It is currently 6pm here in Jerusalem which is 10am there is San Antonio. We are getting ready for our 6:30pm dinner and I thought maybe, just maybe, I can pull off getting this blog done before midnight tonight. We got back some of our team members that were out yesterday but we are still missing one. I promise, once we have all of us together we will post a real team photo. My Fitbit reading so far: 73 flights of stairs (my calves are speaking foul language to me and have requested a new body to be apart of), 6 miles, and 13,700 steps.
Fun facts for today…
- Today was our first day touring the land in our shuttle bus!! Woooohooo not as many steps, right? WRONG! Everywhere you go is steps, or atleast everywhere they take us you have to climb up. #StairwayToHeaven
- I found out that Art and Jan Hall were my confirmation teachers at Colonial Hills back in the day (1987/88ish). I knew I had an instant connection with my sweet Jan from the first day of our Brown Bag Bible Study with Nancy Andres…now I know why. We will always be connected. And, Art Hall is a beast! He is up and at it every day. Climbing the stairs, climbing the hills, enduring the hot sun. Amazing! #AgeCantStopYou#ButYourCalvesCan JS.
- Pam Schultz and a couple others rode a camel today! It was great. Several of us got "kissed" on the cheek by this camel. And by kissed, I mean he tried to suck our cheek into his whiskery mouth. It was cute and weird at the same time. #CamelBreath
- Bedouin children came running toward us at Wedi Qiltand sold many of us head scarves…men and women. Thank you Papa Trammell for mine; I know the haggling was part of the fun. The Bedouin people live in these valleys in the wilderness and survive off of selling tourists "things" and providing donkey rides. Several of us had them wrap our heads in scarves and I have posted those pictures as well. One of them wanted my water bottle clip/carribeaner What an experience! #BedouinKidsAreGodsKidsToo
Now for the goods…And today are some serious goods yall! Let me start by saying we are spoiled people. These people, regardless of religion, love their land, fight for their land, and respect their land. It doesn't matter if it is plush with fresh flowers and great crop land or bare with dirt and rocks; they love it, will fight for it, and respect it. Something we could be better about, I think. Today we saw the sheer beauty of God's creation in fruit producing trees, in rocks, and in dirt. All His creation and all absolutely breath taking for me. See the pics in the post.
First stop was Nebi Samuel overlooking Gideon. It was extremely cold and windy, and we were all bundled up. Becca gave us some teaching and at one point she decided to read some scripture. As she was reading us scripture about one of Moses' blessings, a white dove appeared out of nowhere below the ridge we were standing on, flew one circle below the ridge then disappeared. GOOSEBUMPS!! "Hi God, we see you!!" My eyes filled with tears and my heart with peace. Now that's how to start a day!
Next we went to Ancient Shiloh which is where the tabernacle was thought to have been. To be in a place that you know was the start of the 12 tribes that were sent out across the land is again, CRAZY. The tabernacle was destroyed but excavations continue to gather more information. After Ancient Shiloh we made our way to the Jordan River. This is visually underwhelming as the water is a muddy brown color and this part of the river is very narrow, but emotionally and spiritually it was overwhelming. I went down to place my hand in this water then made the sign of the cross on my forehead to remember my baptism. I know we don't need to be re-baptized but having the water run through my hands then placed on my forehead was about all I could take in that moment. I felt the moment to my core.
After we left the Jordan River we headed to Jericho. We had lunch there, had a few lessons there, and got to see and feel and touch some of the same things we know Jesus did during His time on earth. Jericho is HOT but has a totally different terrain due to the springs in it. This makes the land much greener in appearance and a desired place to live for that reason. See the pictures to see the difference in the terrain in Jericho vs the terrain just past Jericho. CRAZY!
We left Jericho and headed to Wedi Qelt. This is the place Jesus walked to go from Jericho to Jerusalem. WE WERE IN THAT EXACT SPOT! It is gorgeous, it is breathtaking, it is nothing like what I expected. Knowing the struggle, we were all having hiking up these hills and then to think OUR Jesus did these hikes without our fancy hiking shoes, without an endless supply of water, and without a guide or google to give Him directions. Again, I was just blown away. It is hard to hold back tears in these moments. To know I am standing on Holy ground where THE Savior of mankind stood and walked and talked and preached and loved and healed…and died. Its almost too much. We are not worthy of His love, but he gives us this love anyway. "I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it. Still you give your love away. Oh, the overwhelming, never ending reckless love of God" played over and over in my head. Deuteronomy 32:10 says: "He found Him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept his as the apple of his eye." Becca had us think about what that meant to be the apple of his eye. We had to turn and face someone and look in their eye until we saw the "little man" staring back. If you do this you will see that when you look into someone's eye you see the reflection of yourself. So when God looks into our eyes, he sees himself in us. WHOA! Knock me over! Do we keep Him as the apple of our eye? Again, CRAZY.
While at the Wedi Qelt we were able to see the St. George Monastery. This is magnificent. Please look at the pictures and see the beauty that lies in the wilderness. We often times refer to the wilderness as a lifeless place, but I will no longer. There is life in every place that God put it, and it is up to us to recognize it and look to scripture for what it is we are to see if we cannot see it on our own. I can't tell you anymore than you will see for yourself by looking at the picture. I will have to put some additional pictures in the comment section as FB limits the number of photos per post.
Yall, these pictures are worth more than a "thousand words", they are to inspire us, ignite a passion for Christ in us, and renew us in Him. Annnnnd, again, I'm crying. Love yall and goodnight.
Your Crybaby Blogger
PS - I didn't end up finishing this blog until 10:15pm our time and 2:15pm San Antonio time. At least it isn't midnight again. lol And reminder, there are more pictures on our Facebook page.