Pilgrim to Israel

So having moved to Israel, I keep getting asked the same questions about how I got here and what I am doing here. Therefore, I have decided to put something in writing. Long ago, I found that life can be looked at in too many ways to provide one single testimony, and previous essays I have written in attempts to provide a personal testimony have been extremely long and verbose to the point where they bore even me to read (and given how people like to talk about themselves, you’d think that would be hard to do), and they tend to come off as rather self-absorbed. So I have at times written little essays here and there in order to make some kind of a point about my life in some sort of a context. I am going to try to make this essay like one of those. At heart I really hope to just provide information about what the heck I am doing in Israel, but I’ll also try to make a few points about my thoughts on personal destiny as well.

To begin with, I’ll say that I am partly here as a result of observing some patterns in my life as well as reacting in the moment to a number of gut urges that I feel have been planted within me. Because of this latter phenomenon, I’ll say I think that I am here as the result of some kind of a calling from on high. While saying this, though, I’ll have to say that my feeling like I have been called to be here doesn’t necessarily mean that I feel like I have any great task to accomplish here, or even any not-so-great task to accomplish here, or if I do have any of these, I don’t have any expectation to have any idea what these tasks might be. Nor do I particularly feel like I have any obligation to figure out if these potential tasks exist or what they might be.

So in the interest of satisfying those who don’t really care about my thoughts on compliance with divinely ordained destiny, and who just want to know why the heck I am in Israel, I’ll just get to the business of describing the events that lead me here. I’ll leave the pontificating about divine callings and all that for the end.

The drives themselves are basically a desire to resume a life that I feel had been derailed, a desire to resolve some hang-ups I have acquired about foreign languages, a desire to separate myself from the United States of America, and a desire to participate in my daughter’s plans to spend some time abroad in some way.

So to begin, I will lay out my life. I was born into a secular environment, and was a spiritual searcher from a young age. I became a Christian in my early 20s after a fairly raucous life of drugs and women. Somewhat concurrently with the commencement of my life as a Christian, I joined the Army because I was going down the tubes in life otherwise. After my first tour in the Army, I remained in Germany to study theology, but ended up studying Jewish Studies because the Christian theology department of the University of Heidelberg had entrance requirements that were too steep. While studying Jewish Studies and Hebrew in Germany, I ended up getting married to a Russian woman I met when I was a soldier, but immigration issues with Germany pertaining to my wife forced me to go back to the USA and go back into the Army to support my family before completing my studies of Judaica.

For this second period of military service, I started out as an enlisted Military Intelligence linguist and was trained in Arabic in order to perform that job. I then became an officer in the Field Artillery, though I fought hard to get transferred back over to Military Intelligence. I served two tours in Iraq, one of which was a proper combat tour. After that tour, I sacrificed a lot of professional opportunities to get trained as a Russian because I wanted to be able to maintain my foreign language proficiency at home with my Russian wife. Unfortunately, my Russian wife left me while I was in Russian school, and the Army decided that after returning from combat and getting left by my Russian wife, then best thing for me would be to destroy my career in the furtherance of a massive coverup because they were being investigated by Congress for driving soldiers to suicide and failing to properly diagnose hundreds of soldiers with PTSD. I went insane in the process. I ultimately wound up with PTSD because of the efforts of Army Behavioral Health professionals rather than anything that happened on any battlefield.

Anyway, due to the extreme efforts involved in the grand coverup, I was threatened with general court martial for being late to work and generally being unlikeable, so I resigned my commission to go live in my mother’s spare bedroom and recover. During that last bit of time in the Army, as my identity as a military officer was being destroyed, I decided that I had had quite enough of the human race, so I swore vows as a consecrated religious (a monk, basically). From then on, I began to define myself along spiritual lines as well as being a father to my daughter.

After the Army, I was first awarded a disability rating with from the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA), so I decided to use a job training benefit from the VA to move closer to my daughter by means of attending law school in Arizona. The VA was just too incompetent to actually grant me the benefit that I was entitled to, however, and they refused to pay for my school. After much complaining on my part, however, they stated that they were not going to help me train for work because they deemed that I was not able to be employed. I sent that statement to the VA ,and they determined that I was permanently and totally disabled. So I took all this back to the Army, and they decided that they should have given me a medical separation, increased my stipend, and gave me five years back pay. In the end, the unbelievably cosmically miserable scenario engendered by the pure evil of the US Army granted me a lifetime of financial freedom, although at the price of a damaged nervous system.

During the latter part of this ordeal, my ex-wife exercised two wonderful opportunities to make me and our daughter miserable, hiring a local country attorney to manipulate a corrupt country judge into preventing my daughter to come live with me at age fifteen, and opposing my daughter’s wishes to live with me again for her senior year with the same court. With this second episode, the court was in the process of refusing to make any sort of decision short of the sixty days it is allowed to do so, while my daughter’s school had already started, and just a few months short of her eighteenth birthday. I decided to just throw in the towel and relieve my daughter of the stress of living in any uncertainty or discomfort from the ordeal. I had myself endured more than I could handle. So I wrote a letter to the court telling them that I was done with them,  and that they could kiss something where the sun doesn’t shine. I then promptly got on a plane to Tel Aviv.

Keep in mind that these last events were happening around the occasion of the 2016 presidential election. I was being bombarded by the media about just how insane America had become. So after dealing with corrupt Army organizations and corrupt rural district family courts, and seeing how the American pubic sphere had completely abandoned any interest in the concept of truth, I basically came to the conclusion that American soil possessed a stench that I simply had to get off my boot. That would be reason number one that I came to Israel. I just had to go somewhere that wasn’t America.

Reason number two, though, is that my life ended up being a series of accomplishing a lot andof really great things that I really didn’t care much about, but yet I wasn’t able to take them to completion. So I originally wanted to be some sort of Ancient Near East scholar and studied Hebrew and Jewish Studies as a part of that, but my studies were cut short by my marriage. The Army taught me Arabic, but sent me to Oklahoma as an artilleryman. Then they taught me Russian, but they, along with my Russian wife, threw me in the trash before I did anything with that. So leaving America, I asked myself where should I go. Well, I know I am older, but I’d always been pretty good with learning languages, so I thought I would come to Israel to learn Hebrew and have a lot of Arabs and Russians around in case I wanted to get into those languages and cultures. I wanted to be able to pick up and continue with some interests that I hadn’t been able to bring to fruition in life.

Then there is just being somewhere situated to help my daughter be abroad. She really wants to learn Russian, and has various interest in studying abroad somewhere. Now when it comes to being godless, Europe is even further along than America. The remainder of the world, however, consists largely of uncivilized tyrants who are just now getting some kind of internet coverage and figuring out how to block their citizens from using it. So Israel is a couple of hours and a couple of hundred dollars from Europe by plane, where there is a lot of Russian culture my daughter is interested in, and they invented 5G internet, and they haven’t blocked Telegram. As the home of monotheism, the patron state of Judaism and home to three million Muslims and Christians, pure godlessness has a couple of hurdles to jump in this place. To boot, my daughter can fly here from Moscow or Rome fairly easily. She might even like the beaches, palm trees, and warm weather and want to stay.

So in less than three pages you have a bit of my life story, and you have my reasons for coming to Israel. If that’s the extend of your interest, please stop reading here. Having answered the question of why I came here, and to then answer the question of what I am doing here or what I plan to do here, I have to get philosophical. Or spiritual. However you want to describe it. I have to make mention of what I think of everything. This is where the ideas of God and destiny come into the picture.

So yes, I mentioned above that I feel that coming to Israel has been a part of some sort of divine calling. I feel as though I have been made to do this. I didn’t set out to study Hebrew or Judaism intentionally, nor did I particularly plan to study Arabic. While Russian was planned, the plan never came to fruition, and never had anything to do with Israel. I certainly didn’t plan for all those efforts to be effectively pointless and instill me with a desire to complete them. And finally, I did not intentionally destroy my own life in order to have a burning urge to start a new one far away. So I feel like I have been aimed at this. I just really wanted to go far away from where I was while finishing something that I could not complete. So I decided to come to Israel and learn Hebrew.

That said, my take on the whole “getting called” phenomenon might be a little different than people are used to. Normally when people say they are called to do something, it’s for some great idea they have that they would like to imagine was not their own. Bob tells his wife Margaret that he has been called by God to watch the football game rather than take out the trash, and he is pretty sure that Margaret is the one called by God to take out the trash. Or people will say that they are called to be the next big thing. Fred feels called by God to come to Israel and convert all the Jews to Christianity and be the high priest of the new Jewish Christian state of Israel or something, hoping deeply to being awarded the key to God’s very heart by Christ Almighty himself. I have absolutely none of that. I got called to get the heck out of the country that had abused me and go do something that I hadn’t been able to complete when I was younger: learn Hebrew. That’s it. I got nothing else.

I mentioned above that my ordeals on this earth have given me a distaste for humankind. Now I certainly have people in my life who I enjoy. But a life of doing things for people, of getting people to do what I think they should do, of trying to be pleasing to people or trying to get people to please me, is not something I have any interest in whatsoever. I’m very much a lone wanderer. When it comes to the governments, I do not expect the government of Israel to be better than the government of the United States. I will merely have the comfort that the government that is harassing me is not my own. When it comes to religion, I do acknowledge that Christianity is an evangelistic religion, and in my personal life I will not shy away from talking about God with those who are interested. However, few people are interested. I am of the opinion that the knowledge of God is not something anyone deserves. People should be seeking spiritual wisdom far and wide, but they don’t, and I feel no obligation to convince anyone to give their time to God who doesn’t already possess for themselves such desire.

I like to keep a heavenly perspective. That is, I fully expect that in many cases the significance of our actions here in this life will not become apparent until we have started the next life. I don’t particularly need everything to make sense in this life or for every plan to come to fruition in this life. That said, I feel within my right to consider that I have come to Israel according to divine plan, and yet not receive any further indication of any kind of divine plan for the remainder of my life. It will likely be clear when I am in heaven why I was built to leave the USA in my 40s and head to Israel. Heck, I could find out at some point that I was build to leave Israel just as suddenly as I was built to come to Israel, and I could seemingly spontaneously hop on a plane to somewhere else, still maintaining that I was called to come, and that I was called to leave. I don’t necessarily need to see myself as accomplishing some plan to change the world. I could have been built to come to Israel and meet somebody for coffee and have some conversation with them that put some idea into their head, that they put into their kid’s head, that their kid put into his wife’s head, who then put the idea into her nephew’s head, and that nephew could be the dude who changes the world or completes some grand divine plan or whatever. I am content to be a tiny cog in God’s machinations. I am also content to look down from heaven centuries from now and see how everything worked out.

That said, I certainly am open to the idea that at some point the heavens will crack open and an instruction manual from God will appear with some incredible marching orders. Should that not happen, however, I certainly will not be shaken. I’ve been given quite an urge to leave America and come to Israel to learn Hebrew. I have no further plans. That being the case, I think I will make learning Hebrew a thing. Student visas for Israel are pretty easy to come by. They are one of the only visas to Israel that are easy to come by for those who are not Jewish, as I am not. Therefore, I could stay in school for a mighty long time. While doing that, I could receive some further inclination that I have been called to somewhere else. Or perhaps some pragmatic issue will cause me to leave this place. My parents might fall ill or need my help in their latter years. My daughter may wind up in some corner of the world and need her daddy. If those things don’t happen, I suppose I could just stay in school until that’s no longer feasible and then seek to advance my residency status here in Israel. That, however, is no small feat for a non-Jew, so perhaps I would head somewhere else, although since I am building up property here, I imagine I would stay close by. Maybe I would go to Jordan. Who knows? In any event, I am just ending this with the idea that I’ll continue on a straight trajectory, making the fewest changes possible, and without returning to the USA unless absolutely necessary.

So that is my past, present, and future. I hope you have enjoyed it. For the latter couple of pages, I hope to have introduced the reader to the idea of being able to look at one’s life and see a divine hand at work without necessarily accompanying that with all sorts of fantasies about the future. You can have those or not have those. If you have them, they may or may not happen. If things don’t work out the way you think, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole notion was just fantasy. And further, I hope that my tone successfully conveyed that our pains, failures, and tragedies can be important parts of who we are, and God can use those. If you were wondering, I am fully aware that “I came to Israel because America ruined my life” is not exactly the most mature or enlightened motivation for coming here. Saying that as a part of a description of a divine plan for me might just offend some people. With this essay, I beg to differ. If personal scars motivate you to do something, and that thing is a good thing, then go for it. That’s my opinion. I personally think God uses those scars. It is for his glory that he uses the broken and the babies to work his will. I don’t claim to be anything but that, and I am confident that I am working his will somehow.

Update 24 November 2019

I have left Israel, and I thought I should update this page with the fruit of my calling. I was apparently called to Israel to learn about hatred, loneliness, racism, false religion, godlessness, and the extent of the walls that prevent people from benefitting each other. I have seen all of these things in the world before, but nowhere else have I seen such a perfect symphony of these terrible things.

I have left with scars that will be with me for the rest of my life, I imagine. I have absolutely no positive connection to that place at this point, and the only reason I could see myself returning would be to address a deep-seated need to finish what I start, and I did not become completely fluent in the language of that place. But what is a language for but to talk to people? My return is doubtful. I really think I will only be back if a whale spits me up on their beach. But I am not a Jew, and that place is for Jews.

In the first part of this essay, I said that God uses our scars to make us who we are, and my scars brought me to the place in the first place. I have left with a few more scars, and they will send me to my next place.

Update 30 November 2021

I am sitting in an Airbnb in Belgrade, Serbia, trying to get to Israel in the midst of the COVID hysteria while fighting against border authorities who seem absolutely intent on not letting me in. To explain how I got from where I was at during the last update to this essay to this one, you should probably read my book, La Chica Electroquímica. I am making drafts of its chapters available on this website. They shouldn’t be too hard to find. That book starts with the events that caused me to leave Israel and ends with my decision to try to go back. So it actually doesńt say anything about how the hell i got to Serbia. But for anyone who is interested in my personal story, it would be the next logical step after reading this essay and the above update where I claim I hated the place and was leaving never to return.

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