It's hard to process everything going on in my mind right now. I'm reflecting back to last November when the seed of this dream was planted in my head and I shared it with Vanessa for the first time (before we were even married). By March we were praying for God to do a miracle and provide $14,000, which He did within three months and up until the day before we left! We got on the plane and it seems like in a flash we’re heading back home. It's difficult to describe the significance of what took place within that flash. God did much more than we expected. During our first week in Israel, we mentioned five prayer requests that we were praying for over the summer. Here is how God answered these prayers:
1) Acquisition of Hebrew
Going into this summer I was convinced of the communicative method of language learning and was highly expectant of this program. I can honestly say the program exceeded my expectations. Though we are still at the beginning stages of the language learning process, we have a solid foundation to build on and the resources to keep progressing. Having internalized so much of the language makes reading it much more comprehensible and enjoyable, which was the goal for this program.
2) Increased love for God and His Word
I briefly alluded to this above, but I have observed that the more a language is internalized (as opposed to merely translating in one's head), the more enjoyable it is to read. Thus, the more we learn Hebrew in this manner, the more we are able to focus on the actual meaning of the text without analyzing and dissecting the language itself, which can often be a hindrance to getting the feel for what the author is actually trying to communicate. Please keep praying that our knowledge of the language would be a means to knowing and loving God's Word more, and therefore knowing and loving God more.
3) Clarity for our future
I've mentioned in previous posts some thoughts from this summer regarding our future. We see a massive need for people to learn the Biblical languages through this method. Being in Israel and seeing young children speak Hebrew effortlessly, along with the encouragement of our instructors, made me aware that the best way to learn Hebrew fluently is to be immersed in a culture where they speak it fluently. In other words, learning to speak Modern Hebrew is the most effective way to learn Biblical Hebrew well. We are seriously praying about spending one to two years in Israel after I graduate from seminary in order to acquire the language to a level where I would be equipped to train others, especially Bible translators across the world who are working on translations into their mother tongue. There are many other factors to this decision, but please pray for us that God would open and shut doors in order to direct our future.
4) Our marriage to strengthen through this summer
As newly weds we did not desire to spend our first summer apart since, in many ways, we still feel like we're getting to know each other.:-) This was one reason I did not go alone. This summer had a different rhythm than the steady school-work-school-work that characterized our first semester as a married couple. It was good for us to observe each other in a different context. I don’t imagine there will be too many times in our life when we will get to spend twenty-four seven together for seven straight weeks! We also experienced that being together that much provides our flesh with more opportunities to sin. It was a good wake-up call that we are both sinful and do not always love each other the way we ought to. We praise God for His Holy Spirit who did not allow sin to fester and destroy our marriage, but who convicted us and granted grace to love and forgive each other in ways deeper than we could have imagined, strengthening our marriage as a result.
5) To be the aroma of Christ to the people we encounter this summer
Being involved in more of the “civilian” life (as opposed to the tourist perspective) of the Jewish people helped us better understand the way they think and what they believe. It is disheartening to see such ignorance and neglect of Christ. We were able on several occasions to point to the glory of Christ and show how he fulfills and completes everything that is written in the Tanakh (Hebrew Old Testament), which Jewish people esteem highly. Pray for Avi and Yossi especially as we had conversations with them explaining what we believe the Old Testament and New Testament say about Jesus.
We want to praise God for doing more for us this summer than we could have asked or prayed for. We look forward to seeing what he has in store for our future. Lord willing, we will post updates along the way on our blog.