It really hasn’t stopped raining here in the last 24 hours. I biked home after spending a large majority of the evening at a friend’s house in order to watch my beloved Sunday night football (Go Vikes!) It only took me 5 minutes after the shortcut through the park, but sure enough when I got home, I was soaked head to toe. This morning I couldn’t roll out of bed. I glanced out my window curled up under layers of comforters and six pillows engulfing my goof. The rain hadn’t let up. Not very fond memories of the only other time it has rained in the desert pass through my head. I was wet that entire day and the teachers laughed at me for being so American to walk through pouring rain to get to school on time. Half the staff didn’t come at all, and most stayed home. Israelis like the rain because living in the desert creates a water shortage. It is needed. But no one really likes the rain and it is okay to miss or be late due to the weather. Remembering all this, I roll over in bed to sleep more in hopes that it will pass. I have been woken up in the middle of the night for two nights in row due to water leaks and funny plumbing. There is a half full bucket on my floor collecting rain drops as they pass through my ceiling. Normally, things like this stress me out. Leaky ceilings from torrential rains isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I signed up to volunteer in Israel for a year, but the Vikings won, so these things don’t matter. I’d like to think that the same good luck that allowed the Vikes to pass with a “W” is the same luck that brought rain to the desert. We needed both, badly! I sat in bed and pondered my luach and noticed the date. I am just shy of meeting the half way point of my program and I have entered into a new phase. I also find myself assured, confident, skeptical at times, but never loosing faith. I rode home in the rain with a full heart and pride to be Minnesotan. I came home from the rain as an Israeli with a full heart and joy for the rain. I went to bed washed clean from the stresses of daily life. That might have been the only time I would have gotten to ride in the rain and that might be the last “W” for the Vikes, but either way no one can deny it is a renewal of faith, a renewal of growth and a renewal life. The desert is flooded today and tomorrow ESPN will read “Can they do it again?” Can we? How long does it take to grow after the rain stops?
Most of the time, we think that during winter life stops. The ground is frozen and hard. Things typically don’t grow and new life doesn’t form, or at least to the naked eye. But when you live in desert where things get cold, but never cold enough to stop, you notice the small visual cues that surround you to indicate the earth’s preparation for spring and a renewal of life. Life never really stops, it just slows down and collects it’s energy. Parallel to my life, I have been in Yerukham for almost three , and Israel for almost four and I feel settled. Things have slown down significantly and the little things I noticed on a daily a basis have become common place to me. Everyday I feel more and more like an Israeli as I notice my mannerisms evolve and transform. I am settled in school, have developed relationships with the students and I can begin to see the imprint I am making. The things that once shocked me, I find myself now strangely comfortable with. Under the surface inside of me, I am twisting and turning, evolving and growing, making the necessary prepartions for my renewal of life as spring comes around the corner.
During my time up north, I was inspired by a young little boy named Josh (pics are posted on Facebook). I have never met him or his family before and probably will never cross their path again, but this 13-year-old did something incredible. He donated all of his Bar Mitzvah money to two schools in Tiberias. He traveled to Israel with his family two years ago and was so shocked and appalled of the conditions of the school that he decided to make a difference. I was fortunate enough to bear witness to this event, and saw the impact he made by his generous donation of 5,000 dollars to each school. Israelis schools are in such poor shape and most days I feel like I’m working against the odds, but bearing witness to such a good example inspired me in ways I never dreamed. This boy got it right. At age 13, he is already set out on making a difference in life and living to uphold a Jewish moral code, one that with age sometimes becomes distant from everyday life. and in the society of hustle and bustle, where everyone is for themself, it becomes difficult to remember the reasons for why I am here. sometimes I find myself being sucked and turning more Israeli-for better and worse-but regardless this boy Josh, put it all back into perspective for me. Regardless of the hustle and bustle, I am filling a need that even an 11-year-old boy identified. So this was how I brought in the new year, with giving and kindness on my heart. Amazing how life does that right?