Wheaton-May 15

            I assume if you are reading this that you are a dear family member/ friend of mine, therefore, I welcome you to my virtual abode. Here, within these cyber walls, I shall regale you with the stories of my travels over the summer going from such exotic locations as Illinois and Indiana to the tamer lands of Israel, Turkey, Greece, and Rome. I am, as many of you probably already know, EXTREMELY, EXUBERANTLY, ECSTATICALLY, and ENTHUSIASTICALLY EXCITED about all of the adventures that I am having and am going to have over this summer! What a RUSH!
            To give some context, to those that don’t know, I am participating in a seven-week program called “Wheaton in the Holy Lands” that will take me through, as I have said, IL, Israel, Turkey, Greece, and Rome. Why IL? Well, it is a little known fact that Paul actually came and consecrated the land upon which Wheaton College was built in preparation for the school. Actually, he blessed the very spot upon which the Billy Graham Center was built, hence the Corinthian-esque columns in the front to commemorate the historicity of the event…
          I am spending this week on campus at Wheaton and then fly out to Israel! Now, let me assuage some fears upfront concerning my traveling. Some of you may be worried about me getting “lost” while in these foreign countries. But let me assure you, I got maps, A LOT of maps.
                Granted, they are of the ancient world with descriptors concerning the territories of the tribe of Benjamin, major exporters of bronze vessels, what route David took to flee from Ziklag, etc. But, I figure modern day Israel/Turkey/Greece/Rome can’t be that much different. If I get lost in, say, Israel, I’ll just ask the nearest person to point me toward landmarks, like the beginning of the Ancient Calebites territory (which is in big letters on *my* map…which means it’s important), to which I imagine their response will be something like, “Oh yes, past the hookah parlor and take a left at the Shawarma hut. If you reach Bethlehem, you’ve gone too far.” So, obvi, I’m super well equipped.
            But, all kidding aside, I am feeling very lucky and exhausted this week. Lucky, because I get to embark on a journey that few have the resources or opportunities to take advantage of. Lucky, because I get to hang out with stellar teachers and students. Lucky, because I am going to places that are not only abundant in ancient history, but areas where history is being made. My mind is stimulated by and my heart breaks for the conflicts that are occurring in Israel-Palestine. Also, I can only imagine the frustration and dismay those in Greece must be having as they try, and fail, and try again to form a stable government in an unstable economy.  It may be odd to say I feel blessed by this, but nonetheless, I can’t seem to describe it or explain it in any other way…I’ll work on that and see what the next few days of reflection bring me.
                        While I feel blessed, I’m also exhausted. As I name the documents on my computer containing the notes from the past two days I have “New Testament on Steroids”, “Roman Catholicism on Steroids”, “Orthodoxy on Steroids”(see the pattern?). Basically our professors have the gargantuan challenge of consolidating a semester long class into a 9hr course. We, as students, have the humongous challenge of processing a semester long course in 9hours. All in all my brain feels rather like chunky pudding. The kind where over cooked egg yolk give the texture odd lumpy bits…  We have our final on Saturday at 8am and then fly out of O’Hare at 4pm. Whew! I’ll try to post often to keep you all updated. Tell me how you are doing in e-mails. I can’t promise I will respond, but your letters will most assuredly warm my heart as I hear from you. Well, until next time. Go forth and be well!