the frolicking so we started walking again and finally flagged a taxi and convinced him to carry all 5 of us.  This was “fine” … until we were stopped by the police.  Oops.  They made Big Red get out and walk the rest of the way – only like 5-10 more minutes.  I took the girls on into the mall once we were dropped off and we met back up with Big Red in the food court.  McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut.  What “American” food did I want?  Still wish I’d have chosen Burger King!

After lunch we did the mall crawl.  Taking pictures throughout the trek.

One store didn’t like that we were trying on their hats, taking pictures, and singing along with the radio so we soon left there without



too much trouble.  You know, I didn’t want to have to bust some people up!

After walking for another couple hours, we were presented with our next challenge.  Shabbat.   That is the Jewish Sabbath.  It starts Friday at sunset and ends Saturday at sunset.  The stores were closing at 1 so everyone could get home before Shabbat started.  We also needed to go because the Jewish buses would soon stop and no Arab buses came to where we were.  So we decided to go to the old city next – if nothing else the Muslim quarter would be hopping with all the excess folks in the city to pray.

Big Red and I decided to keep our destination from the girls.  Heeheehee.  That makes anything more fun!  We even convinced one girl that we were going to Tel Aviv!  She was so disappointed when we arrived at the Damascus Gate!  We walked some more.  I do love walking!  We decided to take the kids to the roof of a school we knew where we could see an amazing view of Jerusalem.  On the way we were stopped by something extraordinarily beautiful.

It does exist here!

It does exist here!


Lush green grass.  I couldn’t stop myself from running to it and laying face down in it!  It was heaven!  This caused the group to stop and even more pictures were taken.  Gotta love digital cameras.

When we finally left the grass I had to take one last look.  *sigh*

We made it to the school and the roof – but not without a lot of complaining about the walking and the stairs and the lack of information about the destination.  But when we finally got to the roof the girls Hellwere amazed by what they saw.

Big Red started telling them about the area including the Valley of Hinnom, right next to the school ,that used to be Gehenna.  AKA Hell.  So we started calling it hell and taking pictures of it … and ourselves and our shadows and … well you get the picture.  No pun intended.

We left the school then and went down into hell and … took more pictures!  And laughed and laughed and laughed some more.  It was ironic to be laughing so much in … hell.

Laughing in Hell

Laughing in Hell

We then caught a taxi back to the check point since the Arab buses were packed from the folks who were finished praying.  And since it was Ramadan the buses were rapidly diminishing because the drivers wanted to go home to eat!  The taxi again was okay with taking all 5 of us and we made it back to the check point without the interference of the police.

We then walked back to our side of the wall, took pictures of the wall, almost got shot by an Israeli

Graffiti on THE WALL

Graffiti on THE WALL

soldier for taking the wall photos, and finally walked back to the school.  Shortly after arriving, rides came to get kids and I went upstairs to crash.

It was a great day!

Finally Here

So I arrived in Bethlehem on Saturday night.  The flight was … long!  I didn’t sleep much but I did sleep.  Boo.  There were no IMG_3428problems in the airport or anything like that and my bags all showed up!

Jerusalem was beautiful!  I really like the feel of the city.  It’s a place where hard and soft meet.  Stone buildings, friendly people, ancient history, current events, CocaCola, etc.  I even saw a Burger King!

We finally arrived at the school very late on Saturday and I got to see the city from my living room window.  I love the hills and terrain (except when walking them).   I got all unpacked then tried to sleep … that didn’t work too well.

The Bed:  My bed may as well be made of concrete for the amount of give it has!  I sit on it and nothing happens.  I push on it with my hand and my arm moves instead of the bed.  Hard doesn’t do it justice!

Weather:  It reallyIMG_3424 is very similar to Orlando.  I like this because it feels a little more like home.  The difference is there is actually a breeze.  There isn’t rain and it isn’t humid.  There is also a lot more brown – we don’t have grass at all.

People:  I haven’t met many but they all seem extremely friendly.  Interesting thought: In Jerusalem I had two young people (girl and guy) comment that the tattoo on my left arm is bad, but they liked the others…basically tattoos are acceptable, just not cross tattoos (makes sense if you don’t agree with tIMG_3432he whole Jesus thing).  The interesting part is that, in general, Christians dislike tattoos no matter what they are.  Thoughts?!

Prayer Requests:  To continue to acclimate to the area and the people.  To remember names (and pronounce them correctly).  To find a church close to my apartment so I can invest time there.  Finances continue coming in!  That I can quickly learn a few Arabic phrases.  For my students.  My lesson plans.  My expectations.  My sanity.  My loved ones back in the States.  And most importantly, that I can be used by God to reach these people for Him!


Today is the day I leave for my my big adventure.  I’m not sure how should be feeling right now.  I’m a big mix of emotions.

1. Sadness:  I am not ready to leave my friends.  They are great people and I’m going to miss them immensely.  I have come to lean on them for support in life and I’m not sure if I’m ready to change that just yet.

2. Nervousness:  Travel is never an easy thing and I’ll be on an airplane for 18 hours (with time changes)!  Not to mention I’ll be traveling internationally so there will be customs and passports and check points and possible interrogations.  Yikes!

3. Excitement: I will get to see the places Jesus saw!  ‘Nough said.

4. Anxiety: Will the students like me?  Will I be able to relate to them?  Will I be able to teach them?  Will my roommate like me?  Will I like the food?  Etc.

5. Confidence:  This is my path and I am supposed to follow it.  Who am I to mess with God’s plan and work?!

Well, that’s really all I have right now.  Wish me luck!



I don’t like waiting.  I’ve never been much good at patience!  I have about 60 days before the big voyage across the world and (though I’m nowhere near ready to depart) I am ready for the waiting to be over!

clocks____I want to meet the people I’ll be living and working with.  I want to see all the amazing sights.  I want to experience 18 hours on an airplane.  I want to get my very first passport book stamp!  I want to go, do, see, be!  But I’m stuck waiting!

Don’t get me wrong … I am not ready to leave behind my life – I’m not ready for the sacrifices of friends and community and “normal” electrical outlets.  I love my life and I love my family – those biological and not!  I don’t like to think of the action of leaving because it makes me sad but I hate the anticipation.

In fact most times something big was coming I would get sick!  Because I’d be so focused on it that I’d excite myself enough to not get the … whatever I needed and my body would retaliate with a cold!  I don’t want to be sick for my first week of Bethlehem!

60 days!

Prayer Requests:

Finding people to take my place in groups I led

My family … still

Finding people to fill my gaps in my communities and friendships (I don’t want someone to lose growth because I’m gone)



I’m still excited.

I have amazing support to lean on when I’m not so excited.

I’m slowly moving through my check list and feeling good about my pace.


Dear Friend,

Most of you who read this letter know me well.  For those who don’t (thanks for taking the time to read this); I am an honest take-me-as-I-am person who doesn’t beat period – on, in, or around the bush or anywhere else.  I refuse to sugar coat this letter to make it sound like something it is not.  I am seeking both financial and prayer support.  I will need both for the journey I am starting.  I need your help to bring the vision and calling God has given me into fulfillment so without further comment I bring you The Support Letter.

In a very short time I will be moving to Bethlehem (as in O Little Town Of) in Palestine.  I am teaching History and Bible to 10th, 11th, and 12th grader students at one of the local schools.  I will live and work in Bethlehem for tenCB022158 months (August 2009 – June 2010).  Unfortunately, I will not be paid for this position other than receiving housing at the school.  This is where you come in.

I know deep in my soul that God is leading me to these students but I do not have the money necessary to get there and live for ten months!  I am looking for one-time gifts or monthly support.  Do not feel bad if you cannot give financially because I also need prayer warriors continually lifting me, the other teachers, and the students up to God.

And, yes, you can be both a monetary giver and prayer warrior!

Maybe you know other people who would be willing to support this journey – feel free to pass my story and info on to them as well!

Lastly, if you would like to hear about my time in Bethlehem continue checking out this blog.

worship1Thank you for your part in my life and this next chapter of it!  I know God is going to use you all mightily.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!


*For more information on sponsoring or praying for me please comment below!

Paperwork and Selling Stuff

I just got an email saying that some vital paperwork is due … today.  I am supposed to fax it to the school or something so they can process it tomorrow.  Here’s a … challenge: I don’t have a fax machine.  And I don’t work for a company that would let me use theirs.  I am not quite sure what I’m going to do – call in a favor I guess.

PaperworkAnyway, the paperwork is basically an application – normal stuff like address, experience, education, references, etc.  Nothing too terrible.  I’ll probably complete it in about 10 minutes but it does ask for a passport number and if you’ve ever been out of the country and I spent 5 days in Toronto (before 9/11) so I  don’t have my passport.  I’ve ordered it but it won’t be here for a little while – like the middle of July!  Yikes!  I hope that’s okay – I mean I can’t really do anything about it now but I feel bad (a little).

Now with the Volunteer Application came a “Here’s What To Expect” Sheet.  It’s all kinds of crazy!  I mean most of it I was anticipating but that doesn’t make it any easier to be almost 25 and know that I’m going to have to ask to do most things I’ve been doing without thinking for over 10 years.  But that’s what I signed up for so I’m sure I’ll bulk against it some but fall underneath the authority like the “good girl”  I am.

On top of having paperwork and passports and visas to worry about, I am trying to sell all my crap (want some?).  Itfor sale isn’t crap – it’s just a lot more stuff than I ever thought I had.  I’d get one area of my apartment all cleaned out and go *sigh* “I feel better – all done.”  Then I’d open a door or a drawer and more stuff was there waiting for me.  I think my board games were gloating!  Anyway, I am having a moving sale – EVERYTHING MUST GO – if you need anything (dvds, books, guitar, bike, tv, ceiling fan, computer, printer, assorted dishware, assorted cookware, assorted wall art, vacuum, couch and love seat combo, etc.  Lemme know!

I promise I’m done plugging my sale!  PLUG!  Okay really finished now.

Even with all the work I have to do I’m excited and unnaturally peace-filled about the trip.  I have just over 60 days before I leave everything and everyone I’ve ever known.  That’s kind of scary.  Anyway…

Prayer Requests:

I would like to sell everything I have – the money would help with my trip

To quickly receive my passpoart and easily attain all other documentation I need

My family – I will miss them and I know it’s going to be hard on them (especially Mom)

The people I’m goint to work with and meet in Bethlehem – teachers, nationals, students, etc. – God is working in their life and I’d love for them to see it!


I found someone to take over my apartment lease!  YAY!desk_calendar_1

My family – they are letting me go

My friends – without them I wouldn’t be able to make the next 60+ days

The Trip Literally Around The World

I have never been out of the United States before – I mean I went to Toronto for 5 days but that doesn’t really count (at least that’s what I keep hearing). I used to have a “regular” full-time job but I was fired for lack of experience. I was unnaturally “okay” with that. Not because I wanted to leave my “regular” job but because God knew it was time to go before I was willing to admit it.thank-you

I want to take just a moment and express my gratitude, respect, and affection for those who work at my former workplace (you know who you are). You are amazing people and I am a different – better – person having worked with you and learned from you. Thank you for helping me become who I needed to be to take this giant journey!

Now for the journey! I am moving to Bethlehem! As in “O Little Town Of …” I will be teaching History and Bible in a high school there and will live with the Palestinians for 10 months.


Do you have a teaching degree? No, but I don’t need one for this position (it’s different than in the US)

Are you scared? Yes! But not for my life. I am not worried about dieing in a terrorist attack or anything like that.

Where will you live? Above the school in an apartment for the teachers.

How will you make money? By raising support from loved ones who want to see God’s Kingdom spread throughout the world (wanna give?).

When do you leave/return? I leave on August 14th and will return sometime before July 1st, 2010.

I know that God is leading me in this endeavor and I super excited to see where He takes me. I know I’bethlehemm going to grow and change and mature in this process and journey. I would welcome any and all prayers and good thoughts lifted up in my name (and the other teachers, students, and their families).

I look forward to taking you on this journey with me!