Sunday, March 27, 2011

Last day in Israel....catch up

Hey there my blogger friends. I cant't believe it, but in the craziness of being home, I forgot to post about our last day in Israel.

It was a slower day compared to many of our other days but it was one of the most impactful by far. Our day started with a view overlooking Bethlehem and the shepherd's field where the shepherds saw the star and were surrounded by angels singing "glory to God in the highest." We didn't actually go to Bethlehem because like I said in an earlier post it is in the West Bank and it is entirely under Palestinian control. So definitely not very safe. There was this huge, imposing wall surrounding the city...freaky kinda. It reminded me of like a high security prison and people choose to live there...crazy if you ask me.

Then we headed out to the field where David fought Goliath and the Philistines. Tyler read us the scriptures and we walked along the path, picking up stones and imagining what it would have been like to be there. It was so awesome to be in the place where David and Saul would have been and be reminded of how great our God truly is.

Our next stop was at the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. We spent a few hours there, taking it all in and remembering the horrors and injustices that were done to the Jewish people during World War II. It was very moving, especially seeing the room with the names of all the known people who died during the Holocaust. Row upon row of books filled with page after page of names in a room 2 stories really hit home just how many lives perished in that awful stain on our history. There was also a memorial set up for all of the children who died during the Holocaust. It was a set of three lights that were reflected around the room by mirrors, making hundreds upon hundreds of lights. The room was completely dark and silent, except for a voice reading the names of children who had died, with their country of birth and ages. That was probably the most heart-wrenching part of the whole thing. Innocent children who hand't done anything to hurt anyone were murdered just because of who they were by birth. It was awful. Afterwards we all just spent some time processing all that we had seen and heard and remembering those who had died.

Our next stop was one of my absolute favorites of the trip. It was the Garden Tomb, one of the traditional sites where Jesus was said to have been buried. This site seemed much more authentic and lined up with the gospels much better than the other place we saw. First we sat in a little alcove and just sat and remembered what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross for our sins and then raising again to live with God the Father. We took communion together and spent time in prayer. We then walked around the garden with our guide and she showed us the things that make this a good candidate for the crucifiction and burial of Christ. First we saw the side of the cliff that looked like a skull, and in the scriptures Golgotha means "the place of the skull". Then our guide explained to us that the place that we were at was a garden in Jesus' time, which was basically a walled-in place where they grew crops. There was a giant cistern and a winepress, so they probably grew grapes in that garden. Then there was the tomb, the only one built there and carved out of the rock. We were able to go inside and see the tomb and on the inside of the tomb in really old writing there was a symbol that said that meant Jesus, the son of God, the Messiah. It was really cool to be there and I think we were all overcome with emotions at being at the actual site where our faith became so personal and where Christ died to save my sins. Nothing on this trip can could ever come close to topping this experience and it is one that I will always carry with me.

Finally to celebrate the end of our trip Leor treated us to a fabulous dinner at a little restaurant on our way back to Tel Aviv. We feasted on chicken kabobs and these delicious french fries, along with some other more traditional dishes. It was my favorite meal of the entire trip and we all had a great time reminiscing about some of our favorite parts and relaxing around the table with our good friends.

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