March 22, 2017
I am amazed how fast this trip has gone, every day feel very long and yet the time has flown by. The first place we went today was the Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall. This is the most holy place for Jews because it is the closest place to where the Holy of Holies used to be before it was destroyed in 70 AD. The reason they cannot get any closer is because the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine, is sitting on top of the old temple. People write prayers onto little pieces of paper and put them in the cracks of the wall; twice a year, Rabbis take all the notes and bundle them together and bury them in the cemetery because you cannot destroy anything with the name of God on it. The stones on the Western Wall date back to the time of Herod the Great (2,000 years ago). It was very interesting to watch the Jewish men and women pray at the wall, we even got a chance to pray at the wall and/or put notes into the cracks.
March 21, 2017
Our day began on the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemene, which both face the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem. The view was incredible and the Eastern Gate was where Jesus was taken into Jerusalem to be tried and crucified. Jesus spent a lot of time on the Mount of Olives, namely in the Garden of Gethsemene. During the Jewish religious festivals, around 2 million Jews flooded into the city of Jerusalem and since not all of them could stay in the city, many people “camped” on the Mount of Olives. Jesus was with his disciples for Passover and they were most likely “camping” on the Mount of Olives when Judas betrayed Him into the hands of the Jewish priests and leaders. There is a very clear view of the Eastern Gate from the Garden and since it was night, it would have been easy to see them coming with their lit torches.
March 20, 2017
We have made it to Jerusalem!! But before we got here we had a few stops along the way. Our very first stop after we left the Sea of Galilee was Beth She’an, which was an ancient Roman-Byzantine city. Beth She’an is mentioned in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. It is mentioned in 1 Samuel 31, when King Saul died on nearby Mt. Gilboa and the Philistines took his body and fastened it to the walls there. In the New Testament time, there were 10 Gentile cities that made up the Decapolis, and Jesus and his disciples traveled to them, including Beth She’an.
March 19, 2017
Today was another big day, starting first with a devotion beside the Sea of Galilee. We talked about how Jesus crossed the lake to the non-Jewish side (which we were sitting on) in order to heal one man. In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus goes to the region of the Gerasenes and meets a demon possessed man whom he heals and restores. In Luke 8:40, Jesus tells the man to go tell everyone in the area what He had done for him and when Jesus returned to the area, a crowd welcomed him because they were expecting them. Because of the man’s obedience, all those people were able to be in the presence of Jesus.
March 18, 2017
Today was our longest day so far with multiple stops all around the Sea of Galilee. The very first thing we did was get onto a boat and ride across the Lake. In the middle we stopped and turned the motor off so it was silent…we were one of two boats on the lake this morning. Marshall taught a lesson on how Jesus not only sees us in our storms, but He is WITH us in our storms. He played a couple worship songs and there were many tear filled eyes among us. It was a powerful time of reflection and awe at the fact that Jesus walked on these very waters.
March 17, 2017
Today was another great day!! Our first stop was En Gedi, which is a beautiful desert oasis with some pretty incredible waterfalls (best known for as the place where David fled and hid from King Solomon). As we traveled north along the Dead Sea, the stark contrast in landscape was noticeable. Quite suddenly, in the middle of the dry and dusty desert, arose lush greenery all around. It was so clear that wherever the river flowed, there was life. This is also true with Christ; in John 7:37-38, Jesus says “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” We were all challenged to think about our own lives and determine whether we were connected with the Living Water. If we are abiding in Christ, He says we will have streams of living water flowing out from us to other people. It was a physical reminder/picture to us in this desert oasis that without the living water of Christ, there is no life.
March 16, 2017
I have to say today was my favorite day so far! After a morning devotion on the beach of the Dead Sea, we drove straight to Masada. Although Masada is not a Biblical place, it has a fascinating history. A group of eight of us decided to hike up to the top on a series of steep switchbacks called the “snake path.” The hike was nothing short of beautiful and difficult. The rest of the group took the tram up to the top and had some beautiful views as well. Masada was originally built by Herod as an emergency get away palace. He was a very bad dude and had a lot of enemies; therefore he needed a fortress for safety. The engineering that was required to make this place work was absolutely genius.
March 15, 2017
Today was our first full day here in Israel, and we saw A LOT. After a long flight and really no major complications, we arrived late last night and spent our first night in Jerusalem. Some of us slept better than others, but we were all up and ready to go at 7am. Our first stop was a place called Kiriath Jearim, which means “The place of the trees.” We learned about how the Ark of God was located here for 20 years (1 Samuel 7). There was also several replicas of wine presses, threshing floors and watchtowers.
March 13, 2017
Greetings from the snowy Chicago Airport!!
We are all excitedly waiting to see if our flight will take off on time. The snow is flying outside but we are hopeful! Even though we are still on the ground, there is culture all around us…different languages, clothing, and, nationalities…just a taste of what we will soon experience in full.
Pray that we can all get some sleep and hit the ground running when we arrive in Israel. Pray that God would prepare our hearts to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” I still cannot believe that we are going to be in the very place that God decided to send His Son to live and die and rise again!!
March 11, 2017
Our trip to Israel will be here before you know it!
Once we’re on the ground in Israel, we’ll post periodic updates and photos. Check back often or get update notifications using the subscribe options on this page.
We’ll be sharing our travel experiences online with you, our friends and family, to not only bring you along on the journey with us, but to also solicit your ongoing prayer and support. Most of us on this trip have been preparing mentally and spiritually for what will be a life-changing experience in the land. We’re also preparing physically as we train our bodies to handle all the time we’ll spend on our feet walking. So please pray that we would be diligent in our preparations and we would all be ready to learn what God has to teach us!