Thursday, March 10, 2011

On the Sea

Shalom and good evening to you my friend. Today has been my favorite day of our trip so far. We spent the day touring around the Sea of Galilee. It was a beautiful day and it was amazing to truly walk where Jesus walked and experience the things that He did.

We started out at the southern shore of the lake and started traveling around to the east. We stopped briefly at the location where Jesus cast the demon out of the man and into the pigs before heading over to Capernium. This place was amazing. This was the main place where Jesus did the majority of His ministry. capernaum is no longer a functioning city but it is full of artifacts. We visited the archaeological site of Peter's house where his mother was healed by Jesus. But my favorite place today had to be the temple at Capernaum. The original foundation from Jesus' time is still there and a newer version (still really old) is built on top of it. It is built of limestone and it stands out beautifully against the black lava rock. This place is full of history and life and it spoke to my heart about who Jesus was on Earth and how out of this humble place comes our faith and what we believe.

Our next stop on the tour was the Mount of Beattitudes. It is the place where Jesus most likely gave his famous sermon on the mount. I wasn't as impressed with this site because it was a modern day chapel of sorts and it seemed more commercialized than other places we have visited. We did head down to a small pavillion to gather and reflect on Scripture, which I really liked. Standing there looking out over the Sea of Galilee I was able to see the connections to the surroundings that Jesus used to help his audience understand what He was teaching them. Like the fertile soil, the birds and the flowers, and the mustard seeds. Mustard grows like wildfire here and it is almost everywhere you look. The parking lot had amazing views of the Sea of Galilee and it was a very beautiful place to visit.
On our way to the next stop, we sang worship songs. We all laiughed about it afterwards how terrible we all were, but it really was a sweet time spent praising our God as we drove around the Sea of Galilee.

Our next stop was the boat ride on the Galilee. There is a museum exhibit that is part of the experience that is all about a 2,000year old ship that they recovered from the Sea of Galilee. It was so interesting to see what a fishing boat looked like in Jesus' time and to learn how they preserved the boat for us to see today.then we headed out onto the sea. It was an amazing experience to be on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm. It was pretty overcast today but we got really lucky with the rain. For the most part, it only rained in between our stops or when we were inside. On the boat, we were paired with another group, so we spent a lot of time at the front of the boat experiencing this special time together. Tyler talked to us about how Jesus walking on the water had even more meaning to the people living in Jesus' time because they were afraid of large bodies of water and were superstitious that demons lived in the lake. So Jesus was showing them that faith is about trusting in Him and knowing that He will take care of us and also that He is bigger than anything in this world. These words just resonated with my heart because I feel as if these words were aimed directly for my heart and God is telling me to trust Him in all of the unknowns in my life. He has it all under control and I just need to trust Him.

Then we headed to another small town named Migdal for our lunch. The restaurant is famous for serving St. Peter's fish, basically a whole breaded fish caught in the Sea of Galilee, eyes, fins, tail and all. Only Adam was brave enough to get the whole one, everyone else got it filleted. I got the chicken and it was delicious. I am glad I didn't get the fish because they don't have tartar sauce in Israel. Lunch was great fun and we all had lots of laughs.

After lunch we went exploring near the cliffs of Arbel on the Nazareth Path. We hiked along the trail that Jesus would have taken to get from Capernium to Nazareth and Jerusalem. It was absolutely gorgeous and we loved hiking and taking pictures of God's country.

Since it rained so much today, we saw 5 different rainbows. Each one was more beautiful than the last and the last one was a double rainbow. It was almost as if God were smiling down on us and reminding us of his majesty.

Then we headed over to the Jordan River baptism site. We did not really like the atmosphere, so our guide Leor set up for us to get baptized in another less commercialized place. It was kind of sad to see such a special spiritual time be so affected by commercialism. It reminded me of when Jesus got angry with the sellers at the temple for disregarding the holiness of the temple and for not having right hearts about it. So instead we took some really pretty pictures of the river and stopped at the edge to reflect and touch the water.

We also stopped at a specialty market that sold all sorts of produce, spices, and other Israeli specialties. It was fun just to explore this place and see the unique items in there.

Tonight after dinner at the hotel we all met in the lobby to process the day and discuss what we had seen. This is probably one of my favorite parts of the trip and why I love our small little group. With only 9 of us, I feel like I have known these friends for much longer than it really is. Our group dynamic is so special and I look forward to spending more time with them throughout this trip. :)

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