My Three Days in Goa with an Israeli Man

I know that this title makes this post sound like it’s going to be full of juicy, rambunctious rendezvous with an Israeli man in Goa, but not quite. Sorry to disappoint.

God brought this Israeli man into my life at such a time as was necessary to help me grow and come to terms with who I am and what I’ve suffered from in my life. How we met was what anyone would call “pure chance”, but I know that nothing is a coincidence. I suppose I should preface this by saying that I’ve always been passionate about the Jewish people and the Jewish roots of Christianity fascinate me. I wear a cross and a Star of David together around my neck, a piece of jewelry which has always begun interesting conversations.

 

So, this man. We met at a restaurant/guesthouse called “Wellness Inn” in Goa. I had just finished breakfast and was about to head out to the beach or to town, when a thin, tan, blonde man with the tiniest swim trunks ever sat down across from me.

 

“Can I sit here?”

 

“Sure.”

 

We began talking and I learned that he was from Israel and that he came to Goa to learn Ayurvedic massage from some of the best teachers. Just as we began chitchatting more, another man showed up. (Ha! You thought I was into the borderline naked guy.) This man was tall, slender, with long dark, curly hair pulled back into a little ponytail. As he slipped off his shoes before entering the restaurant, I acknowledged him with a polite smile. He smiled back and glanced up at me twice before sitting away from me and my new breakfast companion. We asked him to come join us and we learned that he was also from Israel and was in Goa simply as a tourist. But, he also knew how to give massage therapy.

 

He and I began chatting like one does when one first meets a person. We covered all the basics of our respective countries and what we think about them, our respective ages (he is 31 and I’m 24), what I think about his English, etc. The other Israeli guy invited us to come to the beach with him, but the sun had just begun sitting high overhead and I had no intention of suffering from heat stroke. Instead, while the blonde Israeli man went to pay his bill, the dark-haired Israeli man and I talked more and made plans to walk to this market about twenty minutes away. I immediately felt comfortable with him and I could see that he felt the same with me as well. We sat quite closely and leaned into each other as we spoke. At last we got up and left the restaurant and our other Israeli friend behind (sorry, dude.)

 

Over the next three days, we went to a market, the beach, a fruit stand, various shops, another beach (it was Goa, after all), and a restaurant for dinner. Every day he picked me up for our little excursions. I’d hear the little jingle of the bell and open the door to see him standing sheepishly to the side, fidgeting with whatever little thing he could find. Each time I’d open the door he’d say things like:

 

“Wow, you look like that when you’re just relaxing at home?”

 

“Wow, you look like this when you just wake up? How is that possible?”

 

“Wow, you’re wearing Indian clothes. You look great!”

 

He made me feel so beautiful. Everything he said about me, from my hair texture to my skin color was a compliment. He thought I was beautiful and had no fear expressing that, although he did so subtlely. Every day he glanced down at my neck and commented about how he loved seeing the cross and the Star of David together like that. He had never met anyone who was like me in that regard.

 

As we walked about the sandy Goan streets, he and I talked about everything. Honestly, we delved into deep topics quite quickly, which has hardly ever happened to me before. We talked about my depression and anxiety, his family history and the Holocaust, my dad’s abuse of my family, and his dislike of Israeli hypocrisy and Orthodox rules. Although I shared pretty heavy topics like that so early, he was still interested in me, which surprised me. When I’d tell him difficult things, he’d respond with something like, “Wow, that just shows me how incredibly emotionally strong you are.” That comment brought me to tears, internally of course, because of how much I needed to hear it. I haven’t thought of myself as emotionally strong for about a year now so to hear someone say that and see that inside of me was shocking. When I shared with him about my hypochondria, he helped me out by laughing with me about it. That actually helped, believe it or not. I said something like, “You know, sometimes I walk around afraid I’m going to drop dead of a heart attack. Isn’t that ridiculous?” He smiled and said, “That’s very funny. That’s great.” I felt free to go on: “Sometimes it’s a heart attack, other times it’s a brain tumor or a stroke. It depends on the day.” We laughed together about it and for the first time since dealing with hypochondria, I didn’t feel so alone. The whole thing didn’t feel so overwhelming.

We parted ways the next afternoon with a sweaty hug and a promise from him to come visit me elsewhere in India as soon as he was free.

He said he’s sure we’ll meet again. Even if we don’t, I’m grateful that my three days with this stranger were so restorative and affirming for me. I hope that my openness about the Jewishness of Christianity and my love for the Jewish people encourages him to investigate the claims of Christ.

 

Gabrielle G.

 

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My Big Decision (It’s A Long Read!)

This extremely long blog post is to inform you all of an important decision I’ve made. I won’t make you wait until the end of the post to know what it is: I’m permanently moving out of New York City at the end of June. This wasn’t an easy decision to make. In fact, I did everything in my human power to stay in New York City. I’ve tried my hardest to make it work here in this city, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any stability. That wouldn’t necessarily be an issue for me if I felt that I was doing His work here. I’m not dissatisfied with my lack of material possessions, I’m dissatisfied with where I am in life, literally and metaphorically. I don’t think I am doing His work here, at least not in the fullest capacity. Allow me to explain, but I’ll have to go back to 2015.
In 2015, as most of you know, I spent a month living in India and absolutely loved it. I loved every single thing about it. I loved walking in monsoon floods and sleeping on the floor and talking to shop owners and making friends with the Indians I met. I never grew tired of it even though it was certainly a struggle to get used to my new way of living. I never wanted to go back to the US. When I came back that fall and finished up my last semester of college, I was terribly unhappy. I missed India. I lost so many friends because none could understand what I had experienced in India. I apparently changed too much for them. They didn’t understand why I would cry when people would throw out food. They didn’t comprehend why I became so strict about limiting myself when it came to material goods.
After graduating from college in January 2016, I took a wonderful job at an amazing non-profit for children’s literacy. I love children. I love literacy. It was a great fit! Yet as the months passed, I noticed that my soul was still not satisfied. I could not get India off of my mind. Every day during my lunch break, I’d walk fifteen minutes to closest Indian neighborhood and reminisce about my time in India while getting to know the shop owners. That was the best part of my day.
Later that year, I took another trip to India. Sadly this trip was only two weeks, but I went because I wanted to discern if He wanted me to live there more long-term. I’m passionate about anti-trafficking work and raising awareness about child marriage and spent a lot of time in prayer while I was there. I’d often sit up at night and cry/pray while having visions. The most tangible and reoccurring vision I had during that time is something I can still clearly picture to this day: while praying I had a vision of myself in Indian clothes, holding a child’s hand in each of my hands, and walking through a dark slum. With each step I took, more light invaded that part of the slum. I was enveloped in light. When I first had that vision, I sobbed. I knew that I was meant to do exactly what I was doing in my vision. When I left India that year, I also sobbed but for another reason. I didn’t see a way this could work out. I didn’t know how any of it would come to fruition. I sobbed because I felt like my dream was completely unreachable for me.
So I came back and invested myself in my life in New York City. I got two jobs, one of them I actually loved. While I was an English teacher, I felt like I was finally doing something I was good at. My adult students loved me. To them, I was not just an English teacher. I was their friend, their advocate, their counselor. I loved that role. But in January 2017, that position ended because it was a contract position. That loss ushered in an entire year of loss. I tend to refer to 2017 as my Job year. If you’re not familiar with Job from the Bible, please read about him. It’s powerful. Anyway, 2017 brought me many pains and losses. After losing my job, I heard that my parents were separating. Although not entirely surprised, I was still upset. In April, I began experiencing panic attacks while attending graduate school. I had this overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be in graduate school. I felt like I had made a mistake. The panic attacks were so bad that I couldn’t even finish the semester and I dropped out of graduate school without telling anyone in the school.
Not too long after, I received word that my father was in the hospital. It was actually the weekend of my brother’s 25th birthday so we were together when we received the call. That was so gracious of Him because the phone call shook me to my core. My father had a blood clot. We didn’t know if he was going to live. I vividly recall sitting on my brother’s couch, talking to my dad on the phone, crying and telling him how much I loved him. I remember feeling cheated. “This isn’t fair! God, You can’t take my dad! We’re just now getting to know each other. Please, Abba. I’m not ready to say goodbye to my dad.” For the first time in a long time, my brother joined me in prayer for my dad. We prayed that his life would be spared. He was. Not only was he spared, but he became a believer due to this incredible supernatural experience he had in the hospital bed. Now he’s incredibly healthy and growing in his faith. I’m so proud of him and so grateful that He gave me more time with my dad.
After that, I knew that I had to leave New York City, at least for the time being. My dad, no longer with my mom, was alone and needed someone to be with him. I jumped on a flight down to Georgia and took care of my Dad for a few weeks. When I came back from that trip, I knew I had to leave New York City for a while and take care of him. I moved to Georgia with the intention of starting my life over again. During this time I was suffering from a deep depression because of all the rapid loss I experienced. Almost everything was taken from me. Me, Gabrielle, the woman who never quits or takes no for an answer lost her job teaching, quit grad school, and left her entire New York world. I lived in Georgia for a few months and found no work. My depression and anxiety hit its peak during that time. I felt like a complete failure. I have a Cum Laude college degree! I shouldn’t be struggling like this, right?
While living in Georgia, my brother came to live there as well to start his life over. So the four of us were all together again. Not long after arriving, my brother was rushed into surgery for a life-threatening bone infection in his leg. He almost died as well. At this point, I thought, “Ok Abba, You almost took two of my family members within a couple months. What’s going on?” My mind was surrounded by darkness. I had no friends around me to sit with me in my pain. My mother became my only human solace. I never told my dad, brother, or sister just how bad my depression got. I didn’t think I would make it. My mind became clouded with hopelessness and suicidal thoughts. I saw no future for myself. I had failed too much. Thankfully Abba in His great mercy didn’t leave my side and while I dealt with those issues, I also had a deep awareness that all of this was a massive test from Abba and that the enemy was trying to use this test to destroy me. The enemy wanted me dead. That was his goal. I realized that if the enemy was trying this hard to kill me, I must have some amazing future ahead of me! I clung to life although every ounce of me couldn’t see how I would ever escape this dark pit of despair.
Through therapy and medication, I did escape from that pit. Through His love, I escaped. Although I have moments of anxiety and moments of sadness, nothing really sticks to me anymore. I know that all things that happen have been allowed by Him. So I must endure them. I must learn from them. I must push through. All the greats of the faith suffered in unspeakable ways and yet did amazing things for the Kingdom.
I moved back to New York City in August 2017 and was sleeping on a woman’s couch because my roommate refused to let me move back into my own apartment, with my own name on the lease. Through a fierce battle for that apartment, I lost one of my best friends. I began passionately searching for work and found nothing. I’d get a few interviews and maybe even a couple of job offers, but for some odd reason, the employer would change their mind before I started.
I didn’t find work until January 2018. I’m currently working two jobs, both contract positions yet again. This means that my jobs will both end in May/June and I have no guarantee of work in the fall. As far as my housing situation goes, I’m currently living in an apartment in the Bronx. I have three roommates and the rent is somewhat doable for me. I was recently told that none of the roommates would renew the lease which expires at the end of June. I was initially under the impression that at least one would, but they’re not. So this means that both of my jobs end in June and my housing is gone in June. 
I don’t believe in coincidences. I don’t believe that things “just happen.” I truly believe that my time in New York is over, hopefully for eternity. I hate living in this city. I absolutely hate it. It is a city without warmth, compassion, or humility. It’s a competitive place and unless you know everyone in the corporate world or have a lot of money, you will struggle or suffer here. Thankfully my church has been so good to me that they’ve helped me with rent, food, and MetroCard money when I’ve literally had no money to my name.
Knowing that my life as I know it will end at the end of June, I’ve been asking Him, “What’s next?” While reflecting over the past three years, I believe the answer is clear: India. Wherever I’ve gone in this country, I’ve met people from Kolkata (the city I lived in), whether that’s my English professor my last semester of college, or my neighbor in Georgia. I’ve randomly run into people who serve in India while walking around NYC. There are too many “coincidences” for it to be nothing.
My plans are these (they are subject to change as He sees fit): I’m leaving everything I own here and I’m going to travel around India for a couple of months at least, beginning in July. I’ll be trying to volunteer with different organizations and getting a feel for various cities, cultures, and people. Abba knows my heart is for that country. That is where I want to be. I have family there. I want to be with them. I never stop thinking about the children I met when I was there and I yearn to go back and see how they are.
I’m not asking for money, although if you want to help me get to India this summer, I’d appreciate it. What I’m asking for is simply prayer. Prayer that I’m receptive to His voice; that I hear Him correctly. Prayer that all fear and anxiety around this trip leave me. Prayer that doors will be opened and connections will be made. Prayer that His plan will come to pass. Prayer that if this isn’t His plan for me, that I accept His plan, as He reveals it.
If you have any questions about anything that I’ve written, please ask me! Clearly I’m a very open person and I’d love to talk about this more in detail with you.
Blessings,
Gabrielle G.