Even though the best and most memorable experiences from our time in Israel couldn’t be captured in a photo, some of these pictures come pretty close. 🙂 Jacob and I went on the Israel Study Tour through Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (GRTS) from January 2-12. Yes, it was a class for Jacob but I got to audit and tag along. Here are a few of my favorite snapshots to give y’all a glimpse into our short, but packed trip.
Leaving from Chicago O’Hare. Two years earlier, Jacob dropped me off here as I headed back to Nepal for the rest of my World Race. I’m so thankful that this time we got to travel together!
Trees at Tel Azekah looking out over the Elah Valley, which is where David fought Goliath. We started off the first day visiting a few different sites in the Shephelah, the hill country between the Judean mountains and the Coastal Plain.
Smiling camel. 🙂 Our second day in Israel was full of memorable experiences including getting rained on in the desert, riding camels, and floating in the Dead Sea! The best part of our camel experience was probably the camel riding safety video that they made us watch beforehand. After a (very) brief camel ride, we were treated to some Bedouin hospitality as they made us tea, coffee, and pita inside a big tent. Our float in the Dead Sea was extremely cold and a bit painful, but we did it.
Masada, Herod’s mountain fortress. Due to rain, we did not have time to hike up the Snake Path (much to my relief!). We took the cable car up the mountain and got to enjoy incredible views of the Dead Sea and explore this incredible fortress built into the side of a mountain.
Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee. We took a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee and while we were in the middle we paused for a quick church service. We heard a mini sermon about Jesus walking on the water and then sang the doxology and ‘It is Well’. The whole experience was moving and I appreciated the time to worship and reflect in the middle of such a sacred place.
The mosaic tiled courtyard and beautiful flowers in Capernaum, the city of Jesus. This is where Jesus lived and made his hometown during his ministry around the Sea of Galilee.
The Encounter Chapel, inside a modern church in the city of Magdala. The chapel floor is the original 1st century street of the Magdala marketplace and the mural depicts the woman with the issue of blood from Mark 5:25-29. She was looking for healing and found it by touching Jesus. This was possibly my favorite place in the entire Holy Land.
Pillars lining the street of Bet She’an, a spectacularly reconstructed 2nd century Roman city with lots of interesting archaeological finds.
Views of Caesarea Maritima and a Roman aqueduct set next to the Mediterranean Sea.
On the streets of Bethlehem, in Palestine. Sadly, we did not have time to stop for a drink at the Stars & Bucks Cafe. 🙂
The streets of Jerusalem just beginning to wake up.
The Dome of the Rock set against a blazing blue sky. The Dome is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount. Jacob and I almost got kicked out for trying to take a selfie. Men and women are not allowed to touch since it is a religious site. We felt really bad. Oops.
Drinking tea and taking some much needed rest on our last day in Jerusalem. We brought our friends flat Michael and Amanda along for the journey!
A beautiful door at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Shopping for souvenirs in the Jerusalem market. Jacob and I went on an adventure to find pistachio flavored Magnum bars. So worth it!
And here are some of the wonderful friends that we traveled with! We all had fun shopping together in Shaaban’s shop. We were given juice, amazing baklava, and sweet prices on souvenirs.
I absolutely loved Israel and Palestine! The trip was exhausting and physically painful at times, but so worthwhile. I wish it had been longer and that we’d had more time to process all the information we were learning and reflect at each site. Seeing the Holy Land in person was a completely different adventure than I had expected. Now that I can visualize the context for the stories that I’ve heard so many times, I will never read the Bible the same way.