Book club the weekend before we left……”Black Beauty”.
I just had to snap a shot of Lily adoring Luke at Drew’s volleyball tournament.
Someday I will organize my life in such a way that I have all my home responsibilities finished a day before I leave on a trip instead of racing around trying desperately to complete all my obligations. I have got to figure out how to manage all the “To Do Lists.” Perhaps step 1 would be to actually create a TO DO LIST since it all just sits and marinates in my head!
By what I consider a compete orchestration of the Lord somehow Drew and I were headed to Israel with Mindi and Bella Ortega.
Jerusalem was not on my agenda this year. So when through a series of mini miracles Drew and I landed in the Bun Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv I just had to pinch myself! Jerusalem, the City Of Peace, that has been destroyed 27 times. Jerusalem, where “Shalom” is a daily greeting and yet walled cities throughout the country are visual reminders of the political struggle that wages daily in this land of Olive Trees- the symbol of peace.
While we were flying Jake helped Luke take second in the homemade Raingutter Regata:
Early Wednesday morning Drew and I woke to a quiet city (the only time the city is quiet) and took a morning run up Mount Scopus through the Hebrew University over to the “Mormon University”. I couldn’t help but squeeze Drew’s arm as I approached. Somehow the Jerusalem Center always feels like home. It’s a little bizarre how a land with such strife feels like HOME to so many. Do the things that happened in this land connect us all in such a deep way that our spirit understands?
Wednesday was warm- so warm that they closed the SNAKE PATH up to Masada and required us to take the tram.
But I was grateful that the day didn’t start in Masada but on the Mount Of Olives where hundreds of pilgrims had gathered to see THEIR Holy City.
When Harold B Lee (the first prophet of this dispensation to come in the role of prophet) visited the Holy Land his prayer each morning was to “…see things as they really were.” We added his prayer to ours as we looked out over the crowded city and admired the majestic walls and gates. From the top of the Mount of Olives I am always impressed by the number of tombs (I think the count is over 150,000) lining the Mount with their feet facing the temple. They love their temple and hope to rise in the resurrection, stand straight up, and walk to the Temple Mount to meet their Messiah.
It is jarring to drive down from Jerusalem into the Judean Wilderness and experience the dry desolate mountains where nothing grows and Bedouin children wander with their goats. Passing by Jericho and Bethabara it was easy to visualize Christ descending below all things when he came to John the Baptist to fulfill all righteousness.
The Qumran Caves where the Essenes wrote, washed, studied and preserved records was our next stop. I love learning about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Appcrypha but it saddens me that these men felt like they had to isolate themselves completely to be pure. Truly, constant washing is not what makes your heart pure, it is Jesus Christ.
I wished we had had time to stop at Ein Gedi where David spared the life of Saul but we simply raced by on our way to Masada. The drama of Masada is powerful and chilling. As the summer palace of King Herod the Great it must have been an incredible structure as the mosaics are still stunning today. For how unpopular and ruthless he was I think a palace far from the populous was a great idea. Drew and I have been listening to “FOR THE TEMPLE” by Henty on our journey and Masada, the last stronghold of the Zealots, sobered us. Again and again it seemed as if the Jews would have simply stopped fighting each other Titus would have most certainly spared their great temple and they would have lived in peace. Instead the years from 66AD to this final mass murder/ suicide at Masada in 73 AD were ones of blood shed, slavery and starvation. The atrocities they performed on each other and those done by the Romans were nauseating. What a devasting prophecy fulfilled that seems to have been completed avoidable if the people would have banned together, repented and turned to God. God will have a humble people- either they will choose to humble themselves or they must be compelled to be humble.
From the darkness of destruction and desolation we went to float our cares away in the Dead Sea. It truly is a marvel to behold the buoyancy of that salt lake at the lowest point on earth.
Driving along the Dead Sea I once again marveled at the concept that Christ would one day heal this area and restore it to life.
Back at the hotel we enjoyed a delicious dinner and processing of the day. Drew, Bella, Mindi and I read scriptures, prepared for the morrow and were overcome with gratitude for this gift from above to be in the Holy Land.