Wednesday, January 6, 2010

holy moly!

Two years ago today I went on a trip that changed my life, a 10-day trip to Israel. I was reminded of my trip via a facebook wall post from Mrs. Boyd, my “mom” on the trip and full-time supplier of Pepto Bismal (if you ever want to lose 10 pounds fast, I suggest going to Israel). I have so many fond memories of that trip that I thought about retelling, but I don’t think any of them will do justice like the letter I wrote to my family & friends right after this trip. WARNING – this is an extremely long & detailed letter…but worth the read, I promise! And as a reward? Pictures at the end! Don’t immediately skip to the end (I know you were thinking it!)

"Dear Family & Friends,

Shalom! First off, I just want to thank each of you for your support, love, & prayers. My trip to Israel has been one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. Everywhere in Israel you can feel the presence of God. It is such an amazing little country - Israel is only about the size of the state of New Jersey. They are surrounded on EVERY side by their enemies, by people who want to kill them, yet none of them live in fear. I met a girl on the first day of my trip who lived right on the border of Syria and was not scared. I sat next to a girl from Tel Aviv on the plane ride to Israel who said she felt safer in Tel Aviv than NYC because there were guards everywhere. The Israelis themselves are also some amazing people. Our tour guide, Edo, was a perfect example. They are so proud of where they live – they LOVE it there & love to share. They also LOVE Americans. I went on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee where the American flag was raised and the National Anthem was sung. We also went to a restaurant named Deck’s where the owner gave a solo version of “God Bless America.” I was lucky enough to be in the country when George Bush flew in. I stood on Mt. Carmel watching the planes and watching the faces of the Israelis as they got phone calls of the president’s arrival – they were ecstatic! I love America and I always love to boast of our success, power, and pride, but I didn’t stand a chance when it came to competing with the Israeli pride. The only reason Israel is even ok right now is because God’s hand is on that country. They all know and acknowledge that God has protected them. Half of Americans don’t acknowledge a God at all.

I went on this trip with two of my best friends from school (Brooke & Kristi), my professor Dr. Ergun Caner, former WWF wrestler Ted Dibiase, and around 90 other students from Liberty University. I encourage you to look up the scripture as you read this; it is truly an amazing site.

Day 1 & 2

We drove up to NYC and spent the entire day in the city. That night we went to JFK airport. We went through tons and tons of security and then flew out at midnight for a long plane ride to Tel Aviv. The plane was HUGE – 2 stories with three seats on both sides and four in the middle. The flight was a little under 10 hours thanks to the jet stream. We got to Israel at 5 pm the next day (b/c of the 7 hour time difference). We drove up to Tiberias and stayed at the Ramot Resort, overlooking the Sea of Galilee.

Day 3

We got up at went to the Mt. of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). There we sang worship songs overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Then, we went on a boat ride ON the Sea of Galilee. The same place that Jesus walked on water (Mark 6: 45-57) among MANY other things. We ate at a restaurant named Deck’s where we ate tilapia from the Sea (with the head and everything!!) just like Jesus would have eaten. We also went to Capernaum where Jesus performed many of his miracles. That night we went to the border of Syria where we saw real bunkers and learned about all the fighting that has taken place there.

Day 4

We went to Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. There we saw the Valley of Armageddon where the last battle in the tribulation will take place (Revelation 16:16). Then we went to Mt. Carmel, on the other side of the valley. There we saw the planes for President Bush come in and we sang worship songs overlooking the valley. We also went to Megiddo. That night we went to the Jordan River to be baptized in the same river as our Lord.

Day 5

We drove south and went to Beit She’an, a breath-taking archeological dig that was completely covered in dirt 10 years ago, it was also the place where Jesus healed the lame man. Our tour guide, Edo, helped in uncovering the site. Then we saw one of my favorite things on the whole trip. We only drove by long enough to see and snap a picture of the Gilboa Mountains which remain barren. Our tour guide told us that for years and years the Israelis have been trying to grow trees on the mountains with no luck and asked us why we thought they wouldn’t grow. After we offered our rational answers, he shared a bible verse from 2 Samuel 1:21 that said that those mountains would not grow trees because of prophecy. Then we passed by Jericho (we could not enter because it is under Palestinian control) Next, we went to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Later we took a cable car ride up to Masada and ended the night with a dip in the Dead Sea. That night we entered the city of peace, Jerusalem, where we stayed at the Regency Hotel.

Day 6

We went to the Mount of Olives – the last place Jesus set foot when he ascended into heaven and the place his feet will hit when he returns for us (Zechariah 14:4). It was one of the most amazing places we went on the trip. Then we walked the Palm Sunday Road and went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus sweat blood and cried out to God (Matthew 26:36-45). Then we went to Caiphus’ house where Jesus may have been sent before his crucifixion. There we saw a dungeon (a prison within a prison) where prisoners were lowered to stay in before they met their death. In the dungeon were claw marks from the prisoner’s fingernails. For lunch we ate at a Kibbutz and spent the rest of the day shopping In Old Jerusalem.

Day 7

This day was the Sabbath for all of the Jews so one of the elevators in our hotel stopped on every floor going up and down because the Jewish people believe that you cannot do any work on the Sabbath (you can’t even push an elevator button!!) We went to Antonia’s Fortress (Pilate’s Palace) where Jesus was found guilty. And we saw the exact road from Jesus’ walk, where his blood actually fell on his way to be crucified. It was powerful. We all sat and sang and prayed while we were there. Then we went to Mt. Zion where the tomb of King David is thought to be located. We went to the Upper Room (on top of the tomb) where Jesus and his disciples were thought to have had the last supper together (Mark 14:15). Then we walked the Via Dolorosa, the pathway from Pilate’s judgment hall to Calvary. Then we went to the Western Wall, “Wailing Wall.” There the boys were separated from the girls and the boys had to wear head coverings to approach the wall. There we were taught that the Jews go there to mourn the loss of their temple & Israel’s former glory because the Muslims have taken over. They go to that specific place to mourn because it’s the closest to where the Holy of Holys was thought to have been. After that we spent time in Old Jerusalem again. Later that night we ended up going to a Domino’s in Jerusalem!! (hummus & spicy vegetables weren’t really settling well with us)

Day 8

We got up early this morning and went to the Temple Mount where Abraham was commanded to take his long-sought and solitary son Isaac and offer him to God (Gen. 22). We learned that Solomon built the first temple which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and that the second temple was built by Zerubbabel and rebuilt and enlarged by Herod. We also learned that although the Muslims currently have control of the Temple Mount that the Jews already have blueprints for a third temple once they gain control again. While we are on the Temple Mount we also saw the Dome of the Rock which is built over the rock where it is believed that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice. Then we went to the Holocaust Museum. After that we went to the steps leading into the city that Jesus and everyone would have walked on to pray at the temple. That night we came back and had a worship session.

Day 9

Our last day in Israel was one of the most memorable. We woke up and went to Calvary where Jesus was crucified. We saw the place of the skull, “Golgotha” (Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, and John 19:17). Then we saw the Garden Tomb & got to go inside and see the empty tomb!! (Matthew 28:6, Mark 16:6, Luke 14:6). We saw fulfilled prophecy once again when we learned about that tomb and how in Isaiah 53 it says that Jesus will be buried with the rich when he dies. We all had a service at the tomb, took communion, and sang hymns. It was such an amazing moment to see where Jesus was crucified and buried knowing that the only evidence needed against Christ’s resurrection was a body that they never found because He had risen. We left Jerusalem shortly after our service and headed to Caesarea where we saw an old aqueduct and got to put our feet in the Mediterranean Sea. We ended our trip in Tel Aviv at a place called Mini Israel, which was a miniature version of the entire country. Everything was Barbie sized. It reminded me of Israel’s version of a Chuck E. Cheese. There we had our final dinner and we had a huge dance party. Then we headed off to the airport. We flew out at 1 am Israel time and 12 hours later we arrived home in NY at 6 am!!

I saw both fulfilled and promised prophecy on this trip, something that distinguishes the Bible from any other religious book.

I will never read the Bible the same. I can never read and not be moved, not be flooded with memories of the places I saw, where I stood. So thank you, so much, for giving me the opportunity to take this trip. It was life changing."

And just for fun...

1 comment:

  1. Hey Miranda,
    This is amanda, brie's old roommate :) it's so nice to hear about your trip! I went this January & it was amazing! I also had edo as a tour guide and am so thankful for the knowledgeable, God loving man he is! I loved reading your entries, it was like I was there again =]