April 21, 2015
Today we had the wonderful blessing of sleeping in till 7:30. It’s amazing to think how much a place has changed you when 7:30 is “sleeping in.” After a hearty breakfast including scalding-hot but wonderful coffee, we had devos with Miah. He had an awesome talk ready for us. Knowing that we were going to be visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and remembering his feelings when he first went through the church and saw the different ways that people enter into worship. He humbled us by telling us the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet. This was Jesus’ reaction to his disciples arguing about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. This really centered us before moving on to St. Stephen’s Gate.
April 20, 2015
We started our day off by going to the Western Wall where the Temple stood before being destroyed. We went into the tunnels underneath the Wall and traveled down to the first century level. After going down, we came back up and were given the opportunity to pray on the Western Wall and even write a prayer and leave it there. Many Jewish people do this today because it is the closest place they can get to where the Holy of Holies is believed to have been
April 19, 2015
Today has been no different than any other day in Israel—so much to do! We have seen so many things in such a short amount of time. To start the day off, we headed to Hezekiah’s Tunnel to venture from one end to the other. It is an underground aqueduct about 500 yards long, with water varying from ankle- to hip-deep. It was dug to provide water to the City of David during times of siege. It was narrow and dark and scary at times for some of us. We came out of the tunnel at the place where the blind man that Jesus healed came to wash away the mud from his eyes, called the Pool of Siloam.
April 18, 2015
The first site on our journey today was the ancient city of Megiddo. This site was part of a tel. There were over fourteen levels of civilizations found here when archeologists dug down. Megiddo was an important city in the Bible. It sat at the crossroads of the trade routes, the Via Maris and the Kings Highway, making it a valued piece of property by the civilizations that had control of it. The city sits on a hill overlooking the valley of Jezreel where many battles have been fought throughout history. From this viewpoint, the residents could see which side was winning the battle during a fight. In Revelation 16, John mentions a valley where the kings of the world will fight against God. It is speculated that he was referring to the Jezreel valley, whether it be figuratively or literally. Craig taught us that we must persevere to not fall away from God, and that worship is the key to perseverence. We finished with worship by singing the Doxology together as a class while overlooking the valley.
April 17, 2015
This morning we had an early start to catch a boat across the Sea of Galilee. We took a time of silence with the Lord as we watched the waves of the same lake Jesus walked on rush up against the boat. Alyssa spoke to us about when asking God to do big things in our lives to not be afraid to step out in faith when He answers our prayers. Peter asked Jesus to allow him to walk on water, Jesus said come, and Peter began to walk until he became fearful and started to sink. Sometimes we fail and that’s okay. Just like Peter, we ask Jesus to save us in times when we sink under the wave. We then had a dance party and experienced Jen dance–it was one of the best moments of Joshua! Everyone had a smile on their face and no one was afraid to dance.
April 16, 2015
Of course, day 5 in Israel did not disappoint. We began our day by going to Katzrin, which is a city from the first century time that has been rebuilt to give tours like us an idea of what homes and communities looked like in first century times. We sat around a threshing floor as our guides explained to us the process used in ancient times to harvest wheat. We we able to actually take wheat stocks and separate the wheat from the shaft and use an ancient stone appliance to create flour. Later on in our tour we used that flour to make pita bread and cook it on an outdoor fire. We were able to go inside a reconstructed first-century home. All of these experiences further opened our eyes to the context of our Bible.
April 15, 2015
Today was the fourth day of our Israel trip! We started out with hiking the mountain of Arbel. It was a very long hike, and challenging at times, but when we got to the top it was worth it! The view was amazing! We could see out over the sea of Galilee and a lot of the land where Jesus would have done most of his ministry. It was an awesome time to just sit and look out and reflect on our trip so far, as well as our year in Joshua.
April 14, 2015
Our third day in Israel! And yet another fun and tiring one at that! Today, from our hotel, we drove to the first of three areas that we were going to, Ein Gedi (the Spring of the Goats). Just like Masada, we had to hike to the spring, but instead of going up, up, up, we hiked down, left, right, down. It was closer quarters and a lot more trees and brush! It was beautiful! Ein Gedi was the rock fortress that David ran to when Saul started to pursue him, it was a place of caves and hiding places. Why here? Because there is a huge fresh water spring, The Spring of Ein Gedi. Here we found two gorgeous spots of fresh water pools (after intense hiking of course!) to hang out and swim in. Amazing after 1 ½ hours of hiking!
April 13, 2015
Shalom, friends and family, and welcome to your day-by-day report on our trek throughout the Holy Land. Today is one of our greatest days of achievement, being that now we have the bragging rights of saying we have climbed Masada.
We began our day with a simple twenty minute bus ride from our hotel, and forty-five minutes of grueling hiking later we crested the summit of the fortress built by Herod the Great. We were struck by the emphasis of the story behind the fortress and its significance to the patriotism of Israel.
April 12, 2015
Today we went to a few different places on the Shephelah. We took a short bus ride over to Kiriath-Jearim. Once there, we broke up into bus groups to explore the area with our guides Ronen and Ronen. We saw a watch tower, an oil press (gat shemen in Hebrew), and a wine press along with a few more things needed or used in an ancient Jewish village. After that, we went to Bet Shemesh where Samson compromised on his Nazirite vow. Our group had a chance to escape the rain by entering into a cistern…
April 11, 2015
Wow what a long trip but we have finally arrived in Israel. You wouldn’t believe the amazing conversations and adventures we have already experienced. Istanbul was great but we really only had enough time to run through the airport to catch our flight to Israel. A few of us had the opportunity to try some real Turkish delight. While it was tasty we all agreed that the Turkish delight from the story in the “Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” must have been magical for Edmond to turn in his own family for it.