Trip of a Lifetime!
It’s been a long while since I posted an update. The end of the year was quite extraordinary as I finished up my first full semester of classes right up until Christmas. This left me a crazy woman finishing up my Christmas shopping because I am truly a procrastinator. Then two days after Christmas our family took a trip of a lifetime… we went to the Holy Land, Israel.
Let me add a disclaimer…. I have nothing creative to share YET. It will be coming soon. Below is only the first day of our trip. I will be sharing more pictures and the experience my family shared.
Where to Begin?
I thought I would use this platform instead of Facebook to tell the story of our trip. After taking 1800+ photos it’s hard to just post a picture of a “rock” without explaining the meaning behind it. Let me be clear that I know already my explanation of the photos will not do them justice. I’m not an expert when it comes to all of the history and theology of what I will be sharing. However, I will share my perspective, experience, and scripture based on where and what we did see. I hope you can get a taste of the experience, and my true hope is that you would experience it first hand just as we have done. It really is a trip of a lifetime.
So Many Emotions
I’ll begin by telling you this trip far exceeded my expectations. It was emotional, spiritual, and awe-inspiring. I found myself either weeping through the hikes or completely taken back by what we were seeing. In some instances, I was left speechless. That says a lot for a girl who loves to talk.
Our tour was through Biblical Journeys. We were with sixteen of our faith family members on this trip. We also had our bus driver, our tour guide who gave us all of the historical backgrounds of what we were seeing. My pastor, who was on his second trip to Israel gave us the theological vision of each site. All total we stopped at 57 places in 9 days. That’s a lot of sites to take in.
The sightseeing begins right away after landing in Tel Aviv. Once we found our luggage we were off to see our first site, Jaffa. It was getting dark so the pictures I have from Jaffa do not do it justice.
As we stood on the shoreline of the Mediterranean we could see the skyline of Tel Aviv. It was beautiful.
Jaffa, also known as Joppa is mentioned in the Old Testament four times which include the books Joshua, 2 Chronicles, Jonah, and Ezra.
After we finished touring this area we headed to our first hotel for much-needed rest. Our hotel was right on the Mediterranian Sea with breathtaking views.
Our first real day of touring with the first stop to Caesarea Maritima. Built by Herod the Great between 25-13 BC. Interestingly enough one of the first planned communities. Here we were able to see the Hippodrome, theatre that could seat 3,000 people and a manmade harbor designed by Herod.
Biblical cross-references can be found throughout the book of Acts.
Below you can see the theatre. The significance biblically can be found in Acts 12:19-24.
Remains left of the harbor Herod had built.
Below: Hippodrome where the chariot races would take place. Just thinking about the many of the people in the bible sitting in these seats is overwhelming. Another tidbit to note, Paul spent two years in prison in Caesarea.
Lastly, can’t help but share a few pics of my gems enjoying Caesarea.
Our next stop of the day was Mount Carmel. Mostly known for the idol worship and particularly of Baal. This was also the place where Elijah defeated and destroyed the prophets of Baal and Asheroth. It’s quite beautiful at the top of the mountain where you can see miles and miles. In fact, it’s so beautiful that Isaiah uses Mount Carmel as a symbol of its beauty and majesty. (Isaiah 35:2)
Biblical cross-references: 1 Kings 18:19-46.
I could spend a few days on the rich history of Megiddo. This area dates back to the time of Joshua. It’s also known as Armegeddon.
One of the most interesting things I learned throughout all the sites is the number of layers of civilization that are built upon each other. This is called a Tell. Here in Megiddo, there were at least 20 layers of civilization uncovered. WOW. To see the layers is amazing.
Again, each picture is hard to bring you perspective when it looks like it’s just a bunch of rocks, but when you sit back and take in the big picture of what you are seeing it brings the Bible to life. For me, this was amazing and incredible evidence of the truth of the bible.
Date palms are everywhere you can see. In fact, dates were given to us after each lunch and dinner as a dessert. I wish I could say I loved them… my taste buds said NO thank you.
This picture doesn’t do this justice, but it’s important to note something about it. This stone is actually a feeding trough for horses. This is what they believe Jesus would have been placed in when he was born. Not as cozy as I had pictured in my mind.
The last thing I will mention on Megiddo is the biblical significance. The Hebrew term for Armageddon is Har Meggido or Hill of Megiddo. Read Revelation 16:13-16. It’s the last great gathering of armies just before the return of Christ to Jerusalem. Powerful.
Lunch Time Experience
What an experience it was. If there is one way to see how American I am… take me to lunch or dinner in a foreign country. I quickly become non-adventurous which is a little sad. I did try many new things on this trip, but there is only so much I can get past my nose. Middle Eastern food for me is an acquired taste. Unless you love hummus, which I don’t. I did enjoy the mounds of bread and carb intake. I’m sure I gained the most out of all the travelers because of my bread intake alone. I couldn’t help it. It was so good.
BUT…. there was one big problem… Coffee. I love coffee and drink it all day. That is probably the one thing I didn’t get enough on this trip. Arabic coffee is STRONG. Crazy strong and really bitter.
Here is a picture of Brandon testing it. Needless to say, I was not a fan. Notice how tiny the coffee cups are!
Our last stop of the day was the small city of Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus. In biblical times it was known to be a small village and home to Mary and Joseph. Our first stop in this city was the Church of Annunciation. This church was amazing with lots of great details.
One of the significant things noted in the detail of this church is the detailed artwork. Inside the church is a grotto which is where they believe the Virgin Mary’s home.
Statue of Jesus at the very top.
The door of the church depicts the life of Jesus.
Our tour guide told us that the Latin word “VERBUM” that you see below is actually not spelled correctly. The reason for the misspelling was to signify that only Jesus is perfect.
It’s interesting to see so many churches built upon old synagogues and homes.
Just Day One!
It’s hard to believe we covered this much terrain in just one day. There was never a night that we struggled to fall asleep. Each night I couldn’t help to dive into God’s word and see how the bible came to life with everything I had experienced. Every single day it was like this. I’ll be sharing more in the days to come.
If you have the chance, take a peek at the scriptures and try to imagine what you are seeing. It really is amazing.
Thank you for taking a peek. More to come…