Dear Friend,

Tomorrow is a big day. You see tomorrow I get to turn in my Middle East Cross-cultural Spring 2013 Application. This is HUGE. I want to go on this cross-cultural so much… the only problem is that I have to explain why. You see, like most decisions I make, this knowledge that I want to go to the Middle East is wrapped up in what I would call a God moment, and a bunch of little reasons that I can’t really explain. I do, however, need to write a page on this desire of mine to be accepted into the team of people traveling to Syria in a little over a year (WOW, that is soon… I’m so pumped by the mere thought of it!!!) So below I plan on rambling until I feel like i have, at least sort of laid out my thoughts so I can write a decent explanation on my application.

As far as the God moments I spoke of, there is no succinct way of expressing how I make large decisions… because I usually start by making a bad one. This decision is usually based on a desire to stay safe, to avoid being rattled, to stay within my comfort zone… I want to do my own thing, and not God’s. But, of course, God steps in and laughs at me until my brain finally kicks in and I realize what an idiot I’ve been. Originally I wanted to go to New Zealand, this desire really had no basis other than the fact that I used to have the Maori people favorite folk song memorized and that Lord of the Rings was filmed there. Never mind that they have more sheep than people… that in itself intrigues me to no end. But Cross-Cultural isn’t about being safe, comfortable, or secure. The reason I think cross-cultural is a vital part of the “EMU experience” is that is the exact opposite of that. It’s here to open my eyes, to make me feel uncomfortable, to challenge my beliefs (and strengthen them,) to recognize that difference isn’t a wall.

Since I began to feel like God is calling me to go to the middle east (God call isn’t explainable… I mean seriously, how do you even put that into words???)  I have come across so many other reasons I want to go. I want to be better informed on what is going on in the Middle East, it is such a critical part of the world right now, but it’s also a critical part of religion. The middle east is, in many ways, a part of me. The events that have happened here, throughout history, impact me every single day in so many ways. It is IMPOSSIBLE to imagine what the world would be like without the many moments that happened in that part of the world… three major religions struggle to share this central place of faith, and I’d like to think that the religious history within that land, isn’t just for one type of person or belief, but for all… that being in the land where my Christ and Savior walked the earth can give me a new perspective. I want to be baptized in the Jordan River, to learn how to make pita from a woman who uses a recipe that has been passed down through the generations, I want imagery in mind when I read the Bible, to know, to have visited the places I read about. I want my cross cultural experience to be about more than movies and sheep, I want it to be about relationships. I want my experience to become a part of me, to be an integral part of my faith, my friendships, and my very being. I want to mourn at the wailing wall, to walk the streets of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Galilee… to experience my faith in a new, tangible way. I want this the same way I want to start a group home, with a passion that even I don’t understand… but that won’t go away.

This is becoming rambling… I’ll let you be.

Love, Mandi Jo