God’s perfect timing – as we were in the airport in Tel Aviv the news reported that Israel had entered Gaza. We don’t know what is or will happen but God knew it was time for us to leave. We found out that the first group missed their connecting flight and arrived in Orlando just a little while before we did. It was so nice to see their smiling faces when we came from our gate. Half of the second group had this opportunity, half of them had a 14 hour layover in New York. The important thing is that we were in the U.S. safe and sound and would be united as a whole team that night. During devotions that night I found that many of the young people didn’t realize that they had some fear in Israel, they shared that the always felt safe but after leaving realized that the rockets we saw could be potentially dangerous if they had not been destroyed. The did share that it built their trust in God though, and that is what we all need to do. Trust God at all times!
We are glad to once again be a complete team.We appreciate the chance to do laundry and the air conditioned rooms to sleep in. Sunday we went to church, had lunch, spent some time at the beach and one of the parents provided pizza and ice cream for us. It was a great time of fellowship and bonding for the teens. They had been through a lot and the relaxing, fun time was a chance for bonding and basically decompressing. They had a wonderful time. Peter Demos shared in devotions last night and did a great job, reminding everyone that we all need to stay in God’s word when we get home. There won’t be anyone making us do it and it is very easy to let the world slip in and distract us from our time with God. We are proud of all of your young people, thank you for entrusting them with us.
Arielle Knowles: I remember being super excited when I signed up for the Holy Land trip because I had always wanted to go on a mission trip. For the past few years my life hasn’t exactly been going down the path God wants me to go. I’d go to church and youth group every week, but my life outside of that looked like everyone else’s and I just did what I wanted to do. I was also really angry depressed because of unstable friendships I was hanging on to, among other things. Needless to say, I came to Teen Missions with a horrible attitude and they met my attitude with equal force. Every day, I was being told what to do, getting yelled at when I did something wrong, running the physically taxing obstacle course before breakfast and suffering in the awful humidity and all while getting eaten alive by mosquitos in a tent. If that wasn’t bad enough, I had to sit through sermons telling me I was selfish and childish and attention-seeking and that made me mad, Because they were right. I was focusing so much on myself and my comfort that I couldn’t even do what God wanted me to. Once I realized that, I started to feel joy, even though I was miserable.teen Missions brought me so far down that all I could do was rely on god to help me get through everything. I was expecting one of those euphoric, life-changing God experiences, but instead I got a slap in the face telling me to get my life back together and to focus on God. We’re not supposed to be halfway Christians. We’re supposed to give our lives completely to God and wholeheartedly follow His will. And it’s not up to Teen Missions or summer camp or retreats to help us get closer to God, but i’s something we have to pursue on a moment-by-moment basis.
Nick Davis: America’s view of the Middle East has been so shrouded and fabricated by the media. That made it all the more of an eye-opening experience getting to travel to israel/Palestine and see what it’s really like for myself (Just don’t ask me about what’s Israel and what’s Palestine. I’m still confused about that one.) I got to see how so many of the Israelis and Palestinians are really incredibly polite and peaceful people. I also got to see how much strife and anger are between many of the people with everything involving the kidnapped teenagers and the rockets going on while my team worked there. Overall I can’t complain about leaving early from the field because of how much I learned and experienced while I as there and I know that our leaving was all a part of God’s perfect plan.