CAFO Conference 2015 and Other Things

Christian Alliance for Orphans Conference 2015. One of the first times I’ve been away representing my company outside of the office or my direct area of work.

I’m hoping to learn a lot here in the next few days. I feel like God has me doing a lot of training lately for whatever is planned for 2016. There have already been a lot of lessons and things I’ve learned so far this year.

On a side note, there is a contestant for American Idol from this town and their fans are outside my window blaring music. I’m so glad I brought my earplugs to this hotel!!

There isn’t too much to say yet. Hopefully I can get my thoughts out in the next few days here to help me process what I’m learning.

Hope Y’all have a good night! ūüėČ



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The title of my blog is Letters from Dana, originally I was going to write letters. This worked for a time.

That time has passed.

Here, today, I would like to put down some thoughts that have been going around my mind.

For example, since I’ve started working with youth from the inner city of Detroit, I now hear the word “thoughts” and immediately think “Thots”. *sign* I love those girls anyway, even if they do make me think in slang.

On the opposite spectrum of that, and yet on a completely unrelated note, I’ve given up playing games on my phone/computer/TV for lent. I’m not even Catholic.

This is one of the reasons why I am here today. Boredom leads to creativity. And so I write.

Lately I’ve been trying to get more in depth with my Bible Study. Iv’e been going through a few verses at a time and asking questions about them. I’ve begun doing this with James chapter 5. Ever since I’ve done the Beth Moore study on James, I’ve very much like this book and the style of writing. But it’s hard on a daily basis to truly think about what James was saying and how it relates to daily life.

Today I read James 5:17-20 – the end of the book.

In chapter 17 he talks about Elijah, and how he prayed earnestly to God for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Then he prayed after those three and a half years that it would rain, and it did.

What faith. Do you have that kind of faith? The kind where you can say to a mountain move, and it moves?

or the kind where you can say to a demon, leave, and it leaves?

We Americans don’t like to talk about demons, it’s better if we pretend that the issues you are facing can be explained away with science.

We like science. We can grasp science. But science doesn’t require faith.

and I feel that God has been calling me to a deeper relationship with him, to have more faith in him. ¬†— side bar, what does it mean when the Bible says “the deep cries out to deep?” Just wondering– it’s not easy. I don’t like to change.

For example, I signed up with work for a nutrition coach. I like her a lot, she’s very friendly and understanding…but she makes me keep track of my food, and then tells me what I might want to change for the next week.

I like sugar. I don’t want to change. But I also like to fit into my clothes, and to do that I have to change. We can change for the better, or we can change for the worse. But every day, in every action we take, we are choosing what we will live for.

I want to live for Christ. Jesus, is his Jewish name.

I’ve been reading the book Rhinestone Jesus. Excellent. It’s excellent. It makes me cry with every chapter I read (this is a good thing). She’s a basic woman who lived out her faith in Jesus. And found along the way that American culture doesn’t often go hand in hand with Jesus. At least that’s what I’m getting from the first four chapters that I’ve read.

Do you have the faith to give up everything for Jesus? Do you love him? Are you willing to live for him? It’s easy for me to say yes. But I’m not sure that it would be true.

I am beginning to loath the phrase “God-Sized Vision”… it’s the new hip thing. Mine? To help deliver babies into safe environments, so they have a fighting chance. To love women and show them freedom in Jesus Christ. To follow Jesus and be unafraid of what others have to say about me. Please understand, my loath does not have to do with God or his vision. It’s just the hipness of the phrase.

I’m finding that despite what I may want from my life, I need to be open and flexible to do what God has called me to do. Right Now.

My husband had to answer that question for seminary. “what is your God-sized vision?” He said he doesn’t have one…to finish school…if you will make him give you an answer. At first, when he said this I was highly disappointed in his lack of imagination. But as he explained, and as I began to mull over what he said, I began to realize that my husband is willing to go wherever Christ has called him. When God opens a door, my husband will walk through it. He will not push his way to the front of the line, or do what others say he should do. He waits. And then God opens a door. And he walks though it. He is a patient man. and I envy his ability to wait on God. (envy is probably not the best choice of words).

So what does this mean for me? and more important what does this mean for me and him?

It means I will continue to work. God calls us to serve each other in love. That is my job.

Right now that looks like doing finances for a local missions agency, evaluating our current missionaries and working with other believers to ensure that we are wise stewards of God’s money, we continue to pray for and support our sponsor child in Kenya, I will lead this Bible study on Hebrews, and I will continue to read God’s word every day, even on Saturdays. And I will grow.

Because working leads to growing, and growing leads to changing.

In Christ,

Dana H.

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Dear 2011,

I’m not a sappy sentimental person. I’m not. I don’t like stupid girly Hallmark movies (except Steel Magnolias, but that isn’t Hallmark, so it doesn’t count), and I don’t like sappy songs, (except Don’t take the Girl…but I maintain the right to at least one song that can make me cry). My point being. I don’t really want to look back at this year and be all sentimental and boring. I do however want to look back and see what God has done for me, thank him, and be ready to move on to 2012 with all it’s changes.

January, February. School and Weight Watchers. I don’t remember school much…but I liked my Israel class. Most of this was trying to see if I could get into Israel. And then Weight Watchers. I loved it. I felt healthy, I was working out, and losing weights. 30lbs in total. That was from January to June. Not bad. And I’ve kept it off. So, Thanks. Thanks for the discipline to finish another semester (and bringing my GPA to an official 3.6!). Thanks to God for my mother for doing Weight Watchers with me. She was an inspiration and the real reason I lost as much weight as I did.

March, April, May. My Grandparents. “you never know what you have until it’s gone” OH! so cliche! So true. I miss them. I missed them most when I got engaged and when I walked at my graduation. I didn’t talk to them much, and I regret that. But I did always tell them about major life changes, and they would be there (on the phone anyway) for each of them. I miss telling them about what happened and what I plan to do next. Despite this hard time, you learn and grow and understand what kind of person you want to be when you look over situations like this. So I am thankful that God has given me a family that raised me in the Faith. I’m thankful that my Grandma and Grandpa Jalkanen left a legacy of Christ-centered greatness in the Copper Country. And I’m thankful for the time I did get to share with them while they were here.

working our way through the year we land in June. The month I celebrate my birthday. I’ve spent two birthdays away from home, and by away I mean like AWAY. the first was turning 17(or 16?) and I was in Wyoming with my youth group hiking in the mountains. Awesome, but not the point of this post. The second was 22. I was in Israel, digging in the earth and working my butt off. Didn’t feel like a birthday at all…except for the one small surprise my roommates planted in the ground for me to find. (thanks girls!!). Whenever I tell people about Israel there is one important thing I say to the Christian folk. “It was more like a mission trip than any mission trip I’ve ever been on”. This is because it was a real life, live your faith or hide it kind of trip. I chose to live it. And from what I hear it showed. This June 2011, I got to share my faith. I’ve never done this before. I shared, he rejected (what I totally and fully expected by the way). Still, it was awesome. I felt used by God, and not in the dirty horrid way (I don’t know that you could feel used by God and feel bad about it really…), but in a totally awesome kind of way. There are thirty thousand more things to say about my trip to Israel. But now, I will give thanks. Thanks for the blessing of even being able to go. Thank you God for my roommates and friends I made. Thank you for showing me that life is meant to be lived everyday for you, and not for me. Thanks for teaching me how to be flexible and willing to be used.

July 2011 was…odd. I wasn’t ready to come home and I knew it. I didn’t give myself time to prepare for life after a trip. And it’s important to say goodbye to a place properly before leaving. So when I came home I was still constantly thinking of Israel and missing it terribly. I wasn’t really myself and I knew that. Then came July 22nd, the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Awesome. The day Dave purposed. It was an awesome day, all day shopping and looking at amazing artwork, then a super fancy dinner at an old train station. With, I might add the best waiter EVER. Then Dave purposed. He got down on one knee and everything. Now…had I not been in this funky longing for Israel mind frame I would have probably been super excited and not felt like I was going to cry…and not like the I’m so happy I’m going to cry type of crying…more like the confused and emotional type of crying. After a few days of crying, praying and consulting with my family members I felt better about being engaged…I even got my Grandma Jalkanen’s wedding rings, newly refurbished and absolutely unique and beautiful. Am I happy now? Yes. But I had things to deal with before I could become totally ok and happy with this. Part of this was simply that I had spent almost a month with girls who were unhappy with their choice of boyfriends and wanted to be free to do what they wanted to do. I didn’t feel like that. But when you’re surrounded by it, it’s hard not to want to feel free as well. The best thing about Dave though is that he makes me feel free. I don’t feel a need to be someone I’m not around him. And if I feel called to the jungles of¬†New Guinea then I believe he would come with me (with prayerful consideration of course). And this was¬†what I needed to understand about Dave and myself. We weren’t an unhappy couple. We knew what we wanted and¬†we were it. Nether of us thought that they would ever really fall in love and want to get married, that seemed ridiculous. But when the rubber hits the road, we both want to be with each other, and that’s what we will do…on June 3rd 2012…just over 5 months. So my thanks for July is the¬†proposal¬†from the man that I love. I’m thankful that he loves me and finds me to be someone he wants to share his life with (which is hard to believe¬†that anyone would want to spend that much time with me…). So thank you God for Dave. Thank you for the love you have put in my life. Thank you that the love of a man can be a reflection of how you love me. And seeing that is truly amazing. because as much as Dave may want to be with me and I with him, you want to be with us a thousand times more.

August, I don’t remember what happened in this month honestly…So we shall skip it with thanks for my Job at LandArc and a soon selling of my Van.

September, October, November. School, new job, lost job, Jessica’s wedding! This is my fall. Stress, yes. Disaster area? Yes. But was the wedding good times?¬†Yes. And¬†I ended up doing well in school, and learned a lot from my two month stint with The Silk Worm. I really enjoyed working with the ladies there. But the type of work wasn’t what I wanted to do, and it wasn’t working for either of us.¬†And then I¬†was done. Cried a little, felt like a failure a little, then¬†I simply focused my attention and newfound time¬†to focus on¬†school. Ended the semester well and learned a lot from my classes. So I want to thank¬†God for my time with¬†The Silk Worm. I’m thankful for the people I met and their help with finding me a new job.

December, the last month of the¬†year. Today is¬†Christmas Eve¬†Eve. So there’s a full week and a half left of this year. But, there have been big things in the beginning of December. First was finishing my final final ever. yay me. Then¬†walking¬†with honors and getting my diploma for my¬†Bachelors¬†in Anthropology. yay me again!¬†Somewhere in this I found out I’m going to be an Auntie. Yay¬†Holly and Erik!¬†And then my interviews and call from Bethany Christian Services. There are many things to be thankful for this year. In this month¬†alone I feel blessed beyond understanding. But looking back at this year it’s been full of ¬†blessings and lots of lessons I’ve learned. I’m so thankful for my family as it continues to grow either through my new niece of nephew, or though gaining a future mom, dad and brothers (yeah…brothers… I’ve never had those before!). I’m so thankful and totally looking forward to my new grownup job with Bethany, and I’m so excited for my fianc√© and I! The blessings in my life continue to be almost embarrassing when you look back at them.

So, 2011 I will soon bid you farewell, and I want to thank God for the change that’s come upon me this year. I’ve never been so blessed, and God continues to supply all my needs even when I don’t see him doing it.






Dear Me

No, not in like a “dear me you look awful today”. More like Dear Dana…

There are some things in life that you just don’t like. Whether it be a job or school or your car or someone’s attitude. I’ve noticed lately that you have been in a bad mood. You’ve been complainy¬†and emotional and out of whack. You tried to fix it by reading your Bible, but then you got to the middle of Exodus and got bored. You tried to fix your problems earlier by switching jobs, but now you complain about the one you have. You constantly complained about you van, and now that you have¬† a new car you complain about how you can’t sell your van.

These things in your life that you complain about all boil down to one main thing. Selfishness.

You were talking to your fiance¬†Dave last night and it hit you. You are a selfish brat. You’ve been doing nothing but complain about you, and haven’t given one thought to others lately. So I’m writing to you today so that you will stop this incessant¬†complaining and start giving a crap about other people and their issues.

We are called as children of God to be his light in this dark world. How can you be a light if you’re thoughts and actions are all internal? If you doubt yourself all the time and have no confidence in who God has made you to be. So what if you feel like you’re getting beat up on the front lines of school. Tuff it out and stand for what you believe in. Don’t wain¬†because you want things to be easier on you! That’s no good at all. Example from the Bible: what if Jesus doubted that he was the son of God? Do you think he would have been crucified? Do you think he would have died for the sins of man?

You see! Even writing this now you have hesitation in your heart about making such a bold proclamation to your faith. You hold back because you are scared of what people will think of you. You don’t want others to think you a loony¬†or odd for believing¬†the same things that the crusaders did in the centuries ago. But you don’t believe the same thing! You don’t think Muslims or Jews deserve to die! Quite the opposite!

You had something in the past that you constantly are trying to achieve. that was confidence. To look yourself in the mirror and say I am beautiful because God made me. And to say that I will live for Christ today because he is my strength¬†and refuge and if God is for me who can be against me? But now you feel like the whole world is against you…you lost your confidence in Christ.

Remember: “What you are in the sight of God that you truly¬†are”? Do you really believe that? Do you? It’s time to take a stand against the selfish gene in every person, and it’s time to look at today as a new day that the Lord has made. You will rejoice and be glad in it. Because that’s what God wants you to do. And the opposite of being selfish is being selfless, and that’s exactly what Christ was…So work on being Christ to people today. Being selfless, and if you get noticed for your selflessness, then point not to yourself, but to God. Who gave you the ability to be who you are.

I hesitate to post this, it’s more personal than public. But I don’t think I’m the only one dealing with this. It’s something I’ve dealt with not only in my faith, but also with my love. either of family or my fiance¬†or friends. Being selfless and humble makes you a person that God wants you to be, and it also¬†makes you a more pleasant¬†person to be around. So I guess my point is, if you’re feeling the same way, down, depressed, constantly complaining, then stop. There is a song I love when I’m close with God. It goes “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look forth in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”¬† Truth man.

So today I will look forth on Jesus’ face and work on (with Christ’s help) being a humble person.

With the spirit of tough love,


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Take a walk with me…

Today I’m feeling nostalgic, and therefore will write, but not in my standard way (as you can tell by my title). (and yes, I will get back to my favorite moments at some point…)
I just had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to be back in Israel. I can envision in my mind’s eye¬†that I’m walking along the road headed to the Jaffa Gate. So I think today, I shall tell of the walk through the old city.

Please join me, As we go down the elevator and walk into the lobby of the Tower Hotel in Jerusalem. Walking strait, I go through the side door, because for some reason the revolving door always freaks me out just a smidge. As I walk out of my hotel, there is a large section of brick sidewalk, and then¬†the road. To the right are shops, mainly selling clothes or coffee or some cheap accessories. And when I look to the left there’s a plethora of¬†restaurants From Italian, Chinese, Japanese or American. Anything you want to eat is just a jaunt down the road.

Turn left to head to the old city. Walking past people, vendors and that graffiti¬†that states “set the police in fire” on the side of the building. Such an odd thing to see posted on the side of a building. As we walk we go downhill, continuing for less than a mile, now we pass apartments and parked cars. We come to an intersection, where there are two roads curving at odd angles, which makes the sidewalk come to a sharp point where the roads meet. Time to cross, and don’t worry about waiting for the signal, as long as there aren’t any cars, you can cross. Sharp right! Cross two roads now, it’s a split road. Now just go down the stairs and you’ll see this:

This leads to the Jaffa gate

Pretty isn't it?

This is the passageway that leads to the Jaffa gate. You’ll notice that the wall ont the left has markings on it. That’s because they took it down and¬†marked each piece¬†and then rebuilt it, kink of like a giant puzzle. Something that my not be quite as clear from this picture is the art that line the walkway. Local artists (i¬†belive) have sculpture lining this walkway it makes for a very chic and artsy look as you walk down. You almost feel like you’re in¬†a giant art exhibit. The shops that line the walkway are a high price for¬†the most part. Fancy spas or restaurants, but mainly clothes with super cute dresses in the windows.

We are now arriving at the end of the passageway, go up the stairs (amphitheater like, half circle stairs, just so you get a picture in your head). As you walk up you see the walls cascading up, there my friend is the Old City wall. From the stairs there’s a courtyard of sorts with people buzzing all around and vendors trying to sell you fresh bread and sweets. And apparently, just because they want to let you know that they’re hip, there’s a huge pice of modern art in the center of the courtyard. Looks kind of like a 40 foot tall mobile. Interesting really.

Moving forward we go through the gate, which is a huge (about 20? feet) pointed door. Then turn to the left and you’re now inside those mammoth walls that are the Old City of Jerusalem. This is what it looks like from the inside:

In the City Walls

Ooooo....Inside the City Walls

Now I don’t know if I’ve told you this or not, but did you know that all the buildings in Jerusalem (and I believe in Israel) have to be built with Israeli stone? Meaning all buildings are made with stones quarried from Israel itself. Interesting? Yes. Causing issues with a lack of building material? Yes.

If you keep going straight, following the sidewalk,¬†you will enter the bazaar. It’s crazy and colorful¬†and full of people and things yelling and walking and moving about. I didn’t get a picture of this. I’m sorry I failed you. walk through two slices of the bazaar¬†then turn left then make a right, then walk down those stairs you are now entering a courtyard. to your left there is a beautiful synagogue¬†which is being re-built, it’s one of the oldest in the city. Looking forward there are outdoor tables and chairs with umbrellas where people can sit and eat their lunch. The first time we walked down this way most of my classmates went into a small archeological museum, while me and a few others wandered around outside waiting for them. If you walk down one of the little roads it leads to a residential area, and that’s exactly where I went, you can see some of the pictures below:


A wall near the residential portion of the Old City

More Walls

A little side alley where people lived

This was actually one of my favorite times in the city. It was day 1 in Jerusalem and we only had about 15 or so minutes to take a break while the others went through the museum. But it was here that I saw the daily lives of the good Jewish Israelis. The women had their heads covered, and were wearing long skirts and 3/4 length¬†shirts. They were taking out their¬†trash, watching their¬†kids and having conversations with their¬†neighbors. It was here that I realized that they aren’t really any different from¬†you or me. Despite the fact that they live in the Holy Land, they are still people looking to make a life for themselves. Taking care of their daily needs, and they were also people who had hurts and pains and were just as lost as anyone in the world. They were beautiful, and as I sat on a ledge under a tree, I began feeling God’s heart for his people and his land.

Israel really is a Holy Land, you can feel it when you stand there. But the funny thing is, you have to look for it. It doesn’t¬†hit you in the face when you land in the airplane. It doesn’t hit you when you’re on the temple mount, and it doesn’t hit you when you’re standing in the countryside with a pick in your hand. It hits you when you sit and pray. When you ask God to show you. Then it hits you hard. Israel is a land full of religion…but God isn’t active there, not unless you search him out. And if you do seek him…well…hold on, it will be a crazy ride.

I got off on a tangent there…sorry.

Anyway! Going through that courtyard at an angle, you will head down a road lined with food vendors, (I got a bagel, seemed appropriate¬†in the Jewish Quarter). Going under a large archway we keep going and make a slight shift to the right, and then you were there. At the top of the stairs looking down at the Western (Wailing) Wall. Descending¬†the flight of stairs you go through the security system at the Wall (not unlike airport security). Then you walk out and you’re in the courtyard of the Western Wall, Isn’t it pretty?

The Courtyard for at the Western Wall

This picture wasn’t taken in the courtyard obviously, it’s taken from above, but I thought it would give you a better understanding of the layout.

From here you do your best to be respectful of the people at the Wall. If you so chose you can approach¬†it. When I did the first time it was in the middle of the day, broad daylight. I walked up, found a small place between to women, and touched the wall. I placed my written prayers in the cracks…then I prayed. And then I cried. I cried for the people of Israel, I cried for my family, I cried for my schoolmates that were with me, and I cried for my (now) fiance. And then I cried for me.

I walked that road every day I was in Israel. From the hotel to the Jaffa gate, then normally to the Wall or somewhere around it. So I thought I’d share with you some of my walk. I hope you enjoyed the company.


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Dear Grandma and Grandpa J.

I miss you guys.

I have so many things to tell you! But as I think about calling you I remember that I can’t. Well, you normally ask about how school is going, so I’ll start there. Israel was so amazing you guys! I loved every moment of it, and though about you while I was there. I don’t know why…But you hit my heart a lot while I was gone. I missed you a lot. The other thing that’s happening with school is that I’m getting a Minor! I know it’s not much to write about, but it made me really excited, so I thought I’d share. I’m now an Anthropology Major with a Minor in Middle Eastern Studies. I don’t know what I’ll do with my degree yet, but I’m sure¬†God has a plan for me.

Moving on to my boyfriend, because you would always ask about Dave. Well guess what?! He proposed on Friday! Yep! And not only that, but the ring that he gave me was your ring Grandma! Your wedding band you wore for 57 years. The ring you promised ’till death do us part, and kept that promise. Dave got that ring from my Dad, and he got it all shined up and beautiful. Like it must have looked when Grandpa gave it to you.

I was making calls this weekend, telling people about my recent engagement, I called my Grandma and Grandpa W and told them the news…while I was talking to Grandpa I almost started crying. I wanted to call you guys so badly. I wanted to celebrate with you both so much. I wanted to tell Grandma that her ring is amazing, tell her that her Dana Rose get’s to wear her wedding band.

¬†But I couldn’t.

I know you’re in heaven. I know you’re happy up there. I know you’re looking down on me and celebrating. But I wanted to let you know that I miss you both so much. That I love you both. That I wish that I could share these things with you.

With all my love,


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Dear Favorite Moments pt 1

RE: Israel

Sorry I’ve not been in correspondence lately, I’ve been a bit distracted with being out of the country and then readjusting to being home. My intention in writing today is to not only get me back into the swing of writing again, but also to tell you about a few of my adventures overseas.

I know that you will probably be expecting me to tell you all the fascinating things that happened to me in Israel, but I doubt very much that I will write such a long post. So forgive me, but I think I’ll focus on only the major highlights of my trip. And even this I’ve decided after writing for a bit will be done in parts.

OK. First, before I even start, I’d like to give a quick shout out to my parents for helping me go on this adventure. What a huge blessing. Also, I’d like to thank Professor Mike Pytlik and Dr. Stamps for the opportunity to join them on OakDig 2011. All the work, sweat and tears they put into this trip was worth it in my opinion, and I loved every second of it. Thank you all so much!

My highlights of this trip will be organized as follows:

  • My favorite place we went (pt 1)
  • My favorite people I met (pt 2)
  • My favorite times with my group (pt 3)
  • My favorite part of the dig (pt 4)
  • What I learned from all this (pt 5)

Part 1:

My favorite Place I Went:

all three of our weekends were full of interesting things to do, and beautiful things to see. However, as people ask me my favorite place when I speak to them, I have one place in particular that stands out above the rest. The Garden of Gethsemane (here after named as The Garden). If I look back at the day I went it’s easy to see why it was my favorite place. In the morning our entire group headed¬†to the Church of the Holy Sepulichre¬†(considered to be the place where Jesus was hung on a cross, buried¬†and rose again) (and here after name as CHS). I was expecting to enjoy the experience immensely, I mean come on, it’s the place where Jesus died and was buried man!

Outside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

¬†However, when I entered the most holy church the feeling was…less than holy. When you first walk in there is this pink, flat slab of marble on the ground. Someone leaned over to me and told me it’s supposed to be the place where Jesus was laid in preparations¬†for his burial once he was dead. People were walking up to it, kneeling¬†(because it was almost at floor level) and putting their things that they bought or relics from home on it. Apparently¬†this is supposed to give the things some type of¬†blessing. Although I didn’t really see the point, I went up and knelt down, touched the stone and prayed. I belive my prayer went something like “Hi again. Um, so this is the stone where you laid. I suppose I should re-pray for my family, give them a blessing, let them know that I love them while I’m away. Amen.” Epic prayer right? No not really. But what do you pray about at the stone where Jesus laid. Especially when you don’t think the thing has any powers of blessing at all, it’s just a stone.

Now please understand, I’m not trying to talk down the Sepulchre here, I’m giving you my impressions of the place. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who have had epic experiences there…I wasn’t one of them is all.

From the stone we headed¬†upstairs to the place considered Golgotha, which didn’t look like anything but a big rock under the floor with this epic altar¬†built on top of it. Well, not wanting to miss out on any experience I stood in line waiting for my turn to step up to the altar and say a prayer. I’m thinking I stood there with Danielle (my roommate¬†and friend) for a good 10 to 15 minutes waiting, you see, it’s a one-at-a-time kind of thing. We made it finally, and I let her go first. My turn now. So when you get to the altar you have to kneel down to get under¬†it (lots of kneeling these people), and there is a little hole in this piece of glass, and in this hole I assume must have been where the cross stood on the stone. Because it looked to me like a hole in a stone. Once again, not wanting to miss out, I prayed.

“God…you’re not here are you? This may have been the place where Jesus was killed, but Jesus rose from the dead and is alive. You’re not here are you? Hm…”

I know, I kick hinny at prayers. But in all honesty, I really didn’t know what to say, I knelt there and looked at this hole and just felt that all of this is was rigamarow…it was all religion, God wasn’t there. Mainly because God dwells in the ‘hearts’ of his believers and not in a church. But it seemed like everyone there was looking for God in that place…but they weren’t going to find him there.¬†At least I didn’t.

We¬†went through the rest of the¬†Church, it’s huge man, like 3 stories. Fun fact: the church is¬†owned by four different denominations and each one is extremely¬†Orthodox. So apparently, all changes or repairs to the¬†CHS have to be agreed¬†upon by all four parties. And in most things, they don’t agree. So¬†there are parts of the¬†church that are in serious disrepair because the stupid parties can’t agree on the way it¬†should be fixed.¬†Not really a fun fact…more¬†of a sad fact.¬†¬†

Some other things that left a bad taste in my mouth was the decorations. think, Greek Orthodox shiny fanciness¬†mixed with intense Roman Catholic paintings,¬†mixed with¬†Medieval architecture.¬†The place just bombarded you with stuff EVERYWHERE! ¬†you couldn’t get away from it really. I suppose one of the good things about it was that you didn’t have to pay to get in. there are some places, not a lot, but some that you have to pay money to see historic things. That’s stupid. But none the less, people try to make money and they know how to get it.

ANYWAY! I needed to tell you my experience with the CHS because it shows why I enjoyed the Garden of Gethsemane so much more.

The Garden of Gethsemane Church

The Garden of Gethsemane Church

So, this is one of my favorite places I went. Mainly, as I said because it was in comparison to the CHS. This place is across the Kidron Valley, which is outside of the ‘City of David’¬†and the ‘Old City’. So for orientation purposes, if you’re standing with your back to the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount, you’d be looking at this building, along with the Mount of Olives.OK. So after the CHS, and after unknowingly walking the Via¬†Dolorosa (backwards) a few of us broke off from the group and headed for a food tour of Jerusalem led by Hagi. Hagi¬†had been the one who told me that I would probably like The Garden. You see, as we were leaving the¬†CHS Hagi asked me how I liked it. I gave my honest opinion of the place and then he suggested on our little tour we make a detour at The Garden. So this was one of the first places we went after we broke off from the group.We arrived a little early, The Garden doesn’t open until 2pm, why? I don’t know. But none the less, we got to chill on the street for about 10 to 15 minutes before entering (this is a completely pointless fact, but I added it to make you feel like you were there with me). Anyway, once the doors opened we walked inside with the small crowd that had gathered, and we looked around the garden for a bit. Below is a picture from a distance, you can see the Garden is on the left and the church on the right:

The Whole Garden of Gethsemane Church

So, as you should be able to tell there are some trees and things, but overall the Garden is pretty small. You’re not allowed to go into it, only look from behind the fence. One interesting thing that Hagi told us was that the trees that are currently in the garden are olive trees. Now, the interesting thing about them is that once they get to¬† be over 100 years or so old they begin decomposing from the inside out. so some of the trees in the garden were in fact hollow. I of course didn’t get a picture of this, but thanks to Google Images I can still show you.

Olive Tree (not in the Garden)

Olive Tree

As you should be able to see the tree looks like it’s a bunch of small trees fused together with a hollow center. It’s not though, it’s one huge ancient tree that is hollow in the center because it’s decomposed from the inside out. So, The Garden had several of these trees. Hagi said that it’s hard for them to date the trees after a certain period of time, because unlike other trees where you can count the growth rings, these trees are hollow. So we know that they are over 100 years old, but there is no way of knowing if they date back to the time of Christ.

After we spent a few minutes out in the garden area we then walked into the church. Everyone had come for me, so no one else really entered with me, they just hung back at the entrance or in the doorway maybe around the edges of the church. When you enter the church one of the first things you notice is the darkness of the place. There was hardly any light other than the front of the church which illuminated  the stone that Jesus was supposed to have thrown him self down on to pray and also the light that streams in from the purple stain glass windows, and even that is a faded light.

Awesome stain glass windows

Awesome Stain Glass Windows

As I walked into the church I could feel the silence around me. There were no more than 15 people in the church, most of which were praying. I walked up the right side of the church, looking at the awesome purple cross stain glass  windows, and then arrived at the front of the church. I knelt down at the kneelers which surround the stone at the front of the church. One of my favorite things about this place was when I went and kneeled down there were these funny things in picture frames. They were Bible passages of the record of Jesus being at the Garden, Matthew 26:36-46. Along all the kneelers these verses were spread out. I would say the were in about 9 different languages, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, English, Spanish, etc.

As I knelt and read I could see why Jesus would have come here. The people who keep up the church have done an excellent job making it a place where you feel comfortable praying and calling out to God. The silence all around¬†you¬†makes you reflect about where you are, and why you’re there. For the most part I prayed for my family, but I also prayed for everyone I was on the trip with. During my prayer I felt like I could understand a sliver of what Christ was going through when he prayed. There was passion behind my prayer, that doesn’t normally happen. I was praying with an earnest heart, I wanted to see the things I was praying for come to fruition so badly. After my prayer, I walked back to my group. Hagi¬†asked how I liked the Church¬†and I confirmed that this place was much more what I was looking for than the CHS.

Overall, looking back, this experience was one of hundreds that I had in Israel. But whenever anyone asks me what my favorite place was my answer is always the Garden of Gethsemane. Maybe it’s just because it was a place where I met God for a time, I don’t know. But this is one of many places that I went that I loved, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it.
I hope to be in touch again soon,


Dear Tradition

RE: An Anthropology of Traditions

I’m a traditionalist. I like traditions, I believe they bring people together and allow the current or¬†future generations to connect to their past and history.

When I look at tradition, there are a few different types that are easily observable. Namely, religious, family, and ceremonial.

There was one time a few months ago that I was sitting with my boyfriend for dinner and we were discussing the tradition of marriage, or rather a wedding. I was telling him about how weddings have lost a lot of their traditional aspects with the changing times. It used to be that women would live with their parents until they got married and then “leave and cleave” to their husbands, and a wedding was the ceremony that marked that occasion. However, in today’s society people can’t seem to make a commitment to each other to spend the rest of their lives together until they are sure that they can live together first. This whole consept of¬†‘shacking up’ is throwing the concept of a wedding right out the window. What used to be a beautiful ceremony and a right of passage has now been turned into just another big party to throw for all of our friends.

This disregard for past traditions saddens me. And it’s seen in more places than just weddings. Look at religion for example (my religion of choice is the Judeo-Christian belief, but I’m sure you can see the withering of traditions in any major religion). Let’s look at a major holiday shall we? Let’s go with the latest, Easter. Traditionally a time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the grave. A great holiday really. But do you know what came before this holiday? Before Christ? Passover. Now, any good Jew would know about the Passover, it’s one of the staples of Jewish belief. In fact it’s made its way into the Christian realm as well. Anyone ever hear of the Lords Supper? Also called Communion? It’s like a mini Passover. How exciting!

You see Passover is the holiday where the Jew’s remember God’s deliverance from the hand of the Egyptians. You know, with the 10 plagues and parting of the Red Sea and all. Yep. Traditionally Passover is the holiday to remember what God did for the Israelites. And this tradition was followed all the way to Jesus’ day. I personally believe (although some would say no) that Passover was in fact the Last Supper that Jesus partook in. I say this because if you look at the Passover and what it represents it’s pretty easy for a believing Christian to see that Jesus fulfilled everything talked about in the Passover. Thus the name sometimes given to Jesus, “Jesus the Passover Lamb”. For you that don’t know, at the original first Passover the Israelites were to take a lamb and kill it and put the blood on the door post, then the Angel of Death would pass over the house and spare those inside. Along the same lines Jesus took the fall for our sin and protects us from death and destruction.

Religion lesson aside though, my point was that Easter is celebrated around the same time as Passover every year, and yet, most Christians don’t know much about Passover, if anything.¬†Not only that but look at the modern twist on Easter! Bunnies that poop eggs? what the¬†heck?¬†Of course it came from the pagan¬†spring festival that celebrated life. I know¬†this, but¬†this pagan celebration¬†has¬†wormed its way into¬†Christian ritual…¬†Traditional breakdown…sad.

My third point is on family. I have been blessed to be in what most people would consider a ‘normal’ family. Honestly looking at American society it seems like we are rather abnormal, but none the less we are traditionalists and we generally like it that way. Born and raised in good Christian homes, raised in the Biblical Tradition, tested and walked through the faith, my family sits at¬†a high¬†point on the mountain of family tradition. However most families aren’t that way. I don’t really know how I feel about that.

Let’s take an example from a 1968 pop song by Diana Ross and the Supremes, “Love Child”. This song is about a woman who won’t sleep with her boyfriend because she doesn’t want her (love)¬†child to be shamed by being a ‘bastard’ (if you will) because that’s how she grew up and it wasn’t very pleasant. Now fast forward to today. How many people do you know that have a child out-of-wedlock? I can¬†think¬†of¬†a good few. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning anyone who is in that situation. It’s not shunned or thought down on now-a-days’. And¬†I’m not about to condemn you for¬†those actions. My point is to simply point out the changes in the culture and society¬†over the years. It’s interesting isn’t it?

The term Globalization has come up a lot in my Anthropology classes lately. As someone who is interested in other cultures, I find the idea of Globalization scary. We’ve already lost thousands of cultures, millions of languages and I’m sure unnamable amounts of traditions since the beginning of history and before. What more will we lose in the next 100 years? Which race and language will be wiped out next?

I suppose my point in writing this is to tell you to get in touch with whatever culture you’re from. The largest part of me is Finnish, and I’ve been discovering that history in me for the last year or so. It’s one thing to study a culture that you’re not a part of, in some ways that’s good because you get to see what the people of that culture are blinded to. But it’s also amazing finding what’s culture is a part of you, what you are made of, who you are and your history and traditions. I encourage you¬†Reader,¬†get in touch with¬†your most dominant culture. Learn about them, some of the language, some of the holidays, some of the traditions. You’ll be surprised to find how interesting you really are. ūüôā


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Dear Spring

Welcome back, I’ve missed you.

Well, in all honesty, I can’t really say this is Spring, shifting from 50 to 90 degrees in a few days isn’t really steady. However, this is Michigan, and I can’t really expect the weather to do anything but be temperamental. Weather issues aside though, you’ve been a good Spring to me so far, the past few days especially. Although the rains came down (and the floods came up! heh heh) this past week which¬†caused our basement to leak, (which in turn caused a foul musty smell in the house for a whole week and a half) you came through for me with joy and sunshine in the past few days.

I’ve always enjoyed you spring, all the color you bring to the world after the long Michigan winters. However, even with all the color you bring, especially¬†green, my favorite color, you’re still not my favorite season. If I had to analyze¬†why, I’d say it’s probably the UPer¬†blood in me. Fall generally strikes my fancy, knowing that school is starting and I can cover up and be toasty without being sweaty. It’s a good feeling. But I don’t want to talk about another when I’m writing to you, Spring.

This particular Spring has brought interesting changes. I’ve mentioned them in previous posts, namely, the passing of my Grandparents. This is most likely what I will remember when I look back at the Spring of 2011. My two trips to the UP within a few short months of each other, both taking place in Spring. I suppose the other things I will look back on is my preparations¬†for my trip. But then again, I don’t really¬†recall my preparations for Kenya, so maybe I won’t. Maybe this time will be lost only to my Grandparents. Will that bother me? I don’t think so. So long as I don’t forget where I was when the Spring of 2011 turned into the Summer of 2011.

To be honest Spring, there are other things on my mind. Other things to write about. I don’t know, maybe I should have written¬†this post to someone else. But I feel that you may understand where I’m at. You may have noticed that I not only tagged¬†this letter as a physical season, but also as a season of life. This is because, as far as I can tell, this Spring brings big changes with it. Determining if there will be shifts in the way I live, the way I see things, the way I act toward others, especially loved ones.

Apparently I have weighty things on my mind. I needed to write a letter so I thought I would write about Spring and the lovely days I’ve had out in the sun. But there are deeper things on my mind…

Please don’t worry about me, I am happy. It’s just that with new adventures bring new challenges and changes. And these changes are something I’m working through. But overall I’m positive. And looking out the window to a clear blue sky, I know that I am ok. And God has everything in control.

My the Lord bless you and keep you,


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Dear Stressors,

For the past few weeks I’ve been stressed. This to me is interesting because the only time I almost ever get stressed is when I’m in an argument with someone (which¬† rarely happens) or if I have a 8-12 page paper due in two days and I have no idea what to write about. Now, both of these issues are generally self-induced, and I have no one to blame but myself for my lack of self-control.

But the stress that’s come upon me lately is due to two specific things. Number one, the passing of my grandparents. And number two, my impending trip to Israel.

In April, when my Grandma passed, I wasn’t horribly stressed out about the situation. My main concern was for my Father, Aunt and Grandfather, and also for my missing a full week of school. But overall the trip was pleasant, aside from the circumstances, and my life continued, all be it I was a little bit sadder, and¬†I was a¬†little easier to distract.

But with this past trip to the U.P. there was more stress involved.¬†However, this stress could be translated into sadness/mourning/regret. You see, I’ve never really had to deal with death before. Although I’ve been to the funerals of both my Uncle and my Grandmother, this funeral was different. Looking over it, I would say my sadness is more for the lack of communication and contact with my Grandparents while they were alive. Although I often prayed for them, and even enjoyed talking to them on the phone, there wasn’t a relationship there like I would have liked to have. I didn’t really know who my Grandparents were, aside from what people have told me about them.

There’s always a point when you reach a certain age, where the gap between you and your older relatives begins to narrow. Where your Grandparents or¬†Aunts and Uncles become more of older wiser friends than someone who is just your Aunt or Grandparent. And although I’ve had the privilege to get to know my mom’s side of the family relatively well, I missed out on that with my Father’s side of the family. I regret this. So my sorrow doesn’t come necessarily from the passing of my Grandparents. I know that they are in Heaven and are happier now with¬†Jesus¬†than they ever were down here. No, my sorrow comes from not knowing who my Grandparents were, and not taking the time to get to know them as people. As I was up there I realized that there was all kinds of family history surrounding me, and I wanted to know about it. But those that could tell me the stories¬†were gone.

switching subjects, my second cause of stress is, as stated before, my trip to Israel. I take flight two weeks from today. And with this impending trip comes all the lovely worries and stress of foreign travel, but added on to that is the worry and stress of taking a class. What fun!

I’ve never been on a trip that caused me so much stress, not only do I need things for the dig, but also for the weekends, oh and I also have books and articles¬†to read, a presentation to plan AND a paper to write. Now, all of this together, really isn’t that stressful, and I’ve had time to do almost everything I need to do before I leave. I’m sure everything will get done, it’s just a wee bit stressful with the loss of a week while I was in the U. P. Please don’t get me wrong, I am extremely excited to go.¬†

¬†My overall intent in telling you this was not really to bitch about my problems. It’s just whenever I sit down to write about something here,¬†these are the two things that clog my mind. So I figure if I write about them, maybe it will help me feel less stressed. Perhaps perhaps…I don’t know.

So I guess when I sum it up, I have excitement and stress for my trip, and an odd feeling of¬†loss and regret¬†for my relationship with my Grandparents. I suppose I just don’t quite know how to deal with all¬†these¬†feelings at the same time.

With mixed emotions,


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