Israel Study Tour with The Friends of Israel

October 16-26, 2015

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Ascending and Saying Goodbye

It’s hard to believe it is our last day in Israel. On one hand I feel we packed in more in the ten days than should be humanly allowed. We pushed ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. But it has been worth it.

We were up and at em’ at our usual time of 8 am. We headed to the Davidson Museum in the Old City. Every time we would enter through the Dung Gate (yes, Dung Gate got its name from how you think it got its name) we would pass below the greenest grass and beautiful old stones. Miriam would promise us that we would go down and see it later in the week. The area is part of the Davidson Museum. Walking through you just realize how much history is in this place. It’s gone through the Canaanites, Israelites, Babylonian Exile, Persians, Hellenistic, Romans, Byzantines, Early Muslims, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans, British, and now the State of Israel. And each one pretty much built on top of each other.

Miriam took us to the Huldah Gate which was where the Jewish people would come from all over Israel with their sacrifices into the city back in the times of Jesus. She explained how there were two gates, the entrance and the exit. But if you were mourning, you were to go in the out and out the in. Doing this allowed people see you coming the other way and they would know they needed to comfort you. Isn’t that beautiful? Miriam also sang Psalm 126 as she ascended to the gate step by step. I couldn’t help but tear up thinking how her people did this 2,000 years ago.

We then headed to the Ayalon Institute in Rehovot. It was about a short nap away. That’s how I determine the length of the trips. Yes, I should be awake the whole time basking in every minute but that’s not reality on the last day! Ayalon Institute is one of the coolest sites we went to on this trip. I still can’t believe the story hasn’t been made into a movie. Get on it Hollywood!

Here’s the story. In between World War II and the foundation of the State of Israel a super top secret mission happened. The British were in control of what is now Israel and right under the Brits noses, the Jewish people built an underground ammunition factory that helped soldiers fighting for land. A group of young people were approached by some high ups and asked if they would help in the fight. They agreed having no idea what they agreed to. A Kibbutz was built just a few yards away from a British basecamp. The Kibbutz was just a front for the factory. No one, not even the people living on the Kibbutz knew that these young people were down below them all day, making ammunition. There front was to say these people were out on farms on all day. But they were so pale they had to buy a sunning lamp and tan so their stories would pan out. What another testimony to the Israeli spirit.

After lunch we were scheduled to go to the Valley of Elah and reenact the story of David and Goliath but it decided to rain! It was the only day of rain so none of us complained, except Ted (playing David) and Darrell (playing Goliath) since they lost out on their time to shine. We were able to drive by and pull over so Miriam could explain how the battle happened.

Tel Azekah and Elah Valley

The Brook Elah is famous for the five stones it contributed to the young slinger, David. Some surmise that David chose five stones instead of the one needed in case he needed to face Goliath’s four brothers.

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The evening was finished up with a farewell banquet at the hotel. Josh Reinstein, the director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus spoke to us on the importance of being ambassadors for Israel. It was a great reminder of how much we need to support the Jewish people and the land of Israel. Jim closed the dinner expressing his appreciation for Miriam and our driver Ruben.

Something happened on this trip that I wasn’t expecting. I knew that I would come and love walking where Jesus and Paul walked; seeing the beauty and history. But I also fell in love with the Jewish people in a new personal way. They truly love us because we have taken time to come and see their country that they take such great care of. And they are happy to show it! They need friends. And I’m so happy to be one.

I’m sorry to say that if you ever come on a Friends of Israel tour to Israel, you won’t have the best group because we did! I’m sure your group will be great but ours was amazing (I’m sure I’m biased). Young and old, aunts and nieces, fathers and sons, friends, husbands and wives, pastors and wives, we were all like one big happy family by today (with Miriam as our perfect Jewish mother). Our wake-up call is tomorrow morning at 5:30 am as we start the trek home. We’re ready to get home but sad to leave. Until next year in Jerusalem everyone!

-Sarah

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