January 4, 2013 was a day I anticipated for several months – not because it was my wife’s birthday, but because I was departing for Israel to volunteer with a nonprofit organization called Sar-El. I flew with a fellow volunteer, Bill, who had volunteered before. This made the trip a little easier because I really did not know what to expect.
For example, when we arrived in Israel a day early, we needed to find a place to stay and because it was Shabbat, no buses were running. The next morning we took the train back to the airport to meet with the Sar-El representative and get our assignments. Because of security and safety issues, The Israel Defense Force (IDF) would not allow assignments to be given out ahead of time. Over 50 volunteers from several countries, including the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Hungary, and England, was ready to be split amongst three army bases. Bill and I were assigned to the same base in the Negev Desert along with 9 other volunteers. This Army base was going to be my new home for the next two weeks. + Read more