March 2018: I had the incredible opportunity to join a local church in a study tour of Holy Land: three days at the Dead Sea, three at the Sea of Galilee and the remainder of the trip was spent in Jerusalem.
Our pastor and his wife, Dave and Heather, captured so many precious moments that can’t be explained through words. This post is as much a recap as it is a thank you to Heather and Dave for being who you are and for leading such a sweet trip that changed more than one person’s life. And for providing most of the pictures in this post. :-)
And a huge thank you to our tour guide, Ronen, for walking us through the Holy Land.
Explaining a traditional Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner.
Ok, let’s do this.
Breakfast usually consisted of a big pile of DATES WHICH CAN I JUST SAY WERE HANDS DOWN THE BEST DATES THAT I HAVE EVER HAD EVER.
If I wasn’t having dates for breakfast (only because they didn’t have them or I had already eaten the entire hotel’s supply of them and was still hungry), I usually went for some bread/hummus or some other kind of fruit/veg. Salads were often served at breakfast, along with billions of types of breads and cheeses.
Lunch was always served on site. Hummus on hummus with some bread and cukes thrown in. This was about 6 out of the 9 days we were there. The other three consisted of shawarma, falafel, and lamb kebabs. PS there was never a meal without some type of bread. It was emphasized like protein is emphasized in the US. Always gotta have it!
Lunch highlight: Jerusalem bagels (which are about 1 1/2 feet tall and 5 inches wide and yes i ate it all. please.) and dips- hummus, goat cheese/olive oil, olive oil/hyssop, yogurt/date honey, and a kind of nutella-ish dip. And cucumbers! Aka a traditional Jewish dipping lunch.
Dinners. Like breakfast, dinner was always served at the hotel, which for me usually consisted of cooked veggies, sometimes stuffed grape leaves, salad… when I sit down at the table for a meal, I’m generally thinking “I want to have something that’s going to make me feel good and energized and not sluggish and tired”. A definite food highlight was eating fresh, local produce along with lots of bread and hummus. Many good conversations were had around the dinner table which was so sweet and a precious time of fellowship and resting with the people that I was experiencing the Holy Land with.
SITES and ADVENTURES. These are some of the highlights of the trip. See the end of this post to check out our complete schedule.
Taken from our room at the Dead Sea.
Floating in the sea. This was quite the experience as the salinity of the water (33%; the ocean is about 3.5% salinity) means you can’t actually swim, but when you take your feet off the ground, your legs float right up! So gnarly.
…along with Dead Sea mud masks.
Ein Gedi- David spent much time in hiding from Solomon at this fresh water spring.
Looking out from Qumran- where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
The Valley of Elah: the site where David killed Goliath.
At the Lower Jordan River.
The Sea of Galilee.
At Capernaum- St. Peter’s house on the ground level.
Church built at the Mount of Beatitudes.
Sea of Galilee boat ride.
Walking along the Western Wall (left side of picture).
Part of the Western Wall.
Above: entrance in the Church of the Nativity to below: the stone where Jesus is thought to have been born.
Walking along the ramparts of the city of Jerusalem- one of the coolest experiences.
OTHER FUN STUFF
The young people.
My super cool and fun and silly roommate. (hiiii Ranee!!)
A local olive oil shop.
Demonstrating ancient defecation techniques.
Thanks Lauren for letting me steal your organized and beautiful handwriting for this picture!
This was an incredible trip. I’ve come down from the high of physically being in the Holy Land, but the enormity of it all continues to surprise me. I hope to go back someday, and GTI Tours did a fabulous job with the structure and organization of the journey. Many thanks to Dave, Heather, Ronen and everyone who made this trip happen and embarked on the adventures that we had. And thank you for reading and experiencing a taste of this trip. Bless you all.