Today has been the most impactful day for me so far. We started in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and visited the Wailing Wall where we saw many people praying fervently. It amazed me to see the dedication of those who would memorize large portions of the Bible. I also really appreciated the Jerusalem Museum that had a scale model of the city of Jerusalem from the first century. It gave me a much better picture of the areas where Jesus preached and performed miracles. The sheer size of the temple blew me away. We finished the day with a VBS at RCO. I had such a great time playing with the kids. Many of them love to play soccer and they all enjoyed the games we had for them. Performing the story of David and Goliath and singing songs were also loads is fun. I cannot wait to visit more sites throughout Israel and continue serving the church.
My heart is overflowing after today. Our first activity was going to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and I couldn’t contain my emotions as I prayed with my hands on it’s stones. It was an amazing and surreal moment, as I had only seen it in movies or on TV, and finally being able to truly know what it is like to be there led me to tears. Afterwards, we walked through the tightly spaced marketplaces of the Jewish quarter in the city, experiencing firsthand how many tourists pass through day by day. After going through the old city and seeing a scale model of what it would’ve looked like when Jesus was around, we were able to go through an exhibit that displayed the Dead Sea Scrolls and told of their history. It’s incredible to think how such an important part of our faith was found and somehow preserved for thousands of years. After our touring, we went to Ramallah to continue our service. Today we began our VBS program and really got to know the kids, interacting with them. We played games, sang worship songs, and enjoyed a puppet show! As I said earlier, my heart is completely overflowing with joy, and I can’t thank the Lord enough for the opportunity to do His work here in the Holy Land.-Joshua
The only way I could possibly describe this trip is an experience that gets better and better with each passing moment. Even though it’s my first time in Israel, it already feels like home, especially during our last day at VBS. I feel so blessed to have been able to serve the kids in the church. One of the best moments from today was finally being able to finish up the mural. We got to see the kids eyes light up in excitement, which made the hard work all worthwhile. The kids at RCO have amazing hearts, and I will definitely miss each and every one of them. I am so incredibly thankful that God has brought me here to not only experience the Holy Land but to also be a servant for Jesus.
We started the day off going to church and we were able to experience what RCO church is like for the kids and their families. Erin and I were able to give a short devotional during the service. We shared about our faith and about how no matter your situation in life, you need to focus on God because that is the only thing that will matter after our time here on earth. We also got to listen to Mr. McIntosh give a message in English and the pastor translated it in Arabic. It was beautiful to see the same thing being said in two different languages, all for the glory of God. After church we were able to go bowling with some of the kids and it was amazing to see how much they supported each other even if one didn’t knock many pins down. There was so much joy on the kids faces and I am so very grateful for being able to spend time with them. I hope I will be able to come back soon, if it is in God’s will.
Today was the final day we got to spend with our friends from RCO. Something that stood out to me from the service that we attended was the worship. The songs that they played for worship were genuinely heart warming. They reminded me of the worship songs I grew up listening and singing along to in church. Listening to those songs was uplifting and it made me nostalgic for my own culture. Later on in the service, Cathy and I had the opportunity to give a short devotional in Arabic and share our experiences. We were happy to share how Christianity has impacted our lives and our desire to spread God’s word to others. Along with sharing our background and our faith, we also talked about our passion for missions and how learners at CCHS get the chance to serve locally, state-wide, nationally and internationally.
Today was such a memorable day, for not only myself, but for the entire team. I say for the team because of how well we bonded over this trip. We started the day off leaving the hotel and driving to the Jordan River for baptisms. I didn’t know what to expect at the Jordan River, nor how I feel. I was completely speechless. To be able to build friendships while in fellowship together through baptisms today was a huge blessing. It was an amazing experience seeing my brothers and sisters further their relationship with the Lord and commit to Him. This was a very exciting and emotional part of my life today, which I hope to cherish for many years. Next, we went Ein Gedi. The waterfalls were beautiful and being able to swim in them was so surreal. It felt like we were on an island, peaceful and apart from everything. Next, we went to the Dead Sea which was SUPER fun. We got to swim and rub the mud on ourselves, which made our skin so soft. It was just amazing to see all of the sites that you hear about in the Bible. I am truly grateful that the Lord had me come on this trip. I pray that I soak up Israel as much as I can for the rest of the days we have left, because I’m really going to miss it here.
Today was one of the most impactful days I have experienced in my life. This day was filled with such indescribable joy. The day began with baptisms in the Jordan River (best way to start off the day). Eight of us, including myself, had the opportunity to commit to God, at the same spot where Jesus was baptized. My baptism experience was an amazing one. Not only was it amazing because it was the Jordan River, but also because Mr.McIntosh baptized me. Mr. Mclntosh has been such an influential mentor in my life, and I am forever grateful for all that he has done for me and the school. It was so beautiful being able to see my friends get baptized by our incredible Facilitators (aka FAM). We also got to go hiking at Ein Gedi which was incredible and utterly beautiful. Being able to see God’s creation was breathtaking and something I normally take for granted. We also got to hike where the scrolls of Isaiah were found! Looking at the cave there with such beautiful detail was also an exemplification of God’s work being unable to comprehend. We had an amazing opportunity to go to the Dead Sea. It was a really cool experience being able go swim in the water and just fellowship with those around us. Lastly, we ended the day with a camel ride while the sun was setting. It was a different experience that I probably won’t want to experience again but was still fun. Overall, today was an amazing day as we were all able to fellowship with those around us and get to grow, not just with each other, but with God.
While today was the most exhausting day of the trip yet, it was also one of the most fulfilling. We toured many different holy sites, and were constantly on the move the entirety of the day. The grand tour started with a walk around Temple Mount, wherein we got to see the Dome of the Rock and the area where the Jewish Temple once resided. This was a great cultural experience, because we got to see many different religious groups all converging on the same site. After this we eventually made our way to the Garden Tomb. Here we got to see the speculated site of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. This was fascinating as someone who has read the Bible their whole life; getting to see the physical areas that the pinnacle points of Christ’s life took place in was a priceless experience. It was all very surreal, beginning with the area that is thought to be Golgotha and ending with Christ’s tomb itself. All in all, every step taken today was well worth it. All our effort was repaid many times over with experiences that none of us will ever forget.
Wow what a day! Today was a whirlwind of beautiful places and impactful study. We visited Mount Carmel where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal, Caesarea Maritime where Paul was held for a period of time, Nazareth the hometown of Jesus, and finally the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus revealed His full glory to the inner circle of the disciples. My favorite part of today was most definitely the fact that as we reached a location, we then pulled out our bibles and read the story that took place there. For example, at the Mount of Transfiguration we read from Matthew 17 and Luke 9, but we were actually there! Imagine reading a Harry Potter book while you were at HogWarts and then multiply that feeling by 100…that’s what it’s like to be at a holy site reading the story.
Also, today I had one of my beliefs cemented in my head, the belief that Jesus knew what was the right time for things to happen and He would follow that timing. Mr. McIntosh said something today that really made this evident to me, while talking about the story found in Luke 4 in which Jesus makes known that He is the Messiah in the Nazareth synagogue. Jesus is then forced to a cliff where the people who are angry at his statements in the synagogue want to push him off and kill him, but Jesus just turns and walks straight through them with no problem. The thing that Mr. McIntosh said was something to the effect that Jesus knew when He was ready to die and He didn’t follow the people’s timing. He was going on His own timing. This is a simple thing we as Christians believe, but just being in the spot where this took place did something to me. It just made the story so easy to visualize that my current belief was made even stronger as result.
Overall, it was another incredible day and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our team in our dwindling days in the Holy Land.
This has been a memorable trip to say the least. Eight years ago I would never have imagined that I would have had the opportunity to teach in the Holy Land. There were many moments where I was deeply humbled at God’s unending grace for choosing someone like me to share His Word with others.
One of those moments came today in teaching at Peter’s Primacy. In the story, we see Jesus meeting Peter following His resurrection. Peter was back to his old job, but Jesus reminds him that his purpose would be to fish for men! I believed eight years ago that I had a plan for my life, but in God’s love and mercy He repurposed me to share His Word at CCHS and literally around the world. I am thankful for this year’s Israel team, for displaying their servant hearts at RCO with the children, and digging in to God’s Word with me throughout Israel.
Today was a fantastic send off to our two week missions trip in Israel. We toured only a half day’s worth of sites, but had just as good an experience as any other day on the trip. Our final site was quite fitting: we sat on the shore of Galilee, gazing out onto the haze covered water, as Mr. McIntosh spoke to us about the ways God implements His will into our lives. This idea acts as somewhat of a mantra for the whole trip; the entirety of our visit here, every biblical story we visited, culminated into the idea of being willing to follow God’s call. In the end, that’s what brought us all here in the first place. It’s what is going to be taking us home soon. Perhaps most importantly, it’s what will be leading us as we all return and continue to live our lives in the manner that best glorifies God.
My favorite place we went to today was Capernaum. I got to get a new visual on a place that I had read about in stories and see where Jesus and the disciples called home for a bit. While we were there, we got to see the foundations of the Synagogue where Jesus would have spoken, and walk inside. Being there gave me such a clear visual of what it might have been like to actually be there when He was speaking. We also got to take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, which was an amazing start to our day. The boat ride was so relaxing and gave all of us a time to just sit and think for a bit, which was a luxury we didn’t get much of at every location. There is truly nothing like getting to put an image to all the stories that you have been reading for so long and experiencing the culture and world that Jesus lived in. This trip has been such a blessing to me and I can’t wait to take what I learned here and apply it to my life at home.