Video from Israel (Spring 2014)

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It’s Worth It

Whew. I don’t even know where to start this or even what the point of this is.. I guess just to get all my thoughts down, maybe. I started this little blog when I went on my first “big trip” out of the country as an easy way to keep updated everyone who was supporting me.. As a 17 year old Senior in high school, the thought that I was embarking on a trip to Uganda, Africa for over a month by myself was absolutely thrilling and terrifying at the same time; I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I love thinking back to that point in my life and seeing what the Lord has taught me, changed in me, brought me through, allowed me to experience, and redeemed in and around me since then. I’m thankful for all of the recordings here of my time spent overseas throughout the past two and a half years (so far;)) for one, because when I read these (which I do weirdly often) I get to remember some of the most special people, conversations, and experiences and “re-live” them in a way, that I would have otherwise forgotten or just not thought about. Secondly, I love that I have these because I can remember where I was at that point of life during each trip (even though I realize this isn’t over a long period of time yet).. what I was struggling with, who my closest friends were, what I was learning about, what was most important to me, what I was worried about, the things that irritated me in each country, the sins that were revealed to me, etc.. It’s just really cool to see how the Lord has and is sanctifying me continuously despite my own selfishness, sin, and unfaithfulness.

So I’ve never written a post on here when I wasn’t out of the country or preparing to go.. (although I am thinking about writing about Nursing School throughout the next couple years since that’ll be just as foreign to me..), but I think that this might be a season of life that becomes very important and significant for me to look back on one day.. or not.. we’ll see.

I obviously have a love for traveling, but I’m realizing that the places I go and the things I see will not even compare to the day when I’m before the Lord and worshipping & enjoying Him forever. The only two things that will last forever are God’s Word and the souls of men- how invested I am in those two things is how invested I am in eternity. So I’m praying that I would have a passion and urgency to know God and make Him known that far surpasses my love and passion for traveling the world.. because the reality is that it is just that.. that world. Temporary. Even though I am SO thankful (gosh I can’t even come up with a big enough word to describe just how thankful I am) for how the Lord has changed and molded me through my experiences overseas, a lot of time the whole “wanderlust” and love for travel thing is all about me. I want to travel the world because of selfish reasons.

India. Whew. I don’t even know how form my thoughts into words. Since I have been back (right at a year now), there hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t thought about that place and it’s people- those who are lost and those there who are laboring to see the lost follow Jesus). I know I wrote a “post India” post a few months ago, but the Lord is still teaching & showing me so much through my experience there and constantly changing how I think about the world, specifically India.

India was the hardest place I’ve ever been. Just hard. Everything about it. I don’t even know how to describe it. God had/has a way of breaking me through India. Using sickness, the heat, smells, stares, mountains, loss of independence and familiarity, etc.., and the memories and feelings of all of it.. I was/am constantly being forced to go before the Lord in brokenness and beg for renewed love and passion for the Gospel and seeing people come to know Him.

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I was only there for a little over 2 months.. So I don’t for a second think that my time there was at all difficult compared to the m’s who have lived there long term, and I certainly didn’t face any of the challenges & sacrifices that they do and will have to while being there for such a long period of time. I am in tears right now thinking about the couple I had the opportunity of living with last summer.. the things the Lord taught me through their life and words. Just incredible. The Lord has been humbling me a lot through thinking and praying for them the past few months. One of the many things they showed me was that it’s worth it. They said that several times last summer, “It’s worth it. He’s worth it. We just know it’s worth it.” I just keep thinking about that and how true I realize that statement is more every day. They wrote me a “for the plane” note as I was leaving, and one thing she wrote was, “This is our prayer for you, Paige- that as you return to America and the comforts of home, may the Lord remind you of the billion people in India who live in poverty, in heat, in sickness, but most of all who live in spiritual darkness. May your heart be forever broken over those who have never heard.” …Man.

In all my sin, selfishness, and self-centeredness, I have not thought about the people in India in a humble, prayerful way all the time. Most of the time, when I think about my time in India last summer, it’s totally and completely centered on me.. what I learned, how I grew, what I liked or disliked, what I got to do, how it affected ME, etc.. ME ME ME. So recently, I’ve seen the Lord continuing to answer my sweet friend’s prayer. I’ve been really convicted about making my time overseas all about me, especially my time in India. The past few months the people of India have been on my mind in a beautiful way, by the grace of Jesus. I am hurting for them. I am hurting for them because of the physically poor conditions they live in, but more importantly because of the billion people who are living in spiritually poor conditions and have never even heard of the name of Jesus. So how in the world can I go to this place and not want to do something about that? How can I be content with a comfortable life when 1.5 billion people are on my mind every. single. day? How can I go to this place and make it about me? Somehow I did/do (sin sucks..). How can I leave and be okay with never returning? I can’t.. there’s no way. If Jesus is who He says He is and if He has rescued me, then He is worth it, and I can’t be okay with not doing anything about it.. I can’t help but want to join God’s mission in the world (India) because He has rescued and redeemed me. My soul yearns for something more. 

So although I’m still working through some hard questions and feelings that I don’t know how to comprehend when it comes to India, it’s not about me. Not at all.. and that is something the Lord is/ will have to remind me of daily as I preach the Gospel to myself. He has given and is continuing to give me rest in Him & that He really is good and faithful in everything.

 

A family that I’m close to is preparing to move to India in the next year hopefully 🙂 ; this summer I have met a young couple who is in the beginning stages of church planting among Indians in Memphis; I have just started a nannying job for an Indian family; and recently I have been in contact with a college student my age who is from MS and has a ministry in northern India, and she goes back and forth to India all the time. It has been so obvious that the Lord is placing me among people who have a deep love for Indians and that He is using that to soften my heart and give me a deep love and passion for them and laboring among them specifically as well. All of that to say.. recently, I’ve had a strong and urgent desire to return to India. The thought of living there long term has crossed my mind several times this summer. Thinking about what that would mean and look like is hard but oddly exciting as well. I am reading books about India, the history, leaders, women, religions, etc.. Right now I’m reading two, one entitled Absent Friends: The Hidden Dangers of Being an Indian Girl that contains stories from women in India about the reality and impact of gender discrimination in the Himalayan Foothills.. and another book, Living and Working in India which is pretty self explanatory.

Who knows if I’ll ever go back to India, but I want to be prepared if I ever do. There are several reasons I want to go back, and it seems like every day I find another reason why I have to. For many in America, Asia is probably the most distant and unknown of the continents, but with half of the world’s population and ninety percent of the people being lost, it needs our attention. India alone has over 1.5 billion people, compared to the United States’ 317 million people. India has sooo many UUPG’s (unreached and unengaged people groups), which means there are no evangelical believers at all among that group of people and not a single one of them has ever even heard the Gospel before. I want to do something about that so badly. Sometimes I feel like I want to get up, jump on a plane, drop out of college, learn Hindi, move to a village in India, and never look back.. And then other days I feel like I’m so unqualified and hypocritical.. A lot of times, I’m too timid and scared to share the Gospel with my family and friends that I see weekly, and I think I can/ should go to India to make disciples? Who am I kidding?

But then Jesus gently reminds me of the beautiful grace of the Gospel again- that Jesus is my righteousness. I don’t ever tell people about Jesus because I’ve somehow become qualified, know a lot, am a “great Christian,” or anything like that, but only because Jesus has changed my life and He has commanded me, along with every other follower of Christ, to go and make disciples. I am completely unqualified, totally hypocritical, unworthy to even bear His name, much less tell other people about Him, but because of what God accomplished through Jesus, I am adopted, now His child, and a saint on mission with Him as He redeems this broken world. I am reminded that He IS redeeming the world, every part of it. And we get to be apart of that!! America and India and everywhere in-between, the God of the universe will redeem the world back into right relationship with Him, and one day I will be worshipping this King and enjoying Him forever with my brothers and sisters in India, and around the world.. What an amazing amazing eternity that will be!!!!

So maybe one day I’ll be back in India after all. Or maybe not.. Maybe I’ll be somewhere else, or maybe I’ll stay right here in Memphis, TN. But there is one thing I know for certain, one thing that has been proved to me over and over and over again, and that is that God is faithful. He’s faithful in relentlessly pursuing us. He’s faithful in changing us and our desires. He’s faithful in keeping His promises. He’s faithful in using our weaknesses for His glory. He’s faithful in redeeming the seemingly unredeemable aspects of our lives. He’s faithful in making His name great. How incredible is it that God chooses to use us as His means to bring others to Him!? He doesn’t need us. He’s worthy for us to make Him known. He’s worthy of each of us giving up our ways for His ways. He’s worthy of us being uncomfortable. He’s worthy of all of us and so much more. He’s so good, y’all. So, so good. I’m so thankful that He saved me, that He is my Father and I am His child. I’m so thankful that I get to be on mission with Him as He accomplishes His purpose of redeeming the world. What a gracious Father we have!

 


Day 11: {Jerusalem} Hezekiah’s Tunnel, City of David, Southern Wall steps, & Jewish Quarter

Our last day here was so much fun!!

We started out going through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, a cave like thingy, underground the city of Jerusalem. It took like 30ish minutes maybe. This was SO. MUCH. FUN. I love this stuff. We’ve been though a lot of caves the past couple weeks, and I’ve just loved every minute of it. (It makes me feel like a spy or cave diver or something, I don’t know..) This one was the most fun, by far though. The water came up to our hips at some points, we had to duck and turn sideways to get through it.. so awesome. I wish I could post the videos we took because they give a better picture of what it was like (and they’re down right hilarious), but tons of pictures will just have to do..

Because who doesn’t pretend to be Rudolph with their red head lamp?

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sweet, precious family 🙂IMG_9475

the girls were so brave 🙂IMG_9487

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Obviously it looks brighter because of my camera’s flash, but it was pitch black in there. IMG_9489

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We made it 🙂Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

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On to the city of David, the Southern Wall steps, and the Jewish Quarter to eat and shop

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Why is this so funny to me?
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I went on this trip not knowing a single person, and left with a 2nd family 🙂 These folks are awesome and were incredibly gracious & welcoming to me. I’m grateful for the Ross’ example.

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I got to talk to several people here which made me very happy! A lot of conversations were about how they view Americans as hating Israel. Please don’t be scared of this place. The media & government are only going to show & publicize and exaggerate the negative things about foreign countries. This is a beautiful place with beautiful & kind people!!

One thing that surprised me about being in Israel, even though I already “knew” the statistics, was that there are very few followers of Jesus there. To many, everything seems like it’s right in front of their faces, but they put their faith in so many other things, including religion. Many here don’t understand the grace & freedom in the Gospel, and/ or don’t believe Jesus as the Messiah & Son of God, sent to redeem the broken world and bring people back into right relationship with God.

I have absolutely loved every minute of being in this place. It was really overwhelming because we did SO MUCH and learned a TON. I didn’t document even half of the things I saw and learned, just some highlights, but I am so glad that I did! Since we did so much, I was constantly forgetting what we did even the day before and what happened in what place, etc.. So I am really glad that I recorded the highlights of my days on this blog, even though all of them were days late. (Side note, I was totally wrong about the touring thing.. It rocked. There were pros & cons to touring vs being on my own & doing my own thing, but the pros outweighed the cons for sure. Also, I DEFINITELY recommend coming here to anyone!! It’s worth every. single. penny. I promise. I know of a group, with the same awesome leader that I had on this one, going this year, so let me know if you’re interested!)

I can’t even describe what the Lord did in me mentally and emotionally here. Sure, it’s cool to”walk where Jesus walked” or whatever, but the truth is, Jesus lives in me! And you too, if you are in Christ. & we don’t need this place to validate God’s Word. It’s sufficient on it’s own. I learned so much. A lot of times I IMG_1910felt completely stupid, like I don’t know anything/ enough.. it was really overwhelming at some points. But like I said from the beginning, I don’t leave here with a head full of knowledge; I leave here knowing that God had a mission here, and we are living it out.

Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We are His witnesses! Ambassadors of Christ. If you’re a follower of Jesus, please know that this is for you. Your salvation has nothing to do with you and isn’t about you at all. It’s about exalting the name of Jesus & bringing others to Him. Look at that verse again: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (the people around you) and in all Judea (the people in your greater area) and Samaria (the people you don’t like), and to the end of the earth. Across the street and around the world. That’s where the Lord wants you. He wants His name exalted in your life where ever you are at. As you’re going, make much of Jesus, making disciples. (If you would like to be trained on how to do this biblically, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE shoot me a text, Facebook message, email, phone call, WHATEVER. I would loooooove to meet up with you. Not that I am perfect at this by any means, but I am walking with Jesus trying to be obedient to His Word & would love to walk along side you. I literally don’t care who you are, please let me know, and we can walk through this, obeying & learning, together!)

I’m extremely, extremely grateful that I was able to come to this place, especially at such a young age. But I’m even more grateful for what happened here. I’m grateful that God wanted so badly to be in relationship with us that He became man, as His Son, meeting every demand of the law so that we might become the righteousness of God. I’m grateful that when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He decided to submit to His Father’s will and go to the cross. I’m grateful that He took the punishment and bore & satisfied the wrath of God.. the wrath that I deserve. I’m grateful that because of what God accomplished through His Son, I never have to experience being forsaken by God, but instead, I get to be in a very personal, intimate relationship with Him. I’m so grateful that Jesus kept every promise. I’m grateful that He didn’t stay in the tomb, but that He rose, is alive, and is at the right hand of God. I’m grateful that in Jesus, there is fulfillment of the law, and that because of Jesus, there is grace. I’m so very grateful. Tears fall when I think about this place. Sometimes, because I am sad and filled with guilt at what I should have to endure, but then I remember that I get to celebrate this place and what God accomplished through Jesus here.

{“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8}

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So a couple weeks before I left for Israel, I wrote about the season of doubting I experienced last semester, and was still working through. I would love to sound super spiritual & write now about how this trip completely & totally changed my life and confirmed every single doubt I’ve ever had and now my faith was solid, but that wouldn’t be the truth. Honestly, I’m still working through all of that. And I’m completely okay with that. Yes, the Lord is increasing my faith, but I still have doubts, questions, & uncertainties. I don’t know everything and that scares me a little lot, but that’s okay! I’m bringing those things to the Lord & believers close to me, working through it all, not ignoring it like before. Walking by faith.. (2 Corinthians 5:7) I’m learning/ realizing that God identifies Himself.. I don’t do that for Him, so regardless of who I say that He is (or who I doubt He is), He is God, and that does not change. I don’t decide who He is. He decides that for Himself. (I don’t have a clue if that makes sense.. Still trying to figure out how to put words together to make my thoughts make sense.) The Lord is molding & sharpening my worldview, and I’m reminded yet again how thankful I am that the Lord continues to change & sanctify us as believers.

I’m extremely thankful for this place and what God accomplished through Jesus here 2,000+ years ago, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11)

Video to come soon.. as soon as I have time to make one..


Day 10: {Jerusalem} Bethlehem, Israel Museum, & Garden Tomb

Today started off with a couple short stops, then to the Israel Museum.IMG_9301

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Original Dead Sea Scrolls!! (They were found by a young shepherd boy in the 1940s I think.. just less than 5 miles from where we stayed one night.) These provide proof of the Old Testament.. even though God’s Word needs nothing to validate itself, it’s still pretty awesome. 

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So crazy! I ran into someone else I know! I met & have only seen this friend in Nepal, and saw him here in Jerusalem! How weird! We’ve yet to see each other in America..

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On to Bethlehem, birth place of Jesus.. (This will definitely give me a different picture when I sing all of those Christmas songs about the birth of Jesus in this place.)

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Waiting in line for an hour & a half to enter the cave at the exact location where Jesus was born.. IMG_9319

The original stone floor of the (now) Church of Nativity, the oldest church in the world still being used today. This church is owned by 3 different religions, Roman Catholics, Greeks, and Armenians. All 3 have services here throughout the day, every day.

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So unbelievably crowdedIMG_9344

Well, there it is..
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Okay people, this is worth documenting! My first Israel meal that was actually Mediterranean food! It’s called chicken shawarma. Okay, so I got it completely plain with just chicken in bread, but it’s a start, right??

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and some kind of dessert that I kind of, sorta liked.. (don’t judge my ugly finger nails, I’m in Israel, ok)

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We made a quick stop to the Shepherds Field where we talked about the incarnation of Jesus. We read Luke 2:1-21 and Philippians 2:5-11. A lot of times when we think of the birth of Jesus, we think of a barn or stable with hay & wood, but in actuality, all around Him was stone/ rocks.
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The incarnation, the way Christ took on humanity “in flesh,” is beautiful. The mission of the incarnation is to redeem a broken world, rescuing sinners. The manifestation of the incarnation is that we get to live the life of Jesus in the world, on mission with God! We are fleshing out Jesus’ model here on Earth. We are His hands and feet! How awesome! (2 Corinthians 5)

Next we went to the Garden Tomb. Some believe this is where Jesus’ tomb was, but that is most likely not the case. The church of the Holy Sepulcher is much more likely to be the location. The real purpose of this place is to give a mental picture, to show a model of what it would have looked like, with the tomb the way the tomb would have been. But again, just like I said in a previous post, the exact location of the tomb is pretty irrelevant. He’s not in it, He is RISEN! We don’t need proof.. His Word is enough.

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I’m really thankful that “the tomb” is empty, that Jesus is alive, and that He is coming back!! 🙂 I long for that day!!

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We took the Lord’s Super here. Such a sweet, sweet time reflecting on the cross and the Gospel. Being in Israel has been awesome, and I’m thankful that this isn’t just a place with a lot of history and made up stories, but that Jesus really is who He says He is, that He did what His Word said He did here, and that He’s going to do what He says He’s going to do. I’m beyond thankful for what God accomplished through Jesus is this place, and that in Him fulfillment for everything is found!

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Our last stop for the night was the IMB prayer house. Missionaries live & come here often for rest and encouragement. This is also where It Is Well’s writer’s family lived. We sang that song here. While we were there, a believer from the Czech Republic, a pastor at a church in Nigeria, and a missionary from Thailand came by. The pastor in Nigeria told us about how people are dying, getting their kids taken from them, kicked out of there communities, and losing their families where He is pastoring because they are deciding to trust in & follow Jesus. The Lord reminded me here how small I am, and how big He is! There are people following hard after Jesus all around the world, in places where following Jesus costs them everything (some, even their life)! Yet still, it is well.. because He’s worth it all.

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They have a huge prayer room with maps and encouraging signs and prayers filling the walls. It was good to stop, reflect, and pray here.

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Tomorrow is our last day, and I don’t even want to think about leaving 😦

Today we prayed specifically that we would be obedient to the Great Commission and Acts 1:8; please join us & pray that you too would be obedient to the command that is to every follower of Jesus!

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Day 9: {Jerusalem} Bethany, Holocaust Memorial Museum, Mount of Olives, & Garden of Gethsemane

It didn’t rain today, praise the Lord! It was really cold, but it wasn’t raining, so we were thankful!

First, we visited Bethany, which is mentioned several times in the bible, and Jesus was here often. But it is mostly known for being the place that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus’ tomb is here.

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Apparently taking pictures in tombs is normal here.. Weird, but when in Rome, right?

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Jesus said in this place, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Everything that was dead about Lazarus, He brought to life. Thankfully He does the same for us!! We talked about how this is a place of honor, hope, and hospitality.

Next, we went to the Mount of Olives where Jesus taught His disciples how to pray (the Lord’s prayer- Luke 11). This is the last place Jesus was on Earth, and it is the first place He will return to. I was extremely convicted about my prayer life here, and began repenting of a lack of discipline in that area of my life here.. What fueled Jesus’ ministry was His life of prayer. If Jesus’ thought it was necessary to pray to the Father, what makes me think I can do life without communication and dependence on my Father? God wants to have a radical, personal relationship with us, and that can’t happen without prayer.

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We also went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum today. (We couldn’t take pictures inside, but I still got some). This was obviously really really sad. There’s no words I can even say about this, except for the depravity of man is very obvious when thinking about the Holocaust. Thankfully, Jesus died & bore the wrath for that, and in Jesus, there is forgiveness and redemption even for the most seemingly sinful & broken people & situations.

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Beautiful view of Jerusalem & the Dome of the Rock today on our walk..

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Lastly, we visited The Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus agonizes going to the cross (Luke 22:39-46). Jesus modeled submission (to the Father’s will) and suffering. He looks into the cup and sees the sin of humanity. He knows that His Father is going to forsake Him at the cross, but He goes anyways. He leaves this place and is arrested, tried, and crucified.

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Olive tree here on the Mount of OlivesIMG_9276

The beautiful Church of Agony next to The Garden of Gethsemane:

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Being in the Garden was very emotional. Thinking about the Gospel, and that Jesus could have decided in this place not to go to the cross, but that He did, and because He did, the wrath of God was completely satisfied at the cross, that Jesus bore the weight of sin & the depravity of man there, that He experienced being forsaken by the Father (something we never have to because He did)- all so we could be in right relationship with God like He intended for us to be from the beginning.. The Lord went to all lengths to be in a personal relationship with you. You were sinful, completely separated from God.. There was/ is nothing you could do to get back to Him, so God came to you. We are completely undeserving to know God. But because of what God accomplished through Jesus, we are able to be in relationship with Him. In Jesus, we are forgiven, redeemed, & made completely whole. That’s crazy grace! Praise the Lord!

Today we prayed specifically for Iran; please join us!

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Day 8: {Jerusalem} Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock, Al-Aksa Mosque, Western Wall, Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulcher

I’m not going to lie.. Today was pretty miserable. It poured down rain & was absolutely freezing the entire day, and we were outside the whole time.. After stepping in what felt like lakes of water, my shoes soaking wet & freezing, I was ready to call it a day. I was glad when I found out I wasn’t the only one thinking the same thing.. We ended our day a few hours short because like I said.. it was just absolutely miserable. Our leader, who has been every year for 11 years, said he has never seen weather this bad (cold), and he has actually never seen it rain in Israel more than 10 minutes.. It was just craziness.

BUT thankfully, we did get to visit the places we wanted to. We spent our day at the Old City of Jerusalem. We visited the Temple Mount (believed to be the place where Pilot presented Jesus), Dome of the Rock & Al-Aksa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam & former home of the ancient Jewish Temple. We saw the Pools Beit Hasda, Crusader Church of St. Anne & the holiest place in Judaism today, the Western Wall. We went through the many layers of Jerusalem’s past through the Western Wall Tunnels & stood on the site believed to be the nearest spot to the “Holy of Holies.”

These pictures are all over the place.. Like I said, this day was crazy..

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Dome of the Rock. We couldn’t go inside because we aren’t Muslim.

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On the bright side, we got to go into some underground tunnels, so how cool is that?!

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We followed the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

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Below these lantern things is believed to be the stone that Jesus was laid on.

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In here is believed to be where Jesus’ tomb was, and this place is believed to be where Calvary could have been. Who cares though, we don’t need proof because He’s not in there.. He is RISEN people!! 🙂 The debate over where His tomb could have been is pretty irrelevant to me.. IMG_9120

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Before we left, we visited the Western Wall, a really popular, thought to be holy, significant place. There are hundreds of people praying here throughout the day, and even more on the Sabbath. People come from all over the world and write their prayers down on a piece of paper, roll it up, and stick it in the wall. Thankfully, we know that have access to God through Jesus, and no matter where we are praying, we can be confident that He hears us. There’s nothing special about this place that makes the Lord hear us better or makes us more holy or anything like that. But for tons of people, this place is very significant and they come here every day to pray.

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Thankfully we were inside for a whole .2 seconds..

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How cute are they!?IMG_9061

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I see you, kitty.. I see youIMG_9055

When I told them to make a face reflecting how their day was going: IMG_9046

I think this picture is hilarious because it just shows how miserable we all were.. Hahaha IMG_9054

Even though the weather was a bummer today and we didn’t get to have a lot of teaching time at all, it was still a good day (mostly when we all found out we were going back to the hotel early.. haha). But seriously, I’m in Israel.. How can I complain!? Once we got back around 4, I got to spend some sweet time with Jesus and eat a pizza. Now that will make any bad day better. 🙂

Today we prayed specifically for Iraq; please join us!

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Day 7: Beit Shemesh, Eila Valley & Hebron

Some highlights from today:

We visited the Valley of Elah where David fought Goliath (1 Sam. 17:2, 19). We talked about that story here, but focusing on a completely different aspect of the story than what I’ve always heard it told. We talked about how David was first asked to carry cheese to the commander of the unit before he fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17:18). Faithfulness in small things produces faithfulness in big things.

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Next, we went to Beer Sheva (Abraham’s well), in the Negev Desert. This place was a lot of fun because we got to go underground into some caves, and who doesn’t love that? We talked about election here. We have been chosen because of God’s prior choice and initiation. Election is “one on behalf of another,” not one over another. God isn’t showing favoritism through election. If you are in Christ, yes, He has sovereignly chosen you, but you’re election doesn’t make you better. It doesn’t mean you’re special. It was that so through you, the Gospel will go to the whole world.

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A few thoughts about election and what we are chosen for: (#1 God’s glory)

#2: We are chosen in sovereignty for the rebellious. God came and found you. You have not been saved because you thought it was a good idea or you worked your way up. #3: We are chosen for mission for those who are far off/ unreached. #4: We are chosen for suffering for those who are under hardship (Romans 4). #5: We are chosen in faith for those who are faithless (Genesis 15).

What I hope you get from this, believers, is that your salvation is nothing about you. It’s not about how you can be a better Christian and have a better spiritual life. It’s so that God would be exalted and to reach those around you.

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Our last stop of the day was Hebron, Abraham’s hometown & burial place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & their wives. Here, we talked about waiting because David waited here for 7 years before He went to Jerusalem to be king. There’s so much sanctification that takes place in the seasons of waiting in your life. Many of the Psalms that David writes are while he is in solitude.. not when he is doing publicly profound things. He worships God during this time of waiting. Sometimes there are things that need to be washed out of your life before you move on.. sometimes these are what those “waiting” times are for. Remember that God’s plan is to glorify Himself through your life. So stop being in such a hurry to get out of the season you’re in. Wait on Him for the purpose of His name being made great in your life and among the nations.

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Today we prayed specifically for Jordan; please join us!

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