On the occasional hike near Galilee, we sometimes find showering waterfalls.
Hi All,
JUC people have established a long tradition of random life updates. So with the sun filtering down behind the windmill overlooking Yemen Moshe, I begin my tale.
From where I sit now, Yom Kippur will come to an end within 90 minutes.  Although the day has been quieter than usual, the ever-present chatter of the courtyard birds have tried to make up for this afternoon’s stillness.  It has been a typical Day of Atonement in this land.  The streets are quiet, the bicycles are out, white is worn by all, while crocs adorn the feet of the Orthodox.  I ventured out into town with our new volunteer chefs, Dan and Paula, right after lunch.  It was a good, quiet, and overly warm walk.

Some may call Dan and Paula cooks, but I deem they are worthy to be called chefs.  Not in living memory have JUC students ever eaten such consistently varied, creative, and delicious cuisine.  Gone are the days of rice and beans.  Now are the days of fajitas, pancake bars, American-tasting dinners, and homecrafted lemon bars that will cause you to shift your thinking of heaven to include this citrusy fantasy.  With such great kitchen skills, they also make wonderful neighbors as we share the highest floor of the tower, right at the top of the rickety wooden staircase.  Perched atop the JUC campus, this area has naturally been dubbed ‘The Treehouse.’  They are here for the entire school year, and are greatly appreciated by all.

So yes, I am back here at JUC.  Tomorrow will have made it one month since the plane touched off from my beloved state.  It was a rough goodbye.  If possible, friends and family became even more dear to me during the eight months that I was home.  During those months, I was refreshed, rejuvenated, and revived by hitching my star to the wandering path of Starbucks.  An environment was created where I could speak into many lives, and many lives could speak into mine.  This third parting from Starbucks will most likely be my forever goodbye with the company.  For all its faults, they were always good to me.  Why do I linger on this experience?  For two reasons.

Foremost, I share this to show the swirl of emotional pulls that came with this return to JUC.  Yes, there were all those goodbyes, and yes, there was the excitement of a new adventure.  Yet, a huge cloud of anxiousness surrounded my thoughts and actions during my last months at home.  I’m not sure where it all came from, but there was a great amount of mental unease (if that can even be a word).  With all this hovering somewhere between heart and head, I flew out of Portland back to the Middle East.  Never has travel been so easy.  There were no problems in Portland, no issues in Atlanta, and when landing in Ben Gurion, I walked through customs with just a look and gathered my waiting bags from the carousel.  This was a far cry, from the four overly-meticulous strip searches that happened last December in TLV.

In many ways, the ease of travel and entry into Israel has been typical of this month in Jerusalem.  I was expecting a bit of culture shock, but while walking through town in those first days, I felt…well, welcomed.  I’m not sure how else to say it.  Things felt right.  Despite the utter craziness of this part of the world, at this point it is right for me to be here.  This welcome was only extended as I began to work with Diane and Dr. Wright on the campus at JUC.  Initially we set out to prep the dorms and facilities for the arrival of the long-term students.  After they came and settled down, we began diving into the world of Short-Term programs and operations.  The details are not exciting to relate, but the environment and culture that has been created at JUC is perfect to work in.  The Wrights are my heroes and now I get to join them in serving an eager and excited student population.  They are the reason I have returned to JUC.  Which brings me to my second point of highlighting Starbucks.

Most of my fellow coffee lovers have departed from Israel.  Spontaneous coffee tastings in Abu Tor and Diane’s kitchen are but a fond memory of a time gone by.  Yet, with the quick visit of the Wright’s daughter and future son-in-law, we were given a rare treat.  Raw coffee beans from a Ugandan farmer were part of the gift that Kenny gave his future mother-in-law.  An evening of roasting occurred and the next morning Diane made a fresh French Press of deeply satisfying only-12-hour-old dark roasted Ugandan awesomeness.  The darkness of the roast was reminiscent of a French or Italian standard, but it had such a smooth and mellow finish that I’m not sure how to classify it.  There was no bitterness and very few acidic or citrus tones.  It was close to perfect.  So although Starbucks has been left behind, I have found a few other ways of satisfying that jones for a decent mug of home brew.  I will just let the pictures do the rest of the talking…

In wrap-up, this month has been short, but the days have been long.  There is a never-ending list of details and to-dos, but I am finding my stride.  An enjoyable and satisfying routine has loosely settled around the weekly activities.  I am gaining new skills and creating new friendships.  This is where I am supposed to be for this moment…few things are more deeply satisfying than knowing that.