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Jerash, Jordan

This morning we bid farewell to Jerusalem and our wonderful tour guides, Jeremy and Kathryn.  From Jerusalem we drove East to Jericho, then North to Beit She’An, where we again turned East to cross the Jordan River into the country of Jordan and met our Jordanian tour guides.

The hills in Jordan are higher than in Israel with more trees. We stopped for lunch before traveling to the ancient city of Jerash, with spectacular ruins of a Decapolis city that was thriving at the time of Jesus.

While the majority of our group walked about the ruins, Maureen, Norma and I sat in the shade of Hadrian’s Arch and had a delightful conversation with a friendly Jordanian man, named Mahmoud, about 24 years old.  He told us about his country and his life and his attempt to get a visa to visit a friend in California (he was denied a visa).  He wanted to know what we thought of his country and what was it like in America.  We traded questions and answers for about an hour.  When it was time to leave we wished him well and that he would someday get the opportunity to visit America.

Beth

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Last full day in Israel

One of my most memorable and inspirational moments was Pastor Jim serving us communion in the beauty and quiet of the garden away from the traffic and crowds. I am sure whenever I take communion I will remember this time. The songs we sang, “Low in the Grave He Lay” and “I Serve a Risen Savior” were so meaningful, reminding us that He is Risen. Praise the Lord.

We went through the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, the Davidson Center, that was all under dirt until 1967. That is where Jesus walked. He would have bought his sacrifice there and walked up the steps through the Temple Eastern Huldah Gates. As Jim read Psalm 120 we could hear the Muslim call to prayer.

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In Bethlehem we met the Christian family that owns the olive wood factory. There are only about 20% Christians in Bethlehem we went through the church that is believed to be where Jesus was born. For many of us it was a disappointment; not a simple stable in our minds. It’s a large ornate church is built over it and is controlled by three church groups, Armenian, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox.

We evening ended with a pleasant, informal presentation by Kathryn Abraham Vandervedk. She was one of our guides and is a musician and recording artist. She’s a professional cellist with the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra. She shared about learning at age 17 that she was Jewish and how God brought her to a saving knowledge of Him. She blessed us playing her Celtics harp and singing Shema and the Aaron ice blessing from Deut 6.

This was our last day with our Israel guides, Jeremy and Kathryn. Pastor Jim said this was his first trip here with Christian guides. We were so blessed to have their knowledge of Scripture and Israel.

What a remarkable, blessed day for us all as we concluded our days in Jerusalem.

Sharon

Garden

We started our morning with a visit to one of the possible locations for the Garden of Gethsemane, the crucifixion and Jesus’ tomb. We heard a convincing explanation of the criteria that area meets, which make it seem quite plausible that it was the actual site.

We took some time to look around and had the privilege of sharing communion together, lead by Pastor Jim.  This was a very meaningful way to spend our last morning in Jerusalem.

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Via Dolorosa

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Today began early! We had early appointments for a tour under the western wall but also stopped to see the Wailing Wall. Men and women are separated and with heads covered we could approach the wall with prayers written out and rolled up. Watching the young Jewish women with their faces in their prayer books and rocking back and forth made me so grateful that because of Jesus, I can talk to God directly. I’m also thankful the Holy Spirit prays for me when I have no words.

We made our way to the Via Dolorosa, the “traditional” path that many believe Jesus walked carrying the cross. As we walked I was reminded of the distractions we all have. Shopkeepers were calling out, “Twenty postcards, five dollars. Come into my shop and I will make you a special deal.” Jesus also would have been walking along a path where vendors would have been out. Vendors today sell smooth, polished crosses. Jesus’ cross would have been rough and splintered.

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A group of Catholic pilgrims came down the street following a man holding up a cross. They visit the “Fourteen Stations of the Cross”. Every few yards they had to side step a pile of garbage, leftover reminders that people work in the shops that crowd against the street on each side.

It is difficult to focus on “the cross of Christ” when we have so many distractions in our lives. A hymn that comes to mind, “I have decided to follow Jesus” The stanza says, “The cross before me that world behind me… No turning back, no turning back.” We need to follow Him through the difficult days. This time of challenge can strengthen our faith. Stay behind Jesus and depend on His wisdom and care. If He can handle the foes of hell, He can whatever circumstances you are facing.

Karen

Jerusalem

We saw so many highlights today. We started the day driving to the top of the Mount of Olives to have a overall look at the Old City of Jerusalem. What a beautiful sight! Just to see that city is a wonderful thing to experience . We had a  picture taken with the city as our backdrop as a  reminder of our privilege to travel together.

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To me the highlight of the day was the visit to the Holocaust museum, Yad VaShem. The literal meaning of Yad Vashem is Hand and Name. Which means we are written on Gods hand, never to be forgotten.

What a moving experience to think back to recent history and remember that terrible time of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.  We left with quiet thoughts of sadness. Our guide reminded us that the Jews have always had people who have wanted to destroy them.

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We thank God anew for the freedoms that we so greatly enjoy, and continue to pray for the Peace of Israel.
Teresa

Life Changing Experiences

Israel is awesome!  It has brought a whole new perspective for me oIMG_0299n
the Bible and where Jesus lived.  Our guide Jeremy, has a very deep understanding of the history of Israel and also the Bible.  He is an awesome tour guide….who also has
an awesome hat!
One thing I really liked about Monday’s adventures was when we got to see the pit Jesus was thrown in before being crucified.  It is almost exactly the way I had pictured it as a little kid!  We went down into the pit and sang 2 hymns.  It was kind of sad but happy to know that he did this for me!

This trip is a life changing experience that I will never forget.

Jack

Ein Gedi

While visiting of Ein Gedi today, many people decided to take the path leading to a great view, I myself decided to go down to the small waterfall. It sounded and felt like a malfunctioning shower. The water was slightly warm at the bottom of the waterfall. It was rather relaxing to sit with my feet In the water. Like being on the beach, with no sunset. Like a miniature paradise. I mean, seriously! Look at this image! —>

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-Peter P.