It seems that everyday as I’m journaling I have to write “Today was the best day of my life!” I can’t really put into words how incredible and captivating this experience is. In the past few days, I’ve gone into the Old City a few times and have fallen in love with it more and more. It’s different than any city I’ve ever experienced. Each place I’ve gone I have been completely speechless of what I’m seeing.
I figure I should start blogging everyday at least a short bit. It’s hard to find time to journal or blog everyday as we experience so much each day and have about sixty pages of reading to do for class. Nonetheless, I want to remember everyday!
On Monday, we went to the Old City in the morning and went on the Rampart’s Walk. It gives an extraordinary view of the old city, David’s Tomb, the Temple Mount and even the Palestinian border wall. As we held on to the railings and walked across the old stone walls, we were amazed at each and every thing our eyes beheld. So much history. So much of what we’ve read. It’s all coming alive.
After we finished the walk, we went to the wailing wall. What an experience. This is something I’ve been waiting to do for awhile. The Jewish people come here everyday to cry out to God. It’s called the wailing wall because they are literally wailing to God for the first coming of the Messiah. However, the Christian goes here to wail for the second-coming of the Messiah. It’s an amazing thing to behold as we realize that although they are not aware, we are wailing for the same Messiah. It is a sobering experience and touching the wall was something I’ve been waiting to do.
After this, we haggled our way into getting a cheap taxi up to the the Mount of Olives. We couldn’t walk because this goes into the Muslim Quarter which is a dangerous area. As our taxi struggled it’s way up the mountain, I could just imagine Jesus walking up the mountain with the multitudes following Him. I was speechless, ecstatic and full of life as I read Matthew 24-28 and Acts 1. This is where Jesus spoke to the multitudes and where He ascended into Heaven. As we were all so full of joy as we beheld this site, we saw the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was tempted. This was an extravagant view of the Holy Land. And to top it all of, we were there for sunset. I’m sure we will go back many times while we are here but that first time was something I will never forget.
Normally on Wednesdays we will be having tour days but the weather was so good yesterday, on Tuesday, that we went to Bethlehem. Bethlehem is under Palestinian territory, which I was unaware of, and so we had to cross the border which is a high security point. Seeing soldiers with machine guns walking around everywhere is not unusual. Once we crossed over, it truly felt like we were in a different country. Definitely not in America anymore. It was very run down, very desert-like and very mesmerizing. There were barely any women. Those that were out were fully covered, although it was probably 75 degrees in the sun. There were children that were maybe 8 years old selling things on the street. There were golden steaming coffee pots in the streets with people selling coffee. I would have liked to try but heard that everyone just uses the same cup. Maybe when I’m feeling a little more adventurous and open to sickness 😉
As the bus climbed through the streets that seemed to be one-way but were most definitely two-way, we were speechless and had “pinch me” moments. The hills rolled and houses turned into little dots as we climbed up and up. It was incredible. All that I am seeing is magnificent and I think I need to find more words in the dictionary that can accurately describe what I’m seeing and experiencing. We arrived at Mar Saba Monastery. We hiked through the mountains with breathtaking views. Incredible. I’ve taken so many photos and I don’t really have time to go through them. So iPhone photos and a few photos from my camera will have to do for now.
While we hiked, we could hear tanks in the distance. A surreal experience but I never feared for my life. The views were amazing. Once we came back down, the men got to go into the monastery as we sat on rock benches with mats and were served hibiscus tea and kinder chocolates. We were surprisingly treated very well for being women in their culture.
After this, we went into Bethlehem and went to the Church of the Nativity which is the supposed birthplace of Christ. It was surreal to be in the city that Jesus was born. Something I will always remember. The church itself was interesting. Something I’m not used to but still very important and monumental in my walk. I also got a nativity scene in Bethlehem made out of olive wood…something I will surely cherish forever.
Today was full of systematic theology, reading outside in the sun in the hills of Israel and lots of reading, laughter and friends. I am so grateful for each moment and for the people here. We had a long conversation with Samuel who works at the gift shop in the hotel. He is 23 and so kind. I love the people here! The days are full and long and I can say that my life has already changed. The Scriptures are coming alive and it’s something that I can’t really put into words.
- Health. I’ve been feeling under the weather. Lack of sleep and being sick before coming haven’t been helping. Pray that the sickness would go away so I can focus on my studies well.
- Community. Pray that the barriers would be broken and that we would all love each other with the love of Christ.
- Israel. Pray for the people of Israel. The unrest, the struggle, the fear. Pray that peace would come.