Monday, August 25, 2008

Shabbat Shalom

Dear Family,

It has been an interesting two weeks for me here in Israel. I am sorry that I couldn't send out an update to you last week. There was so much going on, and there still is a lot going on in regards to my army service. Finally, I have been sent to the place where I will be for the rest of my army service. The time of jumping around from base to base has ended and now all I have before me is the job I have been assigned to. I have been placed on the southern border of Israel and I am joining other soldiers there to guard against illegal border crossing from Egypt. The border with Egypt is little more than a wire fence you would see on a farm in the States, so it naturally attracts people who would want to cross into Israel. These would include, terrorists, smugglers, and refugees from war torn African nations. Dealing with the refugees crossing the border is something we will have to work with from week to week, while the other groups crossing over are quite rare.

This is something I never could have imagined I would be doing. Six month soldiers usually become simple workers or drivers for the army. My little unit of 17 will be joining in with the real work the IDF does to protect this nation. I frequently ask myself why God would choose me to be so involved in this way. Asking this and listening for answers has become a wealth of revelation for my life. Please continue to pray for me through all of this and please pray that I will be a shining light for Yeshua on the southern borders of Israel.

It has been amazing to see how different the defenses are in various parts of this country. I have been on the border with Lebanon, through the Jordan valley, and close to the fence with Gaza. The defenses are different according to the perception of danger. The Lord really started speaking to me about the spiritual defenses we put up and how they are often very similar. We take our own calculations of where we feel we are vulnerable and we put up our spiritual defenses accordingly. The problem with this is that the enemy of our souls prowls around like a lion waiting to devour. He wants to exploit those places that we haven't defended well because we didn't see ourselves as vulnerable. For example, I met a missionary once who had been serving abroad for 20 years. The humility it had taken to serve a foreign people group for so many years was amazing to think about. Pride is not something you would expect from this man. However, once when I was talking to him, it was clear that he saw himself exalted over other believers who weren't missionaries overseas. This man didn't see the need to defend against pride because of the humility it had taken to serve the way he had. We must be ever watchful of our spiritual borders. We need to ask God to give us eyes to see where we are vulnerable and where we need to put up our defenses. We shouldn't think for one second that there is a place where the enemy can't hit us. I don't say this so that we become paranoid, but rather so that we understand how much we need the full protection of God. The believer of 20 years needs it just as much as the believer of 2 years. This can be difficult sometimes because we don't necessarily see the danger. That is why our walk with Yeshua is so important. He sees the danger and he sends his spirit to lead us in truth. May the Lord place his angels to watch over you all on this Shabbat.

******
This past week was my official last few regular days with my office. They had a planned holiday for this coming up week, and then I'll attend a few client meetings the next week before returning home. I ended up fitting in really well with everyone at the office and they have taken full of advantage of my 3-D Digital Modeling training. Thanks to all of your prayers, they have invited me to return in March. When I was a new believer, and a new design student, I used to joke around with my believing friends that the Lord was training me to do work on the Temple Mount. I regularly studied the passages that described the architecture of the temple and the tabernacles and incorporated a great deal of what I was learning in the bible into my architecture projects. Even my most liberal professors loved the way I could seamlessly weave together architecture theory and theology, and I was able to share the truth of Yeshua with many of my classmates through my project presentations. After our second year in school, one friend even came into the Kingdom as she was able to see the Lord through a school I had designed. Now she has an amazing ministry herself. The Lord was using me as a temple architect in those days. I was literally helping him build the kingdom and the temple of Ephesians 2:20-22 as I studied, and that was fine with me.

Well, my joking proved to be prophetic and much more literal than I ever expected. This summer I've been working with my office on an observation garden directly across from the Wailing Wall (between the archeological dig and the entry check point for those of you familiar with the area). The details of how it looks are top secret ;) but I can tell you that it will have olive trees and viewing levels for praying and observing the activity at the wall. I would imagine that the next time some of you visit the Old City, it will be complete and you might even find yourselves sitting under one of the trees. I love that I've been able to contribute to enhancing the experience of this space. It has been really exciting to work on such a high profile project, and one that required taking site visits as an office to the old city here and there. The Lord has really blessed my time in the Land, restoring the dreams of my heart. I only have about three more weeks before its time to leave. Devin is a little concerned about whether or not He'll be able to come home for Shabbat given the high intensity of his new job. Pray that we will have sufficient time together before I leave, and also keep in prayer the Lord's plans for me as an aspiring architect, especially regarding the completion of school. This is the area where I am most seeking Him for some clarity right now and I'd greatly appreciate your prayer support!

Make sure to really rest in the Lord this week, no matter how stressful or strange things are, take time to be still.

Love,

Devin and Callie

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Adventures in Yehudia

While we were engaged, we went on a hiking date in Yehudia, a beautiful Nature Reserve in the Golan Heights. Yehudia is a PG-13 hike over boulders and through streams. Its a great place to camp, do some repelling, or just hang out for the day like we did.



This is the view from the beginning of the hike. We walked through rocky trails all the way down into the valley.



As we worked our way down, stopped for a swim in the first pool (which you'll see later in this post), then continued on the rocky trails until we arrived at the pool in the image below.



The hike requires swimming through this part of the river. Isn't it beautiful?



And this is how we got down. It was about 4 meters with a little bit of a jump at the end. We climbed down with back packs, cameras and phones in water proof bags, and did some swimming in the fresh water spring.

The drive from Jerusalem had us arriving in Yehudia later in the day than we expected, so we were only able to hike part of the trail, then turn around and head back the same way we arrived. Maybe we could have done the whole thing, but we wouldn't have been able to take advantage of swimming in the natural pools!



We headed back to the first pool and took some photos.




Is it Devin... or is it Rambo?




When we first arrived, this place was packed with swimmers... us included! The pools were too deep to touch the bottom, and we could feel little fish nibbling on our toes in the water. The surrounding boulders made great places to sun bathe and picnic.




On the way out, we explored these lovely ruins known as Yehudia Village. The ruins mark the entrance of the the hike, but since we headed out the same way we went in, we spent some time admiring them at the end of our trip.




Then we headed home... but not without picking up some Orthox Girls who were hitch-hiking a long the way. Something we'd never be able to do in the US! :)

Resource:
For more info on Yehudia, go here.

Related Posts:
Adventures in Ein Gedi

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Shabbat Letter- Tisha B' Av

Dear Family,

Another week in the Israeli army has brought another week of change. I left the base that was next to Gaza and I traveled to a base next to Tel Aviv. This base is so big that it has it's own bus line running from one side to the other. The base, called Tzrifin, contains about twenty smaller bases all doing their own thing. When I am on this base, it seems like I am completely separated from what is going on outside. When I was near Gaza, I felt I was right next to where it was all happening, so the change to this base was a dramatic one. We spent our days this past week in the classroom. We have been learning all about chemical warfare and the things we need to know to do our job well. I only have one more week at this base, and then I will be sent off to a base near Eilat for the rest of my military service. Please pray that the Lord would give me the grace to deal with all of these changes and the challenges that come with them.

Going to this base, and listening to these lessons has really reminded me of the book of Ecclesiastes. It is vanity to think that we will be able to stop these kinds of weapons if our enemies choose to use them. This is not to say what I am doing is futile, but it is vanity to think that we could stop these things from happening. The ONLY thing that will prevent this from happening is the Lord's intervention. The world could have been destroyed many times over, and the only reason it hasn't is because of His great mercy. It has also given me an interesting perspective on the walk we are on before the Lord. There is a fatalistic tendency within the Body that leans towards the futile. If things really are that bad, why would we try to pray? Why would we continue to work? Why would we continue to try to make a difference? We could just live a "good" believing life in our communities and let what ever happen, happen. How selfish we are sometimes! We live in light and that is why we see the darkness. We recognize it for what it is because we have the Light of Yeshua in our lives. Those who live in the darkness have no idea what encompasses them right now. How can they know if no one tells them?

How many of us are in the kingdom right now because someone prayed us in and then someone was obedient to share. It is our task to push against the darkness through our persistent prayer and to shine our light in the darkness by sharing Yeshua. We should not think that our prayers or work is useless because we cannot stop the way the world is going. The Word says it will get worse, but our job doesn't depend on the state of the world. Our lives are lived before the Lord for the sake of His kingdom and for the sake of the lost. That is our focus and we should never forget it. If we are staying in our comfortable communities and praying only what it is comfortable, we are acting like the man who hid his 1 talent in the ground. We all know what happened to him. We have been given something life changing and if we have lost the plot if we are waiting for conditions in the world to be good to act. Sow now......so that the harvest in the future may be plentiful.

******

Through out various interactions with other believers in the Land, I've heard it said on many occasions that coming into the Land is not easy. Recently, the government decided to begin enforcing its tourist and volunteer visa laws more strictly. I've seen the struggle of those around me to make sure they are secure here, and I've seen some given only a weeks notice to leave. Its been a very difficult few months for many volunteers who have no idea if they will be allowed to stay, or if they will have to go. As I've been watching this take place, my heart has become increasing thankful for the physical security the Lord is building through my marriage, for me to be able to live in the land. It brings my heart to a more focused and serious place in how I understand my calling to marry Devin and live with him here in Israel. This isn't to say that I haven't had my own hardships, though.

Last week, a close friend shared that the Lord had given her a prophetic vision of me standing face first into a giant windstorm. I couldn't have summed up the last year of my life better if I had tried. I have dealt with the strangest scenarios since about a year ago this past April, and they only increased after Devin and I became engaged. Devin has told me that the spiritual pressure I've been under is very much related to having joined myself to him in engagement. By doing so, I've made a commitment to this land and these people, and the trials I've faced are part of the cost of coming into this covenant. It has been exhausting at times, but the Lord has been so good to encourage me as I need it. This week it came through the book of Job. I'm so thankful that He put this book in the bible for us. Its a great reminder that some hardships come simply because we are righteous people. While these matters can cause trials, there's no mention in Job that his hardships are the negative consequences of his sinful actions, because of an open door or generational curse. The Lord literally said to the enemy, " Have you considered my servant Job?" Now why would He suggest Job? "He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8) "And He still maintains his integrity though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." (2:3) Doesn't that provide an enormous relief from self-comdenation?

I don't know that my integrity has always been that of Job's, but I do know that I can rest assured that this season is of God's sovereign plan to refine me, replace my dreams with His, and to bring important relationships into His proper order. There is purpose in every moment of hurt and disappointment I've faced since last April. In honor of Tisha B'av, Devin and I went to the Wall to pray. I really gave it to the Lord and instead of asking him to remove the pressure, my prayer was "Give me the strength to endure it." The Lord gave me a picture of the wind storm, with my hair blowing all around, face stinging with pain.... Then, you know what happened? Just as I thought I was going to collapse, Yeshua walked up and stood in front of me. He took the storm so I wouldn't have to anymore. I just stood behind Him and found rest. He'll do the same for you too. Shabbat Shalom.

Love,

Devin and Callie