The day that our family has been both dreading and excited for has finally arrived. As I write, Drew is on a plane bound for Israel to study at the IBEX (Israel Bible Extension) program through the Master's College for the spring semester. He knew from the time he began Master's that he wanted to take advantage of this special opportunity to study abroad. At IBEX, there are no classes offered for your major, just general education credits for Bible and History. Drew carefully planned out his schedule so that he could afford to take some time off from his business/accounting major to go to IBEX at the end of this his sophomore year. He will have such interesting classes such as "the life of Christ," "Jewish thought and culture," and even a weekly hiking class. How fun is that? He will be staying at the "Moshav" which is a kibbutz-type place that includes both his lodging as well as his studies. I believe it is about 20 minutes from Jerusalem.
Each semester the college offers a "family and friends" trip, where parents can go visit their kids and tour Israel. We had been planning all along to go, but for some reason, that trip wasn't being offered this semester. We decided that was an opportunity that we just didn't really want to miss, so... we planned our own "family and friends" trip! The family is Rich, Emma and myself; the "friend" is Stephanie. The four of us are meeting Drew over his spring break (mid April) in Paris and also seeing Italy for a total of 9 days with him! We will then all fly to Israel together when Drew needs to get back to his studies, and the four of us will go on a 3-day tour with a guide from IBEX while he attends classes. We get to stay at the Moshav with him for five nights. And, something exciting is that we will be in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday! Wow! On the way back home, the four of us will stop in London for 3 nights, dropping in just in time for the Royal Wedding! I am so excited (well, not about the wedding part) as I have never been overseas before. I just got my first passport! But, it will be 83 days until we go....such a long time apart.
So, this morning at LAX, we had our tearful goodbyes (well, the girls all cried). Drew was so warm and sweet with us as we repeatedly hugged him goodbye. As I watched that brave, handsome man-child of mine walk away, though there were tears, my heart actually overflowed with joy that he is who he is. God has already done great work in his life, and I pray that this trip will grow him even more in his walk with the Lord. Even though he will be far away from all his loved ones, and the comforts of home, I think it will be good for him. My prayer for him is that, like the Lord Jesus, he will grow in "wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52). I will miss that boy dearly. Thank God for Skype!
If anyone is interested, Drew's travel blog is http://www.drewthetruejew.tumblr.com/. As for the title, I think it speaks to the fact that he is kind of proud of his Jewish heritage! :-)