,

Trekking Through Israel

dsc_6981-copy

A few weeks back, my mom and I went on an epic journey together to Israel.  Upon returning I have been looking through the images that I took, almost hard to put into mere words all I learned and felt while I was there.

I learned that I didn’t know much about Israel at all and was unprepared for the beauty that awaited me.  When originally booking this trip, it was more for my mom than it was for me. She wanted to go, I love to travel, and having a week with my mom exploring a new land sounded like some pretty great bonding and memories for us.

Honestly…I didn’t do a lot of research into this trip. My mom knew where she wanted to go, who she wanted to visit and what clothes to pack and which to avoid (this is a very modest culture). Also, the ancient cobblestone streets were likely going to mean I leave my stilletos at home. We packed light and I went with an explorers mentality.  I had my camera and my phone and plenty of memory cards.  I knew we would see ancient places, places that were mentioned in the Bible. Seemed neat enough. What I was completely unprepared for was how much it brought those stories to life.  The Sea of Galilee was a three hour bus ride from where we stayed in Jerusalem and people in days of old would travel there. By foot! Or maybe a horse or donkey. My bus with free wi-fi was definitely not a luxury they could have ever imagined.  Jerusalem, the Old City of Jerusalem, where we stayed, is completely walled and has the most amazing streets. Their streets are mostly traveled by foot and look like ally ways.  Merchants crowd the streets, selling everything from spices (which I have been enjoying) to leather bags (another treat) to the usual tourist-trap magnets and t-shirts.
I will never fancy myself a writer. And as much as I would love to be able to express myself through words, I have always believed my pictures speak louder than my words. I will be giving a brief explanation of the pictures below and provide links to the historical or Biblical references that I am going to have to look up anyway ;). It was a personal journey for me and one I enjoyed greatly.  Israel is God’s chosen land and after my visit here, I can see why.  The deserts and camels I imagined were replaced by rolling and lush green hills, orchards, and people that have left an indelible mark on my heart.
Please enjoy!
i19
dsc_6049-copy
i3
i21
i2
dsc_6064-copy
dsc_7167-copy
The Old City of Jerusalem is divided up into various quarters…Jewish Quarter, Christian Quarter, etc.
i20

The first day we arrived, my mom and I had just dropped our bags off in our rooms and freshened up quickly and immediately went out to explore the streets.  We had just started walking around and what do we see, a bride and groom! Just married and with an entourage of well-wishers. I couldn’t turn down such a perfect photo-op!

dsc_5976-copy

i1
This street was part of the Armenian Quarter and just steps from our guest house.
dsc_6039-copy
We visited the Western Wall (also called the Wailing Wall) which is an incredibly holy and sacred place.  What is it? I didn’t truly know myself prior to going.  The Jews and many other people consider the wall to have been part of a Jewish temple, also called the Second Temple, which stood for hundreds of years. King Herod ordered a renovation and expansion of the temple in about 19 B.C., and the work was not finished until about 50 years later. This temple was destroyed by Romans in about 70 A.D., only a few years after its completion. The Wailing Wall is widely believed to be the only part still standing. After the temple was destroyed, many Jews began going to the wall to mourn the temple’s destruction and to pray. The name Wailing Wall was ascribed to the site by non-Jews who saw the Jews mourning there. Jews actually refer to the wall as the Western Wall, or Kotel HaMaaravi in Hebrew.
i17
dsc_7069-copy
dsc_7044-copy
i14dsc_7079-copy
i18
The picture on the below right is the Mount of Olives.  We didn’t have time to go there but as we were walking the streets one day I found a view that afforded me some pictures.  Want to read the Biblical significance of this place?  Great links and information about the Mount of Olives here.  I have to say, actually seeing places that I have only read about in the Bible was really quite amazing. So many times reading I would just picture a dry, dusty place of long ago. Not a place I could touch, feel and relate to.
i15
Below is one of the courtyards that led to our building at Christ Church Guest House, where we stayed.  This place was lovely…a little coffee house and dining area. Outdoor seating. Cats aplenty (cats run the streets of this city). If you follow my Instagram you can meet my little cat friend I named Mooshie (you can also view the rest of my trip photos that I document with my iPhone here. There are a few more gems I didn’t post here).
dsc_6033-copy
I find so much beauty in olive trees. Pretty, silvery leaves. We saw groves of these trees along with almond trees, orange, mango and banana orchards.
dsc_6865cc-copy
i12
i16

dsc_6089-copy

One morning, my mom and I packed up headed via bus to Tiberias to visit my mom’s friend Chris. She was staying with friends Rami and Gaby who live in a beautiful home overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  Rami is a tour guide and on the day we arrived, he gave us an incredible tour of the area…ending with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee itself.  It was my favorite day of our travels here…filled with stops at of incredible historical and Biblical significance. The picture on the below right is of a coney.  I have never heard nor seen a tiny creature like this. My mom informed me they were mentioned in the Bible. Who knew! Read about them here and here.

i4

My favorite spot in this beautiful country is from the picture below.  The Mount of Beatitudes. This is the spot that many believe Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount.  The view was incredible.  The grass was emerald green and the yellow flowers everywhere is actually mustard plant (we ate some!)

dsc_6170-copy

The picture on the below left is a Sycamore tree! Anyone remember this song from a childhood Sunday School class?

i5

dsc_6166-copy
Highlight of my trip…our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. The late afternoon was hazy and the clouds had sunbeams bursting through them. As we set out, music played, people snapped pictures and played the guitar. When I think of the Sea Of Galilee…..I think of Jesus walking on the water, calming the storm with all the frightened disciples in the boat, or telling His disciples (who had fished all night with out catching anything), to put their nets in on the opposite side of the boat, & when they did, their net was so full of fish that they could hardly pull it into the boat. Or I think of the crowds of people who followed Jesus to hear Him preach & teach from the shores of the Sea. And I remember how one time the crowd was hungry, & all that could be found to eat, was the lunch of one little boy……5 loaves & 2 fish, & how Jesus blessed them & fed 5000 people, with left-over food to spare.
dsc_6667-copy
i9
dsc_6631bw-copy
While I enjoyed this trip immensely, watching my mom enjoy it was truly wonderful. Below is one of my favorite pictures of her.
dsc_6608-copy
dsc_6592-copy-copy

We also toured through Capernaum, which has the ruins of a synagogue where Jesus taught and also has foundation which was the house of Peter nearby.  I was so grateful to Rami for being there to give us historical and Biblical information on the places that we saw. This man is full of knowledge and has such a love for his land. If you ever contemplate a trek to this amazing country, I cannot recommend his expertise enough.  Want more information? He has a website here.

i6

dsc_6468-copy

i7

An ancient Olive Press

dsc_6383-copy

dsc_6935-copy

Another highlight was upon waking the day after arriving to Rami+Gaby’s home and walking the hillsides behind their house. The day was warm and sunny and views were incredible.

dsc_6870-copy

dsc_6834-copy

Their dog, and my new buddy, Simba!

i11

This small river below is the Jordan River.  I know, I thought it was going to be bigger too. And thousands of years ago it likely was. What happened here? A lot.  Joshua led the Israelites across this river into the promised land. Jesus was baptized here. It was mentioned a lot in the Bible! Want more reading…a good spot here.

dsc_6311-copy

dsc_6304-copy

Our time spent with Rami+Gaby and Chris was wonderful. I’m so grateful to their hospitality and their beautiful hearts.  Gaby also happens to be a pretty incredible artist and has a pottery studio in her basement. While I didn’t get any shots with my camera, you can view her lovely work on her new website, The Galilee Gallery (try saying that five times fast!).

dsc_5959-copy

dsc_7155-copy
dsc_7163-copy
dsc_5956-copy
I guess this trip has many levels of significance for me, & maybe it will take a life-time to measure the meaning of it all…..but that’s okay…..I am content to hold it forever in my heart as one of the best, most holiest times, I’ve ever had. It was better than gold to me !!
dsc_7174-copy

Travels to Israel

israel1Photo Source

My mom has made mention for quite a while that Israel is a place she would like to see in her lifetime and I couldn’t be more excited to be traveling with her there.  A few months ago we were chatting about it, and I said “let’s just go!”  We booked a flight and plans were set.  And now tomorrow, February 22nd, we are flying out of Michigan and over to the little country of Israel.  We are staying in Jerusalem, have plans to travel up to Tiberius to the Sea of Galilee, enjoy the culture, eat good food, and enjoy a trip that we’ll remember for a lifetime. I’m excited to spend this time with her, enjoy the downtime, and of course take pictures of all I see. The downtime is needed…to be away from distractions, away from the busyness of every day life.  Time to listen to God’s voice. The voice I block out far too often.

Traveling always makes me nervous and trying to pack everything into one carry-on suitcase is proving to be more difficult than I originally thought (I have terrible luck with lost luggage on international trips!). But I am determined to make it work.  Only one or two pairs of shoes for this girl is asking a lot!

If you feel so inclined, I would love your prayers for safety in our travels. As a reward, I promise a stellar blog post with many pictures upon our return.

If you’re on Instagram, you can follow my travels via my iPhone.

While I’m away, I will have limited access to email and phone.  I am returning on Thursday, March 1 and planning to be back in the office on March 2nd to respond to all messages.

Shalom and L’hitraot!