mercredi, novembre 05, 2014

Israel Trip: Day 8

I can't believe it's the last of my travelogue in the Holy Land and day 8 is our last day in Israel. Today we are headed to the Garden Tomb. We did not to go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is the traditional spot on the pilgrimage route because our pastor believe it is not the site of the crucifixion. As we walked away, a man bellowed that she didn't know what she's talking about and went on about how the Garden Tomb is so new... so you can tell there's much disagreement about the spot.
So back to the Garden Tomb. We believe that this is the correct spot because:
1) The crucifixion occurred outside the city wall.

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. ~ Hebrews 13:12
2) Jesus bore the cross with the inscription near the city, and people can read the inscription.
Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. ~ John 19:20
3) He was crucified on the road, with many people passing by and it can be seen from a distance.
And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, ~Mark 15:29
4) It is near a garden with a new tomb of Joseph Amaritia.
Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. ~John 19:41
5) Jesus was brought to a place called the Skull.
And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, ~John 19:17
6) Mount Calvary should be in northern Jerusalem, and Jesus is our perfect offering.
He shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the Lord; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar. ~ Leviticus 1:11

Okay, side tracked a little, but check out the sign! =P


Can you see the eyes of the skull?

This is how the spot look like previously when it was discovered before it became a tourist spot.

Not only that, a large cistern located underneath the garden indicates that this is the garden of Joseph of Arimathea.

We then visited the tomb whose interior matches the description for the seating of the two angels and how the disciples looked into the tomb.

Looking for Jesus? He's not here, He's risen! :D

We then took some time to have a short sharing session and then a praise and worship session.
It so happened that the Pastor Prince devo for the day (March 18) is about how we are blessed regardless of your location because of Jesus' finished work on the cross and it made mention of Calvary's hill. Everytime when there's such 'coincidences', I just feel so loved by Daddy God.

From my notebook:
Jesus has come to give us a brand new beginning. Sin separated us from God and Daddy God wants to be with us all the time. That's why He sent Jesus to reconcile us to Him.
He was raised from the dead so that we can be made right with God. We need to be restored the sense  that God is no longer angry with us.

Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. ~Romans 4:25
He has decided we will be saved.
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, ~Ephesians 1:4
When you love someone, you give. I know Daddy God loves me, because He gave me Jesus.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8
Then we had a Passover meal experience for lunch at Yad HaShmonah Biblical Garden! It's located in the Judean hills and ran by messianic Israeli Jews and Finnish Christians. There's also a garden that displays plants and agricultural tools from biblical times. :)

Taking an exciting trip back to the times of Jesus!

Our host explained to us that this is how people ate in Jesus' time, reclining on one arm. She also shared with us that John sat at the right hand of Jesus while Judas sat at His left hand. She also walked us through various foods and its symbolism.

It's pretty interesting how before we ate or drank each item, we had to recite a Hebrew blessing first. For example before breaking bread, we were to say a blessing that went something like Bless the Lord, our God, the King of the universe who brought forth bread from the earth in Hebrew. :D
And there were so many cats at this place too! They were all quite affectionate. The white one repeatedly came up to me, jumped onto my lap and rubbed against me. I guess it's really cold out there for them. It also kept wanting to take pictures so I had to oblige ;)


One of the last few places we visited was the Valley of Elah, where the well-known battle of David against Goliath took place. We also went down to the Brook of Elah, which is famous for the five stones David picked to take down Goliath. Avi said that David chose 5 stones just in case he needed to face Goliath's other brothers too, haha!

Walking to the dried up riverbed of the Brook of Elah. The whole place is covered with mustard flowers and it's so pretty :)

Avi gave us some guidelines on the kind of rocks to pick that were similar to David's. They needed to be smooth and palm-sized, and many of us took our stones to Avi to get his stamp of approval hahaha!

In the end, I picked up 5 (not all for myself!) and they were heavy despite their small size!

I was back on the bus when I looked out and saw Avi plucking stuff from the tree and began eating it. He then took some and passed it to some of the tour members with him.

Intrigued, I asked Sarah what they were and she said they were almond fruits and I've never seen an almond fruit! She passed me one to try and you have to eat it whole like that. It's a little sour and tasted like green apples, interesting!

Cute inflatable on the construction crane, hahaha! we should have these things in Singapore too.

The last place we went was Joppa, now known as Jaffa and it is where Peter raised Tabitha from the dead. This is also the place where Peter received the vision of a large sheet filled with animals (some non-kosher) being lowered from heaven and it was the pivotal moment for the gospel to reach the Gentiles.

Guess what? We saw a wedding car and a wedding couple too in this place!


We then had dinner at one of the restaurants and made our way to the airport.

This trip has been amazing on so many levels. After a terribly dry season, it felt like rain had finally come. I hear Daddy God's little whispers at every corner I turn and I felt reassured that He has good things lined up ahead for me.

In this place, He showed me that He listens to prayers. When I had prayed for rain to come in Singapore and it happened the next day, I was overjoyed when my fellow P&W leaders verified that it did rain and I was like, wow Daddy God, You answer prayers really fast in Israel! Then He corrected me, it's not where you pray that matters, it is Who who answers the prayer. :)

In this place, He showed me that He takes care of me. Through the tour agency, we were given the chance to rent a local Israel phone or a nano/microsim card for usage in Israel because it will be hard to get a prepaid card since we wouldn't have time to stop and buy one locally. Kevin and I missed the deadline for the order so I was left thinking, fine, I'll just be MIA for the 8-10 days then. Little did I know, that our bus was Wifi-enabled! *gasp* That means if I want be connected, I could be. We didn't need to fork out any additional money to enjoy the connectivity! :) I used it whenever I had pictures I wanted to share on Instagram or text on Whatsapp or check out something on the Internet, but other than that I'm happily looking out of the windows, drinking in the scenery set before my eyes.

In this place, He showed me that He loves me and hears my heart's desires. I asked to see a rainbow in this beautiful land during the trip and He answered not just once, not just twice but thrice! At the Garden Tomb, when Pastor Pauline asked for suggestions on songs to sing during a time of praise and worship in this place, I wanted us to sing Just let me say, but I guess my voice wasn't loud enough to communicate my song of choice so we didn't sing it then and I let it go. But Daddy God didn't and He saved the best for last because He wanted to make it a memorable trip for me. On route to the airport, Sarah suddenly called out from the back and made a request to sing one last Praise and Worship song to end the trip and it was that song. :')

So let me say 
How much I love You 
With all my heart I long for You 
For I am caught
In the passion of knowing 
This endless love I've found in You
And the depth of grace, the forgiveness found
To be called a child of God
Just makes me say
How much I love You 
O my Savior, my Lord and friend

So long Israel, I know it wouldn't be too long before I'm back :)

lundi, novembre 03, 2014

Israel Trip: Day 7

We woke up bright and early to make our pilgrimage to the Temple Mount in anticipation of the long queue of visitors like us (there was a long queue when we arrived). We were informed the day before to avoid carrying backpacks as security is extremely tight in this place and bringing one would cause delays at the security check. And when I say security is tight, it really is (just imagine passing by law enforcement officers with guns strapped on less than a metre of space between us and they were all sitting in a single file on the bridge that would take us into the place).

The Temple Mount is a site which holds special significance to the Jews and Muslims. It is also the place where Jesus was presented in the Temple by His earthly parents Joseph and Mary and later stayed behind to debate with the teachers. It's now a mosque and as you can see there are Arabic writings on the tiles.

Fun fact: See the dome at the top of the mosque? Its measurements and dimensions were modelled from a similar dome of a church nearby.

You wouldn't believe how many visitors come by the Temple Mount each day but I managed to get a clear shot void of any tourist!

This is the Dome of the Tablets/Spirits and there's a theory that this dome marks the site of the Holy of Holies in the Second Temple, as the east-west line aligning the Mount of Olives with the Eastern Gate and the Temple cuts through this very location.

You wouldn't believe that there's a mini protest happening while we were there. I couldn't hear what they say but it seems that the people were against tourists visiting the place. =S

Sometimes the access to the Temple Mount is restricted due to protests happening (and apparently one took place a day or so before), so it seems like Daddy God aligned everything so that we can visit this holy place. :)

There are several cats within the premises, I can't help but snap many pictures of them!

Remember the pool of Bethesda in the Bible? Bethesda means House of Mercy, and this is where people would wait to be the first one into the waters after it was stirred by an angel. This is the same spot where Jesus healed a paralytic of 38 years :)

I really like this particular kitty!

Yet another kitty!

We then had lunch before we went to check out the Via Dolorosa, which means the Way of Suffering in Latin. We went underground first, to see the markings which by now had become faint. Avi was trying to show us that there are inscriptions of the battalion's symbol and a crown of thorns on the flagstone.

As we walked the path, I could imagine that it was a very busy street that Jesus walked through then.

Another picture of a kitty.

It seriously is a very busy place and it's of utmost importance to stick close to your group/guide as there are many tour groups around.

Too many cats around in this place!

Oh yes, we spotted little children and adults alike dressed up like it's Halloween, but it's not - it's Purim (Festival of Lots)! I can't believe our trip coincided with one of their Jewish holidays and we get to see them celebrate it. :D
Purim is a celebration of the deliverance of the Jews from Haman (you can read it in the Book of Esther). The tradition of dressing up is based upon the way Esther concealed her Jewish identity at the beginning. Some of their costumes really deserve awards! I saw this particular guy's costume that was of someone who's in the portaloo and it's really darn good!

Bob the Tomato from VeggieTales!

This is a replica of a temple menorah and it's been fashion from one piece of solid metal - gold.  If my memory didn't fail me, the original one had been taken away to Rome but its whereabouts to this date still remain unknown.

I spy with my little eye, I see a dog in there!

This is the road that Jesus walked on 2000 years ago. WOW.

A mosaic map of Jerusalem back in the days. It's pretty cool how they actually managed to match the location of places of the past to the current day Jerusalem.

We then had some time to spend at the Jewish Quarters. It's filled with many stores and art galleries.

I wasn't joking about the level of security in this place. Here we have some Israeli soldiers near the Western Wall.

Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:15

So, we were at the Western Wall (also known as Wailing Wall) which is part of the remaining wall from the time of the Second Temple surrounding the Temple's courtyard. This is the most sacred and the holiest spot in Jerusalem after the Holy of Holies. Men and women are segregated to pray at different portions of the wall, with the men wearing a kippah before doing so. As I struggled to make my way to the wall. I see ladies rocking themselves standing with their faces in their copies of Torah, wailing. Some of them were reading the Torah with their hand on the wall. As I got closer, the ladies exiting walked backwards from the wall (it's their custom). When I finally reached the wall, I placed my finger on the wall (with the help of my tourmates because it's just too crowded!!), said my silent prayers and left. I also observed many notes containing written prayers were left in the crevices of the wall.

Interesting note: There's a live cam streaming the happenings at the wall and you can check it out here!

Southern Wall - built during King Herod's time. It's made of limestone and it can be easily identified that the style was Herodian by the margins of the block with a slightly raised centre.

At the Southern Steps, and we had a short sharing over here. Jesus climbed these very steps when He visited the Temple and this is the place where 3,000 were saved and baptised in the Holy Spirit!

With that, we ended our day of sightseeing :)

samedi, août 30, 2014

Israel Trip: Day 6

On day 6, we are going on the Palm Sunday road that Jesus took to get to Jerusalem and explore Jerusalem, starting from the top. It was on this road that Jesus rode a donkey to the Temple Mount and received much fanfare, and then was later crucified days after. A fellow P&W leader shared at another time that donkeys can be quite hard to ride and for Jesus to sit on one (comfortably!) down this path to the Eastern Gate, the donkey must really acknowledge that Jesus is the Creator!

Temple Mount in the background.

The Palm Sunday road is an extremely steep route, they had even installed railings for people to hold on to while descending. Make sure you wear good walking shoes with grip!

Always make time for selfies! As you can see, there's even a donkey and a man in the background. Taking pictures of the donkey will cost you.... just so you know.

At the Tomb of the Prophets
Jewish tombs/graves - These are examples of Jewish tombs. The rocks on top of the tombs signify to mark a person's visit and the square holes at the bottom are for people to light candles in it for memorial purposes.

As you can see, there are many graves, leading up to the walls of Jerusalem, Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

Can you see how steep it is?!

We checked out Dominus Flevit , a small church that is believed to be where Jesus wept when He arrived in Jerusalem as He foresaw the tragic events that would happen after His death. The church is built in the shape of a teardrop, symbolising Jesus' tears. We also saw the burial cave where a number of small coffins (bone boxes) were housed from the time of Jesus with numerous inscriptions that gave clues that they are first century Christians.

We then visited Garden of Gethsemane next. 'Gethsemane' means olive press, appropriating this place where Jesus was so hardpressed that he sweated drops of blood. This is also the spot where Jesus was betrayed and taken by the soldiers.

These trees are believed to be about a thousand years old at the very least, they could be around since the time of Jesus!

We also visited The Church of All Nations was located near the Garden of Gethsemane.

The huge slab of rock you see cordoned off on the floor marks the spot Jesus is said to be praying in agony on the night of his betrayal. This stone is believed to form a direct line with the Eastern Gate and the entrance of the Holy of Holies.


Kidron Valley...

We also visited the Tomb of King David (though we believe it's not King David's tomb but of a king later than him). It's quite interesting how the ladies and men had to enter separate rooms and the men had to wear a kippah before they head in. People come in here to pray and recite psalms.


It makes me wonder.... which end is the head and vice versa.

We also went upstairs to view the room where the Last Supper and the Pentecost experience took place, it was too crowded in there with people so no pictures!

Bullet shots on ancient walls, this country has been through a lot.


We then paid a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and Avi shared with us that individuals who helped the Jews during the Holocaust at personal risk without any financial motives are honoured with a plaque (with their names) attached to the trees in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, no picture of the place from this point on as a sign of respect for this memorial site.


I feel that we have too short a time to spend in here. There are so many stories of survivors in there and I left feeling overwhelmed and a little heartbroken at the treatment of the Jewish people during the genocide.

We then popped over to check out the model of Holy Land (ancient Jerusalem) at Israel Museum. It's uber massive (I had to take a panoramic shot), I can't believe it was transported here from somewhere else in 1000 over pieces and then reassembled to this amazing masterpiece!


We ended our day with a visit to Ben Yehuda street for some shopping!  Ok, we (I) didn't buy much.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset
After many days of kosher food/ Israeli cuisine... I really need my Maccas hit. I was overjoyed that I spotted McDonalds and we had some fries :D Oh, glorious glorious fries...

People buying party accessories in celebration of Purim.

Flowers!! Look how pretty they are :D

So our day ends here and we're waiting for our bus to take us back to the hotel! :)
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