Israel, my first trip.
Though the atmosphere was slightly tense, we decided to keep our commitment and venture to Israel as planned. We had taken eight weeks of Hebrew classes. I had studied Bible passages of almost every place we were going to visit, looking them up in the concordance of my Bible. I had packed a month ahead. Packing, repacking, sorting, rethinking everything I would need. Praying and talking and listening to God. We had heard of the stabbings and I took my fears to God and in a million ways, He told me not to fear. You know it says not to fear about 365 times in the Bible. It seemed like all my friends and all me feeds were on the same theme. Do not fear, I go before you. I will never leave thee nor forsake me. Have I not commanded you to be courageous? He lovingly told me a hundred more times. I believed him. So in the midst of the stabbings, I was determined to go. One friend wrote out her will. I did, too. I organized my papers. I was going. Only the Lord could stop me and He had given me the go ahead. So we went.
So that first day walking in Jerusalem, I wanted to dance, but I didn't since I could see at times the anger, tension, and stress on the faces, but we kept our faces like a flint and moved through the city, trying not to get lost and get to what called us there. Rather WHO called us there. I really went with the heart to tell those people that I met how much I loved their country and how much I loved them. I went there to be kind. I went there to show the love of Yeshua and I had so many beautiful opportunities to do that, that it almost made me cry.
I was like a little girl loose in a candy shop. I was like a sponge just discovering water. I don't think I ever closed my eyes. I saw people sleeping on the bus days later as Israel rushed by. I never did. I could never get enough. You know how it is that you have read over and over about this magnificent country and its renowned people. The struggles, the customs, the foods, the Holy Days, the desert, the wilderness, the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Jerusalem, the history, and the Messiah, my Messiah walked on this part of the earth! It was my first trip.
It is my first trip and so far my only trip, but I want to go back. I am hungry to go back. If I could afford to spend a month there, I would. I would go to the Wailing Wall, the Kotel, everyday. I would see all my email contacts. I would visit the Sherut again, slowly, taking time to meet the people and ask questions. The last time I went, the pace was very fast. I wasn't leading the way, an acquaintance was and she had been there a zillion times and well the first timers weren't really on her agenda. I understood, this was "her private" time. We would be starting a tour in two days and her private touring-shopping- Kotel time would be gone before we knew it. And that is just how it happened. Later I understood just how precious our Kotel time had been.
We went to the Western Wall for several hours on those first days in Jerusalem. I saw the world walk in front of me at the Wall. They come from all over the world. Some are reverent while some are rude. Some are impressive in their native garb, especially the ones from Africa, with their colorful clothing and head dresses. I almost felt like a fly on the wall in my simple black rain coat and pashimina. I saw one lady which I think was from a small country in the Pacific who perhaps was an actress or celebrity because she was posing endlessly for picture with no real sense of where she was. You don't go to the Kotel to pose. You go to the Kotel to pray!!! You to to the Kotel to tell the Lord how much you love Him! Right under this picture is an IDF female soldier cutting a small branch from the bush that is hanging from the rocks there. Who can blame her when her life is on the line everyday? That little branch will remind her of her faith, her country, and of the time she came to pray.
You go to the Wailing Wall to have an encounter with God but you see my encounter with the Lord happened many years before--actually in 1967-68. It was my years to examine my life and Jesus! After a year, I give my life to the Lord! Just so happens that it was that same year, I also fell in love with Israel. I literally sat glued to the radio listening to the broadcast and updates about the Six Day War. I couldn't believe that that little underdog of a nation had been able to survive the onslaught of 5 other nations attacking them. Was it five or three? All I knew was that Jesus came from Israel. I knew Jesus was Jewish!!!! I wanted them to win. I wanted them to have Jerusalem back.
I am sorry if I am offending or ticking some people off. This is my blog. Sorry. Jesus was circumcised in Jerusalem. Yahweh gave them the deed. You can read it in Exodus. You can read it in Joshua. You have to respect the Creator of the ends of the earth. He gave it to them. You can read it in the Bible. He has put his seal on Mount Moriah. You can see it from space. This land belongs to them and they have had to fight tooth and claw to get it back. Just like I am fighting tooth and claw for the salvation of my children. I sort of understand Israel. They are warriors. Nothing has come easy for them. God has promised to go with them, he has promised to go through the floods with them, through the fire, through the fighting, but he never said he would do it for them if he had commanded them to go. So, yes I admire them. I love them.
So that is why I went to Israel. I went to see it for myself. I got to meet the nicest people, Jew and Gentile alike. I must admit there were some situations that made me jittery. One situation stood out. After visiting stores and the Kotel, a friend of mine and I let the sun set on us in Jerusalem and we had not gotten back to the hotel. We started walking from the Lion's gate towards the Armenian section and two men stepped from the gate and it was dark. The next section was going to be a dark lonely stretch and we had let them go ahead. They did not seem friendly. I sized up the situation rather quickly and when I saw some cars coming and one was a taxi, I flagged it down. Yes, it used up most of the Shekels I had in my purse, but it was totally worth it. I blessed a Palestinian taxi driver who loved Christians he told us, not because we asked but because he was a genuinely nice person with whom we were able to converse all the way to the hotel. He had a daughter who he called his princess and a lovely family. I gladly and comfortably handed him my money than have who knows what happen to us. The jitters melted away. Just as we reached our hotel, our friends were stepping out for dinner at the YMCA and we walked over with them. It was God's timing as well.
There is more to tell. Let's see if the pictures come up as well.