Israel: day one

ISRAEL -- Day OneWednesday, June 3rd

Mount Arbel --- Overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  The Sea of Galilee, which is actually MUCH smaller than I expected. More like a very open lake that you can see from one side to the other.  I will go into more detail about the Sea of Galilee tomorrow! This mountain also overlooks a little fishing village of Madgala, which is where Mary Magdalene was from.  It was a beautiful start to our journey, looking out over the land and focusing on the Lord and what He was preparing for us.

Nazareth -- We traveled over the the city of Nazareth, which was the hometown of Jesus.  We walked through the Marketplace, which was really neat.  The market is still in the same place it was in the time of Jesus. We saw the place that is suggested to be the place that Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to Mary & Joseph.  (Luke 1:26).  We walked the streets Jesus walked as a child as he grew into a man.  (Luke 2:39-40) We gathered in the synagogue where Jesus preached his Isaiah 61 sermon to announce he was the Messiah (Luke 4:16-30). We sat in that synagogue and read those words that Jesus read so long ago. Although the synagogue has been renovated and restored through the years, it was still an honor to stand in the place that Jesus preached this first message that He had come to save the world.

Mount of Presipice -- This was a great place overlooking Nazareth, Mount Tabor and the Valley of Armageddon.  I was especially drawn to valley of Armageddon, where it is said in Revelation that the final battle will take place.  It is interesting to me that this land is not populated. It seems to be farm land, and is well taken care of but it almost seems avoided by villages.  I wonder if this is due to the name it holds and what is to come for it.  A beautiful land it is! It’s neat to think that these same hills that Jesus might have played in as a boy, will be the same place he will lead the final battle.  (Revelation 19-20)

The Nazareth Village -- A village that has been build to replicate how people lived in the times of Jesus.  We saw what Nazareth would have looked like, what the people looked like and how they lived.  We saw their homes, experienced their lifestyles and how they made a living.  Something I found interesting from this is that when I’ve always pictured Joseph and Jesus as carpenters building with wood.  I’m surprised to see barely any wood in this land.  Everything is made from stone and there is so much stone around.  Jesus was likely more of a builder, making things out of stone.  I’m sure he was very strong, and likely was worn from the hard work he did.  This village gave us a totally new perspective and it was great to see things in this way.

Meggido -- This is a really great historical site.  Many levels of civilization date back to 2500 BC.  Each group of people would overtake this site, tear down and rebuild their city on top of the ruins.  Solomon’s Temple was built here and is found in the Old Testament (1 King 4:12, 9:15).  There was a sacrificial alter still standing where many sacrifices where made.  It’s great to see a glimpse into the lives of these people from what we see from the ruins today.  There is a huge water tunnel that they used that we were able to walk down into that descents 120 ft. below the surface into a vertical tunnel of 215 feet.  It is cut through rock that leads to a spring concealed for protection.  Women would haul this water all this way daily to get their water.  I shouldn’t complain about how hard my life is! I thought it was difficult just walking that once!

It was a wonderful, exhausting day.  We took in so much and learned a lot.  I think I would have been satisfied after just this day if I had to be!


Israel: Getting there

ISRAEL -- The FlightMonday, June 1st

Our travels began at 3pm as we arrived at the huge Oklahoma City International Airport.  All 20 Gates of it.  Our flight was at 5:15, but we arrived early just to make sure we get everyone checked in on time.  We were all good after a little struggle with Efren, my Venezuelan brother-in-law.  Luckily they decided to let him out of the country so we were all good to go! The flight from OKC to Atlanta was basically uneventful, other than the fact the airlines didn’t even seat the couples together so most of our group was randomly spread throughout the plane.  Odd.  Atlanta arrives and we begin to brace ourselves for the long flight over to Tel Aviv, Israel.  I was actually pleasantly surprised to find out the flight was (only) 12 hours.  For some reason I had 16 hours in my mind so a few hours shorter than I expected was great!

Well it was finally time to board the long awaited flight and off we go.  I’ll never understand why they make you walk through First Class to get to the cheap seats.  Are they just trying to rub it in that some of us can’t afford that? Yes, I would like a recliner for my 12 hour flight.  Thanks.  But nope, we’re jammed in a row with an old lady who won’t move to the empty seat next to her husband across the row to give us more room.  So my poor husband that can’t sleep in moving vehicles is stuck wide awake sitting straight up with about 5 inches of leg room.  Good times.  We played some inflight trivial pursuit (thanks Delta, I was impressed with that one), watched a couple movies, and I tried to sleep as much as possible.  Brook was kind enough to roam around the plane for a couple hours and let me spread out a bit and get some rest.  Before we knew it, it was 5:30 pm in Tel Aviv and we were landing!!!

ISRAEL -- The Arrival Tuesday, June 2nd

We arrive in Israel!!! We’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while now, and we are all very anxious and excited for what is to come over the next two weeks.  We make our way through customs. Again, Efren holds us up but they let him in the country and we’re all set! We loaded up on our bus to head to the hotel, but of course it’s 2 hours away. We met Abraham.  Our tour guide.  This guy is outstanding.  For some reason I’d pictured in my mind this old dude with no sense of humor and boring.  Abraham is not those things.  He’s hysterical, and his teaching is overwhelming to my brain but very interesting.  He pulls out a huge map of Israel and starts telling us about his land.  This is a good thing for me because I’m not the most “geographic” person and maps help me a lot.

On the bus ride to the hotel it all hit me and became very real.  As we drove down the road and I looked out the window at a sign that said “Nazareth”, I was speechless.  Even though I knew I was coming to this land and had prepared for it, I still had no idea what to expect.  As we drove past Nazareth and Abraham pointed out this city on the hill to us, I was extremely overtaken by the life that Jesus had lived.  And here I was, about to walk where he walked.  To experience his land and see first hand the place that his ministry took place.  It’s simply overwhelming and I couldn’t wait to get started!

Arrived in Israel!