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The Story of my First Tattoo

My experience goes all the way back to when I was a little kid, growing up in Papua New Guinea (PNG), an island above Australia. My dad was a missionary pilot there for 15 years. I was born there in 1986, and lived there until 1997. It had a very positive impact on me as a child; as I grew up in a situation in which other people can't even comprehend. We didn't have any television channels, we only watched movies or television shows which my grandparents had taped and sent over, which takes months to arrive.

Looking back, my family was very lucky. We lived in a town with other missionary families. Many nights burglars from neighboring villages would jump the fence around our town, and rob families at gun point. A few of my dad's friends were shot with homemade shotguns. Although not deadly, they required medical attention in Australia, since the hospitals in PNG are not adequate for severe injuries. My dad was also involved in an airplane accident when I was about 8 or 9. He was flying a small Cesna plane early one foggy morning, with passengers aboard. He flew over one mountain, and thought he had just passed over a ridge. However, another mountain rose up out of the fog, and he wasn't able to fly high enough to clear it. He crashed on the side of the mountain, 99.9% of which was covered w/ dense trees. However, the spot that he landed on was bamboo, which is flat. The two wings of the plane passed within inches of nearby trees, which would have taken off the wings and almost surely killed all aboard. The plane landed in the bamboo though, and everyone walked away from it. I really think it was a miracle that he made it out of that crash alive.

Due to my environment, and all my experiences, I have been a Christian since an early age. It was always culture shock to come to the Unites States on vacation, and hear everyone swearing and making crude jokes and such, as that was very rare in the community I grew up in. When I moved to Pennsylvania at the beginning of 6th grade, it was tough making new friends and adapting to life in the US as opposed to PNG. Thanks in large part to my involvement in basketball and my new youth group, I made a lot of new friends, and was loving life in my new location. However, I still stuck firm to my Christian beliefs, and didn't smoke, drink, do drugs, or have sex at all during 6-12th grade.

I had always been interested in tattoos since about 8th grade ('99-'00), when I noticed a lot of popular athletes with tattoos. I thought it was an awesome way to stand out, and let people know what you're all about. Also, at the time, I viewed people who had tattoos as very tough, and able to handle pain easily. So I went through high school, busy with basketball, school, girls, and friends, and forgot about the idea of getting a tattoo. I also knew that there was no way my parents would let me get a tattoo before I was 18. So at the beginning of my senior year, I had a yearning to get a tattoo. I turned 18 in the spring of my senior year, so I wanted to start thinking about what to get. I wanted something that meant a lot to me, not just a fad that I would regret in 10 years. The only thing I could think about was some sort of Christian tattoo. It would let people know who I am, and what I stand for. It also wouldn't fade with time. So I was set. I was getting a tattoo. But what picture should I get? Should I get any words with it? Where would I get it? What studio should I go to? How much is it going to hurt? I had so many questions coursing through me, and that's all I could think about.

In February of 2004, I saw "The Passion of the Christ" at my local theater. It really made me realize how much Jesus loved us, and the sacrifices he made in order to ensure eternal life for all of us who believe in him. It was then that I decided on the design I wanted. I decided to get a wooden cross, with a crown of thorns draped over it, and the phrase "True Love" in Hebrew under the cross. I chose Hebrew because it was an ancient language of middle easy, and I also liked how it looked. The phrase True Love really captured what he did for us, in my opinion. It's easy to love your boyfriend or girlfriend, as they love you as well. But to love and die for people who hate you, people who spit on you, and people who eventually kill you...That is such an amazing thing to me. I can't even fathom that. It really is what Love is all about.

So I had my idea, now I needed to decide where to get the tattoo. I didn't want it to be too obvious, as it might affect employer's perceptions of me when deciding whether to give me a job or not. Some people don't like tattoos, and I wouldn't want to offend them by having it on my forearm or something like that. I finally decided to get it on my right shoulder blade. Next, I needed to decide which studio to get it done at.

I talked to my friends who had gotten tattoos, and decided on Transcending Flesh, in Lancaster, PA. I went in to visit and talk to the artists, and they were all very professional. The studio was spotless, and they insisted that their top priority was safety. They had me convinced. I asked one of the artists, Ben, when I could sit down with him and talk about the tattoo. We set an appointment for a few weeks later. I came into talk to him then. However, I still needed a design.

I knew I wanted a cross, and a crown of thorns. So I told him what I wanted, and he said he'd draw a draft and I could come in and see it the next day. So I came back in, and he showed me his design. I didn't like it very much, but I told him what to change. I also found a picture of thorns in one the display books, and asked him to draw that same type of thorn around the cross. So we set an appointment to get the tat. I came in the day of the appointment with my friend Adrian. I was nervous, and excited at the same time. He showed me the final draft, but I wanted the cross to be a little narrower. The rest of it was perfect. He said he could make it narrower, but we would have to make another appointment, as he didn't want to rush to get it done. I was a little disappointed, but Id rather have him take his time then rush it.

So I came in the next day, alone, and he showed me the drawing. It was perfect. He had done a great job on it, and I was ready to go. I gave him the Hebrew letting, which my aunt had assured me was the closed thing to True Love as I could find in Hebrew, and he printed a paper of the cross, and lettering below it. We then went to a backroom, I took my shirt off, and he applied the design to my back. I sat down, and watched him prepare all of the supplies. It was all very sterile, he removed the needles from a sterile bag, and the ink was all brand new too. I was starting to get a little nervous, as I didn't know what type of pain to expect. He was finally done preparing, and told me to relax. He pressed it to my skin, and I was relieved. It hurt a lot for the first 5 minutes, while he outlined it. But when he started to fill it in, it was just a constant prick, and was very bearable. I picked up a magazine, read for awhile, and before I knew it, he was done. It only took about an hour to finish. We went over to a mirror, I checked it out, and was very pleased with how it turned out.

He gave me all the directions about how to care for it. I paid for it, tipped him, and came home. I really wanted to show it to my parents right away, but I had been told to keep the bandage on for an hour. So when the hour was up, I took the bandage off, and had my mom apply the lotion onto it. Also, at the time, I was working outside a lot, doing yard work. I made sure to apply lotion to it on my breaks. I also didn't go to the beach for awhile, as I didn't want to get sun on it that soon after the procedure. After about a month all the new skin had come in, and it looked and felt great. I continued to put lotion on it for a few more weeks, and then stopped doing that. It looks great now, a year and a half after I had it done.

I am currently looking into future tattoos, as it was such a great experience. I had heard that not many people only get one tattoo, and I know that I will be getting a few more.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 30 Oct. 2005
in Hebrew Tattoos

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Originally written by Dave Pearson

Artist: Ben
Studio: Transcending Flesh
Location: Lancaster, PA, 17602

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