Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On man...I hope it fits!

Well, it is time to say GOODBYE to Israel. I am finishing the last of my packing and am praying that God opens a black hole in my suitcases so all my stuff fits. I am donating some items to the school - nothing of consequence!

There are also some thing I want to share with you - things I hope I never do or see again!

1. I never want to see pita bread at least not for about two months!

2. I hope I remember that American toilets CAN handle toilet paper!

3. "Just a little further" means "there is no turning back now!"

4. I hope that I remember that my heat and hot water are not dependent on a time schedule - I can have them whenever and wherever I want.

5. I still have the Albino Hex...I scared a bedouin in Petra.

I have learned a lot and look forward to sharing it with you! For now, I have to go sit on a couple of suitcases...Man I hope they fit!

A city of UP

So, I have discovered over the past few weeks that the Israelis do not know the meaning of the word FLAT. There is not one place I have gone where I have been able to walk on a flat surface. I am not complaining about all the going UP, but I mean even the plateaus in this country are not flat!!!

I guess there is a spiritual lesson in this. God has brought me UP to a new plateau of thinking. He does not want us to remain flat (like the flat Sprite I am drinking right now). He wants us to continue upward to newer and greater depths of understanding! I have certainly learned this...I do not read the Bible in the same way anymore - AMEN!

So, I guess that I need to use the stair master more as God is not going to allow me to go flat. I will continue on this upward road to glory! I hope to see you huffing and puffing upward with me!!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Petra: A Wonder of the World

During the last three days, I had the privolege of traveling in Jordan. One of our stops was in Petra: my favorite stop! For those who do not know, Petra is the city that was used in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. And yes...I got to see the "Treasury" used in the movie. Unfortunately there was no knight or grail to be found!

Ptra is breath-taking! How the Nabatean bedouins carved such beautiful buildings is beyond me...and they carved them from the top down! As if this were not enough, I rode a camel in Petra!!! I felt like Lawrence of Arabia. However, I learned two valuable lessons on the camel. One, flex your but muscles when sitting down on the camel as the hump is more pointy than it appears! DON'T ASK HOW I LEARNED THAT! Second, they are an animal that I believe God created in committee. I mean there is no other animal as unique as a camel. What animal gurgles its own spit for hours and sounds like it is going to gag itself? What animal naturally looks like it has the mange? The answer to both is THE CAMEL!

However, it was great fun and an experience I won't soon forget! Petra was full of amazing things! We even experienced a God moment when we had to leave a day early. We were supposed to be in Petra on Sunday. On Saturday night, the south of Jordan received over a meter of snow, and Petra along with all the roads in the south was closed! We would have been stranded.

Petra...what an amazing place! It is yet another place where I can say...I came, I saw, I conquered!

The rocks of History

So, I know that I haven't written in a while...no internet means no blogging! However, I want to tell you that I have been in the Galilee for four days and have gain so many insights about Jesus' ministry. More importantly, I have remembered that when I am looking at these "rocks," I am looking at the lives represented in them!

The ruins of these early sites aren't merely rocks. They are representative of the men and women who lived and died there! They represent the history of the families and people who lied there, ruled, there, and conquered there. These rocks are history! I can say that I was in awe to see what some saw as rocks as standing testaments to people long gone.

Then I got to thinking about what will my "standing testament" be for future generations. And it hit me! My standing testament will be my devotion to God passed down through the generations of my family! I do not need to build some monument that others will one day visit...All I need is Jesus!

Being in the Holy Land has helped me figure this out. It was wonderful being in the places that our fathers and mothers of faith walked, but Jesus is everywhere. He walks the streets where we walk in Lexington or elsewhere! There it is...my ROCK of history:Jesus. He is all I need!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Odds and Ends

What do you call the white boy floating in the Dead Sea?

I have learned not to ask the emphatic question..."ew, what is that?" when the waitress is still in earshot.

I know, I know, I have the power to scare little children pick-pockets!

Why is it no one in Israel looks like me? I thought that Jesus was caucasian!

Why is it that no one has a hard time keeping track of me on this trip through Israel? I do not know, but do the words "sore thumb" come to mind?

Why does the toilet paper here look like kleenex?

I have learned that ADA DOES NOT exist in Israel! I don't think they even know that combination of letters.

Pedestrians have NO right of way...we are target practice for taxi drivers!

Who really wants to go out the Dung Gate? I mean really???

I now know that lemons and oranges MUST BE scarce in the MIDDLE EAST. A cup of lemonade was selling for 25 shekels (about 6 dollors) at the Dead Sea. Do I look crazy?

Finally, the word "NO" in Bethlehem means, "sure go on and stick your hand in my pocket and rob me blind."

These were written in a late state of mind. I hope to post more along the way! ENJOY!!!

From Ugly to Beautiful

In as long as it takes you to read this, you will see how beautiful this land really is.

When I first started this trip, I cursed every step and every time I heard the words "sun" and "up." Not so much anymore...WHY you ask? Well, I realized, while looking at the Nahal Zin (an ugly brown hunk of nothing), that God made this land for a purpose. I do not know why, but I know that because He made it, it must be good (as it says in Genesis). How can I impart beauty or favored status on something that is not mine...I can't!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This saying is coming to life for me. I am beginning to see the land between as a place of majestic beauty with diverse and variey attributes. For instance, the Biblical Negev is a wasteland or hell on Earth in most people's eyes. I now see it as the land that sustained Abraham, Moses, Joseph, and many others. It is also the land where God made His covenant with the newly freed Israelites...though they wandered it for forty years, He provided for them.

Another example is Masada. I thought that I was not going to be able to climb that sucker and was dreading it for a week. Yet why should I let the lay of the land get in the way of my faith in God? I shouldn't! This land is a journey of faith in and of itself. I have had to have faith in God and others to help me survive parts of it, and He and they came through!

So, I would like to pose the question...when does something go from being ugly to being beautiful??? The answer is just the other side of a change in perspective! Try it...it is working for me!


OK, I know this may sound corney but I am beginning to feel this way. Let me explain. The comment was made the other day that people were trusting a blind kid to get them through the Old City. I was able to do this without the aid of a map! What a concept!!! Then, on our way to the bus (post sickness), Dr. Stone said that I was Jerusalem. Immediately we quoted the line from the movie Kingdom of Heaven where the king of Jerusalem proclaims this! I do not claim to have the city so familliar that I know every street, but it is becoming my temporary home.

This gets better! As I climbed Masada (which by the way, I was not last and did it in a little more than 13 minutes...WOW!) Stone again proclaimed that I was Masada. Now this may seem silly to some, but it is becoming somewhat of a truth and motivator for me! Conquering such cities and sites is a big deal! I have never done most of this outdoorsy stuff and haven't died yet! YEAH!!! Being given the feeling that I conquered something that has scared others is a boost in my self-confidence.

My epitaph is going to read...

King of Jerusalem
Conquerer of the Wadi Qilt
Ruler of Masada
Tamer of the Dead Sea
Master of the Nahal David
Slayer of Sepphoris
Commander of Mt. Carmel
Ruler of Petra
Scurge of Har Ben Tal
Lover of God and His Holy Land

In other words...I am proud of what I am doing and thank God for the ability to do it!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Going where no Blind Boy has gone before

Well yesterday, I discovered that the old blind boy has it in him to scale the highest heights and trek when no blind boy has treked before! Yes, that is right...I, Ben Bowman, hiked the Wadi Qilt!

This is no mere hike...at least to me. There were parts where death was inches away and absolutely NO handrails...not quite ADA approved, but I did it! I had a God moment when my prof told me he was proud of me. See, no man outside my grandpa has ever told me that. For Dr. Stone to say that he was proud of me for completing this feat was something that my soul needed to hear.

Being in the land of Benjamin was quite amazing...being in a land where many of the event of the Bible occured was quite humbling. My namesake mau have been the least among the tribes, but he held an important tract of land. It reminds me of the verse where the last shall be first and the first last. I promise that in a few days that I will be more spiritual, but for now, let me say that Benjamin rocks!

Who knew that a blind kid would hike the Wadi Qilt and see the land where God made Himself flesh!


The Albino Hex

I am still in a surreal place in my thought processes. I am trying to come to grips with the fact that I am standing on ground that was trod by the patriarch, David, and Jesus!

Many fantastic things have happened on this trip of which I will write later. One thing that has happened has been that I have discovered that albinism in a Middle Eastern country is not s for about 4 vso much a curse as it is in the states as it is a blessing. GOSH! I had lived my life thinking of all the many things that I could not do, like fly a plane, shoot a gun, climb a mountain, and drive a car. However, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be able to repel pick-pockets. YES...that is right, I have a new found power; I like to call it the Albino Hex!

We were in Bethlehem, and in Bethlehem, street children are rampent...like the pidgeons in Venice. They will do most anything to try to rob you. Two such children followed a few of us for about 4 blocks in downtown Bethlehem. One was bold enough to stick her hand in the back pocket of my professor. To his avail, he could not deter her. However, when she tried to do the same to me, I opened my eyes as wide as they would go, deepened my voice, removed my hat (exposing my white facade), and loudly and gruffly said NO! She went running and screaming in fear, and we did not have one more problem with pick pockets the rest of our time in Bethlehem.

Who knew...the blind boy is instant pick-pocket repellent! I guess we all have to be good for something...it is a gift from God!

Friday, January 5, 2007

A New Way of Living

So today, we began our journey in the holy land. We visited the Old City and saw many sites. They included the Dormitian Abbey (supposed site of the Last Supper), the Zion Gate (entrance into the Jewish Quarter), the Cardo (a Roman Road), a view of the Temple Mount, the Church of the Holy Seplecure, Shaban (our money changer and supposed godfather of the Christian mafia), and a rooftop view of the city.

God has shown me many things in my short life, but one of the most powerful has been the He chooses what is GREAT. To look at Jerusalem is to wonder...WHY HERE?

Eventhough I have to throw away my toilet paper instead of flush it and endure a slope that seems to never go down, God provided for His people in this land and His feet met the Earth here. That is enough to make me have a new view of the city and new way of living my life. God is in control...nomatter what I think, His will be done!