F3 Trip: Israel, May 2018

I BELIEVE yet I’ve never BEEN. I’ve never walked where Jesus walked and I’ve never seen the land that Jesus saw.
That’s gotta change.
Have you been? Don’t we have to go at least once? If you’ve been once…why not twice? If you’re like me you’re a Christian and have been for decades. Yet I’ve never set foot on the same soil that Jesus walked on when he was here on earth. I don’t know about you but that is an itch I have to scratch. Have to. Call it the pilgrimage of a lifetime – because that is exactly what it is.
Turns out there’s a F3 brother in Hickory, Walk-On (David Wachter), who leads trips to Israel on a regular basis. He’s nearly completed his seminary education and has a thing for taking groups to Israel. A former college quarterback, Walk-On is on his self-described “third vocation” after spending much of his twenties, thirties and forties as an engineer and then financial planner. He’s long had a call to seminary and is fulfilling that call now at 46 while maintaining his financial planning business.
Like a lot of people who do this regularly he’s “got a guy” on the ground in Israel, his name is Boaz (naturally), to help coordinate that side of the pond and then grab him and his groups when they get off the plane in Tel Aviv. So what had happen wuz…I was talking with my father, Abraham (this is all a bit too cliché perhaps?) and mentioned not for the first time that I really want to go to Israel and he put me in touch with Walk-On. This was all pre-ordained (yep, I’m a Presbyterian) because Walk-On is leaving in May to take a group and wants to do another trip in May 2018. His trip this May is a run of the mill, on the path, touristy trip but Walk-On really loves the other kind of trip. The other kind of trip is a bit, shall we say, harder. Walk-On likes leading an “intense trip” for 30 people OFF the beaten path. We will still stay in hotels every night so, no, this is not a camping trip or a no shower mission trip but what this sounds like to me is a PERFECT F3 trip. Don’t just go look at the mountain, climb it. Don’t just go look at the desert, hike across it just like Jesus and his disciples did. The trip will of course include all of the Israel “must sees” like Masada, Qumran, Jericho, Galilee and the Golan Heights, Tel Dan, Jerusalem, Mt. Arbel, Mt. Tabor, Mt. Carmel, Garden of Gethsemane and the Garden Tomb but with a different, off the beaten path, approach. Check out a sample itinerary here: http://www.insightsintravel.com/utica-israel-trip-2017.html and a video promoting that trip here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0zk-6kOSpU.
So, how does all of this work? Walk-On’s wife, Noelle, has a travel agency in Hickory (http://www.insightsintravel.com/) and she does all of the nitty-gritty planning and coordinating work with flights, hotels, meals, etc. We will fly out of Charlotte together (centrally located for most of F3, “New Jerusalem” as Dredd calls it for some reason). The ideal trip size is 20-30. Walk-On likes to travel Israel with a group about the size of Jesus’ group (naturally right?). If we have more than 30 that are ready to HC then we’ll coordinate a second trip.
Who: F3 men and their wives (from anywhere, this is not region-specific, put the F on your chest and come on). My approach is that I really want to walk where Jesus walked and see what Jesus saw and I want all of that for my wife also. We are capping the trip at the first 30 total people to HC and then will form a waiting list in the event something comes up (30 total people, not 30 couples). If we have enough for two trips then we’ll plan a second one around the same time. We can take singles as well but if there is not another single to bunk up with then there is a “single supplement” to be paid on top of the trip price (more on that below).
When: The dates are not 100% set in stone but we’re looking at May 18-30, 2018. If we have a heavy contingent of people that need the trip to be later in the school year we can shift into early/mid-June if that makes sense. Plenty of time to commit to this, set your calendar, get family/sitter set up for the children, plan and save money…about that…
Cost: Israel is not cheap but that’s mainly because of flights. For some reason flying to Israel is a good bit more expensive than flying to other locations of similar distance (someone reading this may know why that is but I don’t). The price is all-inclusive and includes mandatory travel insurance (seriously, everything is included except any gifts you buy and any incidental beverages you put in your mouth) and will likely come to ~$4,200 per person. Steep yes but not much more than “canned trips” and a WHOLE lot more bang for the buck. Plus the price tag is broken up into payments with an initial deposit, second payment and then a final payment (like this http://www.insightsintravel.com/pricing-and-terms4.htm). If you’re going to do this once in your life then the price is the price. I don’t say that about many things but I do about this.
How do you HC? Send me an email (pjasonreynolds@gmail.com) and I am going to keep a list. You can HC below of course but make sure to send me an email as well so that my list stays solid. If you can’t HC just yet but you are pretty interested then email me and I will put you on a “maybe” list and ask you before I give away your spot. Our first payment, likely a $400 per person down payment, will be due in September or October, so you have time but first come first serve on reserving your spots on the list.
So, who wants to go to Israel and take your wife and have a trip of a lifetime? I do and in May 2018 I’m gonna do it. Come with me. We’ll do burpees in the Holy Land. Email me now to reserve your spot: pjasonreynolds@gmail.com.

Turning Pain Into Purpose-The Final Wrap on the First Annual Operation Sweet Tooth Toy Drive

When my wife and I had the idea to create Operation Sweet Tooth to honor our daughter’s memory, we had no idea of how our initiative would be welcomed.  We are just a simple, mourning family, wanting to honor our daughter’s memory and do some good for other children, and their families while trying to find some healing during the process.  As Pastor Rusty of Camino Church said, “We are turning our pain into a life of purpose.”  When we enlisted the help of our brothers from F3 (f3nation.com) and sisters of FiA (FiAnation.com), the response and support was overwhelming.  Friends, strangers, co-workers and family were eager to help support, honor our daughter and have a positive impact on children within our local communities.  Receiving all the texts, tweets, emails and pictures of all the trunks filled with toys and gifts was just absolutely incredible to see.  Moreover, receiving the numerous thank you letters, hugs and condolences for our loss was equally impactful.  We cannot express our gratitude enough for everyone’s generosity and support and we are truly humbled and blessed that you played a significant role in making a difference.
During this time, we were invited to Christmas parties, asked to give speeches, guest workouts, helped deliver the donations to many of the institutions we supported and were honored for our strength and vision at a nearby Church.  This experience only fortified the belief that through our grief, we could muster up enough strength to help others in need.
Together, with all your help, Operation Sweet Tooth was able to collect over 2500 presents, personal items, clothes and gift cards.  In addition, we raised over $3000 dollars in cash donations to be used for future initiatives and projects in the upcoming year and beyond. $205 was graciously donated in the memory of David Lacivita. The foundation has been set and we welcome the opportunity to continue to provide hope and lift the spirits of those children who need it most.
The institutions we were able to help are listed below.  There may have been some we left out and if so, we do apologize.
Levine’s Children Hospital
Camino Church
The Children’s Attention Home
Boys and Girls Club
Birthday Blessings
Duke Hospital
UNC Hospital
Betty H Cameron Women and Children’s Hospital
Toys for Tots
McLeod Hospital
Ada Jenkins Center
Church of God Orphanage
Thompson Children Home
Sojouner Truth House
Lydia’s Loft
Alexander Youth Network
Individual Families
Nassau County Hospital
New Hanover Regional Medical Center
Although 2016 was the worst year imaginable for us personally, losing our precious daughter, we do recognize that Operation Sweet Tooth has provided us with a small amount of comfort and peace.  We are excited to continue with our efforts in 2017.  Please continue to follow our website www.operationsweettooth.org, and social media to learn more about upcoming initiatives beginning in the Spring and how you can help make a difference.
*This write up is also available on the website under “Blog”.  Please visit and check it out as we have some of the pictures everyone shared with us during their respective toy drives.