I'll give some highlights of our trip here on the blog. If you'd like to see all the pictures of our adventures, please click the web album link below. Enjoy!!
Felipe and I spent 2 weeks in Israel with his Mom. I had never been before, but Felipe has been several times. Rita, Felipe's mom, has an apartment in Jerusalem and she spends a couple of months out of the year there. She has been going to Israel for the last 15 years and has fallen in love with the people and the land. We had our own personal tour guide!!
Our first stop: Jerusalem! I was excited about our trip, but didn't anticipate the emotional response I would have to being there. When we got off the plane in Tel Aviv, there was a big sign saying welcome to Israel and I teared up a bit. I didn't feel especially moved or anything, but something in me physically responded to just being there. As we drove into Jerusalem that first day, I just knew there is something special about this place. It's beautiful, ancient, modern.
Jerusalem: we ate amazing foods: cheeses, wines, shwarma, hummus! We toured the old city and the markets. We saw all the diversity of the city with Orthodox Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Americans (which we saw many), and modern living Israelis all sharing the same ancient streets. We arrived on Shabbat (Sabbath), so most of Jerusalem was shut down until sunset. Then we saw the streets fill with people. This was our first night in Jerusalem:
We visited the Western Wall where Jews go to leave their prayers. The wall is the closest place that Jews will go to the Temple Mount. They write their prayers and leave them at the wall. We left ours there as well. I cried there too just thinking of the Jewish people being separated from knowing their Messiah
We visited lots of the Holy Sites of Christianity: the place where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem, the Holy Sepulcher Church, Gethsemane. I find it amusing that everywhere something important is thought to have happened, there is now a church. Which is better than a McDonald's or something :) But most of the churches don't seem to function as actual places of worship. They may, but it didn't feel that way. Most of them function as museums and places that make a little money over the history of the site. Though each one holds significance and beauty.
One of my favorite places we visited in Jerusalem was Succat Hillel, one of the 2 houses of prayer in the city. We walked in the door and I could tell that we shared some similar DNA with these Christians. It felt like home and I didn't even talk to anyone for the first 30 minutes we were there. I just knew... they feel what we feel over this city and the nations of the world. God is good and He is moving all over the Earth!! This is the only sign at the entrance:
We also visited with a Christian family who lives in the only Christian Kibbutz in Jerusalem. They are a beautiful young couple who have kiddo #6 on the way. They have chosen to live within radical community (a Kibbutz) b/c they know together they can accomplish so much more in Israel than if they lived separately. Living Kibbutz-style gives them many privileges and opportunities than they would not otherwise have. While we were with them, the children and mom sang a song for us.
Felipe and I left Jerusalem for a few days to go into Egypt and join a group to go on a scuba diving safari in the Red Sea!! We did a 3-day live-aboard with 15 Israelis, 8 Egyptian Muslims, 4 Bulgarians and us!! It was amazing... most important to note that we were all living peacefully enjoying God's spectacular underwater creation! It was fabulous!! Felipe is so cute in all his gear!
We spent one night in Elat, the beach town on the southern border of Israel, after our Safari. We stayed in a quaint little hostel that was perfect. We happened to be there on the Global Day of Prayer so we didn't know of any large gatherings occuring there. Felipe printed out the prayers being prayed around the world that day and we sat on the coast of Elat overlooking the borders of Jordan and Egypt and prayed for the world. It was a significant time to pray right there.
After we got back from Elat, Felipe, Rita and I went on a 4-day tour of the Galilee, the northern part of Israel surrounding the Sea of Galilee, which is really just a lake :) It was beautiful! We stayed in a quaint and lovely Kibbutz overlooking the Sea, we visited 2 artist villages, we went to the towns of Haifa, Tiberias and several others. It is definitely the most scenic parts of the land... lots of farming. We also went to Capernaum, the Church of the Beatitudes where the Sermon on the Mount was preached, we saw an ancient boat from 2000 years ago. Lots to see!!
So, there is a lot more, way too much for this setting. Please take a look at our photo album if you'd like. http://picasaweb.google.com/leigheadams It tells lots more! Thanks for reading.