Tag Archives: mission trips

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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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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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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Day 6: En Gedi, Masada, & Dead Sea

Today was a blast! We did so many fun things and went to so many cool places! We started our day in En Gedi where David hid from Saul (1 Samuel 24), and then went to Masada, a fortress palace built by Herod. The history of this place is really cool. Today we talked about family & marriage and how they exist to put the Gospel on display. This was really sweet for me because I’ve been learning so much about that recently, and I’ve seen evidence of redemption in my heart & life is those areas (not marriage because obviously I’m not married.. haha. but just the thought of one day being married & my attitude, perspective, & expectations towards it..) So being here, in Israel, talking about how Jesus wants to use our families to reach the nations was really awesome. I can’t wait for that day when I get to have the opportunity to do that with my own family.

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Here in the once fortress of Masada, we also talked about how the Lord is our fortress, rock, and cornerstone.

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Yep, we took one of these cool things again.. so fun! IMG_8743

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Next, we got to do some more hiking! My favorite! We hiked up to this beautiful waterfall! Here, we studied Numbers 15:37-41, Ruth 3:9, Psalm 17:8, & Luke 8:41. We talked about how kingdom people trust a sovereign God, endure suffering, can stand alone, and model submission. Where Jesus is the example of submission to authority, Satan is the example of subversion to authority (what got him thrown out of heaven). When we are submitting to authority, we are modeling submission to God. (Ouch.)

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FINALLY, we went to the DEAD SEA! SO. MUCH. FUN! Because it is 30% salt, you are able to float in it! I didn’t exactly know how this would work, but let me just tell you, it was awesome! The water & mud have a ton of minerals that are really good for your skin.. better than any lotion you can buy in America! My skin has never felt so good! (Obviously we had to take a million pictures.. sorry I’m annoying)

Look how gorgeous it is!!

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Look at how gorgeous that view is.. Also I love this sweet family! IMG_8822

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And because I’m actually a 7 year old, I had to bring my paper out there for a typical Dead Sea picture.. enjoying a nice read while floating.. Hehe 🙂 I was really excited to say the least

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Before the mud..

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After the mud.. (RIP my new bathing suit 😥 )

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After such a fun day, we headed to Jerusalem, & on the way, I got to ride another camel!! This was the best day ever.

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Once we got to Jerusalem, we went to see a gorgeous view of the Golden Dome (Dome of the Rock)/ where the Temple Mount is. This is where Abraham brought his son Isaac to be sacrificed until God told him that he didn’t have to (Genesis 22:1-19). Here we discussed how kingdom people and our worldview. We learned that kingdom people have a worldview rooted in faith, defined my action, built on the eternal, and anchored in the promises of God.

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(excuse my Dead Sea hair)

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The Lord is using this place to give me a better understanding and deeper love for the Old Testament, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Today we prayed specifically for Israel; please join us!

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Day 5: Beit She’an, Jericho, Mt. of Temptation, & Bethany

Yay! It’s my birthday! Such a cool place to spend it..

We got to visit an old Roman city of Beit She’an, and learned how to engage culture. Again, we discussed how Jesus & Paul did not fear culture. Paul came to this place and didn’t see the prostitution, sexual sin, and child sacrifice. He went into cities (including this one), preached the Gospel, discipled believers, planted churches, and transformed culture. He didn’t see barriers (these people will never repent and trust in & follow Jesus), but He saw Gospel opportunities (wow, look at all the people who need Jesus! And I can tell them!!). We should do the same!!

(Saul & Jonathan were decapitated here and hung on these walls.)

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I may or may not have sang Frozen’s “Let it Go” with a 6 & 7 year old on this stage..

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We went to Harod Spring/ Gideon’s Spring, the place where the story about Gideon took place.. It was here that Gideon chose his best soldiers to fight the Midianites, according to the way they drank from the stream.

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Then on to Jericho! We visited the desert for a little while. Absolutely gorgeous.

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I got a little birthday Popsicle 🙂

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At the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized and the waters were parted. Here we talked about baptism and how it is a picture of grace: the freedom we have in Christ, and a picture of being united with Christ (His own death & resurrection). (Romans 6 & Gal. 2:20)

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While in Jericho, we got to ride this cool go kart in the sky.. I think it’s called a cable car, but whatever.. It gave a beautiful view of Jericho! We took it up to the Mt. of Temptation (where Jesus was tempted). We went into a couple shops here, and I talked with some of the guys who worked there. My heart was sad for them because they told me they have never/ can never leave Jericho. They told me to be thankful that I live in America because “freedom is beautiful.” I will never forget my conversation with them.

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Here we read Matthew 4:1-11 and talked about how even struggling is missional. This helped change how I look at struggling and helped me realize that it is to do a work in me to shape me to bring God more glory. Our usual reactions to struggling or hardships are, “how can I get out of this? When will this be over? Why me? angry at God, etc..” But instead, we should thank God for it, and ask Him what He is trying to show us, and ask Him how He is using this struggle to prepare us for something else.

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The Lord revealed a lot of selfishness and pride in my heart today. The phrase “it’s not about you” was brought to mind often today.. Not today, not yesterday, not tomorrow.. It’s all about Jesus, all of the time. Man, I need that reminder often.

Today we prayed specifically for Egypt; please join us!

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Day 4: Tel Dan, Caesarea Phillipi, Mt. Bental, & Korazim

We went to 5 big locations today, but I only have time to hit on some highlights.. I am really trying to record what I am doing here because I don’t want to forget anything. We are learning so much and doing so much that I’m already forgetting what I learned 2 days ago, and it’s all running together already.. It’s really helpful for me when I come back to my room at night to reflect and pray through my day & all that I learned and saw. But since we get up at 7am, are on the move all day, and don’t get back until 6:30pm-ish, I’ve been so exhausted to write anything most nights.. But I’m trying..

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Today was really fun (obviously)! We visited Dan, a city along the Jordan River, which is mentioned multiple times in the bible. Solomon had a fortified city here. Today was my favorite day so far as far as the teaching goes! My favorite talk so far was here in which we discussed idols. We read Exodus 20:1-6 and 1 Kings 12:25-33 and talked about how people who lived here worshiped golden calves.

There are 3 different categories of idols: the idol of approval (I seek from someone/ something, other than God approval & acceptance); the idol of pleasure (I seek from someone/ something, other than God, happiness as the desires of my flesh are approved; & the idol of comfort (I seek from someone/ something, other than God, a sense of security as I try to control the world around me to avoid trouble and pain).

Ouch. These hit me hard. I can easily see how everything I struggle not to put before God falls into these 3 categories.. I especially struggle with the idols of approval and comfort.

But thankfully there is a solution to idols, and that solution is the Gospel of Jesus.

It addresses the idol of approval because God is gracious, so I don’t have to prove myself. In Jesus, I am identified, approved, accepted, validated, adopted, forgiven, and redeemed.

The Gospel addresses the idol of pleasure because God is good, so I don’t have to look elsewhere for comfort, peace, or joy. He is all things to me.

The Gospel addresses the idol of comfort because God is great & sovereign, so I don’t have to be in control.

I’m SO unbelievably thankful that the Gospel continues to address and redeem areas in our life as believers. It was interesting to read about idol worship in the old testament and realize that we are not removed from idol worship today.

We all choose the things we love the most and the more we choose them, the more we love them. So I want to choose to love God. Day after day, even when no one is watching.

I found a new friend today.. I wanted to take him with me 😦
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When kids get the camera this happens.. Cute angle girls..

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Another one of my favorite stops today was Caesarea Phillipi. This is the place that Jesus took his disciples to and asked them the question, “Who do you say that I am?” This is also the place that Jesus told them that if they wanted to follow Him, they had to “take up your cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16)

I learned a TON here, specifically about the context of this story and this place that really helped me understand this passage and the Gospel better. No Jew would come to this place during the Old Testament time period.. It was a place of pagan worship. This is the place where people worshiped the god, Pan. It was a very dark, underworld, wicca-like religion. Why would Jesus drag His disciples here just to ask this question, say a few things, and come back down? He tells Peter here that he would be the rock on which He built His church. We discussed how Jesus is the foundation & cornerstone. Jesus says “on THIS rock”- where it’s tough, where no one wants to go.. That’s where His kingdom will come. Places like Caesarea Phillipi didn’t intimidate Jesus, and I am so thankful for that. I’m grateful that Jesus was willing to go to places and talk with people who everyone else was afraid of or didn’t like.. This place doesn’t even compare to the idolatry in my own heart. I’ve seen Jesus bring down strongholds in my own life, so I’m confident He can do the same for others who are far from Him all throughout the nations. (I thought about India often here.)

This is in Caesarea Phillipi, and it was known as the Gates of Hell.
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It rained a little today, so that explains our cute ponchos.. We got to visit Damascus, the place where Paul was converted, and we talked about that story. I’m grateful for Paul’s life & example, and I’m even more grateful today for the transforming power of the Gospel!

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We went to the hill by the Sea of Galilee where Jesus cast the demons into the pigs and they ran down the hill and fell into the Sea. We read Luke 8:26-39. We have been commissioned for a mission to manifest the kingdom of God here on Earth.

This afternoon we got to visit an Olive Oil shop! (I don’t even know what it was called..) It was so cool though! Olive oil has a ton of minerals in it that is really good for your body, skin, and hair. A family owns this place, and we got to talk with the husband/ dad/ owner of it briefly. He asked us if we were enjoying Israel, and after we told him “yes, of course” he said something I’ll never forget: “Good, good.. we love you all and America as well. We are glad that you love Israel because we love to have you here. We want you to know that when we get up, we want to eat and drink and see our friends and family just like you, not kill someone like everyone thinks.” Wow. So saddened by the perception Americans (and other nations) have on areas of the world other than that which they come from just because of media, rumors, LIES, exaggerations, etc.. The world is beautiful, people. Absolutely beautiful. Don’t be scared. There are beautiful people all over, in every place. If you’re not going to go somewhere overseas because of things you’ve heard and violence, then don’t go to Memphis, TN either..

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This was totally all over the place, but I don’t even care..

Today we prayed specifically for Syria; please join us!

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Day 3: Mt. Arbel, Sea of Galilee, Mt. of Beatitudes, Tabga, & Capernaum

Today was literally one of the best days of my life! I’m not kidding. Our morning started off with a 2-3ish hour hike/climb up and down a mountain (Mt. Arbel) in Galilee (where Jesus called His first disciples and where He restored Peter). It was literally one of the coolest and most fun things I’ve ever done. I will definitely be taking up rock climbing more seriously when I get back home. I loved every minute of it, and it was absolutely beautiful.

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and obviously we had to stop and go into every other cave we saw.. IMG_1695

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this is probably what Jesus’ crown of thorns was made from.. IMG_8189

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Then on to the Sea of Galilee.. Crazy that Jesus walked on this water! I tried, but it didn’t work.. IMG_8196

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Then we went to Caparnaem, the home of Jesus after Nazareth.

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While walking back from Caparnaem, I ran into a friend I know from Memphis! How insane! We were both freaking out.. IMG_1690

Once again, I don’t eat food in this country.. Or at least it’s really hard for me to.. Sooo when we went to this DELICIOUS restaurant and there was grilled chicken, I (and my tummy) was ecstatic! And while we ate outside in the flawless weather, we enjoyed a nice view of the Sea of Galilee.. No big deal.. IMG_8238

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Next we went to the Mt. of Beatitudes where Jesus gave gave the Sermon on the Mount. IMG_8253

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Lastly(yes this was all in one day), we enjoyed a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus & Peter walked on water. IMG_8260

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Got to love those awkward tourists pics.. IMG_1672

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Today was seriously perfect in every way. That night, we went to McDonalds.. I know, typical Americans.. I don’t eat it in America, but my tummy is so hungry here.. Haha. While there, I got to have a wonderful conversation with the wife of the leader of the trip, and it was just great. I’m so grateful for today & all the awesomeness it entailed.

Today we prayed specifically for Lebanon; please join us!

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Day 1: Joffa & Antripatris (Old Testiment Aphek)

Our themes for this trip (what we will be learning about) is what is/ how to be a “kingdom person” which can be defined as someone who embodies the character of Christ, intentionally lives out the mission of Christ, through the Spirit of Christ for the glory of Christ manifesting His kingdom here on earth, and our other theme is God’s mission which is to bring redemption to His people through His son Jesus.

In the airports on our way to Tel Aviv, we talked a lot about the purpose and goal of this trip. Our team leader, George, reminded us that is is not to just gain a lot of head knowledge.. but we want to leave here changed. And that truly is my desire. Just because we are in Israel, God’s not trying to say anything new. His Word is His Word. We talked about the purpose of our life and asked ourselves this question: How is my life a testimony of the change that only the Lord Jesus can bring about? If we are in Christ, our life is an opportunity to manifest God’s glory here on earth because of the reigning power of Jesus in our own life.

We arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel around 9am so we began our tour right then. Exhausted is an understatement, but I’m glad we are getting the most out of our trip!! Day 1 was a great day of meeting and getting to know everyone on the team. We visited the city of Antripatris where the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 4:1-11). And Paul made a stop there while being escorted by Roman troops going from Jerusalem to Caesarea. (Acts 23:31-32).

IMG_7682^reading about the Philistines capturing the Ark of the Covenant WHERE the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant.. So crazy..

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Next, we went to Joffa. We got to walk around the city and visit the house of Simon the Tanner. Here we compared Peter & Jonah and got to see a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea! While talking about the story of Jonah and how he didn’t want to go from here to Nineveh, our leader asked us where was our “Nineveh?” Where is the place that you don’t want to go tell Jesus to, the people you think will reject it, the people you don’t like, the people you don’t think deserve the Gospel, or the people you are scared to bring the Gospel to, etc..? Immediately India came to mind for me.. This was convicting, but exciting because just like Jonah, the Lord still wants to use me (and you!) to bring the Gospel to the nations.

The greatest thing I realized today was that the mission of the Gospel breaks down barriers. It broke the barrier of Jews and Gentiles, it broke/ breaks our sin barrier, it broke the barrier of Jonah and the Ninevites, etc.. That’s good stuff!

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