shamrock-wallpaper-for-pc_1152x864_7735331“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”  – Proverbs 13:12

How often do we settle into a routine, turn the volume down on our hopes and dreams, and brace ourselves to live life as usual?  We believe in God and His Word and that someday in the far off future, He will deliver on His promises.  I know I have.  Five years ago I surrendered myself to this way of thinking.  Both of my parents had become critically ill within months of each other, and although I desperately prayed and believed for a miracle, God took each of them home instead.  During this time, I was in a relationship that I truly believed was an answer to prayer and to bring comfort,  but it only added to the hurt and heartache I was already going through.  So I had reasoned that in the Age to Come, I would  see the promises of God fulfilled in my life and not a moment before.  I knew God loved me and was good because I could sense His presence in my life. I knew God could answer prayers at any time, as I had seen in the lives of others and heard in their testimonies, but year after year when life became a cycle of work, sleep, work, sleep, church, work, sleep, work, sleep, church…with my prayers seemingly unanswered, I stopped expecting to see God ever move in any major way in my life.  Little did I know that during that time, God was setting things up to blindside me with a HUGE, Over-the-Top blessing!

I’ll never forget Thanksgiving of 2013.  I was sitting in a Cracker Barrel restaurant by myself, eating my holiday meal.  My family lived very far away and my friends were celebrating with their families and relatives.  I wasn’t sad to be alone or anything like that, I had simply accepted that this is how my life was.  Had anyone said to me that day that I would spend next year’s Thanksgiving Day, sitting in a living room on the other side of the world, drinking Turkish coffee with a group of some of the most incredible, wonderful people you could ever meet, I would have looked at them like they had lost all sense of reality.  Yet, that’s exactly what happened!

A few weeks into the 2014 year, I decided to attend a Missions Meeting at church.  They would be talking about the various trips where they planned to send teams  I wanted to see if there would be any affordable trips to a Latin American country that coincided with my summer break from school.  I had gone on missions trips many years ago in the past, which led me to major in Spanish in college and become a Bilingual Teacher.  There weren’t any.  I was a little disappointed, but continued to listen about the other trips in the fall.  As soon as they mentioned the  details of the trip to Israel, I felt a spark of excitement on the inside, as if I had suddenly come to life!  It had been many years since I last felt that way, and it was incredible!  I knew it would be nearly impossible to get the time off from school, especially during one of the busiest times of the year.  And yet this feeling that I was supposed to go, superseded all of the many reasons “of why I shouldn’t bother trying to go”  playing out in my mind.

20141123_153048I picked up the application as soon as they were made available.  I held on to it, wondering how I could approach my boss about this.  The trip was scheduled to return after Thanksgiving and Kindergarten would be gearing up for standardized testing.  That meant that I would be gone during the test preparation time and return just a couple of days before testing started.  Then it was announced that the Stanford would be replaced by the Iowa test in our school next year, and there wasn’t any indication of when it would take place!  That announcement was by no doubt, in my favor!  As the due date drew close, I was still trying to think of a way to bring up the trip, but then the perfect segue into the topic opened up at our Family Science Night.  My colleague and I had chosen to present the experiment in how to make an egg float to the top.  It was an experiment regarding the density of water.  My principal came in the classroom to observe how our experiment was going and began asking questions.  As I answered his questions I thought to myself that now would be a great time to mention the trip, but how??  As he was wrapping up the conversation he mentioned how our project explained why everything floats in the  Dead Sea.  BINGO!  There it was!  As he was turning, I said “Speaking of the Dead Sea, I wanted to talk to you about this opportunity that I have…”   Even though he didn’t give me a solid  yes, he encouraged me to go ahead and get the application in before the deadline.  With that, I began my adventure.

I got the application filled out and turned in just in the nick of time.   I then had to wait to see if I would get called for an interview.  Weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that I was not selected and felt disappointed.  After I had finally given up, I received a call a few days later to contact them if I was in the building to conduct the interview that was scheduled that day.  After combing through my inbox, I saw the email informing me of the date and time of the interview, and I had missed it!  How could I have let this happen?    I was closing out the school year and didn’t check my personal email.  I sent a message back explaining what had happened and asked for another interview, which thankfully was granted.  The interview seemed to go well, but again it was time to wait.  I got the  call a week later that I was selected.  I was beyond excited!

20141125_114137I really felt that the Holy Spirit helped me to get to the first meeting!  I had the wrong date written down in my calendar.  Our team leader sent a text to remind us about the meeting that morning.  She had my home phone listed as my cell phone.  For the first, last and only time ever, I received the message on my landline.  I scrambled to get ready and go, thanking God the whole time,  that the text came through on that phone and not my cell phone.  I  often wait until later in the day to check my cell phone for messages and would have missed the meeting entirely.  When I got to the church, the 11:00 service was letting out.  I had to park in a garage about a block away which made me late.  As I hurried into the church and in the area that we were to meet, no one was there.  The meeting was held in a conference room in which you needed to be escorted by someone with authorization.  I turned on my cell phone to notify the team leader that I was there, but my battery was dead!  I couldn’t believe it I stood there not knowing what to do and started praying for a way to get there.  Within five minutes, I noticed a female custodian heading in that direction.  I went over to her and let her know that I was there for an Israel trip meeting and before I could ask if she could let someone from the team know that I was there, she simply took me to the area and let me in with her security pass and rushed away.   I thanked her at the time, but I was so very grateful that I wanted to again express my appreciation after the meeting was over, since I knew this wasn’t ordinarily done, but I couldn’t  find her.  In fact I never saw her again and I sometimes wonder if she was an angel.  Had she not done what she did, I would have left thinking God must not want me to go and pulled myself out of the team.  Whether she was from Heaven or not, she was definitely my angel and I knew God was orchestrating everything!

I arrived and got to meet the other members of my team and was blown away by this great group of ladies.  I couldn’t help but think, “What am I doing here?  These ladies are incredible and so spiritually mature…I’m just the daughter of a factory worker…”  But they made me feel very welcomed and that I was a definitely a part of the team.  We had trainings and scheduled events to take part in leading up to the trip and began to bond as a team.

While preparing for this trip, there were many obstacles that popped up that made it seem like this trip would not take place.  I got a new boss who gave me a bit of a hard time about going in the last week before the trip (even though I talked to her about it when she first arrived on campus), the Iowa testing schedule was announced and Kindergarten would be taking the test after Thanksgiving (same as  the test before);  my position was changed to teach regular Kindergarten instead of Bilingual  in the second week and everything I had was in Spanish (I would have to create all English materials myself) .  The biggest obstacle of all, was that in the summer, Hamas began attacking Israel.  This led to  Israel having to defend itself,  resulting in the One Hundred Day War. This ended before the trip, but tensions were still high.   I won’t even mention the conflict Israel had with the United Nations over whether to lower sanctions against Iran, which  would give them  liberty to progress in their Nuclear Energy Capabilities.  Okay, so I guess I did mention it, but that’s all I’m going to say.

20141128_090530The trip went as smoothly as can be!  We got to see  many of the famous landmarks, hike up Mt. Arbel, sail in the Sea of Galilee, float in  the Dead Sea, pray at the Western Wall, and much more.  My favorite was visiting the Garden of  Gethsemane and  going inside the tomb believed to be where  Jesus was buried –  EMPTY , of course!  We also  got to meet, encourage and bless many wonderful people along the way.  My team members were a major source of inspiration  to me and I learned so much from them!

All of this brings me back  to the verse quoted at the beginning in Proverbs 13:12.  This trip was a dream come true for me.  It woke me up from a deep slumber and revived my spirit  and faith!  God really is good, and He wants to give good things to His children!  When asked by a friend to describe what this whole experience was like, they only words I could use to describe it were I felt like my life  was kissed by Heaven!  If you feel like you’ve been put on a shelf collecting dust, don’t  fall for the lie!  Don’t you dare give up and lose hope!  Wait on God with patience, faith and expectancy!  He has much, much more for you!  If He fulfilled this long time desire of my heart for me, He will  fulfill the desires of your heart as well!

I pray that in this New Year of 2015, your life is kissed by Heaven over and over! God bless you!