May 14, 2015
As every day goes, it has been a crazy fun experience with lots of hiking, a few messages, and countless of exciting places to visit. Our first stop was to the Decapolis where all of the heathen cities were located on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Then we traveled and had a good uphill and downhill hike to the city of Gamala and this city is one of the only that still has a standing synagogue. This was a really cool hike because we were standing in the clouds and got a little rained on.
May 13, 2015
Today we learned a lot about where the disciples of Jesus came from and their relationship to Jesus. The first location we visited was a ruin of the town Bethsada where it is said Andrew, Peter, and Philip are from. From there we traveled 20 miles north to Causarea – Philippi where Jesus took his disciples to show them how and where He wants the church to be built. After having lunch there, we went to the Jordan River where we prayed in our family groups and got a little wet. For our last adventure of the day, we walked around the Sea of Galilee occasionally stopping to hear a parable. We were able to get back at a good time to play in the Sea of Galilee one last time before heading out tomorrow morning.
May 12, 2015
Today we started climbing Mt. Arbel. That was a very steep and tiring climb. Then we went to tabgah where it is assumed that the story of the feeding of the 5,000 took place. Then we hiked up to a location that is around the location of the sermon on the mount and we recited the entire passage of the sermon on the mount. After we hiked down the small hill along the lake to Caphernum where Jesus lived. After we took a boat ride from Tiberias to En Gev and had a great Sea Food dinner before coming back to our hotel for the night.
May 11, 2015
Wow! Best day ever! Until tomorrow, at least; I’m pretty sure I think each day is better than the last! Of course, each day is so different and difficult to compare. We are staying in beautiful bungalows right off the Sea of Galilee—a shocking sight to wake up to! I can’t stop asking myself, “Is this real?” You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but each day is such a blessing!
May 10, 2015
Last time I checked, a day is comprised of twenty-four hours…I feel like I have just lived at least forty-eight today! We are encountering so many incredible things one after another, and they just keep coming!
Departing from our Jerusalem hotel one final time, we traveled on foot to experience the Temple Mount as it stands today. The air was reverent as our guide informed us of the history of the space and gave us a basic history of Islam. It was really eye-opening and helpful to gain such understanding of a place that is holy to more than one faith. The Dome of the Rock Shrine was breathtaking with its dizzying geometric patterns and iconic golden dome.
May 9, 2015
Today was again an eventful day starting in a little Christmas town called Bethlehem. While we were there, we visited King Herod personal palace named Herodion. We ventured around the palace and through its underground tunnel system. After visiting Herods tomb, we had lunch and then visited a friend of Bens who helps run a school to teach kids general education as well as the bible. Most of the kids that attend the school come from a Muslim family so the outreach this school has is incredible.
May 8, 2015
Today on our fifth excursion, we ventured throughout even more of Jerusalem. We started out the day learning about the original city of David and how David took the city from the Jebusites. Then we took a fun journey through Hezakaihas tunnel, a water system starting at the Spring of Gihone and then traveling underneath the City of David down to the Pool of Saloem.
May 7, 2015
After devouring another delicious breakfast (where cheesecake and unlimited amounts of bread are accepted) we met outside to hear from our leaders. Ben shared with the group a Hebrew word, Shama, meaning listen and obey. Not just simply listening but carrying out the command that was given to you. Shama was to be the theme of our day. Two biblical stories were shared in the morning, one where Samuel did not carry out Shama, and another where David did carry out Shama. There is something so impactful about reading the word of God in the place it occurred. Looking out over the hills we are seeing what they saw and having the same experience they had. The bible comes to life in that moment. No longer do we experience stagnant words on a page but, we can picture the characters in these places and these scenes have a whole new meaning when related to the culture.
May 6, 2015
While we were at Wadi Qelt this afternoon, we had the blessing of seeing a shepherd with his flock. The shepherd was able to blow his flute and make the smallest calls, but was still heard and known by his sheep. They follow him and trust him through all seasons, through the wet and dry. Finally seeing this real life representation truly brings to life Psalm 23. When I tend to think of green pastures and still water, I picture the lake and park I grew up next to at home. Luscious green fields, comfortable to lay in, with tons of water to drink whenever you desire, but not in the desert.
May 5, 2015
After hiking through the astounding rock formations of the Wadi Zohar, learning about God’s faithfulness in the desert as we read Deuteronomy 8, climbing endless stairs to the rewarding sight at the top of King Herod’s ancient castle Masada, and filling a deserted water reservoir to the brim with thirty voices singing the doxology in breathtaking harmony, we weren’t sure today could get much better. However, as per usual, Ben and Stacie had plenty of surprises left up their sleeves and our adventure was far from over.
May 4, 2015
To start our first day in the Holy Land we explored the Negev Desert. First, we headed out to the ancient remains of Be’er Sheva, where Abraham ended up after God called him out of Ur. We learned about the structure of the ancient city, explored it’s water systems, and heard Biblical stories that took place in that location. Next, we traveled to Mach-tesh-ramon, or the “Super Bowl”. This was essentially an enormous canyon that once contained a great sea; it was far too huge to comprehend the depth and length of this chasm. We had a lesson at the top of a ridge, then hiked to the bottom and had a second lesson. After a quick lunch break, we traveled to Nahal-Zin and hiked through another canyon that housed a beautiful creek, many caves, and a steep and narrow stairway. Tonight we will be staying in the David Spa Hotel right on the dead sea for the next two nights.
May 3, 2015
After about 24 hours of traveling, we have finally reached our hotel and it feels amazing to sleep in an actual bed and have a good meal. From the time we left GVSU to flying into Israel, our travels were smooth and easy going. Many of us had interesting experiences on the 10-hour plane ride including no sleep, exploding water bottles, hours of movies, and interesting people to converse with. Overall, it was a good flight 🙂