For the next two weeks, I'll be spending time on a Holy Land Pilgrimage in Israel with Ecclesia Houston and my Pastor, Chris Seay. I'll be posting daily updates at the end of every day documenting moments through photo and video. I recommend following our fellow friend + genius photographer, Kirby Trapolino, at KirbyTrapolino.com
Click on the smaller images to enlarge.
Day 2 of the 1st week consisted of visiting our local tattoo artist in the Old City, Palestinian Christian Wassim Razzouk + our dear friends Chefs for Peace. Many of you may know the Chefs for Peace for their culinary pop-up dinners at Ecclesia Houston last summer in 2016. Below I will detail our moments with both Wassim + the Chefs for Peace.
In June 2015, a dear friend to my family + I, Jamilyn Hull, passed away. I could write on forever about Jamilyn, but know this: Jamilyn is one of the greatest people to walk this earth. From her heart to mentor and befriend dozens of high school gals in Houston to traveling to every corner of Earth to serve those without a voice, Jamilyn taught me to follow God's calling on my life. As I sit here on my third day in Israel, I re-read a post she wrote in 2014 when she visited Israel:
After Jamilyn's passing away, many started getting tattoos in remembrance of Jamilyn's life as a permanent reminder of her life's message. Yes tattoos. I have always wanted to do this, but wanted it to be the right moment for me. Leading up to my trip to Israel, I remembered this post but importantly Jamilyn's legacy. In the tattoo above, you'll see a Hebrew translation for "YES" on my wrist. May we all learn from her life and be inspired to always say yes to what the Lord is calling us to. As I hold back tears, I end this moment with saying:
Jamilyn, we miss you. I miss you. You changed my world. You changed the world. Thank you.
You can learn more about the #WeSayYesPeriod movement at JamilynHull.com
Give Me Peace
In the second tattoo, (yes, I've gone from 0 to 2 tattoos in a matter of a 30 mins) you'll see a 'H.' You may assume it's for Houston, my home town, but its not for Houston. Below, you'll recognize a photograph from Day 1. This is Steve Adams. I am thankful for this amazing man. A great dad, leader and friend. We've already begun to grow together: lots of laughter, telling embarrassing stories, lots of crying, some more laughing, some more crying. It's people like him that make our Ecclesia Houston community special. In the summer of 2016, Steve and his family loss their son, Hudson. This hit our community hard.
I first met Hudson 6 years ago, when I was in college through my brother + best friend, Josh. He was mentoring him through Ecclesia at the time. On a few occasions, I would join Josh + Hudson for their time together. Hudson always had a story to tell about something funny he heard, witnessed, or did. When I think of Hudson, I remember his big smile and his joy-filled laugh. He carried himself with a peace I could never quite understand. As Steve and I walked together earlier this week, I told him the best way I could about the way I felt about Hudson:
I went to school to study theology. But when I met Hudson, I could tell he knew something I did not. In a way, Hudson knew something some of us never get around to: peace. That peace we so often hear and read about in the Word. That peace that carried his contagious smile + joy. That peace that carried his simple "okay"s + "pretty good"s.
My prayer today is that I may learn to ask the Lord what to say "YES" to every morning. That I may pursue and one day attain that peace Hudson lived with.
Steve noticed yesterday and said:
You will always remember Jamilyn and Hudson. Symbolically, they're on you. You will always carry their story with you.
With eyes watered, I looked back at him and agreed. I look forward to people always asking me about my tattoos. To me, they're not tattoos. They're names. Names of people. People with a story. A story with love. A love from God.
Chefs for Peace
We also met up with Chefs for Peace, a non-profit, non-political organization founded in Jerusalem in 2001 by a group of Jewish, Christian and Muslim chefs committed to exploring cultural identity, diversity and peaceful coexistence through food. Chefs for Peace realizes food— its preparation, sharing, and enjoyment— is a powerful means of creating a bond with others and revealing that which is valued by all three faiths: food, family and friends.
We met the chefs, Kevork (founder), Ibrahim and Moshe, at the Jaffa Gate. They gave us a tour of the Old City to show us some of the local markets they buy from, visit the best hummus in the world, and enjoy a quick meal + wine at Moshe's restaurant, Eucalyptus Restaurant.
If you spoke with me or the chefs while they were in Houston last summer, you would have quickly noticed there was a bond that grew between us personally. We quickly shared laughs and stories for days. It immediately turned into a love shown through bullying and shooting each other down as much as possible. As you can imagine, I was excited to see these guys again. Greeting each other with hugs, I loudly told them, "the boss is in town!"
These are friendships I know will last a long time, no matter how far we are from each other. They have taught me so much. What brings me the most satisfaction is sitting at a table, sharing a meal and drink, laughing a little, telling stories, crying a little and hearing the high-pitched clash of wine glasses. There can sometimes be a special sound in that. It's filled with joy and stories and life. I believe we should live our lives FOR moments like this. To sit across the table from someone, look at them and with our bodies say "I'm listening." I'm listening not only to your words, I'm listening to your journey and story.