Our Trip to the Holy Land (Part 2)

Wednesday April 19th

It would be wrong to call it “a blink” since in reality it was a grueling 20 hours of travel, but in the grand scheme of things, after leaving my front door on Monday, suddenly, in a blink, my mom and I were sitting across the table from one another, having breakfast in Netanya, Israel.

I sent a picture to our family back home, counting the time difference on my fingers to make sure I wasn’t waking them up. It was the first (of many) early days, packed to the brim with things to do and see.

My mom and I were wearing the provided red lanyards with name tags clipped to the bottom, which at first seemed cumbersome, but quickly became calming. They acted as identifiers, both in our hotel and out among the sites. We could immediately recognize those in our group, and it was comforting amongst the hundreds of other tourists.

Our first stop of the day was Caesarea National Park.

After meeting our tour guide, Ruby, and our bus driver, Samir, our Red Bus left the hotel and started out on our adventure.

“Boker tov,” Ruby said, which is “good morning” in Hebrew. Then she told us a little bit about herself. She’d been a tour guide for 14 years, she had three sons, one of whom was a tour guide on one of the other buses, and she had three grandchildren. She had also grown up in Jerusalem, next door to Samir.

You could instantly sense that not only did she love her job, but she was good at it. She had us laughing as she pointed out sites to the left and right through the long bus windows, giving us our first glimpses of Israel in the daylight.

She passed out our “whispers” which are listening devices about the size of a tape recorder, that we could plug headphones into and wear around our neck. These allowed Ruby to speak quietly into a microphone (rather than shout over the crowds) as we made our way through each site, giving us podcast-like access to both the historical information she had to share, and an ever-present guide to where we were supposed to be so none of us got lost. 

Note: for those who are interested, I am going to include the chapters and/or verses of the Bible that correspond to the locations we visited. As for the history of each place, I can’t even BEGIN to remember everything, which honestly makes Ruby even more amazing in my eyes, but I hope I can do them *some* justice, at the very least with pictures.

As we shuffled out of the bus at Caesarea (Acts 10), we filed into the Roman Theatre, the first theater ever built in Israel, commissioned by Herod the Great after he established the city in 25 BC.

My mom and I climbed up the stairs and took in our first panoramic view as we waited for the remaining five buses to arrive, bringing our full group of 200 together for the first time.

A few other tour groups were scattered around the theatre, all armed with whispers, looking intently at their tour guide in front of them. Soon however, all attention turned to the front of the theatre, as Nikko, an incredibly talented singer and member of our group, stood in front of the stage and sang “Great is Thy Thankfulness.”

Small harmonies spread around the theatre as those who knew the song sang along, and applause erupted once she was finished. It was the perfect opening to the trip, and a good reminder that we weren’t on just any vacation in any place. We were in the Holy Land, where the stories we’d read about in the Bible actually took place.

Goosebumps crept up my arms. I got the feeling I was on a trip that was going to change my life, even if I didn’t know how yet.

From the Roman Theatre we made our way through the ruins of the Hippodrome and Herod’s Palace, and then we drove to Herod’s Aqueduct, where we got to walk down and put our hands and feet in the Mediterranean Sea. The water was cool and refreshing, and the beach was covered in beautiful rocks and shells.

We then drove to Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18) and took in this incredible view.

For lunch, we drove to a Druze Village.

The Druze religion draws from Islam, Judaism and Christianity, but interestingly, unlike all three, they do not permit outsiders to convert.  

Fun fact: it was at this Druze restaurant, which was not only delicious, but homey and welcoming, where I realized that I had never actually had good pita bread before. Understandingly, I treated pita bread like vitamins the rest of the trip and RARELY had a meal that didn’t include as least two pieces.

After lunch, we visited The Meggido.

In Hebrew, “Har Meggido” means Hill of Meggido. When put together and translated into English, we get the word “Armageddon.”

One of my favorite things about this site, is that when I sent a picture of it to my family back home, my dirt biking brother-in-law asked if it was a racetrack.

When I told him it was actually the site identified as where the final battle between good and evil will take place (Revelation 16:16) he replied, “oh, that’s way scarier than a racetrack.”

I agree, Will. I agree.

Our last stop of the day was Mt. Precipe, where we took a very windy walk up to the top, from which, we could see Nazareth, the city where Jesus grew up.

Pastor Dudley, as well as the rest of the groups, met us at the top for a short time of teaching. As we looked out at Nazareth, we pondered the possibility of Jesus wandering around the city as a kid, and about him stepping away to find solace and talk to God.

“I think it is highly likely,” Pastor Dudley said, pointing down at the ground we were standing on, “that Jesus would have found himself up here, looking out at this view.”

The wind howled, making our headphones fill with static, and hats were snatched off heads, but I looked out at the vast hills, and found peace as I prayed perhaps the same prayer Jesus had up here, where would you have me go now?


2 responses to “Our Trip to the Holy Land (Part 2)”

  1. aunttracy123 Avatar

    Especially love the conversation with Will! LOL

  2. ❤️❤️❤️

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